The Top Irish Athletes of All Time

Although I’m a fan of Second Captains, I get slightly irked by the Great Wall on for a number of reasons, one being that if the guest in question is a GAA player he/she will select another GAA player to place upon the wall without any real thought. To show them suckers whats what, I’ve decided to put together my definitive list of the best ever Irish athletes. Of course, being awkward, Paddy didn’t agree with my choices so had to make his own, controversial as ever, list. You can decide at the bottom whose list is better!

6. Katie Taylor

Katie T

Currently Boxing’s Irish, European, World and Olympic Champion at 60 KG division. Katie has also represented the Republic of Ireland ladies soccer team and is more than worthy of a place in the top five, but nevertheless is number six here.

5. Henry Shefflin 

Just look at this bucks achievements:

All Ireland Titles – 10

Leinster Titles – 13

All Stars – 11

Rear of the Year – 8

4. Brian O’Driscoll

Number 4 for BOD, sure to cause some consternation but with good reason I believe. No doubting that O’Driscoll is the greatest rugby player ever produced from these shores, however, rugby in comparison to golf for example, is played by a minuscule amount of countries of which about eight are competitive. Plus Glenda Gilson….Uggggh.

3. Padraig Harrington

Harrington is, in my opinion, the most underrated Irish sports man in history. Thirty professional wins including three majors and six PGA Tour wins have Padraig at number three for me.

2. Rory McIlroy

Worlds No. 1 golfer McIlroy has amassed four major wins, nine PGA Tour wins to date and all before his 26th birthday. An outstanding talent and the new face of golf. And thankfully that face has got a bit less sunburnt in the last few years.

1. Roy Keane

I think its impossible to argue with this to be honest. At his peak Keane was one of the best players in world football and captained one of the worlds greatest clubs, Manchester United, to major honors at the highest level of world  sport. Also loves a bit of controversy as documented by Cat Malojin previously here: Who Should Roy Keane Fight Next?

Paddy’s Top 10 – In no particular Order

– Roy Keane

– Brian O’Driscoll

– Dr Pat O’Callaghan – Won gold in 2 Olympics – Only Irish person to do so.

– Stephen Roche – Won the Giro and Tour de France in the same year. Can’t argue with that really.

– Arkle – May be a bit controversial to include a horse, but he’s officially the best horse of all time, and achieved remarkable feats, so has to be included.

– Rory McIlroy

– Bob Tisdall – Won Olympic gold, and broke the world record, in only his 6th hurdles race. That’s not bad.

– Katie Taylor

The Irish Whales – If you’ve never heard of the Irish Whales, they’re a group of boisterous Irish weight throwing athletes that were around before independence, so had to move to America to compete in the Olympics. From all over the country (Limerick, Clare, Mayo and Cork) between them they won 10 golds, 5 silvers and 3 bronze medals, so they deserve a bit of recognition.

– Liam Brady


So, what do you think – is there anyone we’ve overlooked? All feedback welcome! Well positive feedback. Negative feedback will earn a lasting grudge.


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