The Top 7 Irish Sports Men & Women (of all time)... debate anyone?

The Top 7 Irish Sports Men & Women (of all time)... debate anyone?

Debate : Anthony Redmond has his opinion... what's yours?

Top 7 Irish Sportsmen

Ireland over the past 20 years have been drowned in the quality of sports stars in all codes. So I have decided to pick out my top 7 from the past 20 years, as I am way too young to remember back any further! A mix of sports stars in Boxing, Rugby, GAA, Golf and Soccer will be all included.

7. Padraig Harrington: Without doubt one of Ireland’s greatest ever golfers, Harrington made his professional debut in 1996 and since then has went on to win three major titles, The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the PGA Championship also in 2008. He is still one of the best in the game and always plays with a smile on his face. Many would ask why Rory McIlroy isn’t included but it wouldn’t sit well with Irish people if I picked him ahead of Harrington after McIlroy opted to play with Great Britain at the last Olympics.  

6. Robbie Keane: Robbie Keane had to be included on this list as he has given us Irish fans something to cheer about and only for him we probably wouldn’t have been cheering ! The man from Tallaght in Dublin is still Ireland’s leading goalscorer by a long way and it will be hard for someone to catch up with the 68 international goals he has scored, some of which were very crucial. Robbie has played at top clubs throughout the world, Inter Milan, Liverpool and Spurs to name just a few.

5. Paul O’Connell: The Limerick man has done is it all in an illustrious rugby career. The former Munster and Ireland captain will go down as one of the best to play the game. O’Connell always gave 100 % and put his head and body on the line. Indeed O’Connell captained the British and Irish Lions on their 2009 tour to South Africa. In total he made 109 appearances for Ireland in a career spanning 13 years. He won 2 Heineken Cups, 3 Six Nations and a Grand Slam title in 2009.

4. Roy Keane: One of Ireland’s greatest ever soccer players and sports players. He played for one of the world’s biggest soccer clubs Manchester United and was a real leader. He was captain of the side that won numerous Premier League titles as well as Champions League medals. One of the greatest to wear the green of Ireland and the red of Manchester United.

3. Henry Shefflin: The man effectively known as King Henry will go down in history as one of the best players to set foot on a GAA pitch. The Ballyhale Shamrocks club man has won it all and done it all in terms of medals and personal awards. He has won All-Ireland titles with his native Kilkenny, All-Ireland with his native Ballyhale and other personal awards such as player of the year and numerous all-star awards. Shefflin finished his inter county career in 2015, however he can now be seen on the television screens across the world as a pundit on The Sunday GAME on RTE. Shefflin won an astonishing 10 All-Ireland medals, 13 provincial titles, 6 league titles and 11 all stars and that is just with his county ! With his club he won 6 county titles, 4 Leinster titles and 3 All-Ireland titles. A true great in many people’s eyes

2. AP McCoy: Many people would recognise AP McCoy most notably because they probably have backed him in the past! The man from Antrim will go down in history as one of best ever jockeys in horse racing history. AP recorded over 4,000 wins and was champion jockey for 20 consecutive years. He won all the major races such as the Grand National in 2010, as well as the Cheltenham Gold Cup to name just two. An incredible sportsman on and off the field.

1. Brian O’Driscoll: Brian O’Driscoll gets the number 1 spot on the list, but it could have went to anyone. O’Driscoll who hails from Dublin, was capped 133 times his country and scored 245 points in a career spanning 15 years. He retired from the sport in 2014, but showed heart, passion and pride every time he went out on the field of play. He also played for Leinster and won numerous awards at both international and club level as well as representing the British and Irish Lions.

Top 7 Irish Sportswomen

I am a bit too young to go back any further than 20 years or so, hopefully people will consider this when reading this article!

7. Rena Buckley : At only 29 years of age this woman has done it all at the highest for Cork in both Camogie and Gaelic football. She won All-Ireland Camogie titles in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2017. She won camogie all-stars then as well in 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2015. However, the achievements don’t stop there as she has also won 11 All-Ireland Senior Football titles between the years of 2005 and 2016. She won all stars in 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2015. One of the best to play the game without doubt.

6. Angela Downey: Angela was one of the greatest Camogie players to play the game. Downey played senior camogie for Kilkenny for 24 years (1970 – 1994) in a remarkable career. Downey played with her local club St Pauls and to this is still involved in the club. She won 12 All-Ireland senior titles, 13 Leinster titles and eight National League medals, with her beloved St Pauls she collected a massive 22 county titles and 6 All-Ireland titles. On a personal note Angela won player of the year in 1977 and in 1986 she received a Texaco, only the third player ever to do so. She was also named on the team of century in 2004. A great career from a fabulous person on and off the field.

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5. Annalise Murphy: Annalise is still quite young but she fully deserves her place on the list. At 27 years of age she has already claimed a silver medal at the Olympic Games which came just last year at the Summer Olympics (Sailing, Laser Radial). In 2013 Murphy won gold in the European Championship. That year she was nominated for Irish sportsperson of the year. In 2016 Murphy was named Irish Times Sportswoman of the year after her heroics in the Olympics. At only 27 there are still more Olympic games and European Championship medals to be picked up and we wouldn’t rule it out with the talent she has !

4. Fiona Coghlan : Coghlan will go down in history as one of Ireland’s greatest rugby players. She made a remarkable 85 appearances in the green of Ireland and was captain of the side that won Ireland’s first ever Women’s Six Nations title in 2013. She also led Ireland into the 2014 World Cup where she and her teammates made history in defeating New Zealand. Coghlan will go down as one of the best to play the game and is a role model for players coming through in today’s women’s rugby in Ireland.

3. Ciara Grant : The Co Waterford native will be known to many that have followed women’s football over the last 10-12 years. She played for Arsenal from 1998 to 2014, where she won everything. She won 9 Premier League titles, 7 FA Cup titles, 6 Women’s League Cup and 1 UEFA Cup. She made over 100 appearances for Ireland also scoring 11 goals. She will go down in history as one of Irish greatest ever players in the sport.

2. Sonia O’Sullivan : The Cork woman makes it onto the list after having a superb career in athletics. She is one of Ireland best athletes. She won a gold medal at the World Championship in the 5000m in 1995, while she also collected a silver medal in the 5000m Olympic Final in 2000.  Indeed, O’Sullivan’s set a record in 1994 for the 2000m race and to this day that still stands. As well as winning these honours she has also won numerous European Championship medals, 1994 with the 3000m in Helsinki, 1998 10,000m in Budapest where she also claimed gold and again in Budapest also in 1998 claiming gold in the 5000m race. O’Sullivan is regarded as one of the best sports person in Ireland and to this day still engages in running.

1. Katie Taylor: One of Ireland’s greatest ever sports people has done it all and won it all in terms of medals. She is currently training in the professional ranks and will have a world title shot later next month. Taylor won an Olympic gold medal at London 2012 which was a very proud moment for everyone involved in Irish boxing. The Bray woman has also 5 consecutive World Championship gold medals, six gold medals at the European Championships and five gold medals at the European Union Championship. At 29 Taylor could have many more good days to come in the professional ranks.

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