Sports play a significant role in the Ireland communities and apart from the great sports legends actively participating, sports offer many spectators a fun way to spend the day out. The top spectator sport in the country includes hurling, golf, horseracing, soccer and Gaelic football.
Ireland is also home to many sports heroes including Champion League winners, World Boxing Champions, Olympic gold medallists and golfing primary victors.
The county can compete with the best in the world, despite its relatively small community and some of the sporting greats include Padraig Harrington, Brian O’Driscoll, George Best and Joey Dunlop.
Padraig Harrington is one of the greatest golfers from Ireland, and this PGA golfer won the Open titles in both 2008 as well as 2009. He is also the winner of the 2008 PGA Championship, and while representing Europe in the Ryder Cup, he enjoyed winning the competition no less than four times.
In 1997, Padraig Harrington won the World Cup of Golf while playing with Paul McGinley. The Dublin sports star was also the only one to partner with Tiger Woods over five times during tournaments.
Brian O’Driscoll from 2003 until 2012 was the Captain of the Ireland team. His rugby career also includes him captaining the Irish Lions as well as the British Lions during the New Zealand tour.
O’Driscoll won the IRB World Player of the year award three times, these include in 2009, 2002 and 2001 and is the all-time leading try scorer in Ireland, while in 2008 he won the Dubliner of the Year award. He was also the captain of the Ireland team when they won the Grand Slam and was voted the Rugby Player of the Decade by Rugby World magazine for the time-period 2000 up to 2009.
George Best is without a doubt the most talented soccer player. This Irish player won the European Cup as part of the Manchester United team in 1968 and scored a total of 137 goals for the club. When Best was spotted in Belfast as a teenager, Matt Busby got a call and was told that Best was the next soccer genius.
He dated several glamorous women, which also included a few Miss Worlds. He was the first celebrity footballer, while he is known in the British media as the fifth Beatle. Unfortunately, Best died in 2005 from alcohol-related illness when his playboy lifestyle caught up with him.
Joey Dunlop is from Ballymoney in the North of Ireland, and this World Champion motorcyclist was voted the 5th greatest by the Motorcycle News and was the winner of the Ulster Grand Prix twenty-four times.
Dunlop was also the winner of the TT Formula One from 1982 to 1986 when he won five years in a row and was awarded an OBE for the charity work; he did with orphans and an MBE for his sports contribution. Joey Dunlop was killed in Estonia during a race in 2000.