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Irish boxers who’ve tried their glove at other sports

Spike O’Sullivan’s star cameo for Ballinure in the Cork Junior C Football Championship last weekend got us thinking here at What other multi-talented fighters are there from this island?

Many Irish boxers have dabbled in other codes, from grassroots level right up to the very top, and below is just a small selection.

Katie Taylor
Not only is Katie Taylor Ireland’s most decorated boxer ever, the Bray woman also represented her country in Football. After winning the Under-19 Women’s International Player of the Year award in 2004, The eighteen-time major medal winner was then capped eleven times for Irish senior side, scoring twice for the Girls in Green. In addition, Taylor was part of the Peamount United team that won the Dublin Women’s Soccer League, the DWSL Premier Cup and the FAI Women’s Cup in 2010.

Phil Sutcliffe Jr
The big-punching Crumlin boxer lined out as a full back for Leinster Football League side Yellowstone Celtic. Indeed the undefeated light welterweight wasn’t the only fighter that appeared for the Drimnagh club, with UFC star Conor McGregor leading the front line.

David Maguire and Ian Tims
The cruiserweight duo formed perhaps the most intimidating strike partnership in Irish amateur football history. Once upon a time, the Clondalkin pair led the line for Collinstown FC, and both will still argue as to who was the better finisher.

Matthew Macklin
The Birmingham-born middleweight certainly isn’t a ‘Plastic Paddy’ having spent every Summer during his childhood in Tipperary. Whilst here, Macklin developed a skill for hurling, plying his trade for Ballingarry in Tipp and John Mitchels in Brum, and represented his county from under-14 to under-16 level.

Willie Casey
The former Prizefighter and European super bantamweight champion reguarlarly appeared for his local side in Limerick, Pike Rovers FC. A hard-hitting southpaw inside the ring, Casey was a tough-takling left back outside of it.

Darren O’Neill
The 2012 Olympian, and 2016 hopeful represented his native Kilkenny in underage hurling. The six-time Senior champ has also tasted all-Ireland glory twice as a hurler at schools level with the famed St Kieran’s College.

Ray Moylette
Spike isn’t the only Irish boxer with a penchant for Junior Football. Mayo’s 2011 European champion Ray Moylette can often be found making an appearance for the Islandeady GAA Junior B side. Indeed Moylette, who runs the Sting-Ray Fitness Academy certainly doesnt fit the Junior B profile of receding hairlines and bulging bellies, and would be quite the intimidating man to mark on a groggy Sunday morning.

Steve Collins Jr
Before starting boxing at the late age of 22, Collins was a hugely promising rugby player. The Celtic Warriors Gym light heavyweight was a burly front row forward for Lansdown RFC and won All-Ireland honours with the Dublin club in 2013 before dropping the weights, and the kilos, and making the move to boxing.

Sean McComb and Dee Walsh
Síucra Sean is not only one of Ireland’s classiest southpaws, the long lightweight is also a skilled operater down the left flank for St James’s Swifts. Indeed McComb isn’t the only pugilist plying their trade for the West Belfast side, with former Irish light middleweight champ Dee Walsh also moonlighting as a goal grabbing striker.

Ciaran McVarnock
The super featherweight prospect was also a skilled footballer in his late teens. Bunty was a speedy winger for Rushlight Celtic’s Saturday and Sunday teams and won player of the year for both sides during an historic double-unbeaten season. The fiery Belfast star however had an edge about him and spent a lot of time suspended and eventually made the switch to professional boxing. The McVarnocks are still well represented in the beautiful game with younger sister Leontia playing for Northern Ireland.

Patrick Hyland
The recent featherweight World title challenger was a clinical striker during his youth, and secured trials with Scottish giants Celtic FC. However, his father Paddy Snr, seeing the immense fighting talent his son had, prevented him from trying out, and a boxing star was born.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: