There’s something mesmeric about watching left-footed footballers in full-flight.
While the ‘lefties’ often find themselves at the brunt of jokes, particularly when it comes to penalty kicks, their talent and value is important as it provides teams with balance, especially in Gaelic games where scores are quite often kicked from the wing-forward positions.
From Padraic Joyce to Ciaran McDonald, some all-time great left-footed forwards have proven themselves to be the most eye-catching of performers throughout the years.
It’s something that is still quite prevalent today, however, there is more to the leftie than just looking good.
With the modern-game, in some elements, doing away with the notion of positions, lefties have become key to adding another dimension to teams attacks by being able to switch the play at a moment’s notice.
Here are the five most-effective lefties currently playing inter-county football.
An obvious place to start.
Paul Mannion has been an ever-present on the Dublin senior football team, barring his year out in 2015, since making his debut as a teenager in 2013. Mannion has three All-Star awards to go with his five All-Ireland titles, in a team littered with some of the greatest talents of the 21st century, Mannion is one of the first players on the teamsheet.
A consistently high-scorer in the championship, throughout the final few seasons of Jim Gavin’s reign as manager, Mannion seemed to be the only Dublin player with the license to shoot from outside the scoring zone.
It’s easy to understand why when you consider how rarely the Kilmacud Crokes man misses the target.
Jamie Clarke is a stalwart of the Armagh senior team at this stage. Despite not having tasted as much success as those he idolised growing up, it is widely accepted that Clarke would have been a mainstay of the 2002 team, had he been older.
One of the silkiest footballers in the game, Clarke was name-checked by David Clifford on the GAA Hour as someone the Kerry captain looked up to.
Not only does Clarke possess the deadly touch and killer instinct in front of goals but his array of skills means he can operate a high level further out from the goals as a playmaker. Clarke’s style of play is very easy on the eye and he is one of the rare-few who seems to go faster with the ball in hand.
When hitting peak-form in 2018, it felt as though Donegal’s chances of making a run at the All-Ireland title died alongside Patrick McBrearty’s injury. In a team containing talents such as Michael Murphy and Ryan McHugh, that’s how important the Kilcar man is.
Another deadly accurate finisher McBrearty can kick scores on the run, from either side of the field and sometimes even with his back to goal. McBrearty can score first-time or he can take you on, either way, more often than not he ends up scoring.
A vital cog in Donegal’s push for major honours throughout the previous decade.
The left-footed playmaker holds a special place in the hearts of football fans the world over. In Gaelic football terms, the first player that comes to mind is Ciaran McDonald but the evergreen Martin Reilly is one of the most underrated playmakers in GAA.
The Cavan veteran has the ability to kick the most eye-catching of passes that cut through the heart of some of the most stringent of defences. It’s no wonder that last season, Cavan’s greatest since 1997, Reilly was the player that opposition teams set out to nullify.
Reilly is equally adept in front of goals and has proven time and time again that he can kick scores, more importantly from free-kicks and the penalty spot.
One of the most mesmeric left-footers in sport to watch. Not much else needs saying here really.