If you’re a GAA fan sitting at home idle on this sunny Bank Holiday Monday under lockdown you could do worse than tune in to BBC Radio Ulster’s Sportsound Extra Time this evening.
The weekly show, hosted by Nikki Gregg, focuses on the big stories of the week as well as in-depth interviews with some of the biggest names in Ulster sport.
Monday’s episode features an interview with one of GAA’s most wholesome and vibrant characters in former Armagh goalkeeper Benny Tierney.
For those not aware of the 2002 All-Ireland winner, check out the clip below.
Known for acrobatics that defied his size and a few eccentric goalkeeping jerseys, Tierney’s 13-year inter-county career culminated in Armagh’s All-Ireland win in 2002.
Tierney’s retirement in some symbolic way represented a passing of the guard as the game of Gaelic football moved towards a more professional approach, something that is very clear 18 years on from Armagh’s breakthrough win.
The Mullaghbawn man believes that the modern game would not have suited his mentality whatsoever.
“I don’t think the modern game would have suited my mentality, or my physique to be honest, as shown by the size of my jersey at times,” said Tierney.
“The modern-day footballer is practically professional, with the level of commitment and dedication that a county footballer is giving these days.
“People always say maybe it’s maybe going too far in this department but you ask anyone of these county players and that’s where they want to be, so they must be enjoying it.
“Everything evolves and Gaelic football has evolved so much in the last 20 years even though it’s still very much an amateur sport.”
On the topic of the current Armagh team, Tierney remains upbeat that former captain Kieran McGeeney can return the county to the days of old.
Having copped plenty of flak following Armagh’s poor record in Ulster under McGeeney, the team overcame arch-rivals Down in 2019 before knocking out Division 1 Monaghan and running Mayo to within a point in their eventual round three qualifier exit.
Armagh seemed to carry some of that form into 2020 and looked a good bet for promotion to Division 1 before the Allianz Leagues were suspended due to the ongoing health crisis.
Tierney believes they are on the front foot now with a talented cohort coming through, many of whom hold clear links to Armagh’s greatest era.
“They’ve had to rebuild and Kieran has been part of that process from day one since he’s taken over,” said Tierney.
“It has been a slow process but they are now playing on the front foot.
“We’ve got talented footballers coming through – like Oisin McConville’s nephew Rian O’Neill and Jarly Og Burns, son of Jarlath, these are all exciting prospects for Armagh football.
“Looking in all I want is for Armagh to be doing their best, and Geezer is getting, as he always will do, the best out of his characters.”
Former @Armagh_GAA keeper & 2⃣0⃣0⃣2⃣ All-Ireland winner Benny Tierney says the county is "going in the right direction" under Kieran McGeeney 👍
More ➡️ https://t.co/925k46Wz2d
Full interview on tonight's Sportsound Extra Time ⬇️
— BBC SPORT NI (@BBCSPORTNI) May 4, 2020
On his former teammate, like so many others have said before him, Tierney described McGeeney as the most driven, dedicated and committed sportsperson in his life.
“I don’t think I have ever met a more driven and more dedicated and committed sportsperson in my life. To this day he’s still the same.
“It was so obvious that sports management or motivation or something in that field was always going to be a driving force for Geezer.”