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A salute to the greatest gardaí in Irish sport

We pay tribute to the law enforcers that won sporting respect, and plenty of cups, in their day. May the force be with them.

Eddie Brennan with garda colleagues in 2007.
Eddie Brennan with garda colleagues in 2007.
Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA has a long history of members excelling at a range of sports.

Here is a list of some of the finest gardaí to put place their badge in a locker, lace up and pursue sporting glory.

“Bad boys, whatcha want, watcha want, whatcha gonna do… ”

Gaelic Games

We begin our tribute to the men and women in uniform on the Gaelic pitches across the country. A host of gardaí have represented their counties with honour and driven them towards success.

In 1927, nine members of An Garda Síochána, including Tommy Daly and Mick O’Connell, were in the Dublin team that beat Cork in the All Ireland Hurling Final.

Garda Ken ‘Killer’ Hogan won All Irelands with Tipperary’s hurlers in 1989 and 1991, while Phil ‘The Gunner’ Brady won three All-Ireland Football titles with Cavan between 1947 and ’52.

While we can’t list the hundreds upon hundreds of gardaí that have represented their counties with distinction, here are some of our favourites:

Paidí O’Sé (Kerry – football)

11 Munster titles, eight All-Ireland medals and five All Star awards, O’Sé was an undoubted Kerry legend. Captained The Kingdom to the 1985 All Ireland title. Turned his hand to rugby, with Young Munster, in his early sporting years.

Paidí O’Sé is lofted by Kerry supporters after the ’85 All-Ireland win. (©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

Jerry O’Connor (Cork – hurling)

The midfielder has won two All Irelands with The Rebels and made it onto three All Star teams. He has also claimed an All-Ireland club title with Newtownshandrum.

Aidan O’Mahony (Kerry – football)

Seven Munster titles, four All Ireland medals and two All Star nods for the Kerry back. One of the most remarkable tales from O’Mahony’s career is his 40-minute stint on a broken leg in a club final. They breed them law-abiding and talented in The Kingdom.

Eddie Brennan (Kilkenny – hurling)

‘Fast Eddie’ is one of the finest hurlers of his generation and part of a dominant Cats team that will go down as one of the best of all time. Brennan has 10 Leinster titles, eight All Irelands and four National Hurling League medals in his coffers. The left-corner forward is also a four-time All Star.

Josie Dwyer (Wexford – camogie)

The midfielder has two All Ireland winners’ medals following victories in 2010, when she was nominated for an All Star, and 2011. Four Leinster titles in the [memory] bank too for the talented Wexfordian.

Eight years ago, the GAA named their Greatest Garda Football and Hurling teams (for members serving 1922 to 2005). Here are the line-ups:

Football XV: John Kearns (Cork); Paidi O’Sé (Kerry), Paddy Prendergast (Mayo), Paddy Driscoll (Cork); Paul Russell (Kerry), Bill Carlos (Roscommon), Tony Davis (Cork); Paddy Kennedy (Kerry), Larry Stanley (Kildare); Pat Griffin (Kerry), Mick Higgins (Cavan), Matt Connor (Offaly); John McCarthy (Dublin), Tom Langan (Mayo) and John Egan (Kerry).

Brian Cody gets a ride with a Garda escort to Crumlin Children’s Hospital. (©INPHO/Cathal Noonan)

Hurling XV: Ken Hogan (Tipperary); Brian Murphy (Cork), Pat McInerney (Clare/Dublin), John Mitchell (Wexford); Pete Finnerty (Galway), Mick Gill (Galway/Dublin), Garrett Howard (Limerick/Dublin); Frank Cummins (Kilkenny), Ollie Baker (Clare); Mossie Walsh (Waterford), Joachim Kelly (Offaly), Seamus Quaid (Limerick/Wexford); Mattie Power (Kilkenny/Dublin), Noel Casey (Clare), Eddie Brennan (Kilkenny).

Here are some gardaí that are currently serving on the force and for their county: Eamonn Callaghan (Kildare – football), David Clarke (Mayo – football), Aaron Hoey (Louth – football), Emlyn Mulligan (Leitrim – football), Seanie Buckley (Limerick – football), Denis Glennon (Westmeath – football), Hugh Coghlan (Tipperary – football), Conor O’Brien (Tipperary – hurling), John Marley (Mayo – football).

Rugby

Niamh Briggs (Munster & Ireland): A member of the 2013 Six Nations Grand Slam winners, Briggs scored three tries and kicked 28 points en-route to a historic title. The back landed two crucial penalties in the 6-3 Grand Slam clincher against Italy in Milan.

Niamh Briggs dives over to score against France. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Mountain Climbing

Martin Byrne was 58-years-old in 2011 when he became the first member of An Garda Siochana and the oldest Irish mountaineer to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest. “This was my fourth time to climb on Everest and anything other than a summit would have been a failure for me,” Garda Byrne told the Offaly Independent days after his remarkable achievement.

Hockey

Louisa Healy (Ireland): Served her country with distinction, and played league hockey with Loreto, for nigh on a decade. A tenacious competitor and a goalie not afraid to put her body on the line to block out a scoring chance.

Healy blocks a shot against New Zealand in Wellington. (©INPHO/PHOTOSPORT)

Cycling

Caroline Ryan: A former rower with the Irish national team, Ryan is a cyclist of great talent. The 33-year-old won a bronze medal in the women’s points race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in 2012.

Basketball

Michelle Fahy: Plays centre for UL Huskies and has represented Ireland on numerous occasions.

Boxing

Nolan lands a jab at London 2012. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Adam Nolan: Represented Ireland at London 2012 in the boxing welterweight division. Claimed the boxer of the tournament award at the National Elite Championship Finals, as well as winning the national welterweight title [his third], this year. High hopes for Rio 2016.

Mick Reid boxed at the 1960 Olympics while Brian Byrne took the the ring at Montreal 1976.

Motorsport

Martin Brady: The rallying c0-driver was second in the Canadian Championship in 2011 with a Russian Driver, winning two races over the course of the season. Last year, Brady won rounds of the Ford Fiesta series in Britain.

COACH: Paul ‘Pillar’ Caffrey (Dublin – GAA)

‘Pillar’ coached the Dubs to multiple Leinster titles. He is pictured here celebrating Dublin’s 2011 All-Ireland success. (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

*Are there any sporting garda legends we have missed?

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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