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7 Irish Sports Stars Who Were Famously Not Born In Ireland

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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We're all aware of the Terry Mancini's of the world, men whose connection with this country was tenuous but who did their best. But here are five men some might be surprised to learn we're not born in this country.

Cathal Pendred


You could call last night's result a bit of a home town decision. Despite his rugby playing background and his soft Dublin accent, Pendred was born where so many other people of Irish descent were born, in Boston.

His parents named him Cathal in honour of the River Charles which runs through Boston.


Ronan O'Gara


The ingenious story about how the Miami Dolphins wanted him as a kicker turned out to be all bullshit. The Irish Indo ran with a story that Dolphins owner H Wayne Huizenga phoned him in January 2003, dangling an contract of $12 million dollars above his head. The story was a complete fabrication concocted by O'Gara himself to strengthen his hand in contract negotiations with the IRFU.


O'Gara's American roots probably allowed him to dream up the idea. His father Fergal was out in San Diego studying for a post-doc in Microbiology when O'Gara was born (You may have read 'Control of Biological Nitrogen Fixation', published by New York Press in 1978. Soon afterwards, he returned to Cork and a post in UCC. His two year old kid opted to come with him.


Jamie Heaslip



Like Bruce Willis, Jamie Heaslip's father was an army man and thus both were born in rather unusual locations. Heaslip was born in Israel in 1983, where his father Richard was serving with the United Nations. Incidentally, his father was also a decent rugby player and played with Shannon.

We're not sure how much attachment Jamie feels towards the Israeli state but we're fairly confident there were no tensions between him and Gordon Darcy over the latter's stance on the Gaza War.

Paul McGrath




McGrath's story is a classic 1950's tale. His mother Betty was working in London and became pregnant by a Nigerian man, who disappeared shortly after the birth of the baby.

Apprehensive about telling her father she had a child, Betty put Paul up for adoption. And so a couple of weeks after his birth, he returned to Dublin where he was brought up in a number of orphanages. Then, there was football with Dalkey United and later St. Pat's.

He's soaking the bright lights of Wexford these days. His mother is back in Drimnagh. His got on great with his grandfather although he says he understands why his mother was reluctant to tell him about her situation.


Setanta O'Hailpin

Neither of his parents came from hurling strongholds, but he was born in neither Fermanagh nor Fiji (like his brother Sean). Setanta was born in Sydney, another minnow in the world of hurling. Unlike his older brother, he didn't get much of a chance to dabble in rugby league (the game in Sydney) as the family moved to Cork when he was five.

Sixteen years later, he moved back to Australia to join Carlton.


Jordi Murphy


Where else would he have picked up that first name - a name so unusual in Blackrock College (and even among the other schools in Dublin). His parents were in Barcelona in the early 90s, and like Johann Cryuff, named their kid after the patron saint of Catalonia.

They remained in Catalonia until 1999 before moving back to Dublin. His accent doesn't betray his Barca roots. He has the same accent as 90% of Leinster rugby players.


David O'Leary


Arsenal.com has a go at painting O'Leary as an Englishman who only qualified for Ireland through his parents. It's true that the famously 'cultured' defender (it was obligatory to call him cultured, especially when setting him alongside Charlton favourite, Mick McCarthy) was born in Stoke-Newington in London (not Rory Delap's Stoke you understsnd. A different place) but its also true that he moved back to Ireland at the age of three.

I think it's fair to say he was home grown.



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