Clubs, Closets and Catwalks: GAA Stars and the Politics of Contemporary Irish Masculinity
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In October 2009 Dónal Óg Cusack published his autobiography, Come What May. In the following weeks this event received exponentially greater coverage in the Irish media than would usually be accorded to a sports memoir. There were several salient reasons for this. Since 1999 Cusack had been goalkeeper with the Cork hurling team, one of the few teams considered capable of challenging the dominance of Kilkenny in the national championship; they had won the All-Ireland Final in Cusack’s inaugural year and again in 2004 and 2005. But along with their success his team had also become noteworthy for their disputes with the governing board of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) in Cork. The team had twice gone on strike to demand better conditions for players and to protest at what they saw as ineffective management. The second of these strikes, in the winter of 2008–9, had been particularly protracted and bitter, and Cusack, along with his colleague Seán Óg Ó hAilpin, emerged as the chief spokesperson for the players. This role augmented his ongoing advocacy for GAA players on a national level through the Gaelic Players Association (GPA), of which he is Chair. Hence Cusack had an unusually high profile, not only as a leading player, but also for his engagement in GAA politics. Nevertheless the publication of his book mainly generated such widespread interest, far beyond the usual confines of sports coverage, because he spoke publicly for the first time about being gay.
KeywordsEmotional Labour Hegemonic Masculinity Irish Medium Irish Time National Championship
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