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Dublin: 9°C Monday 10 May 2021
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7 GAA stars gazed into the World Cup crystal ball and here's what they saw

Brogan, Breen, Cavanagh, Dillon, Goulding, Ó Curraoin and O’Sullivan tell us what they reckon will unfold.

 1. Bernard Brogan (Dublin)

Bernard Brogan: 'I like the look of Uruguay' Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Favourite World Cup memory?

“It has to be Packie Bonner’s save. I was very young at the time but it’s a memory I still have. My brother Alan was watching it and my next door neighbours were in. We ran out on to the road after celebrating. Every time there was a World Cup, we were always out on the green afterwards playing.”

How much of this summer’s tournament will you watch?

“Yeah, I’ll keep good eye on it. I’ll be busy with work and training but there’s a few late games so I’ll definitely see them. I’m looking forward to it.”

What player are you most looking forward to seeing in action?

“Ronaldo. He might not be fit for the first game but he’s a special player. Be interesting to see how he gets on, if he can step up another level at this stage.”

Who’ll win the Golden Boot?

“Ronaldo as well, he’s my man for that one.”

Pick a dark horse to keep an eye on?

“I like the look of Uruguay. If Suarez can get right, I think they’ll have a go at it. I’d keep an eye on them.”

And who’s going to lift the trophy on July 13th?

“I’ll have to go with Brazil. They’ve the home advantage. For tournaments like that, I think it’s key with all the fans that are there.”

Portugal Republic of Ireland Soccer Ronaldo is 18-1 to be the top goalscorer. Source: AP/Press Association Images

2. David Breen (Limerick)

David Breen Limerick hurler David Breen won't forget Emile Heskey. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Favourite World Cup memory?

“USA 1994, Ray Houghton being the hero in the Giants Stadium.”

How much of this summer’s tournament will you watch?

“All of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s group games.”

What player are you most looking forward to seeing in action?

“Emile Heskey when he gets drafted in as England’s ‘AN Other’ wildcard.”

Who’ll win the Golden Boot?

“Harry Kewell to get called back in by Australia and bang in the goals.”

Pick a dark horse to keep an eye on?

“Cameroon. Provided they’re happy with their ‘bonus’.”

And who’s going to lift the trophy on July 13th?

“Please God, it’ll be Donal O’Grady first in the Munster hurling final. Then that night it’ll most likely be Emile Heskey.”

Soccer - 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa - Group C - England v Algeria - Green Point Stadium Emile Heskey in action for England back in 2010 in South Africa. Source: EMPICS Sport

3. Daniel Goulding (Cork)

Daniel Goulding Daniel Goulding: 'Sergio Ramos, I love his carry on' Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Favourite World Cup memory?

“USA 1994 when Ray Houghton scored the famous lob against Italy in the Giants Stadium. I remember watching it on the big screen in a local pub. The buzz and excitement was unreal in school and with my friends. It was my first time really experiencing the magic of the World Cup.”

Source: M/YouTube

How much of this summer’s tournament will you watch?

“As much as I can. I love the World Cup. Obviously training will get in the way of some matches and there will be a fight for the remote some evenings as well!”

What player are you most looking forward to seeing in action?

“Sergio Ramos. I love his carry on. He’s a class footballer, gets important goals and is an absolute lunatic as well. He bosses games and is stuck in every bit of hassle. He’s the kind of player that every team would love to have.”

Who’ll win the Golden Boot?

“I’ll have to go with Lionel Messi. Argentina have a very easy group and will be used to the conditions. Sergio Aguero would be a saver in case Messi doesn’t hit form.”

Pick a dark horse to keep an eye on?

“Colombia, even with Falcao out injured. Finished second to Argentina in qualifying, have one of the easier groups and will be used to the conditions.”

And who’s going to lift the trophy on July 13th?

“I’ve fancied Spain for the last few months so I will stick with them. A European team have never won a World Cup in the America’s but I think Spain have the best squad to change that.”

Spain beats Netherlands to win World Cup Spain got the better of Netherlands with a 1-0 win in the 2010 World Cup final. Source: AP/Press Association Images

4. Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone)

Sean Cavanagh 24/5/2014 A bit of England-Italy on Saturday night is perfect preparation for Tyrone-Monaghan. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Favourite World Cup memory?

“I’ve very big memories of Italia ’90. I remember the euphoria when big Packie saving the penalty and things going crazy in the country back then. Two of my uncles decided three days before the Romania game to go to Italy for it and they stayed on then for the quarter-final.”

How much of this summer’s tournament will you watch?

“Definitely. I’d follow soccer closely anyway. I’m looking forward to see Argentina, Brazil and Spain especially. From a personal point of view as a someone involved in sport, I’d be interested to see how the players deal with heat and whether it changes their style of play. It should be really enjoyable. We’re playing Monaghan on Sunday but I’ll definitely watch a bit of England Italy the night before.”

What player are you most looking forward to seeing in action?

“Probably Neymar, the big attraction within his own country. He hasn’t really done it at Barcelona but going back to Brazil, I’d like to see how he performs in front of his own crowd. He’ll be the big pull in his own country.”

