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Balls.ie's Ranking Of The Top 10 Irish Sporting Secondary Schools

Balls.ie's Ranking Of The Top 10 Irish Sporting Secondary Schools

At the beginning of the month, we put out a call on our social media channels for nominations for the Irish secondary schools that have the best track record in manufacturing elite sporting talent. We were flooded with nominations, and after parsing an incredibly competitive list, we are delighted to reveal our (admittedly subjective) list of Ireland's top 10 secondary schools for producing sporting talent.

Here's how we created this list.

Firstly, this is a ranking of sporting success in recent times. For that reason we have only considered athletes active at an elite level through the year 2000. We did not dismiss the past entirely and allowed each school a limited number of 'legend' points should they have a legendary sportsperson amongst their ranks) .

For this table, we have incentivised schools whose alumni starred in an array of sports. Perhaps controversially, this means punishing 'one-sport' powerhouses. St Kieran's College in Kilkenny has produced many of the greatest hurlers of the past 25 years. St Munchin's can boast similar for rugby, however neither have made the top 10. We are not looking to diminish the outstanding achievements of these schools, however, this list celebrates schools that have produced elite sportspeople across the vast landscape of sport.

Finally, this is not a list of the most decorated secondary schools in sport.

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With all that said, we'd like to unveil our Top 10 Irish sporting secondary schools.

Honourable mentions:

  • Ardscoil Rís, Limerick - past pupils include Paul O'Connell and 15 members of Limerick's 2020 All-Ireland winning hurling team
  • Templeogue College - past pupils include soccer players Dara O'Shea and Enda Stevens plus rugby players Eric O'Sullivan and Malcolm O'Kelly
  • Mount Temple College - past pupils include Becky Lynch, Diane Caldwell and Alan Maybury

10. Calasanctius College

You'll find past students from this Oranmore secondary school in the Premier League, Championship and the Pro14. It's also supplied players to the All-Ireland winning Galway hurling and camogie teams of recent years, as well as the Ireland's women's basketball team.

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Location: Oranmore, Co. Galway

Star past pupils: Aaron Connolly and Greg Cunningham (Ireland internationals), Gearóid McInerney and Niall Burke (All-Ireland winners with Galway hurlers), Niamh Hannify and Ailish O'Reilly (All-Ireland winners with Galway camogie), Claire Rockall (Ireland basketball intentional), Sean O'Brien (Connacht rugby player)

Number of students: 730

9. St Eunan's College

The Letterkenny secondary school had past pupils in the Donegal team that won Sam Maguire in 2012, but its sporting alumni include a European medalist in athletics, a Grand Tour stage winner and an MMA fighter.

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Star past pupils: Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden (All-Ireland winners with Donegal), Mark English (athletics, European medalist 800m) , Phillip Deignan (Olympian cyclist, winner of stage on the Vuelta), Artem Lobov (MMA)

Fee paying?: No

Students: 900

8. Newbridge College

Best known for its former rugby players, this Co. Kildare secondary school also boasts one of Ireland's most capped women footballers as well as many stars of horseracing and equestrian sport amongst its past pupils.

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Location: Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Notable past pupils: Jamie Heaslip and Geordan Murphy (Ireland and Lions rugby), Louise Quinn (80 Ireland caps), Helen Kearney (equestrian, medaled three times at 2012 Paralympics)

Past legends: Dermot Weld, Aubrey Brabazon

Fee paying?: Yes

Number of students: 770

7. Presentation College

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In the last twenty years, the Bray secondary school has produced Ireland internationals in soccer, rugby, cricket and basketball.

Location: Bray, Co Wicklow

Star past pupils: Darren Randolph (Ireland soccer international), Reggie Corrigan (Ireland rugby international), Ed Joyce (cricket international), Lorcan Murphy (basketball)

Past legends: Gary O'Toole (swimming)

Fee paying?: No

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Students: 670

6. Coláiste Chríost Rí

The Turners Cross secondary school has produced its fair share of Irish sporting legends over the years.

Location: Cork

Star past pupils: Rob Heffernan (Olympic bronze medalist), Damien Delaney (Ireland international), Paul Kerrigan (All-Ireland winner for Cork footballers)

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Past legends: Denis Irwin and Billy Morgan

Fee paying?: No

Number of students: 600

5. St Benildus

The Stillorgan college has a fascinating list of sporting alumni that includes recent stars of the Dublin football team, a Libyan international and a few familiar sporting personalities.

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Location: Stillorgan, Co Dublin

Notable past pupils: David Gillick (athletics), Paul Mannion and Davy Byrne (Dublin All-Ireland winners), Richie Sadlier (Ireland soccer international), Eamon Zayed (Libyan soccer international),

Past legend: Derek Daly (F1)

Fee-paying?: No

Number of students: 800

4. St Aidan's

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The Collins Avenue secondary school has made huge contributions to the Dublin intercounty football and hurling teams of recent years, while producing some incredible soccer players and runners.

Location: Whitehall, Co. Dublin

Notable past pupils:  John Small and Paddy Small (Dublin gaelic football), Eoghan O’Donnell (Dublin hurling), Mark Kinsella (48 Ireland caps)

Past legends: Liam Brady, Bertie Ahern (cross country), Niall Bruton

Fee paying: No

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Number of students: 700

3. Belvedere College

One of Ireland's most well-regarded fee-paying schools, Belvo has produced famous sportsmen across many sports, not just rugby.

Location: Dublin

Notable past pupils: Cian Healy and Ian Keatley (Ireland rugby internationals), Jack McCaffrey and Eoin Murchan (Dublin footballers), Cian O’Connor (Olympic medalist, equestrian), Cathal Pendred (UFC), Barry Murphy (swimming)

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Past legends: Tony O'Reilly

Fee paying?: Yes

Number of students: 1,000

2. St Andrew's College

It's incredible just how many past pupils from St Andrews are making waves across Irish sport at the moment.

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Location: Booterstown, Co. Dublin

Notable past pupils: Jordan Larmour and Andrew Porter (Ireland rugby internationals), Chloe Watkins and Gillian Pinder (silver medalists. Hockey World Cup), Andrew Balbirnie (current Ireland cricket captain), Chloe Mustaki (Ireland soccer international), Neil Farrugia (Ireland U21 soccer international)

Fee paying?: Yes

Number of students: 265

1. Good Counsel

Good Counsel boasts one of the world's best rugby players, one of the world's most decorated horsetrainers, one of the best Irish strikers of the past 20 years as well as numerous All-Ireland hurling winners and successful jockeys amongst its alumni.

Location: New Ross, Co. Wexford

Notable past pupils: Tadhg Furling (Leinster, Ireland and Lions tighthead), Aidan O'Brien (legendary horsetrainer), Kevin Doyle (capped 62 times for Ireland), Walter Walsh (All-Ireland winner with Kilkenny hurlers)

Fee paying?: No

Number of students: 850

Donny Mahoney
Article written by
Donny Mahoney is Chief Sportswriter and one of the founders of Balls.ie

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