Four Legends, Three Jerseys, Two Codes

How many jerseys can a player wear? Good question.

The Dual Player. Very much in danger of becoming extinct, just like the dodo. However, the dodo didn’t have to play two codes for multiple different teams, and represent club, county, and province. And latterly the country too in the International Rules.

It’s hard to pick out many real dual players in the modern era at county level. It’s practically impossible to serve two sports let alone two managers with the demands on players.

In the past there were many legendary figures that soldiered for their county in two codes, Teddy McCarthy a dual All Ireland winner in the same year with Cork, Alan Kerins, Jimmy Barry Murphy, Liam Currams. Some like DJ Carey represented their county in three codes, DJ excelled also at handball and brought the skills to his hurling.

With the growing pressure on players and the increasing professionalization of GAA player preparation, sports science and heightened fitness it has become hard, and in truth impossible for anyone to juggle the demands of two county teams at senior level.

It is hard enough to do so at club level. Commentators often point to Derry super club Slaughtneil as an example of how to field as a dual club. The point the may fail to recognise is that Slaughtneil have a core of dual players but they also have enough players that specialise mostly in one code, so as a club they are able to manage the demands on their players. They have the approach of a collective towards training and matches meaning the mentors cooperate and communicate which isn’t always the case when players face apparently conflicting demands.

Maybe it’s because they have so many clubs and so many games but Cork have long had a tradition of dual players going back to the days of Jack Lynch. The current crop includes Eoin Cadogan, Aidan Walsh and Damien Cahalane. They join an exalted band of Rebel legends.

Jimmy Barry Murphy

The messianic Cork GAA legend has just about won it all. In both codes. Twice all Ireland club winner in each of hurling and football with St Finbarrs, he also has an All Ireland senior football medal and five all Ireland hurling medals as well as a couple of back pockets full of Munster football and hurling medals, u21 and minor Celtic crosses also.

Teddy McCarthy

McCarthy is unique in the GAA in winning senior all Ireland medals in the same year with the Cork footballers and hurlers in 1990. In total he pocketed two Celtic crosses in each code. Having also played interprovincial for Munster footballers he lined out once for Ireland in the International Rules series. Known as a player for his strength, stamina and fitness he was also possessor of a prodigious leap and was a very strong midfielder as a result. He would have prospered in the modern era of the Mark.

Sean Óg Ó hAilpín

A reluctant hurler by his own admission, who rose to become one of the legends of the game, you get the clear impression that Sean Óg would have prospered at any sport. When his family returned to Ireland he took up Gaelic football, hurling and also represented Ireland in the International Rules series. He was the first and only player to date  to represent Ireland in both International Rules and Hurling/Shinty. A dual GAA international, now that’s unique.

Brian Corcoran

Corcoran is another of the Rebel county’s legends. Winner of three All Ireland hurling medals, two of which he won after coming back from retirement. He won hurler of the year twice and is considered by many to be the Second greatest hurler to wear the blood and bandage after the legendary Christy Ring.

The O’Neills 3 for 2, perfect for the dual star in your home.