Who’ll win the Golden Boot?

“I always like an outside one for this and someone like Lukaku  could get it. With Benteke injured, he should play a lot. Belgium have an easy enough group and aspirations of going far, Lukaku could get a few goals off the play of Hazard and Januzaj.”

Soccer - International Friendly - Sweden v Belgium -  Friends Arena Lukaku is Belgium's primary striker after Benteke was ruled out through injury. Source: Press Association Images

Pick a dark horse to keep an eye on?

“I think maybe one of the South American teams. I know Falcao is injured but Colombia could go well or Uruguay could come in to the mix. It’s all linked with the temperature and how they deal with it. I’ve no doubt the European teams will struggle.”

And who’s going to lift the trophy on July 13th?

“I think you’d play the odds and look at a South American winner, Brazil or Argentina. Now Argentina do have a weak defence but they have Messi. I’d like to see that as the final with all the attacking players they have.”

Argentina Slovenia WCup Soccer Lionel Messi to star for Argentina this summer? Source: AP/Press Association Images

5. Alan Dillon (Mayo)

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Favourite World Cup memory?

“The Ireland Germany game in 2002 stands out. I was just finished my college exams in Maynooth. I’d an exam that morning and then we went straight to ‘The Roost’ in Maynooth to watch it. There was a nice crew of us there and it was a great reaction when Robbie Keane scored. It was brilliant.”

How much of this summer’s tournament will you watch?

“Depends on training with Mayo but I’ll definitely watch the big games. I’d get the highlights as well every evening if I can.”

What player are you most looking forward to seeing in action?

“Messi, he’s just absolutely class.”

Who’ll win the Golden Boot?

“Top scorer, I think will be one of the German players. I’ll go for Klose, he’s their only striker.”

Pick a dark horse to keep an eye on?

“I think England will come very close this year. There isn’t much pressure on them and I think Hodgson is a shrewd operator. They’ve a good squad there.”

And who’s going to lift the trophy on July 13th?

“I’ve a fancy for Spain. I think they’re well equipped again to go and win it. I’ve a sneaky feeling that Germany won’t be far behind them though.”

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2014 - Group D - England v Italy - England Training Session and Press Conference - Day Two - Urca Military Training Ground Source: Mike Egerton

6. Paudie O’Sullivan (Cork)

Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Favourite World Cup memory?

“I’ll go with an Irish memory and say Robbie Keane’s equalising goal against the Germans in 2002. I was too young in 1994 to appreciate the Irish being in the World Cup. To be able to watch and appreciate the excitement in the country in 2002 was great and Robbie’s goal was probably the highlight of that summer.”

Source: Aodhancfc92/YouTube

How much of this summer’s tournament will you watch?

“All of it! I absolutely love soccer so anytime we’re not training I can guarantee that I’ll be sitting on the couch watching it.”

What player are you most looking forward to seeing in action?

“I would have said Jon Flanagan but unfortunately it looks like he will miss out! So I’d have to say Messi instead. He looked like a man who was holding himself back the last few months for Barcelona in preparation for this and if he has a good tournament, he will probably go down as the best player ever. I’m also looking forward to seeing Raheem Sterling, he could make a big difference for England.”

Who’ll win the Golden Boot?

“It’s hard to look past an Argentinian player considering their weak group so Messi would be the obvious favourite. I wouldn’t put it past Ronaldo though with a couple of hat-tricks against Ghana and USA. Hazard would be my dark horse due to his ability from penalties and free-kicks.”

Pick a dark horse to keep an eye on?

“I think Portugal could go further than people think. They’re very solid defensively and with Ronaldo up front, they always have a chance. They probably will come second to the Germans in their group which would probably put them up against Belgium in a game they would fancy. After that who knows where they will go if Ronaldo is firing? Switzerland might cause a shock as well.”

And who’s going to lift the trophy on July 13th?

“Spain. They won the last three tournaments without a striker and now they have Diego Costa if he’s fit. Four years ago Ramos was a liability, now he’s probably the best defender in the world. The amount of possession they will have in the Brazilian heat will not only conserve their own energy but eventually wear down any team they play. Torres for the winner in the final though, #ElNino.”

Spain Bolivia WCup Soccer Fernando Torres in action for Spain against Bolivia in a friendly last Friday. Source: AP/Press Association Images

7. Fiontán Ó Curraoin

Fiontan O Curraoin

Favourite World Cup memory?

“It would probably be Robbie Keane’s goal against Germany in the World Cup in 2002.”

How much of this summer’s tournament will you watch?

“I won’t be getting up to early to watch any of them but if they’re on before training I’ll be watching them, and I’ll be looking for the highlights every day too.”

What player are you most looking forward to seeing in action?

“Cristiano Ronaldo, and Luke Shaw he’s another one I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for actually.”

Who’ll win the Golden Boot?

“I think Messi, Argentina have an easy enough run if they get going.”

Pick a dark horse to keep an eye on?

“Possibly Belgium but you wouldn’t know with them.”

And who’s going to lift the trophy on July 13th?

“Argentina to win it.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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