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17 Famous Irish People Who Played Minor GAA At County Level

17 Famous Irish People Who Played Minor GAA At County Level
Mark Farrelly
By Mark Farrelly Updated
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From Premier League footballers to Emmy nominees, the amount of stars who have togged out in minor GAA is a surprisingly long one. The minor hurling championship isn't the first thing you'd think of when you think of movie stars, but you would be surprised.

Turns out that there are quite a lot of former county minors who went on to make a name for themselves in a different walk of life. Here are just some of the most notable and bizarre.

Minor GAA: Stars who togged out at intercounty level

1. Paul Mescal

Let's get the obvious one out of the way first. Mescal is the most recent addition to this list. The Normal People  star captained the Kildare minors in 2014 and was regarded as one of the brightest GAA prospects in the country.

Minor GAA Paul Mescal Con O'Callaghan

20 July 2014; Dublin captain Con O'Callaghan shakes hands with Kildare captain Paul Mescal before the game, with referee John Hickey. Electric Ireland Leinster GAA Football Minor Championship Final, Kildare v Dublin, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

2. Chris O'Dowd

The aforementioned Chris O'Dowd was a goalkeeper on the Roscommon minor team in the late 90s and heir to the throne of his hero growing up; Shane Curran.

3. Niall Quinn

Irish and Sunderland legend Niall Quinn had already made quite a name for himself before he crossed the water to begin his professional soccer career.

In 1983, a 16-year-old Quinn lined out for Dublin in the All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship final. There's even footage of him in action.

4. Neil Lennon

The former Celtic manager has also appeared in an Ulster minor football final. He played in the 1989 final for Armagh against Derry but they lost on a scoreline of 2-15 to 2-03.

5. Dara O'Briain

Probably the only BBC presenter to have hurled at intercounty minor level, O'Briain managed a half a match for the Wicklow hurlers in his youth. Unfortunately a dodgy knee and impending international fame put paid to his GAA career.

6. Denis Irwin

One of the most underrated players in Premier League history and also one of the most underrated hurlers in Ireland. Irwin was reportedly brilliant as an underage player with his club St Finbarrs GAA and rumours are that he was marking Niall Quinn in the 1983 All-Ireland semi final - but that could be just a tall tale.


7. Tomas O'Leary

Another famous Cork sports star who made quite the impression in underage hurler is former Ireland scrumhalf Tomas O'Leary. O'Leary not only played for the Cork minor team, he captained them to an All-Ireland title.

Tomas O'Leary Cork minor GAA hurling


READ HERE: Five Club GAA Transfers Which Caused Controversy

8. Mick Galwey

Staying with Irish rugby, Mick Galwey has quite the record in GAA. He played not only for the Kerry minor football team but would go on to also represent them at U21 and senior level.

The Currow clubman has also won medals at minor, u21 and senior level.



9. Danny O'Reilly

Lead singer of the Coronas and the son of Mary Black, O'Reilly has been somewhat derailed since he played for the Dubs in the 2003 minor championship.

10. Niall Breslin


The lead singer of The Blizzards has been a prominent voice in Irish society in recent years but many moons ago Bressie made a name for himself as a rugby player and a Gaelic footballer. Before he went on to join the Leinster rugby team, Breslin played minor football for his native Westmeath.


11. Cillian Sheridan

Having had the terrible misfortune of playing against him, I can certainly vouch for Cillian Sheridan's football ability. He was arguably the best underage Gaelic footballer Cavan have produced in 20 years. Sadly for the Breffni county he left Ireland to join Celtic, shortly after he kicked two glorious points in the Ulster Minor Football Championship against Down.


12. Patrick Kielty

Another Irish comedian who boasts a GAA background, Patrick Kielty actually has an All-Ireland medal. The Late Late Show presenter was the sub goalkeeper on the Down team which won the All-Ireland Football Minor title in 1987.

(images via Schools Athletics Updates)

13. Rob Kearney

Possibly the most handsome man in rugby was once possibly the most handsome man in Gaelic football. Kearney played minor football for Louth before moving on to become a professional rugby player.

That's him third from the right in the back row.

Rob Kearney with minor GAA gaelic football team Louth

14. Shane Long

It's no secret that Shane Long perfected his running down the channels skills as a young hurler in Tipperary. The Southampton striker was no ordinary player, he in fact played for Tipp in two All-Ireland minor semi-finals, in 2003 and 2004.

GAA Shane Long playing minor hurling for Tipperary

15. Tommy Bowe

If Tommy Bowe didn't make it as a rugby player then there is a good chance he'd have a couple of Ulster football titles under his belt. Bowe played football for Monaghan at minor level and his club Emyvale.


16. Tony Grealish

I kid you not, but the English born former Republic of Ireland international Tony Grealish played a minor football match in Croke Park for London against Dublin in the early 1970s. They won the game 6-2 to 1-5 and were also responsible for perhaps the coolest team photo in GAA history.

Look at the guy in vest with no top on the far right.

70s minor GAA team London

17. Shane Horgan

It is only fitting that the man responsible for one of the most famous rugby catch in Croke Park's history has a background in Gaelic football. Bellewstown GAA club's Shane Horgan was once a Meath minor, years before he'd go on to do this:

SEE ALSO: Meath Spent A Huge Amount Of Money On 'Manager & Selectors' In 2023



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