‘I’m used to bigger balls’ – Jean-Claude Juncker gets to grips with Gaelic games during Croke Park visit


Dublin hurling manager Pat Gilroy, former Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney during the president's visit to the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association at Croke Park. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Dublin hurling manager Pat Gilroy, former Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney during the president’s visit to the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association at Croke Park. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker holding a Cork jersey (Brian Lawless/PA

There was some top quality trolling of the Brexiteers at Croke Park today when Tánaiste Simon Coveney presented Jean-Claude Juncker with a Cork jersey emblazoned with the number ‘27’.

The mischievous reference to the remaining countries in the European Union was much appreciated by the president of the EU Commission.

After receiving his gift, it was his turn to reciprocate and one of his aides handed him an EU bag.

Not yet knowing what was in the bag, Mr Juncker demanded “what is that?”. When the reply came back from the aide that it was a tie, he groaned, saying: “You have no imagination.”

The president of the Commission was much intrigued by a display of hurling and ladies’ football during his visit to Croke Park.

His much publicised sciatica prevented him from having a go himself – so instead he watched Henry Sheflin showcase his legendary skills.

But things went slightly awry when the former Kilkenny great skilfully directed the sliotar to hit the post.

“And I meant to do that,” laughed Sheflin.

Mr Juncker was then shown a gaelic football and noting the smaller size, he said: “I’m used to bigger balls.” Amid laughter, a puzzled Mr Juncker said: “That was not a joke.”

Two time All-Ireland winning footballer, Stacey Cahill then showed Mr Juncker her skills, doing a solo. “Ai, ai, ai,” said a highly impressed Mr Juncker, whose admiration continued as Stacey put the ball just short of the goals.

Then it was off to Dublin airport for his flight back to Brussels, with the gift of his jersey and a hurley stashed away in his luggage.

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