Men in Tights

The Irish team land in Oz.

With Australia set to field what is considered their strongest ever team in this weekend’s International Rules Test, it was an interesting piece of reverse psychology by Irish management to get the players to travel in fancy dress as Robin Hood’s men in Tights.

Yes we know, before the players and performance coaches get all antsy with us we know they were compression tights designed to keep the muscles in good order during the long haul, but they could have been removed before the lads pranced through departures. The Aussies will be dungin the togz watching that. Of course they will. As the oul fella says when he saw it on the telly, look at the shape of them bollixes. And when he recognized big Murphy the man was affronted completely.

Lets hope they win the match, then everyone will be wearing tights. Up with that sort of thing.

The Game for Anto

“Great moments are born from great opportunity. That’s what you have here tonight boys.”
Herb Brooks in Miracle

Once again the GAA community has shown itself capable of great things, supporting its own, getting behind a cause and supporting one of its own. A few years ago the thought of a GAA match in Ravenhill would have been fanciful nonsense, dismissed, derisory.

Anto Finnegan was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease a couple of years ago and determined to do something positive he established his deterMND campaign to do something about it. All those icebucket challenges you saw during the summer? Many were in aid of Motor Neurone Disease. It is incurable but Anto Finnegan has ensured it is not.

The Game for Anto was more than a game for Anto. The St Paul’s man captured the imagination of the public. The Irish News backed the concept from the start and had the brainwave to field their All Star team, a prestige outfit recognised each year for their exploits in Ulster and beyond. They had never fielded before. Many of the guys that played had been opponents of Anto over the years. A few were teammates.

With Casement Park currently undergoing redevelopment, the Ulster Branch of the IRFU agreed to host the event at the Kingspan Stadium, the stadium formerly know as Ravenhill, with proceeds going to the Motor Neurone Disease Association to support research into MND.

That in itself was an important moment for local sport. Much was made of the GAA allowing other sports to be played in Croke Park. It was significant and welcoming that the game was played on Ulster rugby’s home turf.

It shows that for the right reasons sport rises above a lot of the other nonsense in this part of the world. Sometimes it takes the likes of an Anto to come along and show us that. It was a fitting game, played in a good spirit. It was a great moment for local sport. And with it, perhaps there some a great opportunity.


Social Media Gives You The Skitter

Given the hullabaloo surrounding players and social media, boys ranting on about match officials and umpires on Twitter night and day and abusing unsuspecting journalists, the GAA has come down hard, too damn hard according to some people.

Folks are affronted that cubs don’t have the God given right to say whatever they want on Twitter. Many of these are the same people that pay a few pound into a club game and think that gives them the right to shout whatever they want at players. Gobshitery. It’s alive and well.

The solution’s close at hand. We’re working on a new social media platform that is safe to use in the quietness and decency of your own home. I suppose its social because it doesn’t annoy anyone but the trick is, it’s also antisocial because no-one can see it. Yes, that’s the secret. Once you write a message and hit send it is posted and absolutely no-one can see it. You get to absolve your frustration, vent your anger and flush your pipes without disturbing anyone, or worse still getting yourself suspended.

We’re still working on a name but The Skitter is the favourite. As in ‘have you got the skitter yet?’ Pretty soon everyone will be talking about it. Watch this space.

Back from the Showcase Ireland event, knackered.

Just back from Showcase last night absolutely knackered. Went very well but probably not the right type of show for us. The people who knew a bit about the GAA really loved the gear. I hope they come on and say it themselves rather than me. It certainly gave me a bit more confidence to keep going.

The image below shows the Squareball stand at the event:

Showcase Ireland

Image updated 31/01/2007

Squareball at Showcase Ireland in the RDS on the 21st -24th January 2007

We have just agreed to take a stand at Showcase Ireland in the RDS in Dublin on the 21st Jan. Someone else dropped out of the Invest NI stand so we grabbed it. Will be another big step along the way. This is the first time that the general public will see Squareball’s range for Spring 07. Anyone attenting the show please give us a shout we would love to see you and get some more feedback on our products. Stand no. A230.

Also big night coming up on Saturday in the Armagh City Hotel for the annual Club Tyrone banquet. There is three of us working on this one. Today it looks like a disaster but will hopefully be allright on the night. (Not often I am optimistic)

Squareball Ad problems in the new Gaelic Life magazine

The Ulster Herald have just brought out their first edition of a GAA newspaper called ‘Gaelic Life’. I have already heard in advance that there is a problem with our ads. We were to have two banner ads, one b&w and the other colour. I have been told only one is going in, the b&w one. Not happy but what can you do. Ad looks fine, feel very nervous about the whole thing. Enjoyed the paper, particularly Mr Brolly. Whatever you might think of him I think he is great for the game. Wonder what he would think of our designs?

Introducing Squareball

My name is Niall Laird and I am a designer living and working in Tyrone. I have a design company called Lairdesign and we have been in business for 13 years. I graduated from UUJ in 1991 and worked in Belfast for 3 years after graduation. I had no real drive to set up my own business, but that’s a story for another day!

On Friday 5th January the first ad of a company called Squareball appeared in press, it was a little banner ad but a big step on an idea that I have been working on for over 2 years. My idea is to produce quality, funky, stylish, sexy and sometimes humorous clothing based on a GAA theme. This will be married with a website which I hope will become the official ‘unofficial’ site. It will have discussion, video clips, pitch finder, ticket swapshop, reviews all based around real GAA fans.

The last two years, as well as keeping my own business going has been hectic. The job has been a lot more demanding than I first thought. There are days when I have butterflies in my stomach and days when I wish I had never started it.

From day one of the ads I wanted to keep a diary of progress over one year and see what happens to Squareball. It may someday be of benefit to someone in that we are trying to create a brand and I know it is not going to be easy. Although this is a commercial venture there are other aspects to Squareball. I want to give fans real value for money, possible raise the bar across the GAA as a whole in terms of design be it a programme or a jersey.

The GAA has been in my blood for a long time, I have done my bit for both club and county within Tyrone, something I am very proud of and enjoyed every minute of. I will continue to do so if they will have me.

I hope you like what I am trying to do and feel free to contact me at anytime with your thoughts, good, bad or indifferent.