A TOP-flight Irish football player has publicly thanked the “boyfriends” of players in a move lauded by LGBTI campaigners.

Ger Brennan (pictured), captain of Gaelic football team St Vincent’s, made the comments after his team’s victory over Castlebar Mitchels in the prestigious All-Ireland Club Championship last month.

Holding aloft the trophy, and in front of tens of thousands of supporters in Dublin’s historic Croke Park stadium, Brennan said: “Without your support, we wouldn’t have done the job today, so thanks very much.

“I think just, before I get on to our management, to the family, girlfriends, boyfriends of the players, everyone involved, there is a lot of work that goes into playing for your club team and, indeed, the county.”

In January, Irish hurler Conor Cusack announced he was gay. Conor’s brother, fellow hurler Donal Og Cusack, had also previously come out in 2009 and is now chairman of the Gaelic Players Association.

“I’ve had relationships with women, and enjoyed them immensely but I’ve always had more fulfilment from being with a man. I’m not sure what label society would categorise me under,” Conal Cusack wrote in a blog post.

The Irish Gay and Lesbian Equality Network welcomed Brennan’s comments.

Director, Brian Sheenan said it was an example of the transformation of Gaelic sports in particular and Ireland as a whole.

“I think what Ger did and what the Cusack brothers did is acknowledge that there are gay and lesbian people in every parish and they are welcome in the GAA,” Sheenan told the Irish Independent.

Gaelic football has similar rules to AFL with regular international matches staged between Ireland and Australia.

A number of Irish footballers currently play for the AFL including Sydney’s Tommy Walsh and Caolan Mooney and Martin Clarke of Collingwood.

(Main image source: YouTube)

Watch the video of Ger Brennan making the speech:

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