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"I probably would've got an All-Star" - Gerry Armstrong's remarkable GAA background

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

18:39 31 Jul 2019

Gerry Armstrong has the distinction of having scored at Croke Park, Windsor Park and at the FIFA World Cup.

The Northern Irish soccer legend represented Tottenham, Watford and Real Mallorca at club level during the 1980s.

But in the Belfast native's own eyes, Gaelic football was actually his strongest sport.

That lesser-known side of his career was something he enlightened us on when he joined Joe Molloy for an in-depth chat.

"I only played Gaelic football and hurling until I was about 16-17," he revealed.

"That was my sport. I played Gaelic football for St John's GAC club up in Belfast and at 15, I made my debut for the senior football team at Casement Park in an Ulster Club Championship match. Then I became a regular in the senior team at St John's at 16-17."

Such was his talent, he soon made it to Antrim senior level until Tottenham signed him aged 21.

"Without a shadow of a doubt, I was the best young Gaelic footballer in Northern Ireland/Ulster. In fact, I probably would've got an All-Star. But I played soccer and that wasn't looked upon too kindly then because of the rules," said Armstrong.

"If I hadn't been playing for Bangor, I certainly would've been an All-Star.

"Gaelic and hurling helped me"

Indeed, Armstrong's transition to playing soccer in an organised fashion only came when his school team was short of players due to some school-mates being interned. And the transition to club soccer in Northern Ireland only saw its impetus during a suspension from Gaelic football.

"The Gaelic and hurling helped me so much because you're playing on a big pitch," he said.

"And it's a physical game. It was more physical then. I'm not as much a fan of the Gaelic now because there are too many hand-passes, for me. It was much better, I think, in my day. Hurling's still great. I love watching the hurling. The hurling's amazing and the fastest amateur team sport in the world."

Armstrong also touched on his friendship with late Kerry legend Paidi O'Se, who he once played against.

"I knew Paidi very well. I went to see him a couple of times down in Kerry and had a couple of great nights with him down in his bar," he said.

"We had a lot of memories to go over and that semi-final he said was one I embarrassed him in front of his home people. Mick O'Dwyer had warned him apparently beforehand, 'Pat Spillane had told me that Mick O'Dwyer had told me you'd never get near [Armstrong]. He's too quick for you'".

You can watch the full interview with Gerry Armstrong on the video player above. In the full chat he also discussed his days at Tottenham and Watford. He also touches on the shadow of the Troubles as well as his Northern Ireland and La Liga career.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


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All-ireland Antrim GAA Gaelic Football Gerry Armstrong Hurling Northern Ireland Off The Ball Paidi O'Se

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