| 8.1°C Dublin

Close

Premium

Cult Heroes: 'Gaelic's equivalent of Andrea Pirlo and his flamboyance alone warranted the admission fee'

For our new series, our writers have selected their favourite sporting mavericks, those who didn't always prevail but always added colour to the games we love

Close

This day 19 years ago Ciarán McDonald fell to the ground at Croke Park as Crossmolina defeated Nemo Rangers to win the All-Ireland Club SFC final. Photo: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

This day 19 years ago Ciarán McDonald fell to the ground at Croke Park as Crossmolina defeated Nemo Rangers to win the All-Ireland Club SFC final. Photo: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

This day 19 years ago Ciarán McDonald fell to the ground at Croke Park as Crossmolina defeated Nemo Rangers to win the All-Ireland Club SFC final. Photo: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Everything about Ciarán McDonald was different. Long blond hair, white boots, untucked jersey, beads around the neck, socks pulled up to the knee and arms covered in tattoos but what really set him apart was the ability to make the football talk.

McDonald was a puppet master with ball in hand and that sweet left peg cocked, Gaelic's equivalent of soccer star Andrea Pirlo and his flamboyance alone warranted the admission fee as spectators knew they were going to see something special.

Be it passing or shooting, those exquisite efforts off the outside of his left boot were a thing of beauty. But while he was often dubbed the David Beckham of the GAA for his on-field persona, the Mayo maestro avoided the limelight off it and you could count on one hand his number of media interactions.