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Scullion a one-off who's still hungry for success

By Declan Bogue

It's not your average pre-Championship chat with a player, but then again, Antrim's Tony Scullion is not your average player.

The Cargin man will be turning 33 next month and has three children. While other players have a handy time sitting at a desk all day, he is out on the building sites, throwing up new builds and renovations.

The last job he completed was for his brother-in-law, former Tyrone player Enda McGinley, in Ballygawley; an hour and 10 minutes each way in a Transit van.

"You will go anywhere when you are hungry for food!" he reasons.

And talking of food, he doesn't share the healthy appetites of his team-mates.

He makes no secret of his habit of eating a Chinese takeaway the night before county games.

Asked if he will be adhering to the same habit tonight, he shoots back: "That's a cert. I will surely, and I will have dessert after it as well. It could be apple crumble, or honeycomb ice cream. It depends, I will just eat whatever is put in front of me."

Clearly he has a different metabolism than the journalist in front of him with the Cappuccino habit.

"I would hardly spell Cappuccino, never mind drink it," laughs Scullion, who admits to ignoring the diet plans the Antrim players are handed, and is not a stranger to a Kinder Bueno scoffed while driving to a job at half six in the morning.

He continues: "It's just what I am used to. I am not into these dieticians and that, and I have been public about it all these years.

"Sometimes this oul' football is taken far too serious and maybe that's what's wrong with it.

"People are losing interest in watching football and everything is over-thought with all these defensive systems. It's all orientated towards nonsense now!"

When he started playing, he was marked out for his exceptional pace, something that he has not lost, but agrees has a limited affect in the modern game, as he explains: "If you beat one man and get out past him, sure there are four waiting on you. It's rugby league.

"Like, when I started to play football, you used to use a bit of the old speed and you could get up the field, get past a man and there was 50 yards before you would meet another."

So what keeps this man coming back, year after year?

"It's an oul' drug. It's like football is something you are instilled in from a young age and you get used to it. Come the winter time when there is no training five or six times a week, you are sitting twiddling your thumbs and you have absolutely no idea what to do with yourself," he says.

His first Ulster Championship game was against tomorrow's opponents Fermanagh in the same venue, a Ciaran O'Reilly penalty helping the Erne men to a win on a day wetter than an otter's pocket.

Yet the only thing Scullion can recall of that day was how goalkeeper Paddy Murray had to wear a Dublin jersey due to a colour clash, having to peel the sodden jersey off while coming off through injury and pull it round the head of substitute goalie John Finucane.

Oh, and: "Someone stole John Finucane's shoes out of the changing rooms! That was the biggest highlight out of that day!"

With that kind of outlook, he is not making any great predictions for tomorrow.

"I am not going to sit here and make a fool out of myself and come out with the same old clichés," he begins.

"It's a big ask, with the personnel we have here at the minute.

"Fermanagh are definitely going to be red hot favourites for the obvious reasons and they are well gelled, well schooled and they will be hurting from last year too (when Antrim beat Fermanagh 2-18 to 3-13, also in a Brewster Park quarter-final)."

And then he smiles and quips: "The past is history, the future is a mystery."

Scullion. Some boy.

Ulster C'ship QF: Brewster Park, Sun 3.30pm



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