How to write GAA articles just like Jim McGuinness in 4 easy steps
Ever wanted to write a sports article for a mainstream media outlet but didn’t know how? Well now you can with our 4 step guide to writing just like former Donegal/Celtic tactical supremo Jimmy McGuinness.
Jimmy is all about analysing patterns in his opponents play so we’ve turned the tables on Robert Schmidt’s assistant manager and spent the last number of weeks reading all of the articles that Jim has written for the Irish Times to find a pattern of play, some insight into how the great man thinks and writes.
Armed with a supply of coffee that would power another D-Day landing we trawled through everything that the former Glenties club man has written and having resisted the temptation to commit seppuku with the nearest metal instrument, we’ve come up with a winning formula on how to be a top GAA pundit.
- Set the Scene
You’re an international jet-setting sports guru so the thoughts on which you base your musings will no doubt have come to you whilst mulling over a decaf latte in Schiphol or Charles De Galle airport, gazing knowingly out on to the apron as your plane rolls up to its berth. The more exotic the airport the better. (Extra marks for an airport that the reader has to google)
Needless to remark, you were in Rome/Geneva/Disneyland Paris to meet some sporting luminary who has noticed you from afar like a lonely sheep farmer at a dance would long after a local maiden, and you spent several hours in their company exchanging stories of how insightful each of you are before you were ferried off to a conference on sports performance where some random (but very inspirational) non-athlete was the lead speaker. (E.g. Bear Grylls, Neil Armstrong or Grover from Sesame Street)
Great minds like yours are often sparked into long rambling anecdotes by some small external agent that would be overlooked by a lesser mortal, such as the way in which the pilot drives the plane but is also part of a team or some such nonsense.
We don’t want to write the article for you but something like “As I was sitting waiting for my connecting flight from Murmansk to Bilbao where I’d just met Gerard Houllier for a cheeky Stella Artois after a conference at which the Dali Lama was the key note speaker, I couldn’t help but admire the way the bar tender followed a long established process for cleaning the brass bar top on which our beers sat as I gazed down to catch a reflection of my deep piercing eyes”
- It’s tough at the top
Fair enough you’re a jet setter but it isn’t easy getting to watch the match of which you intend to proffer your opinion on from a tactical view point.
So don’t be shy about telling your reader of the difficulties with getting good Wi-Fi in a hotel near the shores of Lake Victoria at which you are running a leadership symposium entitled “How to lead from the back and up the middle but not at the front”.
You do need to find your own writing style but why not try “I was sitting in Feisty McToole’s bar last week watching the semi-final of the Bomber Liston Cup between Leitrim and the Isle of Man live from Dingle. I’d just arrived in on a short haul flight to Hong Kong to watch the match with the shimmering waters of Kowloon bay throwing its light back onto my deep piercing eyes.
Out in (insert the place you live) it can be so difficult to watch games but I never miss a chance to catch games from home”. Remember that the harder it is to watch a game the more committed you are to the GAA. Like Kerry hurling fans going to Antrim for an Allianz league game but travelling in a horse drawn hearse. (hardship = commitment)
- The “when I was in charge of Donegal” bit
No one likes a show off but it would be remiss of you not to remind people that you’re a really really really good coach and not really recognised outside Donegal as such.
Other managers can make mistakes so while it’s unfair to point that out openly it is okay to remind people that if YOU were in charge you would have done things differently. Play a full forward line? Why not make then defend? Midfielders. Why not get them to join in with the forwards? Play attack v defence? How about defence v defence. Genius. Then invent some outrageously monotonous drills that hopefully no underage GAA coach will ever use and just jam them into this paragraph to impress the 50 year old actuary that’s reading the Irish Times and who hasn’t copped the fact that you’re a spoofer.
No harm as well to refer to some form of scallywaggery on your behalf to show that you occasionally do something that has a sniff of naughtiness about it to prove you’re not a total robot.
Okay so I’ve written some sample copy in the last two sections so let’s go again. “As I watched Naomh Columba from Glencolmcille versus their neighbours from Ardara in the Moyle Park Chicken Father Brian D’Arcy Shield final, I admired the way “Glen” positioned their whole full forward line on the opponents ‘45 and just leathered anyone before they could cross the half way line. It reminded me of a similar (but better) drill I used to do with Donegal.
One of the lads on the team had “liberated” an artillery piece from a British Army base in Crossmaglen. So we would put Michael Murphy on the edge of the D and we’d fire balls at him from the car park at the back of the club house.”
- Prediction time
Most pundits will round off the article with a nice prediction on a pending game. But you’re not most pundits.
So why not round off with a generic statement stating the obvious but which oozes an almost oracle-like understanding of what will happen.
“This weeks games will no doubt highlight that when these two teams come to blows, there will only be one winner. Unless it’s a draw. And a replay would be a very attractive proposition for the GAA, nearly as attractive as my deep piercing eyes”.