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Our Inter-County GAA Players Who Have Played League Of Ireland XI

By Conor Neville
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It's obligatory, when writing about people who have flitted between the GAA and the League of Ireland, to talk in solemn tones about 'The Ban', which was lifted in 1971. Ireland was for a long time a cold house for lads who were fond of both heading a ball and catching it in their chest. Here's a team of eleven players, heroes who have played senior inter-county GAA and have also lived double lives as League of Ireland players.


Goalkeeper -  Shane Curran

[Watch Video]

Curran was Athlone Town's goalkeeper from 1991 until the early years of the new millennium, winning the club's Player of the Year award in 1995.

His ridiculously colourful GAA career hardly needs to be gone over. His biggest honours include winning the Connacht title with Roscommon in 2001 and the All-Ireland club title in 2013. He also scored numerous penalties, secured a regular spot on Second Captains, and was the subject of a loving soliloquy from a Hollywood actor on the Sunday Game.


Full Back -  Declan Bonner


Bonnar usually played left back for Finn Harps, but we are confident he can switch flanks a la Denis Irwin. He played for Harps between 1989 and 1991.

The 1992 All-Ireland winner believes its no longer possible to combine two sports, and he wrote in the Donegal News of how he once played against Cobh Ramblers in the League of Ireland and Longford in the National League on the same day.

One day in 1991, I played one Sunday for Finn Harps at Finn Park at 12 noon against Cobh Ramblers. Straight after the game, and still in my gear, off I went over the road to MacCumhaill Park to play for Brian McEniff’s Donegal in a League game against Longford.

He hastened to add that Donegal defeated Longford but the Harps could only draw 1 - 1 with Cobh.

Centre Back -  Eoin Quigley

Wexford hurler Quigley is perhaps best known for scoring one of the greatest points ever in Croke Park against Kilkenny in the 2004 Leinster final.


He also played at centre-back for Bohemians during Pete Mahon's unhappy spell in charge in the post-Roddy 2001/02 season. He was in the Bohs squad the night they beat Aberdeen in Pittodrie in 2000.

Centre back - David Pugh

A Sligo Rovers legend in the 1970s, Pugh captained the Irish U-23s in a match against France in Dalymount Park in 1966. He won an FAI Cup medal with Shamrock Rovers in 1969, but prompted by the awkwardness of his travel commitments, he asked for a transfer to his hometown club. He played for Rovers until 1976, though he only made one appearance in Sligo's title winning season in 1975-76.


A PE Teacher in Summerhill, Pugh lined out for Sligo in the 1971 Connacht Final against Galway and won a Connacht club championship with St. Mary's.

Full Back - Dessie Barry

Barry was Longford's marquee forward for almost two decades, carrying the counties hopes during the sometimes upbeat 1980s and the relentlessly bleak 1990s. He embodied the 'Declan Browne principle', i.e. that struggling counties have at least one player that everyone knows. He was selected for the compromised rules team in 1988 and 1990 and was nominated for an All-Star on three occasions.


The undisputed king of club football in Longford in the period, he won three county championships in a row with Longford Slashers in 1989, 90 and 91, taking home the Man of the Match gong in all three of them. He won his final club championship with Slashers in 1994.

Barry played left back for Longford Town during the late 80s and early 90s when they were still establishing themselves as a League of Ireland club. The most high profile game he played in was probably the 1988 FAI Cup semi-final against Derry City. He is second on the left in the front row in this photo.

Left Side Midfield - Brendan Devenney


Devenney played for Finn Harps for most of the noughties, occasionally opting to drop off the Donegal panel during the winter to concentrate on helping the Harps. He featured in that dramatic relegation playoff in 2001-02, in which Finn Harps lost to Longford Town on penalties.

He eventually turned down a two-year contract with the Ballybofey club in 2007, deciding to commit himself to the Donegal seniors.

Devenney's finest hour came in 2012, when, while conducting an interview on Off the Ball, he handed his phone over to a friend of his who proceeded to tell a long and extremely boring story about Daniel O'Donnell which had no apparent conclusion.

Last year, after Donegal's quarter-final loss to Mayo, he popped his phone over to a slightly groggy sounding Rory Kavanagh. These incidents haven't unduly harmed his media career, although who knows.

Devenney will fill in on the left side of midfield on this team.

Midfield - Dave Barry

The captain and spiritual leader of this team, Barry had stellar careers in both Gaelic football and the League of Ireland. While he played wing forward on the Cork side that won back-to-back All-Irelands in 1989 and 1990, he is perhaps more closely associated with Cork City FC.


He played for Cork City between 1984 and 1985, winning the League title in 1993. His most famous goal for Cork City was undoubtedly his strike against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup in Musgrave Park in 1991. He stepped up to become manager in 1995, guiding them to an FAI Cup triumph in 1998 after a three game saga with Shelbourne.


Midfield - Jimmy Barry Murphy

An attacking midfielder/striker, JBM played for Cork Celtic during their run to the FAI Cup final in 1969. His son Brian also played for Cork City and Preston North End.

Right Side Midfield -  Michael Donnellan

After a brief but significant chat with Brian Kerr at an awards do in late 1998 sparked an interest in furthering his soccer career, Donnellan eventually signed a semi-professional contract with Galway United in 1999, much to the displeasure of inter-county manager John O'Mahony.

Throughout the 99-00 season, there were fears within Galway GAA that Donnellan, one of the brightest stars in '98, would be lost to the team. He would eventually return, winning a second All-Ireland in 2001.

Donnellan ultimately only spent one season at Terryland Park as Don O'Riordan's team secured their Premier Division status.

Centre Forward - Jason Sherlock

Sherlock scored frequently for UCD between 1994 and 1998, before moving to Shamrock Rovers for the 1998-99 season. He was UCD's top scorer during the 1994-95 season.

Centre Forward -  Peter Whitnell

A bustling attacker in both sports, Withnell's first sport was soccer, and he played for a series of clubs in Northern Ireland including Crusaders, Cliftonville, and Ballymena United, before spending four seasons with Dundalk. His goals were crucial in Dundalk winning the League title in 1995.

In GAA, he enjoyed a glorious year in 1991, famously scoring two goals in the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry. He failed to score in the final but Down defeated Meath to win their and Ulster's first All-Ireland in 23 years. He drifted in and out of the team over the next couple of years and was a bit part player when Down claimed their second All-Ireland of the decade in 1994. One of the few protestants to win an All-Ireland, a myth has persisted that Withnell was hounded out of the game due to sectarian abuse. The player himself has confirmed this is untrue.



Brendan Murphy: Played for Dundalk in 1999-00 and Longford Town from 2008 to 2010. Was Meath's No. 1 during the late noughties.

Tom McGuinness : Three time Ulster title winner in the 70s with Derry and Finn Harps player. Brother of Martin.

Mick O'Keefe : Dublin and Shamrock Rovers in the 90s.

Lee Chin : Wexford dual player. Played for both Waterford United and Wexford Youths.

Johnny Kenny : Sligo Rovers legend in the 90s, he also togged out for the Sligo inter-county side during that bleak decade for the county.


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