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Some Of The Most Famous British Born Gaelic Footballers

Some Of The Most Famous British Born Gaelic Footballers
By Conor Neville
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1 July, 2013.

Huge congratulations to the London team as they continue on with their historic march towards this year’s Connacht Senior Football Championship Final.

Regardless of the result against Mayo, London can be proud of their mightily impressive achievements this year.
They travel to Castlebar on their momentous quest for victory with best wishes from me and all London fans.
Go London!

It's a few years now since Boris Johnson wished godspeed to the London team as they faced Mayo in the Connacht Final.

The team was primarily made of Irish lads living and working in the English capital but there were a smattering of London born lads in the squad and one lad who started the Connacht final.

Here, we present a number of Gaelic footballers, of varying abilities and stature, who were born in Britain.

Noel Gallagher

In a 2001 interview, Noel Gallagher was asked if he would consider writing the England World Cup song. He responded, 'absolutely not. If we do anything, it'll be for the Republic of Ireland'.

As a sports fan, Noel is most associated with soccer. He is the most famous Manchester City fan in the world, a title he jointly holds with 'our kid'.


However, he has a Gaelic football past. In an interview with the Examiner last year, he was inevitably asked about his feelings on the GAA.

Gallagher diplomatically confirmed that he enjoyed watching hurling on TV though he earlier compared it to 'gang war with sticks'. He then reflected on his glory days as an underage Gaelic footballer.

He played for Manchester based club Oisin CLG, the kingpins of underage football in Lancashire in his youth. In 1983, he even scored a point in Croke Park in a challenge match against Kilmacud. He can't remember the end into which the point was scored.


There’s a picture of me somewhere scoring a point (in Croke Park). I haven’t seen the picture for years. I was in a Gaelic football team in Manchester, and we were a great team too. All the Irish social clubs that were attached to the churches all had Gaelic football teams.

Sadly, he was lost to Lancashire GAA in later years.

'I played soccer as well. And then I gave up both when I discovered marijuana', he said.


16 year old Noel Gallagher lines out in Croke Park, 1983.Noel and Liam Gallagher played GAA for Manchester club Oisín's. This game was an exhibition game against Kilmacud Crokes.

Posted by Rare Irish Stuff on Thursday, 27 February 2014

Philip Butler

During London's run to the Connacht title in 2013, Butler was greatly sought after by interviewers and feature writers.

The only native Londoner on the team, he was born in Greenford not far from Ruislip. His mother is from Cork and his father is a second generation Irishman.


Butler told the website of Tir Chonnaill Gaels - his club - that his friends were uncomprehending when it came to the stature of the Connacht final.

I don’t think my friends really know how big it is. They don’t understand it. They don’t really get why I can’t have a drink with them when we go out. I think they’re getting there a bit with it now. I think it’s starting to make them realise that it’s a big deal. But they still don’t really know what I do.

There was great gas on Up For The Match 2013 when Paul Coggins confirmed to Grainne Seoighe that Butler had indeed turned up for London training in an England jersey.


Jack Grealish

Future England hero Jack Grealish can credit his resilience to his teenage Gaelic football days. At least according to the Daily Mail.

On his debut for John Mitchels, a GAA club in Warwickshire, he received a mighty blow and appealed to the referee. ‘This isn’t soccer, Jack,’ he was told without pity.

His Gaelic football past was frequently cited as reassuring evidence that Grealish would plump for the boys in green in the end.

He appeared for Warwickshire in the kiddie's game at half-time during the 2009 Kerry-Dublin quarter-final. Like Noel Gallagher, he kicked a point.

I got a point for Warwickshire when we got to play in Croke Park a while back. I loved GAA, I played from when I was eight up to 14. We had won a tournament over in England so we got invited over to play in Croke Park, it was half time during a senior game. I can't remember who was in the senior game but I know I scored a point and my Dad was delighted with that.

Tony Grealish


Ireland's favourite Grealish is reputed to be the only man to have played soccer and Gaelic football at Wembley. No less importantly, he was also an uncle of the rapper Example.

Grealish played Gaelic football for a club called St. Agnes in London. He subsequently played for London at Wembley in an U16 competition.

Here's a segment from RTE's smashing little GAA magazine programme from the early 2000s - Breaking Ball. Tony appears with his Galway father Packie who describes the majesty of Wembley by saying 'it was like going to Croke Park'.

No higher praise.


Darran O'Sullivan

Darran O'Sullivan began his Gaelic football career at the alma matter of Philip Butler, Tir Chonaill Gaels. His first match, at the age of nine, was against Kerry Gaels.

His London childhood also yielded trials for QPR. He was part of the club's school of excellence programme at U10 and U12 level.

His family returned to Kerry in the late 1990s, where he shed his London accent and re-commenced his career with Glenbeigh-Glencar.

Sean Wight

Contrary to popular opinion, the first ever Gaelic footballer to switch to Aussie Rules under the 'Irish Experiment' was not Jim Stynes, but a Kerry minor footballer from the early 1980s.

Wight lived in Glasgow until the age of ten until the family moved... to England. During his brief time in England, he was asked to trials at Fulham.

Shortly afterwards, when Sean was thirteen, the family headed for Listowel in Kerry, where Wight's natural facility for ball games simply expressed itself through Gaelic football. Had he gone to Kilkenny, he's have probably hurled in a minor All-Ireland as well.

Listowel Emmets club secretary at the time, Vincent Carmody recalls driving Wight down to the Kerry minor trials in Tralee, where he had to be whipped off early by the selectors - for being, quite literally, too good.

I remember I was in charge of the Listowel minors when he started trialling for the (Kerry) minors. I always remember taking him to Tralee to the trials and he'd only be on for a couple of minutes because they'd say 'Arra, take Wight off, because no one else will get a kick when he's around!' He was very commanding.

Paul Hehir

Hehir had a lengthy inter-county career which began and ended with London, with a five year spell with Clare - the county of his parents - sandwiched in between.

His father Senan was a former Clare player who left for London in the early 70s. He coached the team in the late 1990s.

Both were interviewed by Marty Morrissey ahead of London's near miss against Leitrim in the 1997 Connacht championship.

Born in Swiss Cottage in North London, he retired shortly before the great adventure of 2013.

Paul O'Donoghue

O'Donoghue spent five years 'on the books' at Spurs, playing for the Republic of Ireland U17 and U19 teams before falling out of love with soccer in the mid-noughties.

Similar to Shane Supple, he quit the game to pursue his real love - Gaelic football.

Born in Catford to Kerry parents, O'Donoghue played for Austin Stacks for five years. He played for London during the late noughties but made himself unavailable for selection for the 2013 season.

Read more: A Canadian Camera Man Had Real Trouble Filming Tipp Hurling Match From 1990

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