2021 has seen a renaissance in Gaelic Football. Champions Dublin were finally toppled by the youthful exuberance of Mayo and the heirs apparent to the throne, Kerry, weren’t able to match the hunger and intensity of a Sam Maguire starved Tyrone. Surely, nothing could top that story? Arguably, the sensational summer that unfolded in front of our eyes for the Offaly U20’s takes more beating than anything else. When you think back to a few years ago, the Faithful were enduring a crisis. However, they accepted there was a problem and they acted quickly to bring in the people that could change it. The Offaly U20’s embodied all the hard work that had been done by Michael Duignan and Co. The attacking brand they played was merely a bonus. The attacker in chief was Jack Bryant. The Shamrocks man has already been compared by GAA fans online to the great Matt Connor which could be viewed as both a compliment and a curse, but Jack seems firmly grounded on bringing more success back to a county that belongs at the top table. This week we went ClubSpotting with U20 Footballer of the Year Jack Bryant to Shamrocks GAA Club.
What are your first memories of your club Shamrocks?
From a very young age I would spend most of my evening’s down in my local G.A.A grounds where I would watch adult teams train for hours as my father was part of management with Shamrocks senior footballers. From this age, I always hoped that one day I would play senior football with Shamrocks. Another vivid and special memory of mine was winning my first title with Shamrocks in my first year minor in 2017. This was a very special win as it was my first time to win a title with my club but also my father was part of management.
Who were your sporting idols growing up?
Growing up my sporting idol would have been Colm Cooper. I loved watching Kerry football when I was younger and Colm Cooper always ran the show. He is definitely one of the greatest footballers that ever lived. As I play in a similar position to Colm on the pitch I would watch how he played very closely. His skill and vision of the game was something out of this world and I always said if I was half the footballer he ever was I would be delighted.
Toughest opponent you have faced?
Colin Walsh (Roscommon) is one of the toughest opponents I have faced. Colin is a very big and fast man. He was extremely sticky/ touch tight during the All Ireland Final which made my game a lot more difficult. Colin was also very good at going forward with the ball and attacking our defence as a full back.
Best Player you have played with?
Cathal Flynn, a teammate of mine on the Offaly U20’s is the best player I have played with. Cathal is an outstanding footballer and I know when playing with Cathal every ball I look for will be delivered with precision which gives me a great opportunity to score each time. Cathal’s work rate and natural ability at this age is unbelievable and I look forward to playing with him in the future. Niall McNamee is another footballer who I love playing alongside. Playing alongside someone who has so much skill, experience and knowledge of the game is excellent. I have learned so much from playing with Niall in such a short period of time and again I look forward to playing and learning so much from Niall in the future.
Any pre game rituals or superstitions?
I didn’t realise until the U20 Championship that I was a superstitious person, all my gear had to be the exact same for each game, especially my football boots which were falling apart from the very first game against Wexford but no way was I changing them. Before each game I had to get my boots taped back together and luckily enough they lasted for the All Ireland. My routine also stayed the same before each game, I worked the morning of each game as this kept my mind off the match.
The Offaly U20’s have arguably been the story of the summer, how does it feel to be a part of something so special?
Looking back on it all, it is still so surreal. I can’t believe I have a Leinster and an All-Ireland medal with my county. This is stuff we all dream of from a young age and I am lost for words every time I am asked to speak about it. The lift this has given to the whole county of Offaly is unbelievable and being part of it all is an absolute honour.
What are your hopes and ambitions for the remainder of the season?
My hopes and ambitions for the remainder of the season are to win a county championship with my club Shamrocks. I also hope to play football with DCU alongside a lot of players who I played against this year in the U20 championship. Personally, I hope to work hard and improve myself as a player in the coming year.
What is ClubSpot?
ClubSpot offers a wide range of features to ease the burden on volunteers in sports clubs and to help clubs increase their revenues. With a wide range of features, online payment and a customised Club App included.
For more information or to arrange a product demonstration for your club contact firstname.lastname@example.org.