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A Republic Of Ireland XI That Also Excelled In Other Sports

A Republic Of Ireland XI That Also Excelled In Other Sports
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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Considering the popularity of sport in Ireland, it should come as no surprise to learn that some of our most successful footballers also starred in other codes.

While the examples of GAA players trying their hand at professional football in England are well-known, the opposite is also often the case.

Down through the years, plenty of Republic of Ireland internationals have excelled in other sports. Here are some of the best examples.

An Ireland XI That Also Excelled In Other Sports

GK: Packie Bonner (Gaelic Football)

He may have made his name by starring for Ireland at the major tournaments, but Packie Bonner was also an accomplished Gaelic footballer in his day.

He starred for Donegal at both minor and senior level in the 1970s, before having to give up the sport when he moved to Celtic in 1978.

Shane Supple is another good shout for this position, having played at Ipswich Town before returning to play for the Dublin footballers.

RB: Stephen Hunt (Hurling)

While normally a winger, we're backing Stephen Hunt to do a job at right back in this team.


Born in Portlaoise but then moving to Waterford at a young age, Hunt would go on to hurl for the Deise at underage level.

CB: Kevin Moran (Gaelic Football)

Kevin Moran (picture back left above) is perhaps the most famous example on this list. Not only a 71-cap Ireland international who starred for Manchester United for a decade at club level, he was also a brilliant Gaelic footballer who managed to split his time between the two sports at adult level.

Prior to his move to Old Trafford, he would win All-Ireland titles with Dublin in both 1976 and 1977. He was named an All-Star for his efforts in the first of those years.


CB: Steve Staunton (Gaelic Football)

While he didn't star at inter-county level as many others on this list did, Steve Staunton was still a tidy GAA player in his day.

In fact, he would score the winning goal in the Louth SFC final at the age of 16, with his late strike helping Clan na Gael to their first county title in 26 years back in 1985. He would move to Liverpool a year later, going on to win 102 caps for Ireland.

LB: Denis Irwin (Gaelic Football)

One of the most diverse defenders of the Premier League era, Denis Irwin's adaptability was not only limited to football.


The Cork native was an accomplished GAA players in his youth, representing the county up to minor level. In fact, he would win a Munster minor title with the team back in 1983, moving to Leeds United later that year.

CM: Sarah Rowe (Gaelic Fotball & Aussie Rules)

Sarah Rowe is an anomaly in this list in that she actually starred in three separate codes. She has been among the best ladies footballers in the country over the last decade or so, also starring since her initial move to the ALFW back in 2019.

However, he is also a talented soccer player. She was part of the Ireland squad that reached the semi-finals of the U19 Euros, winning all three games in a group that also featured England, Spain, and Sweden. She would make her senior international debut a year later.


While Rowe would put her football pursuits on the back burner for a number of years, she has recently returned to sport in a more full-time capacity. She spent some time with Melbourne Victory earlier this year, before signing for Shelbourne. She was called up for an Ireland home-based training camp by Vera Pauw in 2021.

CM: Tony Grealish (Gaelic Football)

While it may be unexpected to see an English-born player in this team, Tony Grealish was an accomplished Gaelic footballer in his youth.

Playing for London club St Gabriel's, he would go on to represent London at minor level. That included playing at Croke Park, where he would help the team to a 6-2 to 1-5 victory over Dublin.


Grealish also holds the distinction of being one of the few sportspeople to play both Gaelic football and soccer at Wembley Stadium, having taken part in a GAA exhibition at the ground.

CM: Katie Taylor (Boxing)

The greatest female boxer of all-time, Katie Taylor's feats in the ring need no introduction. What is often overlooked, however, is just how talented of a footballer she was.

During his days in the amateur ranks, the Bray woman would balance both football and boxing. Having played in green up through the youth ranks, she would earn 11 senior caps for Ireland from 2006-2009, scoring two goals along the way. She would have added far more appearances to that tally had she not decided to commit to boxing full-time.


It's fair to say it all worked out for her in the end.

FW: Cillian Sheridan (Gaelic Football)

Cillian Sheridan has had one of the more interesting careers among Irish footballers in recent years, taking in stops in Poland, Bulgaria, Cyrpus, New Zealand, and Israel during his time in the game.

He was also an excellent Gaelic footballer in his day, playing for Bailieboro Shamrocks before starring for Cavan at underage level. He even turned down the advances of Aussie rules clubs before deciding to throw his lot in with Celtic.

Sheridan maintains to this day that his main sport is Gaelic football.

FW: Niall Quinn (Gaelic Football & Hurling)

Another classic of the genre, Niall Quinn was a bright prospect in both GAA codes before ultimately deciding to pursue soccer instead. He has always said that hurling was his first love, going on to play for Dublin in both codes.

That included an appearance in the 1983 All-Ireland minor hurling final, where he would score this outrageous point as Dublin came up short against Galway.

FW: Shane Long (Hurling & Athletics)

A couple of years before he was scoring goals in the Premier League, Shane Long was considered one of the brightest hurling prospects in Tipperary.

The Gortnahoe-Glengoole clubman played two years with the county at minor level, appearing in a pair of All-Ireland semi-finals.

Long was also a prodigious sprinter in his youth, winning All-Ireland titles in 100m hurdles and 250m hurdles as a ten-year old. He would go on to beat out competition from across the UK to win gold in the Celtic games 80m hurdles final.


The Team In Full

There is no shortage of top quality athletes on show in this team.

Certainly not a bad side.

SEE ALSO: Paul Scholes Points Out Erik Ten Hag 'Disaster' That Cost Man United Against Sevilla

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