There have been many great Irish sporting achievements over the decades as the Irish have punched well above their weight in many different sports winning many honours along the way.
From creating their own renowned sports such as hurling and Gaelic football to competing in other sports that are popular across the world, Ireland has always been a very sporting nation.
Naturally, this means there has also been a vast and varied amount of Irish sporting achievements that have occurred over the decades too.
In this article, we will list what we believe to be the top five greatest Irish sporting achievements.
5. Ken Doherty winning the World Snooker Championship – a history-making match
When Ken Doherty won the 1997 Snooker World Championship, he became – and remains to this day – the only man from the south of Ireland to have ever won the World Snooker Championship.
At 28 years of age, Ken Doherty defeated Stephen Hendry who had won the World Snooker Championships for the past five consecutive years. He then went on to finish runner-up at two further World Championships.
4. Rory McIlroy winning the US Open – rewriting the history books
For an Irish player to win the US Open is impressive enough, but to win it in the manner that Rory McIlroy did in 2011 is entirely beyond belief. His success was all the more spectacular given his experience at the Masters prior to the US Open.
To win the US Open after his performance at the Masters demonstrated a fantastic level of resolve, mental toughness, and determination on McIlroy’s part, which makes it worthy of a place on our list as one of the greatest Irish sporting achievements.
3. Katie Taylor winning gold at the Olympics – a boxing legend is born
While everyone in Ireland knew that Katie Taylor was extraordinarily talented and most likely one of the best female boxers in the world, she was somewhat an unknown quantity on the world stage.
However, this all changed at the London 2012 Olympics when Katie Taylor set the boxing world alight and went on to win the gold medal. She was rightfully given a hero’s welcome on her return home to Ireland.
2. Barry McGuigan becoming the world featherweight champion – a fighting champion
In 1985, Barry McGuigan became the world featherweight champion when he defeated Eusebio Pedroza of Panama in London after winning a unanimous fifteen-round decision in what was a truly gruelling fight and contest of wills.
Later that same year McGuigan went on to be named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year making him the first person not born in the United Kingdom to win the award. For this reason, he has become one of Ireland’s biggest sports stars.
1. David O’Leary’s penalty v Romania at the World Cup – the moment the nation held its breath for
In first place in our list of the top five greatest Irish sporting achievements of all time is David O’Leary’s excellent penalty against Romania at the World Cup, which remains not only the greatest moment in Irish soccer history but arguably in Irish sporting history in general.
After Packie Bonner’s great save in the penalty shootout against Romania in the last 16 knockout match, Ireland had all the power in their hands. If they scored the next penalty, they were through to the quarter-finals.
David O’Leary walked up to take the critical penalty and, as he did, the nation held its breath in anticipation. Luckily, he scored, and Ireland were through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time in the country’s history.
The celebrations that followed after were legendary as anyone alive in the 90s to witness will surely attest to. This is definitely one of the greatest Irish sporting achievements of all time.
That concludes our article on what we believe to be the top five greatest Irish sporting achievements of all time.
It was certainly a tough one to make due to the varied and vast amount of truly great Irish sporting achievements. Do you agree with them or are there other Irish sporting achievements that you think deserved a place on our list?