From early blows and epic rivalries to why the game has "suffered", Colm O'Rourke on his legendary career

Meath GAA legend and Sunday Game analyst chats to Off The Ball about the highs and lows of his playing days

GAA

Colm Parkinson, Colm O'Rourke and Adrian Barry

Colm O'Rourke had an unforgettable playing career in the colours of Meath.

But it could have been all over before it really started. 

A cruciate knee injury early in his playing career, could have derailed a 20-year inter-county spell which saw him lift two All-Ireland titles and five Leinster crowns.

How he overcame that early blow was one of the stories he shared with Off The Ball tonight when he joined Colm Parkinson and Adrian Barry to remember his stellar career.

He famously wore a bandage around his knee after the early injury problems but as he told the lads tonight, it was "just for show", before adding that he "used to wear it on the opposite knee".

 

 Meath's Colm O'Rourke with knee strapping and Armagh's Gerard Reid ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Starting his inter-county career in 1975, it was well before the time legendary manager Sean Boylan took charge in '82, kickstarting one of the great football teams.

O'Rourke shared his memories of the fallow period and how Boylan "brought in his own personality" and "larger than life" approach to improve Meath's fortunes.

 

 

The rivalry with Cork was also a defining feature of the late '80s for Meath and O'Rourke admitted that, "we would be very friendly now [but] we certainly weren't friendly back then", also explaining why the relationship changed over the years.  

 

 

And on how the game has changed since his day, he feels the game has lost its physical edge, commenting, "I think the game has become sanitised of almost all physical contact and I think the game has suffered as a result. And I definitely feel Meath football has suffered."