THERE’S AN OLD saying that sport and politics don’t mix but a number of candidates in General Election 2016 have proven that the opposite can apply.
From All-Ireland medallists to winning managers, the field includes a number of well-known faces from the world of Gaelic Games.
Here, we run the rule over 8 notable GAA figures hoping to win a seat in the Dáil next Friday.
From O’Mahony to O’Flynn, here are the men looking for your first preference votes…
1. John O’Mahony
Sitting TD O’Mahony is standing for election in Galway West/South Mayo.
As a manager, Mayo native O’Mahony guided Galway to All-Ireland senior football titles in 1998 and 2001.
The Fine Gael candidate also masterminded an historic Connacht title for the Leitrim seniors in 1994, bridging a 67-year gap for the county.
As a player with Mayo, O’Mahony won national titles at minor and U21 level but his two spells as senior team manager failed to yield the Sam Maguire Holy Grail.
2. Shane Curran
Former Roscommon goalkeeper Curran was recently added to the Fianna Fáil ticket in Roscommon-Galway.
The colourful netminder is a former All-Ireland senior club medallist with St Brigid’s and guided Padraig Pearses to last year’s county final, where they lost out to Clann na nGael.
At intercounty level, Curran won a Connacht minor medal in 1989, a junior title in 2000 and a coveted senior crown a year later.
He’s also a former Athlone Town soccer goalkeeper.
3. Joe Hannigan
Hannigan is the current chairman of the Tipperary football board and well-known in GAA circles within the Premier County.
A passionate football man, Joe’s son George is a long-serving Tipperary senior football team member.
This is Hannigan’s first time running for general election and he’s doing so as an independent candidate in the Offaly constituency, which incorporates parts of North Tipperary.
4. Michael McDonagh
Former Clare GAA chairman Michael McDonagh will run for Fianna Fáil in Friday’s General Election.
McDonagh, who was selected last August, is joining Timmy Dooley, the sitting TD in the Banner County, on the party ticket.
McDonagh is not afraid to voice his opinions and became embroiled in war of words with Clare hurling legend Ger Loughnane last year.
McDonagh described Loughnane’s comments as ‘intentionally misleading’ and with the intention of damaging his candidacy.
5. Pat Deering
Deering is a current Fine Gael TD for Carlow-Kilkenny and served as Carlow GAA chairman from 2005-2010.
Deering was elected as TD at the 2011 General Election, having previously served as a member of Carlow County Council for the Tullow electoral area from 2009.
6. Jimmy Deenihan
Deenihan is the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for the Irish abroad. He was appointed to this role on 11 July 2014.
The Kerry man was formerly Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Affairs and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry with special responsibility for Rural Development, the LEADER programme, and monitoring the activities of An Bord Bia and the Food industry.
He won All-Ireland senior football medals with Kerry in 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981, when he skippered the Kingdom to glory before being honoured with an Allstar award.
7. Diarmuid O’Flynn
Before turning his attention to politics, O’Flynn was a popular GAA journalist for many years with the Irish Examiner newspaper.
O’Flynn is the man who began the ‘Ballyhea Says No’ campaign against the payment of bondholders and he’s running as an Independent Alliance candidate in Cork North-West.
In November 2014, O’Flynn was appointed as parliamentary assistant to MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.
O’Flynn also polled very well in the 2014 European elections, when he staggered pundits by amassing 30,323 first preference votes. He was eliminated from the race on the 10th count.
8. Peter Fitzpatrick
Fine Gael TD Fitzpatrick is a former Louth senior football team manager, and was the Wee County supremo in 2010 when they lost a controversial Leinster final to Meath.
Fitzpatrick was appointed Louth boss in November 2009, taking over from Eamonn McEneaney, and his impact was immediate.
A Leinster U21 winner as a player in 1981, Fitzpatrick almost brought Louth to glory in their first provincial senior final appearance in 50 years.
But Louth were denied by Joe Sheridan’s disputed late goal and in 2012, Fitzpatrick quit after three years at the helm.
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