Reverend Richard Coles says Gaelic football has become 'practically an obsession' for him after discovering it through Normal People.
The English broadcaster, vicar and former member of the Communards has begun watching GAA matches online after seeing the game played on the hit show.
He has now learned many of the rules of the game and says he can't wait to get to Ireland to see it played live once the current lockdown is over.
Rev Coles spoke to The Hard Shoulder about his new-found love for Gaelic football.
He told Ivan: “It’s become more than an interest - it’s practically an obsession. I don’t know if that’s partly because of the effects of lockdown, but actually the minute I discovered there was such a thing called Gaelic football - and I didn’t really know there was until Normal People - I started watching it online.
“It just obviously has everything you want in sport: it’s like all the best things from every sport put together in one sport, but no bats - which works for me.
“I don’t understand why it isn’t the only sport anyone ever plays, because it’s so great."
Rev Coles now understands the core rules of the game, and is a particular fan of the lack of an offside rule.
He explained: "I’m a late convert to sport and it took me about 20 years to learn the offside rule.
“What I [also] enjoy is the idea that you can’t throw the ball, but you can slap it or punch it.
"I like this thing about bouncing and then bouncing off the foot… very fine distinctions it seems to me. And also the shoulder tackle… I’m not sure what’s happening there, except that you run into anyone whenever you like."
Been watching Gaelic Football for hours now, my new favourite thing, and the more you watch it the more you think how weird it is that in soccer no-one bothers to pick up the ball except the goalie. pic.twitter.com/HcT1BXTPrh
— Richard Coles (@RevRichardColes) May 4, 2020
'Obviously Cork would be my county side'
While football has become an obsession, Rev Coles has not yet graduated to the other beloved Irish sport just yet.
He said: “When I saw hurling, I thought it was like a cross between the egg-and-spoon race and the Wicker Man.
"I want to get to grips with football first… and then maybe graduate up to hurling."
He noted that Cork is his county side, due to family connections to the Rebel County and having 'billions of Irish cousins' around the world.
Outside of its portrayal of Gaelic Football, Rev Coles said he doesn't share any of the outrage about the explicit content of Normal People.
He observed: “I would consider myself a modern church man in those matters… after you watch a game of Gaelic football, physical intimacy of any kind seems a sort of step down. I wasn’t startled by that at all.
“It might not be conforming to the pattern which the Church has rather insisted on for a long time… but I think at the heart of it is a rather genuine human relationship that’s deeply moving."