Gaelic Games XI: The stars who swapped GAA for professional football
Last Updated: 27/06/15 3:25pm
While another action-packed football season is coming to an end, the GAA Championship season is only beginning to hot up.
Thoughts are now turning from the 11-a-side to the 15-man game and there are a number of current football stars who have a background in Gaelic Games.
With that in mind, we've composed a soccer team that consists only of current players who have previously played Gaelic football or hurling.
David Forde (Millwall/Galway)
Forde moved back to Ireland in 2004 after an unsuccessful spell with West Ham United. Disillusioned with soccer, he began playing midfield for his club, St Michael’s, and was targeting a place in the Galway panel when Stephen Kenny persuaded him to join Derry City.
Special mention also goes to Forde’s Ireland team-mate Shay Given, who accepted an invitation to train with Donegal last summer.
Seamus Coleman (Everton/Donegal)
Everton full-back Coleman is an avid Donegal supporter and played Gaelic football for Killybegs until he was 18, when he joined Sligo Rovers. He has also been involved with John Mitchels GFC in Liverpool and has hinted at a return to GAA when he retires from soccer.
Marc Wilson (Stoke City/Armagh)
Stoke defender Wilson attended St Paul’s Secondary School in Lurgan and won a McDevitt Cup medal in 2001, scoring a goal in their win over St Joseph’s from Enniskillen.
John O’Shea (Sunderland/Waterford)
Sunderland captain O’Shea played GAA while growing up in Waterford and represented De La Salle College in Gaelic football.
Chris Baird (West Brom/Antrim)
West Brom and Northern Ireland international Baird was a dual player with his club, St Mary’s Rasharkin, and won an Antrim minor football championship in 1999.
David Meyler (Hull City/Cork)
Meyler comes from a proud GAA family, with dad John playing for both Wexford and Cork, winning an All-Ireland with the latter. David played for St Michael’s alongside current Ireland rugby international Simon Zebo.
Xabi Alonso (Bayern Munich/Meath)
His spell in GAA may have been brief but we still have to include the Spanish maestro, who played Gaelic football during a summer in Kells as a teenager learning English.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa/Warwickshire)
The Aston Villa youngster is currently embroiled in a tug-of-war between Ireland and England, but Grealish was also an accomplished Gaelic footballer.
Grealish played at underage level for Warwickshire and scored a point at Croke Park in 2009 in a half-time game during Dublin’s All-Ireland quarter-final with Kerry.
Stephen Hunt (Ipswich Town/Waterford)
The Ipswich winger hurled for the Deise at underage level, playing all the way up to minor before switching to soccer. Hunt trained with Wexford last summer and has expressed a desire to play hurling again.
Shane Long (Southampton/Tipperary)
Long was an underage star in Tipperary and played in two All-Ireland minor semi-finals for their hurlers before joining Cork City. He has been spotted at the Ruislip GAA grounds in London in recent years watching his brother Ogie in action for Fulham Irish.
Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids/Wexford)
Doyle played Gaelic football for Adamstown GAA Club and with Good Counsel in New Ross, where he sat his Leaving Cert. His father was an accomplished hurler while his mother and two aunts all won All-Ireland medals in camogie for Wexford.
Manager: Neil Lennon (Bolton Wanderers/Armagh)
Lennon was a talented corner-forward for Armagh and lined out alongside current Orchard County manager Kieran McGeeney in the 1989 Ulster minor final. He also captained St Paul’s Secondary School at U14 level.
Assistant manager: Jim McGuinness (Celtic/Donegal)
An All-Ireland winner with Donegal as both a player and a manager, McGuinness also trained Finn Harps and Derry City before joining Celtic as a performance consultant in 2012. He is currently studying for his UEFA ‘B’ Licence.