Great big men of the GAA
15 Feb 2017
By Shane Stapleton
Sometimes good things come in big packages. Having run through the ‘Great Small Men of the GAA, next we look at their opposites. If you see these men coming through, you might want to sidestep quickly.
If the Navy Seals ever put out a Gaelic football team, Eoghan O'Gara would be the first man drafted in. He's as tough as nails, and is reminiscent of a runaway train when he gets up a head of steam. The Templeogue Synge St might has also added a measure of finesse to his finishing in recent seasons.
The Kilkenny midfielder is as big as a house. Shane McGrath of Tipperary will never forget that hit in the 2011 All-Ireland hurling final and no doubt many other county and club hurlers have been on the wrong end of similar dunts.
O'Shea has lined out a midfield, centre-forward and full-forward for Mayo in recent seasons - always providing a focal point for his team. As seen when he bulldozed his way through Sligo and Donegal in 2015, he's a hard man to put down. It's little surprise he was sent off to play NFL in The Toughest Trade, and that he spent the winter playing basketball for EJ Sligo All Stars.
Speaking of basketball, Kieran Donaghy could quite easily have gone down the road of b-ball, but instead chose to shred Gaelic football defences. The Kerry county side returned to their Bomber Liston roots when introducing former Underdog Donaghy against Longford in 2006. All it ever takes is one ball into him to change a match - as Mayo found out in the drawn 2014 All-Ireland semi-final when he set up James O'Donoghue's crucial comeback goal.
He’s not far off two metres tall, and he’s genuinely one of the best midfielders in the country. The former AFL recruit would likely be a regular All Star candidate if he played football for a county that was challenging for championship honours.
A really good quality footballer. Came on the championship scene in 2008 as a 6’4” teenager who wouldn’t be sitting his leaving cert for almost another year. Scored 1-3 (0-1f) to help dump Longford out of the championship. A very hard man to stop once he gets the ball into his hands, and can finish off either foot.
One can only imagine the catch-22 going in a defender's mind when he walks over to the square to mark Callanan. He's faster than you, and/or taller than you, and/or a better hurler than you. Size, strength, wrists - a big problem for anyone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-wyIz0nqC8 Even a mouth full of broken teeth against Limerick in 2015 didn’t stop him.
They don't make them like Quigley these days. In an era of BMI, dexa scans, conditioning and food diaries, the Fermanagh man is able to do it his own way. Hence the highly amusing story of Quigley eating a pizza the night before a clash with Laois, and still going out to score 2-8. Against Dublin at Croke Park in 2015, the Erne County star hit 1-8 (0-4f) and became the pantomime villain after pushing Stephen Cluxton into his own net.