Joe Brolly

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Joe Brolly
Joe Brolly in December 2011.jpg
Joe Brolly, taken at a 2011 event to promote the Irish language
Personal information
Sport Gaelic football
Position Corner forward
Born (1969-06-25) 25 June 1969 (age 50)
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Occupation Barrister, journalist, television pundit
Years Club
? - ?
St Brigid's
Club titles
Derry titles 2
Ulster titles 1
Years County
Inter-county titles
Ulster titles 2
All-Irelands 1
All Stars 2
Joe Brolly (right), with other Irish language enthusiasts, taken at a 2011 event advocating that people learn the language

Joe Brolly (born 25 June 1969[1]) is an Irish barrister, Gaelic football analyst and former player from Dungiven, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Brolly played for the Derry GAA in the 1990s and early 2000s and was part of their first ever All-Ireland Senior Football Championship winning side in 1993 and also won two Ulster Senior Football Championships and four National League titles, he also won two All Star Awards during his career.[citation needed]

Brolly played club football for St Canice's Dungiven for most of his career, before transferring to St Brigid's GAC in Belfast. With Dungiven he won two Derry Senior Football Championships and one Ulster Senior Club Football Championship.[citation needed]

He usually played as right corner forward and was renowned for his accurate point-taking, goal-scoring ability, pace and ability to take on opponents, he was also known for his goal celebration of blowing kisses to the crowd, and had his nose broken twice during his career immediately after scoring goals.[2]

Since retiring he has fashioned a niche in television punditry, described by one critic as "the most lippy and articulate pundit on Irish television". In 2012, he was dubbed "the Salman Rushdie of County Mayo".[3]

Personal and professional life

Brolly is the son of noted traditional singer and Limavady Sinn Féin councillor Anne Brolly, his father Francie, also a traditional musician, played Gaelic football for Derry in the 1960s, and was later a Sinn Féin councillor and MLA.[citation needed]

Joe Brolly is a first cousin of Derry player Liam Hinphey and Monaghan player Vincent Corey, and second cousin to Tyrone footballers Colm and Plunkett Donaghy.[4]

Brolly was a boarder[citation needed] in Saint Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh. He played basketball for Ireland as a schoolboy. After school he went to Trinity College, Dublin, before doing a postgraduate course at Queen's University Belfast, he was a prominent member of the Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC) in his Trinity days, and became a member of the student executive.[citation needed]

He is married and has five children.[5]

As a barrister[1] he has specialised in criminal matters and has defended Irish republicans in court.[6][7][8]

He was involved[clarification needed] in a UK Supreme Court case in 2011 that established a right to compensation for a miscarriage of justice without the requirement to prove the innocence of the wrongly convicted person (in this instance the Derry republicans Eamonn McDermott and Raymond McCartney).[9]

He also works as a journalist, writing a column for Gaelic Life[10] and the Ireland Mail on Sunday. A radio[11] and television football pundit,[12] he is a regular on the long-running RTÉ programme The Sunday Game.[12][13][14]

Playing career


Brolly made his Derry Senior debut against Cavan in the 1990 National League.[1] In 1993 he was part of the Derry side that won the Ulster Championship and the county's first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, his All Stars Award recognition surprisingly came in the relatively barren years of 1996 and 1997.[15] He was top scorer in the 1997 Ulster Championship with 3–15 (24 points).[16] Brolly added a second Ulster Senior Football Championship in 1998, in the final of which he scored the clinching goal in the last minute.[17] Derry won the National Football League four times in a nine-year period from 1992 to 2000 (1992, 1995, 1996, 2000), with Brolly being part of all four. Brolly and Derry finished runners-up to Offaly in the 1998 National League decider.[18]


As a 21-year-old, Brolly was part of Dungiven's Derry Senior Football Championship success in 1991.[citation needed] Brolly won another Derry Championship medal in 1997, and also won the Ulster Club Championship, he was top scorer in that year's Derry Championship with 1–25 (28 points) and was man of the match in the final at Celtic Park.

