The Best XV I have Played Against: John Paul Breslin

Na Rossa’s John Paul Breslin is a Donegal club stalwart who has also represented his county at underage. The big man also had spells in both London and Boston.

He has faced some top quality players over the course of his career and has this week picked the best fifteen he has faced.

Paul Durcan


Paul Durcan (Four Masters). I played against both Paul and Gary Walsh, another great ‘keeper. But Paul would just about shade it as he brought a different edge to things with his kick-outs. Huge presence as well.

Charlie Doherty (Naomh Muire).
Charlie was such a tough competitor and never gave up any ball easily. He was like glue. And he’s still going strong, which is amazing.

Finian Hanley (Salthill).
I played against Finian for Tir Chonaill Gaels. He was pure class in at full-back. Strong, powerful and extremely mobile, and he played the game the right way.

Finian Hanley

Hughie Cunningham (Naomh Columba).
I’m fortunate enough to say that I played more with than against Hughie. He was excellent. He could attack as well as defend. He was just a very classy player. Tough as they come as well. There was no messing with Hughie.

Damien Diver (Ardara). The strongest man I ever made contact with on a football pitch. That attempt of a shoulder, by myself, didn’t end well! He was such a force for both club and county.

Damien Diver


Paddy McConigley (Gael Fhánada).
We crossed paths a good few times for our clubs but I was also lucky enough to play with Paddy as well for a good while in London. He had it all. In my opinion, along with Na Rossa’s own Martin Caulfield, the two best club players from the generation I grew up playing with and against.

Karl Lacey (Four Masters). What more can you say… just a Roles Royce of a player. He could play anywhere on the pitch and still make it look so effortless. Class and quality in every department.

Kevin Rafferty

Kevin Rafferty (St Eunan’s)
. Kevin was an excellent footballer. And he probably gave me the biggest roasting ever on a football pitch. It was like he’d wings!

Cathal Brennan (Dungloe).
I could have went for the likes of Stephen McDermott or John Gildea but big Cathal was just so hard to handle when he was in the mood. He could entertain as well! He’d be speaking Irish, English and eventually a mixture whenever he lost the head!

Dick Clerkin (Monaghan).
I played against Dick in Boston. A horse or a man. So solid. And he’s probably the first player I ever encountered that was even more contrary than me on a field!

Kevin Hughes (Tyrone). I played once against Kevin in an Under 21 game. Big Hub was a real powerhouse, even then. He had that shaved and hard looking head. But he could play football. It was no surprise he went on to have a superb career.

Joe Friel

Joe Friel (Cloughaneely). I had some great tussles with big Joe. And I better include him or he might give me another black eye! Without a bad run of injuries he could have went onto have a great career with Donegal. He was that good.

Colm Anthony McFadden (St Michael’s). What a player and what a scoring forward. His left foot was lethal. Not much more I can add. He was probably the most natural all round forward Donegal has ever produced.

Adrian Sweeney (Dungloe).
Adrian was another of those, like Diver, that possessed serious strength before all that was a really big thing. And he was as good at setting up scores as he was at getting them. He probably would have ended up with a Dr Maguire medal had he played with his local club, Na Rossa!

John Paul Boyle (Naomh Muire)/Frank Ward (Glenfin).
JP was amazing. And it didn’t matter which foot. He gave up the game far too early which was a real shame. Frank Ward, like myself, probably played far too long, which was also a shame! But in his prime he was a class act.

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