The tale of the GAA Catfish is taking the country by storm — here’s how the bizarre story has unfolded so far
A Netflix documentary waiting to happen, The 2 Johnnies have sparked a nationwide investigation into the GAA Catfish.
There’s not a WhatsApp group in Ireland that hasn’t heard of the infamous ‘GAA Catfish’.
Sparking a nationwide conversation and a whole lot of hearsay, The 2 Johnnies have distilled a complex tale into a two-part podcast instalment. Over three hours in length, the story takes many twists and turns, and it seems as though more and more is coming out of the woodwork with each passing day.
Far more than an amusing anecdote, the podcasts serve as a cautionary tale, shining a light on a now notorious catfish that has deceived over 30 men with over 13 fake accounts.
While no real names are given, there are many layers and many characters at play in this story, and all roads lead to just one person: Nikki.
While the podcast breaks up the order of events into a grand total of eleven chapters, I will attempt to provide you with a brief summary, so that you’re poised and ready for the next update, expected very soon.
The story begins with Johnny B.
Off the back of a fresh breakup, a new follower caught Johnny B’s eye. A Limerick lady with over 15,000 followers — some of which he knew, both in real life and through Irish showbiz circles — Cora O’Donavan is drop dead gorgeous and ticks all of Johnny B’s boxes.
They start to message back and forth, building up a rapport through lengthy conversations and voice notes. Her accent intrigued him, a cocktail of Monaghan, Limerick and Scottish twangs. She sings, is big into trad, works as a stylist for River Island, and has even styled Irish band Wild Youth.
Cora tells Johnny that she used to go out with a well-known GAA player — who they’ve given the moniker of Football Paul — and does quite a bit of name-dropping, which was a very subtle early warning sign.
Agreeing to go for a coffee and stroll around Limerick, while Johnny’s on the drive down, she calls him to let him know her aunt had just died and that the date was off. Posting a heartfelt condolence on her social media, something felt a little off to Johnny, so he checked out RIP.ie and saw no sign of Cora’s aunt.
Regardless, they set up another date, but this also fell through at short notice when Cora apparently became a close contact and had to isolate. On the day of their third attempt at a first date, Cora says she caught Covid, and would have to self-isolate again.
Six days later, Cora lets Johnny know that her friends and housemate Nikki are out for a drink in Ryan’s, and that he should join them. When he said he’s not interested in them, she decided to break out of isolation and is suddenly in the pub as well.
The lads go down and Nikki is there to greet them, but there’s no sign of Cora. The tipping point for Johnny came the next day, when so-called Cora convinced him to call in for breakfast on his way home. He does, and when Nikki answers the door, she says Cora has just nipped to the shop, but she’s got the breakfast on.
Long story short, she doesn’t show up, and Johnny eats his breakfast with her housemates and hits the road. Taking a closer look at her Instagram, asking some mutual friends for their thoughts, and even calling up her ex boyfriend, it transpired that none had met her in the flesh, and he finally decided that she must be a catfish.
When he called her out on it, she said that the reason she didn’t turn up for breakfast was because her sister had gotten into an accident and her phone died… a very unfortunate series of events indeed. Though she denied all allegations of being a catfish, the question remained: who’s running the account?
It quickly became clear to Johnny that Nikki was the woman behind the account, given that they had the same voice and inflection, and it was just downright obvious. When he cut ties, Johnny received messages from five other fake accounts, and part one of the tale ended with the revelation that Nikki was running “a clandestine network of fake profiles”.
Since the podcast aired, a number of people came forward and spoke to The 2 Johnnies about their own experiences with the GAA Catfish.
One such man was Ger, a footballer who went to the US with his friend, Brian, to play for an American club. Football Paul also happens to be a member of said club, and he’s going out with a girl named Emma, who had attempted to form an online relationship with Ger previously, but he wrote her off as a catfish.
Towards the end of summer, the club offers to fly out the players’ girlfriends, and Football Paul said Emma won’t be coming because she had been “receiving messages from Ger and Brian saying she wasn’t real, and the stress of it all had caused [her] to slip into a diabetic coma”.
When he came back to Ireland, Ger met a girl at Electric Picnic, and within minutes of following each other on Instagram, she received a number of abusive messages from Emma, Cora and Nikki, telling her in no uncertain terms to stay away from him.
Weeks later, when he started college, the familiar face of Nikki was right there in his lecture hall. Alarm bells went off right away and when he inquired further, the college secretary told him there was no record of Nikki being a registered student on campus.
Another victim of the GAA Catfish — Colm — told Johnny B about an experience in 2018 with one Hannah Ferguson that followed the same trajectory as his encounter with Cora. Cancelling plans because she was sick, then due to the death of a relative, he quickly decided that she was a catfish, but it wasn’t until a year later that things became sinister.
When he was grabbing a coffee, some girls he knew asked how Nikki was keeping, and he was confused. They said they worked with her, and that she said they had been dating for the last three months. They gave him her number and when he put it in his phone, Hannah Ferguson’s name appeared.
On Nikki’s Instagram, there were photos of him taken from the sidelines of a match, a video of a man in bed captioned with ‘Colm loves tickles’, and a photo of him eating a Subway before a match in England. The girls told him that Nikki was talking about their dirty weekend away in work, saying that she had taken the morning after pill.
This crossed a line, and Colm sought legal advice. He wrote her a letter and brought it to her place of work, where the receptionist instantly recognised him. ‘No chocolate and flowers this week?’, she asked.
Emboldened by the podcast release, Colm spoke to his friends about his experience, and a number of them came forward to say that they too had been catfished by Emma, Hannah, and Britney McInerney
The latest addition to this already very tangled web, Britney also catfished a professional sportsman from Northern Ireland over eight years ago. Their online relationship followed the same path that saw her miss out on a date because she slipped into a coma and she introduced him to her housemate Nikki. Nikki turned up everywhere, and crossed a line completely by showing up at his brother’s funeral.
Nikki’s real life ex boyfriend contacted the podcast to say that she had been catfishing since as early as 2014 across Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.
When The 2 Johnnies told the tale at a live show originally, their inbox was quickly inundated with emails from people claiming to be the GAA Catfish, and also claiming to be the women whose photos were used.
It transpired that the real group of friends whose images were used aren’t even from Ireland, and when Nikki’s housemates heard the podcast, they said it was a ‘glass shattering moment’.
From her poor attempts at photoshop to images of Johnny’s golden retriever, the GAA Catfish has been the subject of much intrigue across the country. Since releasing their first podcast, twelve men from the worlds of sport and entertainment have come forward to share that they, too, had been catfished by Nikki to varying degrees.
Nothing short of emotional exploitation, the experience is shared by a total of over 30 men, with more and more coming out of the woodwork with every passing day. Nikki sent most men intimate photos, and while many did not reciprocate when asked, some obliged.
While it might all seem like a bit of a laugh, and the fact that there is no aspect of these situations that is strictly illegal may make it all seem semi-harmless, the GAA Catfish has been the source of emotional trauma for many Irish men.
Whether it was done in a bid to feel a sense of power, or it all came from a place of deep insecurity, the actions of the GAA Catfish are inexcusable. With a further update expected soon, we’re thoroughly engrossed in the madness.