He played for St Brigid's GAC in Belfast when it won the Antrim Intermediate Football Championship. In 2006 St Brigid's became the first GAA club to play against the Police Service of Northern Ireland Gaelic football team.[19] In 2009 Brolly broke his leg while playing in a challenge match against Cookstown.[20] St Brigid's reached that year's Antrim Senior Football Championship semi-final, but were defeated after a replay by a point by Portglenone.


It was in the Sigerson Cup that Joe Brolly first appeared on the national stage, he won his only inter-varsity medal in 1992, as a member of Queen's victorious Ryan Cup team.[17]


Brolly played hurling for local club Kevin Lynch's when they won Division 2 of the All-Ireland Féile na nGael in 1982.[21]

Coaching career

Brolly helped out with the Antrim team that finished runners-up in the 2007 Tommy Murphy Cup and winners of the 2008 competition.[22]

Career statistics

Team Season Ulster All-Ireland Total
Apps Score Apps Score Apps Score
Derry 1990 1 0-01 0 0-00 1 0-01
1991 1 0-02 0 0-00 1 0-02
1992 2 0-00 0 0-00 2 0-02
1993 2 0-03 2 0-02 4 0-05
1994 1 0-02 0 0-00 1 0-02
1995 0 0-00 0 0-00 0 0-00
1996 2 1-06 0 0-00 2 1-06
1997 4 3-14 0 0-00 4 3-14
1998 3 1-10 1 0-00 4 1-10
1999 2 0-03 0 0-00 2 0-03
2000 3 0-02 0 0-00 3 0-02
Total 21 5-43 3 0-02 24 5-45







  1. ^ a b c "Derry Pen Pics". 1994 Ulster Championship Quarter-final Programme. 29 May 1994.
  2. ^ Brolly, Joe (18 April 2008). "R-E-S-P-E-C-T (find out what it means to me)". Gaelic Life.
  3. ^ Duggan, Keith (14 February 2013). "'It is funny the stir it can cause when you say what you think'". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  4. ^ Brolly, Joe (31 October 2008). "A tribute to Maisie Donaghy". Gaelic Life. p. 48. Retrieved 14 November 2008.[dead link]
  5. ^ Brolly, Joe (7 November 2008). "Here we go again with Cork". Gaelic Life. p. 48.
  6. ^ "IRA membership charges dropped". BBC. 29 March 2004. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
  7. ^ "Court hears of Real IRA bomb plot". The Irish Times. 11 November 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
  8. ^ "Two Belfast men bailed on gun charges". UTV. Archived from the original on 29 November 2003. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
  9. ^ Irish Times report of Supreme Court case. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  10. ^ Brolly, Joe (16 December 2012). "This is a vicious piece of work". Gaelic Life. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Drivetime Sport". RTÉ News. Archived from the original on 9 March 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  12. ^ a b "RTÉ unveil Championship coverage". Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  13. ^ "Brolly: 'I am still cringing' about Morrissey insult". Irish Examiner. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  14. ^ "RTE tell Joe Brolly 'similar comments won't be tolerated' after Marty Morrissey 'ugly' jibe". Irish Independent. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  15. ^ "Football All Stars 90's". Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  16. ^ "Facts and Figures". 1998 Ulster Championship Quarter-final Programme. R & S Printers Ltd, Monaghan. 31 May 1998.
  17. ^ a b "Queen's Hall of Fame". Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  18. ^ "Lyons' pride pass tough test of character to land League". Irish Examiner. 27 April 1998. Archived from the original on 3 September 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  19. ^ "PSNI Could Join GAA League". Irish Aires News. 1 September 2006. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  20. ^ Brolly, Joe (4 September 2009). "Bread and butter of the club". Gaelic Life.
  21. ^ Brolly, Joe (26 October 2007). "Liquid asset the obvious solution". Gaelic Life. p. 48.
  22. ^ Said by Michael Lyster and Brolly during the RTÉ Sunday Game Live coverage of the All-Ireland Qualifiers Round 3 games. Down versus Wexford and Tyrone versus Mayo. (The Tommy Murphy Cup final had preceded the two games) – 2 August 2008.

External links