Former Dublin footballer and current Tipperary selector Paddy Christie at the launch of AIB’s The Toughest Season photobook, a pictorial account of how hurling, football and camogie communities came together to support one another throughout one of the toughest years in history
Former Dublin footballer and current Tipperary selector Paddy Christie at the launch of AIB’s The Toughest Season photobook, a pictorial account of how hurling, football and camogie communities came together to support one another throughout one of the toughest years in history

Paddy Christie enjoying Tipperary tale


By Cian O'Connell

"The nature of David is fundamentally it's never about him which I really like," Paddy Christie replies when asked about David Power, who has occupied such a central and starring role in the recent Tipperary football story.

Accolades or attention don't interest Power, merely trying to develop the blue and gold game according to Christie.

"You always get the impression that he's doing things for the best interests of Tipperary football. As long as that's the case then it's not hard to create core values in a group and create a culture because the seeds have been planted at the top.

"Whether we like it or not the people who are at the top of the chain, the people in charge, must show leadership and a good example. For me, David has exemplified what a team spirit is, what core values are and what Tipperary football means."

Such a willingness to adapt and learn has helped Tipperary secure a first Munster title in 85 years.

Now an All Ireland SFC semi-final against Mayo beckons at Croke Park on Sunday.

"A lot of the time he delegates responsibility to other people, he'd get more publicity if he likes, but he's always trying to spread it around," Christie adds.

"He's always talking about how good other people are to work with and talking about our dietician Amy Maguire, we've a physio there Ronan Crosse and Stephen McGrath as well in the medical backroom set-up and how they're getting people back on the pitch.

"Always talking about other people rather than talking about himself. For me, that was a very, very important thing.

Paddy Christie and David Power watching Tipperary play against Kerry in the McGrath Cup in January.
Paddy Christie and David Power watching Tipperary play against Kerry in the McGrath Cup in January.

"I'd like to think I'd be that way inclined myself and as long as you've people who are interested in what's best for Tipperary football, then the footballers themselves will be unselfish and make good decisions.

"And you'll hopefully have a team that's bereft of an ego then as such that it's all about what's best for Tipperary, not about what's best for Michael Quinlivan, Evan Comerford, Steven O'Brien or whoever else."

During the past month and a half the sheer joy and value of sport has been underlined. Monitoring inter-county action provides an important outlet for Irish people throughout the world. Christie, Kilcoskan National School principal, acknowledges that fact.

"A bit like the school here, I've said to people regularly that you don't really know what you had sometimes until you lose it," Christie replies.

"I suppose it might have been taken for granted a little bit and might have been a case over the years that people were complaining that, 'the commitment is so big and am I really getting anything out of this?'

"I suppose this brought us back a little bit to why we play football, hurling, soccer, rugby or whatever sport. You're doing it to connect with other people, to be a part of something bigger."

Simply being involved and invested matters so deeply.

"Whether you were winning or losing," Christie continues. "I don't think the same disappointments were there this year when teams lost - we haven't had that worry yet in the Championship.

"The devastation that you saw in other years possibly wasn't the same this year. I think people were just happy to get the chance to play and train.

Tipperary senior football selector Paddy Christie.
Tipperary senior football selector Paddy Christie.

"We should compliment the GAA on that. At one stage you were thinking, 'Will they even bother to make an effort because it's creating so much hassle?' They went ahead, tried to do it, and it's come off. It's not perfect by any means.

"Overall, we've managed to get there and it's probably brought people back to why we play sport. It's put a smile on people's face.

"The very routine that people gave out about, having to go training, now people might realise that was what was enjoyable in the first place."

That drive and desire for sport has been part of Paddy Christie's life.

From playing with Ballymun Kickhams to taking underage teams at his home club. Along the way other outfits have benefited from his guidance, illustrated by DCU's Sigerson Cup win earlier this year.

Tipperary, though, came calling, and with blue and gold blood in the system it was hard to turn down the offer.

"Yeah, that was half of it to be honest with you," Christie comments. "I would have spent half of my summers down there up until I was 15 or 16, maybe until I was 18 or 19 actually. So I would have spent a lot of time in Lorrha down there.

"I have an awful soft spot for the place, I have cousins in Borrisokane, an aunty just beyond Nenagh. There is a lot of Tipp connections around the place.

"I was very friendly with Declan Browne too, the Tipp footballer, we were in Australia together with the International Rules in 2003. We would have done a few other things together. "He was possibly going to get involved, I was talking to him about it.

Paddy Christie is enjoying his stint with Tipperary.
Paddy Christie is enjoying his stint with Tipperary.

"That sort of made a big difference to me. I would have really enjoyed working with him, because we were friendly, that sort of thing. The next thing he wasn't involved, but I went ahead and did it anyway."

The journey has been rewarding. There is something in the Tipperary football community that struck a chord with Christie.

"It is very special," the former Dublin full back reflects. "I was just saying to a few other people that it is a bit like the Ballymun thing really. Ballymun and Tipperary football, you wouldn't think there would be many parallels there, but funnily enough some of the core things are the same.

"There has been dark days over the years. Ballymun were struggling for a long time, a lot of things going against them. You wanted to see could you help to build things up, the very same with Tipperary football.

"The number of bad days and dark days, obviously 2016 was a very good time. Then the minor victory in 2011, the 21s had a Munster victory."

Christie stresses the manner, though, in which the Tipp players repeatedly came back for more. "Overall probably a lot of disappointment so it was lovely to see things happening against Cork and to see the pure elation in the panel and the families, the people around South Tipp and obviously we got a lot of goodwill from North Tipp too," Christie states.

"You have Steven O'Brien up there, Philip Austin, the likes of those lads. The whole county is on a high. It is something different. "They've had loads of success with Tipperary hurlers, but it is a bit of a strange one with the footballers going so well.

"It probably gave everyone a bit of a boost after the disappointment of the hurling championship."

Christie has certainly done his bit for the Tipperary football cause in the never to be forgotten year of 2020.