33 famous Irish sports players and celebrities played Gaelic football and hurling


Ireland has always had a love for its native Gaelic soccer and hurling games, as have some famous Irish stars in cinema and other sports.

County Meath in 1670 has the earliest recorded references to Gaelic football, while Hurling has been popular in Ireland for over 3000 years, the earliest record referenced from 1272 BC.

Ireland has also had world stars in golf, soccer (football), snooker, rowing, rugby, darts, Australian football, track and field – and famous stars from TV, big screen and stage as well as singers, comedians and band members.

But many of them grew up playing Gaelic football and hurling, or in a family rooted in the GAA. You might know them from another area, but you might not know that they loved playing Gaelic football or hurling.

Who was it?

Who made the history of the crossbar at Croke Park?
Who won an All-Ireland senior football championship with Kerry but became a celebrity in another sport?
Which 2 players – an Irish Rugby International and an English League footballer – have played in the same Gaelic football club?

Which professional footballer has ever captained an Irish GAA youth team in Australia?
Which father played for the Wexford Hurlers?
Which talented Waterford pitcher has played for Reading, Hull City, Wolverhampton Wanderers?
Who won the Ulster minor football title with Derry – and became a successful football player and manager?

Which movie and Hollywood actor recorded a screaming message of support for his home club?
Can you name the popular UK TV presenter who once rushed to Wicklow?
Which U21 miner and footballer from Roscommon played in a Channel 4 comedy series?
Which lead singer of the Irish rock band is Mad into the GAA, having performed for Dublin at the minor level?
Which group leader won a medal at the Leinster Under-21 Championship with Westmeath in 2000?

Are you a parent? which world champion has a girl who plays camogie? And which singer from the group with 14 number 1 singles in Ireland and UK, watched his son play Gaelic football at Croke Park?

Here are 33 Irish stars and celebrities in love with the GAA.


  • 1. Shane Lowry – The Open Champion 2019
Shane Lowry celebrates with the Claret Jug after winning the Open Championship on day four of the 148th Open Championship at the Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. (Photo by Brendan Moran / Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Lowry played Gaelic football and hurling with his local Clara GAA and is now a proud official partner of Offaly GAA.
He is the son of Brendan Lowry – 1982 All-Ireland football winner Offaly vs. Kerry.

  • 2. Paul McGinley – was the winner of the 1997 World Cup of Golf (with Padraig Harrington), and was part of the winning European Ryder Cup teams in 2002, 2004 and 2006. In 2002, he sank his ten-foot putt on the 18th hole, to ensure victory for Europe. In 2014, he was the winning Ryder Cup captain.
    McGinley loves Gaelic football. In 2016, while attending Croke Park to support his club Ballyboden, he said: “I played for Ballyboden from under 12 to senior, I played a few games in senior, before injuring me and that reduced my career. “He played at Croke Park as a youth player.
PaulMcGinley Padraig Harrington Irish golfers Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington
  • 3. Padraig Harrington is one of Golf’s few major triple winners – winning the UK Open in 2000 and 2008 and the USA PGA Championship in 2008, as well as the World Cup in 1997.
    In an interview, Harrington talks passionately about his favorite sport, Hurling, here to fellow pro Feherty.
    Feherty: Paddy’s Favorite Sport
    Harrington played Gaelic football, and in an amazing clip here – playing Croke Park with Colaiste Eanna against St. Vincent High School in the Dublin Colleges final, he took a free kick, watch what happens then, has he been seen at Croke Park before?

Rugby Federation

  • 4. Mick Galwey
    Mick Galwey. Rugby star – played 113 times for Shannon, 130 for Munster – and for Ireland, 41 caps. He was then selected for the Lions tour of New Zealand in 1993.
    Mick Galwey won an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship with Gaelic football team Kerry in 1986, also playing for his club and county at the U18 and U21 levels.
    Mick Galwey Rugby and GAA player Irish legends Mick Galwey and Gary Halpin
  • 5. Rob Kearney
    Irish International – and Australian Western Force professional player.
    In Gaelic football he played for his club Naomh Mhuire and with Cooley Kickhams and Seniors and for Louth in the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship.
    Rob Kearney Rugby and GAA player Rob Kearney lands to secure Ireland bonus point [Picture: Inpho]
  • 6. Tommy Bowe
    Played for Ulster and Ospreys, and Ireland and British and Irish Lions. He has 69 caps with Ireland, 5 with the Lions and 245 professional club matches
    He played Gaelic football, representing Monaghan at the U16 and minor level.
    Tommy Bowe Irish Rugby International Tommy Bowe of Ireland scores the winning try during the RBS Six Nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on February 27, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt / Getty Images)
  • 7. Simon Zébo
    Irish Rugby International & Munster Pro, Simon Zebo played for the St Michaels GAA Club alongside David Meyler (see below)

Simon Zebo


  • 8. Dennis Taylor
    Known for his large glasses which helped him play snooker, Taylor won the World Snooker Championship in 1985, beating Steve Davis on the last black ball 18-17 – after falling 8-0 earlier in the match. In 1979, he had previously lost the final to Terry Griffiths.
    In his youth, Taylor played Gaelic football for Na Fianna at Coalisland Tyrone and was selected to play for the County Tyrone miners in the 1960s.
    Dennis Taylor of Northern Ireland lines up the cue ball in his second round of the World Snooker Championship against John Parrott on April 22, 1989 at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield, UK. (Photo by Howard Boylan / Getty Images)


  • 9 and 10. Gary and Paul O’Donovan Skibbereen,
    Won gold at the world championships and silver at the 2016 Olympics. This year, along with Fintan McCarthy, Paul O’Donovan is in a lightweight men’s pair with an Irish gold medal at the European Championships in Varese, Italy.

In an interview in 2016, they said “We did a bit of Gaelic football for a while,” before focusing on rowing.

(Photo: © INPHO / Morgan Treacy)

Honorable mention to parents :

  • Premium. Derval o’rourke
    Record Irish athlete
    World indoor champion in the 60m hurdles (2006), silver medalist at the European 100m hurdles championships in 2006 and 2010, and bronze medalist at the European indoor championships 2009 and 2013.
    2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships, Scandinavium Arena, Gothenburg, Sweden 1/3/2013
    60m hurdles semi-final
    Derval o’rourke
    Mandatory Credit © INPHO / Morgan Treacy

    Derval has spoken of supporting his daughter by getting her to play camogie / hurling on the weekends.
    “Comparing athletics or Olympic sports with the GAA is so difficult. I spent years being a professional Olympic track athlete, but now I have young children and I see when my daughter plays camogie what a difference it makes at the community level so I have no illusions about the importance of GAA.

Part 2 – features 12 English footballers, all of whom love or have played Gaelic football or hurling or both.

Part Three features movie, TV, stage and comedy stars who love their Gaelic games.


Leave A Reply