Ireland is fuelled by its passion for sports, whether its rugby, horseracing, soccer, hurling or motorsports. Several of the all-time sports greats came from Ireland, which is entirely unexpected from a country with such a small population.
Soccer is the third most supported sport in the country, while it is played by more than 250 million players across more than 200 countries. The two most popular sports in Ireland is hurling and Gaelic football.
Some of the greatest football players like Roy Keane is from Ireland, also home to hugely successful cyclists such as Sean Kelly, Olympic silver medallists such as Sonia O-Sullivan, Hurling championship winners such as Christy Ring and the best horse trainer in history, Vincent O’Brien.
During the late 1990s the caption of the Irish national football team was Roy Keane, he remained caption into the early 2000s. Born in Cork, Kean was a midfielder that intimidated his opponents with his ferocious reputation. Roy Keane was also the captain of the Manchester United team during what is still their most successful history. This was when they won four FA Cups and seven Premier League titles.
Keane left the national team only days the 2002 World Cup after an argument with Mick McCarty the manager at the time regarding the team preparations, which upset many of his Irish supporters. Later, Kean became the assistant manager for the national side in 2013.
Sean Kelly held the number one position and was hugely successful in the 1980s, he remained number one for six years and throughout his career won 193 races. Kelly also won fourteen Tour de France. Born in Tipperary, he worked as a bricklayer and farmhand before he became one of the most famous sports legends from Ireland.
Sonia O’Sullivan already showed a flair for athletics when she was a youngster in Cork. Her passion led to her becoming an elite athlete in the running during the late 1990s as well as early 200s, and she won an Olympic silver medal at the 2000 Games in the 5000m.
O’Sullivan also won a gold medal in 1995 for the 5000m in the World Athletics Championship, in 1994 the European Championship in the 3000m and Budapest in 1998, she achieved double gold in the 5000m and 10 000m races.
Christy Ring is the master in hurling; his achievements include winning the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championships eight times and the Hurling Munster Senior Championship nine times. During his career with Cork town club, he was voted the greatest player of all times. In celebrations of his phenomenal achievements, the bridge over the river in Cork is named after him, and a life-size statue of Christy Ring can be seen at the airport in Cork.
Vincent O’ Brien
The Racing Post newspaper voted Vincent O’Brien the greatest trainer ever in horse racing. He is the winner, three years in a row of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The horses have also won three years in a row the Champions Hurdle, and for three consecutive years, O’Brien won the Grand National.