Meath GAA legend Seán Boylan

Documenting a legend

Virginia man makes documentary film on Seán Boylan

Thomas Lyons

Last September one Cavan man togged out in the dressing rooms of Croke Park. The reason for this Breffni incursion to the hallowed halls of GAA headquarters, was not for football per se, but to present a play for the Dublin Fringe Festival.

Virginia's Alan Bradley is a writer, actor and documentary filmmaker whose face is recognisable from television commercials for brands including Nurofen, Mentos, Pokerstars and FBD Insurance. As the writer and performer of 'Grounds for Concern', he tackled mental health issues in a dramatic fashion through the eyes of a young man in a GAA dressing room.

His documentary 'Show Day' captured a day in the life of the Virginia Agriculture Show. Now he returns to a GAA theme, after a fashion, with his latest documentary film, which will be aired RTÉ One on Thursday, August 6.

'Seán' is Alan's first feature length documentary and it focuses on the life of legendary Meath football manager Seán Boylan. Accusations of treachery for the lionization of the Dunboyne man are laughed away by Alan.

“The reason for 'Seán' is that my father is from Meath,” the director admits. “I grew up with a strong awareness of Seán, who he was and a reverence I believe many in my generation can relate to, especially in the Meath community. I'm not the biggest GAA fan myself. I am awful at it.

“I wound up my footballing career shortly after my U10 season came to an end. The film is not only to do with football. Seán is so interesting because of the person he is, his character - how he managed players and achieved success. He's very different to what you expect from a football manager. For me it was the intrigue of Sean as a person that drew me in,” Alan tells the Celt.

Documentary maker Alan Bradley

The documentary includes GAA archive footage, interviews with Boylan, his family and a host of former Meath legends including Colm O’Rourke, Graham Geraghty, Darren Fay and Mick Lyons.

Weaving the twist and turns of the Meath footballing icon’s personal life with the success story of the football manager, this is a heart warming and insightful film. It reveals a vulnerable, inspiring and empathetic side to Seán that will endear him all, more than just GAA fans across Ireland.

Alan says “Seán” has been a thrilling project.

“I am excited about making my own work and getting out there, it’s nice to be in the driving seat. Working with Seán on this documentary was an immense privilege.

“There are so many sides to him. The challenge was to condense a life story as varied and rich as Seán’s into an hour’s worth of television. It has been quite difficult, because there is a lot to cover in a short space of time. There’s plenty to draw from, so I can’t wait for people to see it now,” the director said.

* The hour long feature documentary ‘Seán’ airs on RTÉ One on Thursday August 6 at 10.10pm.