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Pictured Oisin McConville



Date: Wednesday 5th May 2010

Location: Studio

Photographer: Liam McBurney

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Six football and rugby players who could be GAA stars

Oisin McConville


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Iain Henderson is one of the six players Oisin McConville reckons could make a successful change of code.

Iain Henderson is one of the six players Oisin McConville reckons could make a successful change of code.

Iain Henderson is one of the six players Oisin McConville reckons could make a successful change of code.

Such is the grip which the coronavirus is currently exerting in this country that we find ourselves living in one of the most extraordinary periods in our history.

When the first fears in relation to the dreaded disease permeated Ireland, we never thought that what some people still deem to be draconian measures would have to be put in place in a bid to curb the pandemic.

But that is very much the case, and while all the normal trappings associated with Easter Sunday - family gatherings for lunch, trips to the seaside, visits to holiday homes and suchlike - will go by the wayside, this is absolutely essential if, to quote the informed medical sources, the curve is to be flattened.

Yet while we are all coming to terms with what is essentially a new way of living, this should not prevent us from attempting to take a positive stance and looking to the future with some degree of hope and confidence.

I have used the word 'extraordinary' already and I make no apologies for using it again in a different context.

In mulling over the impact that the coronavirus crisis has had on sport, and in taking account of the many journeys into nostalgia taken by newspaper columnists and pundits in an effort to keep the show on the road, I thought I might indulge in my own flight of fancy.

This takes the form of attempting to select what I would regard as a feasible Gaelic football team from players who have made their names in other codes.

I have earmarked six players who I feel could deploy their individual talents to good effect in a GAA context.

I am open to suggestions in relation to the other nine slots on the side.

I don't think I could opt for a better goalkeeper than Pat Jennings, a true Northern Ireland legend who has long since assured himself a place in the history books.

When it comes to defenders, I don't think too many current full-forwards would relish tangling with rugby hero Stephen Ferris, while Leicester City strongman Jonny Evans would also prove an effective barrier.

I have always thought that Ferris in particular has all the attributes of a commanding full-back - big, strong, forceful in the tackle and a player who would not be short on pace in launching counter-attacks.

Switching my focus to midfield, I envisage current Ireland second-row forward Iain Henderson as the type of player who has the aerial ability, ball retention nous, physical power and off-loading skills to give even Brian Fenton a run for his money.

Moving up front, I can think of no better strikeforce than David Healy and Joe 'the Goal' Gormley, who has been scoring for fun in Cliftonville's colours lately. Healy gave great service to Northern Ireland and since he possesses a natural instinct for finding the net, he would do for me.

Gormley is a master at converting half-chances, and God knows the GAA could do with a number of his ilk when you consider the ratio of goal chances that have been fluffed in the Allianz League to date - and by players from whom more is generally expected.

While I am open to suggestions in relation to the other nine players in the side, I have my managerial team in place.

I would be more than happy to leave the side in the very capable hands of Michael O'Neill, with the ebullient David Jeffrey as his assistant.

They would bring a combination of qualities to the table that I feel could elicit the best from whatever the final line-up would be.

While I have my own ideas on who might slot into the vacant positions, I am particularly interested in gauging public opinion in this respect.

A candidate can be from any sporting background, although certain qualities might be pre-requisites for particular positions.

Now it's over to you, dear readers.

Belfast Telegraph