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29 Jun

6 Gaelic Players Who Starred in Different Sports

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Posted by Aidan Barry in Features | Jun 2017

In Ireland, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to sporting activities. While soccer may be the most widely played team sport, football and hurling aren’t far behind, while rugby has a large underage playing base. In terms of individual sports golf, cycling, swimming, snooker/pool and aerobics are all popular. And of course, the influence of famous sporting success stories like Conor McGregor and the O’Donovan brothers will help to grow their respective sports as well.

 

Here we’re going to take a look at six people who played Gaelic at a high level before bringing their athletic talents to a global audience:

 

Jim Stynes

Winning the Brownlow medal for best AFL player of the season in 1991 and playing a total of 264 games for Melbourne, Jim Stynes is the gold standard of the ‘Irish Experiment’ of bringing Gaelic players to try their hand at Aussie Rules. No other overseas player has won the Brownlow medal to date, so he remains out in front as the greatest Irish player to have worn an Aussie Rules ‘guernsey’ as a pro.

 

Brian Carney

Carney played Gaelic for Valleymount GAA in Wicklow, winning a championship medal with them in 1998. He was playing rugby league at the same time, and was signed by Gateshead the following year. The most productive years of his career were spent with the Wigan Warriors and he earned caps for both the British and Irish rugby league sides. Not content with two sports, Carney switched to rugby union late in his career to play for Munster, earning 4 Irish caps between 2007-09.

 

Katie Taylor

Another with more than one sporting string to her bow, Katie Taylor played both football and camogie for her local GAA clubs. She also played soccer at a high level, earning 11 senior international caps for Ireland. Fair to say that boxing has earned Taylor the most acclaim though, thanks to her 6 European Amateur gold medals, 5 World Amateur golds, an Olympic gold and a host of other medals along with a flourishing pro career.

 

Niall Quinn

Niall was an underage Gaelic and hurling player with Dublin, and was offered the chance to play Aussie Rules before choosing soccer instead. Probably a good choice as the Mighty Quinn went on to play for Arsenal, Sunderland and Manchester City in the Premier League, as well as earning caps for Ireland and finishing his career as the all-time second-highest Irish goal-scorer with 21.

 

Tadhg Kennelly

As an underage star with Kerry, Kennelly attracted the attention of a number of English soccer clubs and was briefly under contract with Blackburn Rovers. Recruited by the Sydney Swans to play Aussie Rules Football in 1999, he went on to enjoy a career in the AFL only surpassed by the afore-mentioned Jim Stynes. In 2005 he became the only Irishman to win an AFL Premiership medal to date, and he capped that with a return to Kerry in 2009 where he was part of the All-Ireland title-winning side.

 

Mick Galwey

There have been many Gaelic players who have made the transition to rugby, but nobody except Mick Galwey has won All-Irelands in both codes. He was part of the Kerry All-Ireland winning side of 1986, and played for Shannon RFC when they won four All-Ireland titles in a row. Galwey also represented Ireland 41 times and made the Lions tour to New Zealand in 1993.

 

Most of us will have a better chance to win the lotto than to reach the sporting heights of the 6 sporting stars listed above. But have we left anybody off the list? Let us know which dual-code players should have gotten a mention on a list of the greatest of all time.

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