I dabbled with every kind of boots but during the boom times in the mid-2000s you'd get boots sent to you and if you wore the boots in a game in Croke Park and it was recorded or captured in a picture you might get a few pound.
Nike were really trying to take on the GAA market at the time and were sending us down boots. Obviously, Ciarán Mc(Donald) and Conor Mortimer were big Adidas men. We were young men in college and getting €400 or €500 for wearing a free pair of boots was mighty.
I wore Asics then for a while and was in Adidas too but after breaking my leg in 2011 and doing my cruciate the year after being the good Irish Catholic I was superstitious about the whole thing and changed back to Nike. But still, I was getting injured and hurting my back and I was looking for something to cushion my foot.
So I went to Asics and they were a nice boot and everything but then I started to get myself right going up to Eanna Falvey up in Santry. Barry Solan, who’s a good friend of mine, took over the strength and conditioning and things were coming together for me and my good wife (Jennifer) turned around to me and said, ‘If you’re finishing your career in the next couple of years you’re not wearing Asics.’ So she bought me a present of red Nikes for Christmas 2014 and I’ve worn them for the last five seasons with Mayo.
Boots were a big thing for any young lad but things would have been tight for us growing up. Not that we were poor but we were a typical Irish family on a council estate. It wasn’t that we could be any way extravagant.
We had a real strong tie in Ballaghaderreen to the Galway team of the late 1990s, the Joyces and the Donnellans, and Johno (O’Mahony) would have been our coach too at the time. We won an All-Ireland “B” title with St Nathy’s and the new Predator Accelerator were out at the time and all the Galway boys had them and all the lads had them.
I couldn’t get them — I think they were about €140 and if I went home and asked my father for that for a pair of boots I know what would be said to me. But Johno one day arrived down with a box of the boots to me and said, ‘Don’t say it to anyone.’ My appreciation for what Johno did for us as kids just took off from there.
I always loved the playmaker like Ciarán Mc and Greg Blaney and I eventually got around to wearing my socks up like them. It might have coincided with a calf strain or some injury that I had to keep them up for but it took off from there. Boots are the only things I do keep; I can look at them and know when I wore them and what happened. Kids always remember boots, don’t they? I didn’t wear them long enough to damage and I probably thought I could get another wear out of them. Medals and trophies, I wouldn’t be huge on holding onto, even jerseys.”