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A Great Soccer Player And A Master Pipe Layer: Why Is Ciaran McDonald So Adored?

A Great Soccer Player And A Master Pipe Layer: Why Is Ciaran McDonald So Adored?
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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This week we ran a poll asking readers to vote for the best Mayo footballer of the 'modern era' (we have limited the selection to players who were active after 1980 - apologies to the surviving members of the '51 team).

Read more: POLL - Vote For The Best Dublin Player Of The Modern Era 

The results were fairly conclusive.

Ciaran McDonald won with the kind of landslide that would have left Charlie Haughey salivating. Even during his pomp in Iraq, Saddam Hussein might have been impressed with the numbers McDonald was pulling in.

He secured 63% of the vote. To give an indicator of just how emphatic that victory is, Aidan O'Shea and Keith Higgins sat in joint second place with 8%. Cult heroes Liam McHale and Willie Joe Padden hovered in and around the 3% mark.

Why is McDonald so wildly popular in Mayo and beyond?


We asked Edwin McGreal of the Mayo News - who has played against McDonald at club level and was lucky to be injured when he was due to play against McDonald's local soccer team - about the enduring appeal of Supermac.

Thanks to a mixture of outrageous talent and an air of detachment, McDonald continues to fascinate.

People loved going to see him play. Everytime you went to see Ciaran McDonald in the flesh, there was a very good chance you were going to see a piece of genius from him. It might be four or five times a game, he would do something that was worth the admission fee alone. Ciaran was an exciting player - he's still playing, whether he's playing into next year, we don't know yet. But a very exciting player. He could do magical things with the ball in hand. Some of his scores over the years have been outrageous, some of his passing over the years. It's just been an absolute joy to watch. Whilst a lot of the current team have been very successful in recent years and are still at the height of their powers, I don't think any of them have captured the imagination of the Mayo public in the way that Ciaran has.


It is not only in football that McDonald's exploits are legendary. By day, McDonald was and is a pipe-layer. Journalists have long been frustrated in their attempts to get an interview with McDonald. At a loss, one enterprising journalist spoke with his boss who talked about McDonald's approach to his work.

He had a very physically damaging job. He was a pipe-layer. Even in that sphere, the talk of him was legendary in that he is supposed to be one of the most productive guys. I remember his boss giving a newspaper interview a couple of years ago, Ciaran is capable on a very good day of laying 2km of pipe. I'm not a pipe laying expert but apparently that's incredible stuff.

Anyone who can play Gaelic football like McDonald was always going to excel at other sports. If McGreal's experience is anything to go by, McDonald is a spectacular junior soccer player.

He was quite a good soccer player as well actually. He played a bit with Crossmolina. I remember they played against my soccer club before. I play in goal. Thankfully, I was injured that day because Ciaran scored five goals that day. And a couple of them were from forty yards. The stand-in goalie still gets slagged about it but he (McDonald) was always an incredible talent.

Listen to our full conversation with Edwin below:


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Read more: The 10 Types Of GAA Fan You Will Definitely Find On The Internet



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