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Pat's enough Pat Spillane recalls hate mail, shooting threats and being denounced by a priest from the pulpit

"A woman attacked me with an umbrella outside Croke Park one day," he smiles. " She was from Mayo, I had given out about Mayo and her daughter introduced us. The next minute, 'Mam, this is Pat Spillane' and she was 'I don't like you' and gave me a couple of belts."

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Lucy with Pat Spillane at his home in Templenoe, Co Kerry

Lucy with Pat Spillane at his home in Templenoe, Co Kerry

Lucy with Pat Spillane at his home in Templenoe, Co Kerry

GAA legend Pat Spillane has revealed how he rankles supporters so much in his Sunday World column and TV analysis that some of them take it out on him personally.

The eight time All-Ireland winning Kerry footballer and his wife Rosarii appear on Living With Lucy tomorrow night.

While being quizzed by presenter Lucy Kennedy, Pat reveals passions have become so inflamed;

  • His house is flooded with hate mail from all corners of Ireland;
  • He was once assaulted outside Croke Park;
  • He was threatened with being shot;
  • He was once forced to hide under a coat in Ger Canning's car to escape angry fans.
  • Pat was denounced from the pulpit for being a 'traitor' to Kerry, and
  • How he had to get a garda escort after a match for his own safety.

"When I retired from football, I started writing for the Sunday World in October 1991, and I haven't missed a Sunday since then," Pat reveals in his beautiful seaside house near Kenmare.

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Pat Spillane tells Lucy he takes a dip in Kenmare bay every day

Pat Spillane tells Lucy he takes a dip in Kenmare bay every day

Pat Spillane tells Lucy he takes a dip in Kenmare bay every day

"Between the Sunday World all year round, the Sunday Game during the season, that keeps me going.

"The ultimate in life is to get paid for your hobby. It has got tough in recent years with social media and all that, it's got tough.

"Sunday World put a huge marketing campaign behind me for a couple of years, 'love him, hate him, read him'. That was their selling point."

But it has caused Pat hassle down through the years.

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Pat shares a joke with his long-suffering wife Rosarii

Pat shares a joke with his long-suffering wife Rosarii

Pat shares a joke with his long-suffering wife Rosarii

"Now it's with social media. In those days it was the letters, they would all come here," he reveals.

"The famous story... a letter posted in Armagh, addressed to 'Pat the b*****ks Kerry' was delivered here.

"That either tells you am I that big a b*****ks or how good the postal service is between Northern Ireland and here - 'Pat the b*****ks Kerry', it landed in my door.

"Letters... I would have been threatened to be shot."

It has also turned physical.

"A woman attacked me with an umbrella outside Croke Park one day," he smiles. " She was from Mayo, I had given out about Mayo and her daughter introduced us. The next minute, 'Mam, this is Pat Spillane' and she was 'I don't like you' and gave me a couple of belts."

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He has also been forced to hide and flee from other fans.

"There was another year with Ger Canning, where I had to hide in his back seat in his car under a coat, so that supporters from a certain county didn't see me because they wanted to kill me. They certainly didn't want to give me hugs and kisses," he chortles.

"I remember probably the only time Rosarii ever came it was a Kerry Armagh final. Kerry was beaten by Armagh. There was a lot of angry Armagh supporters outside Croke Park. I had to get a garda escort with Rosarii across the road to my car into the car park. Poor Rosarii, she never again came to a game again with me."

Pat has even been denounced from the pulpit.

"I remember criticising a member of the Kerry management at one time and I was critical of the Kerry team selection, this was going back in the '80s," he recalls.

"The following Sunday, a true story, the parish priest in a church in west Kerry stood up on the pulpit and basically denounced me, that I was a traitor as a Kerryman to criticise fellow Kerrymen."

Although Pat is not on Twitter he's sometimes made aware of people having a go at him on the platform.

"I would say 'why did somebody at five o'clock this morning post this s**te about me, what sort of sad sick bastard'," he says. "I sort of say keyboard warriors are faceless cowards."

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Pat Spillane and Lucy take in the spectacular views of Kenmare Bay

Pat Spillane and Lucy take in the spectacular views of Kenmare Bay

Pat Spillane and Lucy take in the spectacular views of Kenmare Bay

But there have been regrets.

"It's lost me lots of friends, its created lots of enemies for me, because I was being honest," Pat admits.

"'You shouldn't say that as a Kerryman'. That's why with players and with managers, I try to meet none of them. I'm not friends of any of them. Even my nephews, it's very difficult. I try not to meet them as much as I can, I don't talk to them.

"I don't go to functions where there's players or managers, because I feel getting close to players or getting close to a team or managers isn't good. I wouldn't last seconds in television if I did."

But he admits he has sometimes gone too far.

"I probably did and I regretted it," he ponders. "In a few cases I apologised to people. I'm not saying they're murderers. Its analysing a performance on a field. It's not a war like situation. Hey lads it's a game, lets lighten up.

"I remember being critical one time of a fella I fell out with. I remember being at a function and myself and Rosarii were dancing and the guy's sister-in-law was giving me the two fingers while I was dancing. I thought 'life is too short'.

"The gas part about it is the people in Kerry think I'm anti Kerry and the people outside Kerry think I'm pro Kerry," he claims.

"A fellow would say 'Ah Spillane ye b*****ks, you were wrong again last Sunday'. What really pisses them off is I'd say 'yeah, but you know what's going to happen next Sunday, I'm going to get paid for explaining why I was wrong last Sunday'. That's cracking the system!"

The programme is mostly lighthearted and sees Lucy visiting Pat's club ground in Timahoe, going golfing with him, meeting his two brothers and sister, and also venturing to the sea to watch the couple swimming.

"We go swimming every day, you just feel great for the day," he beams while emerging from the water in his shorts.

It's clear Pat and Rosarii - who have been married for 33 years with three children, Cara (31), Shona (29) and Pat (24) - think the world of each other and have an obvious loving bond.

Rosarii, a former manager of Parknasilla hotel who makes breakfast for Pat every morning and also packs his overnight bag when he goes to Dublin on Sundays, adds:"We are lucky, but you have to work at it, it's not easy."

Pat tells a hilarious story of his younger days, when he combined work as a teacher and helping out in the family bar to provide for his family with training under the renowned Mick O'Dwyer.

"Mick O'Dwyer was our manager for 12 or 13 years and the last year of his reign was probably the first full year we were married," he remembers.

"He decided, we were an old team, nothing much left in the tank and he thought there could be one last hurrah.

"So we trained harder than we ever trained. I had come home from Bantry, 35 miles. I'd be teaching in Bantry all day. I'd come home to the bar, let Rosarii off for half an hour, three quarters of an hour to have her dinner.

"Then I would sit into the car and drive another 45 miles to Tralee for training. We'd have a savage training session. Then I'd drive home and I would do the last two hours in the bar, while Rosarii would get off. So I would come home around 10 o'clock and work till 12 o'clock.

"I remember this night, we weren't that long married. After one of those hectic days and training sessions, I could hardly make it upstairs and was wrecked. I threw myself into the bed, Jesus wept. The next minute the hand came over. It does happen with newly married couples, even with old married couples.

"I said 'Rosarii, for feck sake, will you go away, I said I'm wrecked, I'm wrecked'. You know what Rosarii said to me 'if Mick O'Dwyer wanted you to do it you'd do it'. And you know what, she was half right!."

Living With Lucy is on Virgin Media One tomorrow at 9pm.

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