9 stars of other sports who would make great hurlers

Plenty of sporting figures from around the world have shown that they're well able to poc a sliotar

Cristiano Ronaldo, hurling,

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

To make it to the top level in any sport requires incredible dedication, coupled with a certain level of natural talent, whether your dream is to play in the World Cup final, or lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

While it's a big ask, making the leap from one sport to another would be based on that desire and ability that those at the top level have, no matter what their chosen discipline.

Throughout the years, whether they learned the game in their childhood or picked it up on a quick visit to Ireland, a number of stars from other sports have shown that they may have a natural gift with a hurl in their hand, and with the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 All-Ireland Championship final around the corner, we decided to take a look at some stars who could have swapped one sport for another.

From those who would have grown up playing for their local club and chosen a different path, to the foreign stars who have tried to poc a sliotar, the Off The Ball team has picked a few of their favourite players who look like they'd slot seamlessly into a starting line-up for the Junior B side this weekend.

Cristiano Ronaldo

There is no doubt that Portugal captain and European Championship winner is a world-class athlete. His unrivaled eye for goal and ridiculous vertical leap would make him a natural to slot in at centre-half forward to claim high ball and burn defenders with his pace.

When he visited Ireland with Real Madrid back in 2009, he looked to have gotten to grips with the sport fairly quickly too. 

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Paul McGinley

As Off The Ball producer JP Gilbourne notes, "Paul McGinley’s got hurling in his blood". His father played for Donegal, and he himself togged out for Naomh Micheál until he broke his kneecap. 

Obviously that rules him out of any playing role, but as a Ryder Cup captain in 2014, Gilbourne suggests he could patrol the sideline as bainisteoir, and he may have already been getting a few tips for success...

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Robbie Keane 

After hanging up the green jersey for the last time, will Robbie now indulge his passion for hurling? Although Adrian Barry argues that "he would need both hands free at all times for remonstrating with the ref, pointing to where team mates should be and of course celebrating goals," the record scorer for Ireland certainly knows where the back of the net is, no matter what the sport.

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

George North

The gentle giant from Anglesey, George North is no stranger to having a hurl in his hand. On tour with the British and Irish Lions in 2013, the Welsh star picked up the basics under the tutelage of team-mate Paul O'Connell.

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland 

30 tries for Wales might suggest you'd stick him anywhere from the half-way line forward, but Adrian Barry reckons he's a natural fit for centre back: "He’s 6’4’’ and I have a vision for him in a Diarmuid O’Sullivan-type role..." 

Pepe 

As Raf Diallo notes, "whoever thought of giving Pepe a hurley is taking a risk." Sure to be involved in an epic schemozzle with the opposition full-forward and given his style of play, he's fortunate that the black card rule only applies to Gaelic football and not hurling. Still, he's intimidating enough that if a sliotar comes within a few yards of him, his swing will prevent any challenges on the ball.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Shane Long

Slotting the Irish international in at full-forward, Adrian Barry argues that not only is it a natural fit, but has some inside info on how Long's GAA roots helped him to reach the top of the game in a different sport: "Stephen Hunt always says that Long uses his body in the same way as he did when he hurled minor for Tipp, holding off the opponent and creating space to bring in a team mate. If it’s good enough for Hunty, it’ll do for me!"

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Michael Bent

The New Zealand born rugby player has represented Ireland at international level, and has proved he as an elite sportsman with his performances for Leinster in the Pro 12.

No sooner were his feet on the ground in Ireland than he was snapped with a sliotar and a hurl, and he certainly looks like he would certainly be an intimidating presence next to George North at the back in our fantasy lineup.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan 

Brian Schneider

The Toughest Trade showed that some stars are able to swap one hugely challenging sport for another, as Major League Baseball's Brian Schneider proved when he slotted in at goal for James Stephens in Kilkenny.

While that's an obvious fit, Dave McIntyre believes another star of the MLB, Barry Bonds, would also be a natural as the last line of defence: "A huge man, he’d fill half the goalmouth, and would puck the ball a mile."

Image: ©INPHO/Allsport

The Uso brothers

Known for their prowess in the wrestling ring, the Uso brothers have also shown impressive accuracy with a sliotar. On a recent visit to Dublin, they were brought to Ballyboden St. Enda's by Irish superstar Becky Lynch, and nailed the crossbar challenge. 

Coupling the accuracy with their physical presence makes them a shoe-in, but you'd have to play both of them. They are a tag-team, after all.

The Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 All-Ireland Championship takes place this coming Saturday in Semple Stadium as Galway take on Waterford. Don't miss out on the action and the passion as the next generation of sporting heroes take the first steps on their path to glory. Throw in is at 5pm, and you can pick up your tickets at the turnstiles.