The goal for the GAA match between prisoners and guards is that relations between the two will improve.
A team of Mountjoy prisoners could soon be getting out of prison for the day to play a Gaelic football match against their guards.
This idea has come from Justice Minister Helen McEntee, the General Director of the Irish Prison Service Caron Caffrey, and the Mountjoy Prison Governor Eddie Mullins.
The hope is that the match will improve relations between prison guards and inmates. The ‘Battle of the Joy showdown’ is set to be played in December at a high-profile GAA venue.
Mountjoy prisoners set for day release to play GAA against guards – The Longest Yard in Ireland
In a real-life version of The Longest Yard, where prisoners play American football against the prisoner officers, a group of Mountjoy prisoners will play a GAA match against prison guards at a famous GAA venue this December.
An email outlining the plan was circulating amongst prison guards asking for them to get a team together. Dublin GAA legend Philly McMahon works with groups of prisoners in Mountjoy every week to help improve fitness and to overcome drug addiction.
McMahon lost his own brother to drug addiction a decade ago and has been helping addicts ever since.
The hope is to improve relations between prison guards and inmates – a game to unite
Philly McMahon is an eight-time All-Ireland winner. He helps prisoners improve their fitness, as well as sometimes coaches football. Inmates will practice in the yard as they don’t have a pitch.
As he lost his older brother to drug addiction a decade ago, he often gives the prisoners what he calls “half-time team talks” to help them turn their lives around.
The hope is that McMahon will manage the prisoners’ team at a yet-to-be-revealed high-profile GAA venue. However, prison officers aren’t so sure about the prospect of a match.
“Some feel we should be having a match against the victims of crime, not the prisoners, while others think it is a positive move and a bit of fun.
Mixed feelings about the match – some officers are unsure
The source continued, “Our union, the Prison Officers Association, have advised that it is up to individual prison officers to volunteer if they want to play the game.
“I suppose the worry is there could be some bad blood from certain prisoners towards the staff. You would not like to see that rearing its ugly head on the pitch.
“I suspect that what we would regard as high-risk violent dangerous inmates would be prohibited from playing on the prisoners team.
“The management thinks the match is a great idea so I suspect it will go ahead. I know the prisoners have a great time and respect for Philly McMahon and the work he does”.