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Ranking Pundit Arena’s Top 10 Irish Dual-Sport Athletes

dual-sport athletes

The dual-sport athlete is something we are accustomed to here in Ireland. 

Some may argue that that is down to the GAA factor and you would be right on some level. Our national games have, in the past, allowed players to flourish in more than one discipline, whether that is Gaelic football, hurling, camogie or handball.

dual-sport athletes

However, there are plenty of other notable athletes who made their names in multiple sporting codes, neither of which included Gaelic games.

With that in mind, we decided to put a list together ranking our country’s top 10 dual-sport athletes.

dual-sport athletes

Ireland’s top 10 dual-sport athletes:

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10 – Tadhg Kennelly (Sydney Swans & Kerry GAA)

dual-sport athletes

The Listowel native was nearly lost to Gaelic games forever. A prodigious underage talent and son of Kerry GAA royalty in Tim ‘Horse’ Kennelly, the younger Kennelly made tracks for Australia at 18 after signing a contract with AFL franchise the Sydney Swans.

In 2005 Kennelly became the first and only Irish player to win a Premiership title. A few years later he returned from Australia and joined in with the Kerry senior panel for the 2009 season which duly ended with him winning an All-Ireland senior title making him the only player to win an All-Ireland title and a Premiership title.

He returned to Australia and played two more seasons with the Swans before becoming a respected coach within the AFL. Kennelly also represented Ireland’s International Rules side and was part of Australia’s backroom team in 2015.

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9 – Jimmy Barry Murphy (Cork football & hurling)

dual-sport athletes

A GAA Hall of Famer, ‘JBM’ won his first All-Ireland title a month after turning 19 when he starred for Cork, scoring two goals in their All-Ireland football final victory over Galway. He won a second Munster title a year later, however, the emergence of Kerry’s greatest ever side in the late 70s denied Barry Murphy the chance to add to his inter-county football collection barring a National League medal in 1980.

Barry Murphy would prove to be an even bigger sensation on the hurling field where he collected 10 Munster titles and five All-Irelands. He also collected seven All-Star awards in total (2x football, 5x hurling) and won an All-Ireland hurling title as Cork manager in 1999.

The Cork legend also had a distinguished club career with St. Finbarrs that saw the club win four All-Ireland senior titles, two in each code.

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8 – Mick Galwey (Ireland rugby & Kerry GAA)

dual-sport athletes

A great man for a great yarn. Mick Galwey is held in the highest regard in Munster. Part of the British and Irish Lions touring squad in 1993, Galwey was one of the last surviving rugby players to transition from amateur to professionalism.

A former provincial captain, Galwey led Munster from 1996 until 2002. He won 41 caps for Ireland captaining his country in 2002 and in 2003 he captained a touring Barbarians side. However, Galwey’s first taste of captaincy came way back in 1989 when he captained the Kerry senior footballers in their championship opener against Limerick.

While he only made two appearances for Kerry at senior level, it must be noted that Galwey won an All-Ireland in 1986 which on top of his AIL titles with Shannon means he is the only man to win an All-Ireland in rugby and Gaelic football.

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7 – Teddy MacCarthy (Cork football & hurling)

dual-sport athletes

Teddy MacCarthy holds the distinction of being the only player in the history of Gaelic games to win All-Ireland senior medals in both hurling and Gaelic football in the same season. MacCarthy was part of two successful Cork sides in the late eighties and early nineties winning two All-Irelands in each code, including that famous double in 1990.

That alone is enough to warrant a place on this list.

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6 – Briege Corkery & Rena Buckley (Cork football & camogie)

dual-sport athletes

Because you can’t have won without the other.

From 2005 until 2017, Briege Corkery dominated the landscape of women’s GAA. Corkery won seven All-Ireland camogie titles and 11 football titles leaving her with 18 in total. She won 16 All-Star in total, six in camogie, 10 in football and is the most decorated athlete in the history of Gaelic games.

Rena Buckley sits proudly at the top of the GAA’s most decorated athletes alongside former teammate Corkery, Buckley also finished her career with 18 All-Ireland senior titles.

Buckley won 11 All-Stars in total, not as many as Corkery, but she did captain both the camogie and football sides to All-Ireland titles.

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5 – Katie Taylor (Ireland football and boxing)

dual-sport athletes

Some may argue that Taylor should be number one but we have slipped her in at number five. While Katie might be our country’s greatest sporting export, on this list we can’t put the undisputed lightweight champion ahead of the other top five.

An Olympic gold medal winner in boxing and a global superstar when it comes to the pugilist sport. Taylor was also an accomplished soccer player who represented the Irish national team on 11 occasions.

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4 – Kevin O’Flanagan (Ireland rugby union & soccer)

We can’t be accused of any recent bias on this list following the inclusion of the late Dr Kevin O’Flanagan. The Dubliner, who played inter-county GAA at minor level, represented Ireland in rugby union and soccer doing so between 1937-47. In Soccer, he represented Bohemians and Arsenal while UCD, London Irish and Leinster is where he made his name playing rugby.

O’Flanagan was also a noted sprinter and long-jumper and reportedly held Irish records in both disciplines at one stage. In later life, O’Flanagan became a sports administrator and served on the International Olympic Committee from 1976-94.

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3 – Lindsay Peat (Ireland rugby union, basketball & Dublin GAA)

dual-sport athletes

At 39, Lindsay Peat is still going strong and played a huge role for Ireland’s rugby union team in this season’s Six Nations championship before the global sporting shutdown. Peat has represented Ireland at a Rugby World Cup. She has also captained Ireland’s national basketball side and represented Ireland U18s in soccer.

An accomplished Gaelic player, Peat played in three All-Ireland finals as part of the Dublin team, receiving a winners medal in 2010 before scoring two goals in their losing effort in 2014. A true star of Irish sports.

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2 – Terry McHugh (Javelin & Bobsleigh Olympian)

dual-sport athletes

Ireland is seldom a major player when it comes to the Olympic Games which is why our athletes need to be held in the highest regard. It takes blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice to reach what is widely regarded as the pinnacle of sports.

To do it once is impressive enough, to do it six times seems highly improbable, to do it in both the Summer and Winter Games seems almost impossible but that’s what Terry McHugh achieved during a glittering dual-sport athletics career representing Ireland.

The Clonmel man is the only Irish person to compete at six Olympic games. An accomplished Javelin thrower, McHugh competed in four Summer Olympics between 1988-2000. All the while, McHugh was also an accomplished bobsleigh practitioner competing in two Winter Olympic Games representing our country.

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1 – Kevin Moran (Ireland soccer & Dublin GAA)

dual-sport athletes

It would take a lot to knock a six-time Olympian off the top spot but there is little to argue in the way of having Kevin Moran atop our list of Irish dual-sport athletes.

The size of the sport must be taken into consideration remember. Nothing comes bigger in Ireland than the GAA and no rivalry comes bigger than Dublin versus Kerry. Moran was a key component at centre half-back for Dublin in the 1976 & 1977 as they defeated Kerry en route to back-to-back All-Ireland titles.

In 1978 he joined Manchester United who, even then, was one of the biggest sporting franchises in the world. Moran would spend a decade in Manchester before spells in Spain with Sporting Gijon and back in England with an emerging Blackburn Rovers side under Kenny Dalglish.

Moran also goes down as one of the most accomplished Irish international soccer players of all time winning 71 caps for the national side and representing them at Euro 88, Italia 90 and USA 94.

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