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Greatest irish sportsperson ever. Top 10 results

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RTE asked the nation to choose the Greatest Irish Sportsperson ever. The Greatest Irish Sportsperson ever, was chosen from a list compiled with the help of our panel of experts.
Aidan Power presents a count down of the Top 10 Greatest Irish Sports People Ever, as voted by the Irish public.
The Greatest Irish Sports Person Ever! will count down the Top 10 Irish Sports People, as voted by the Irish public, and will feature interviews with many of the nominated sportspeople along with their families, friends and coaches as well as a prestigious line up of sports commentators and journalists.
As a small nation, Ireland has produced an impressive line of great Olympians, footballers, hurlers, athletes, boxers, trainers and riders but who in our pantheon of sporting greats reigns supreme? And how do the greats of today cut it with the greats of the past?
Presented by Aidan Power the programme will also feature classic archive images and the most memorable moments of their careers.
TOP 10
1 The Greatest Irish sportsperson ever is Padraig Harrington.
Padraig Harrington (born 31 August 1971) is an Irish professional golfer. He has won three major championships: The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the PGA Championship, also in 2008.
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2. Brian O'Driscoll
Brian Gerald O'Driscoll (Irish name: Briain Gearóid Ó hEidirsceoil ; born 21 January 1979) is an Irish professional rugby union player. He is the current captain of the Irish national team and captained Leinster Rugby until the start of 2008 season. He also captained the British and Irish Lions for their 2005 tour of New Zealand. Registered at University College Dublin RFC, he plays at outside centre for the Irish provincial team Leinster. O'Driscoll was chosen as Player of the Tournament in the 2006, 2007 and 2009 RBS Six Nations Championships.
O'Driscoll has 109 test caps, 103 for Ireland (67 as captain), and six for the British and Irish Lions. During this time he has scored 40 tries for Ireland and 1 try for the Lions in 2001, making him the highest try scorer of all time in Irish Rugby. He is joint 9th-highest try scorer in Rugby Union history, and the highest scoring centre of all time. He holds the Irish Six Nations record for most tries scored with 22. He has scored the most Heineken Cup tries (2Cool for an Irishman.
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3.Joey Dunlop
William Joseph "Joey" Dunlop, (February 25, 1952 - July 2, 2000), was a world champion motorcyclist from Ballymoney, County Antrim, best known for road racing. Referred to throughout the sport as "Joey", in 2005 he was voted the fifth greatest motorcycling icon ever by Motorcycle News. His achievements include three hat-tricks at the Isle of Man TT meeting (1985, 1988 and 2000), where he won a record 26 races in total. During his career he won the Ulster Grand Prix 24 times. In 1986 he won a fifth consecutive TT Formula One world title.
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4.George Best
George Best (22 May 1946 – 25 November 2005) was a Northern Irish professional football player, best known for his years with Manchester United. He was a winger whose game combined pace, acceleration, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to beat defenders. In 1968, his annus mirabilis, he won the European Cup with Manchester United, and was named the European Footballer of the Year. When fit, he was an automatic choice for the the north of Ireland team, but he was unable to lead them to the World Cup qualification, despite being capped 37 times and scoring nine goals.
In 1999, he was voted 11th at the IFFHS European Player of the Century election, and 16th in the World Player of the Century election. Pelé named him as one of the 125 best living footballers in his 2004 FIFA 100 list and Best was named 19th, behind Gerd Müller, at the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll. In his native the north of Ireland, the admiration for him is summed up by the local saying: "Maradona good; Pelé better; George Best."
He was one of the first celebrity footballers, but his extravagant lifestyle led to problems with alcoholism which curtailed his playing career and eventually led to his death in November 2005 at the age of 59. His cause of death was multiple organ failure brought on by a kidney infection, a side effect of the immuno-suppressive drugs he was required to take after a liver transplant. In 2007, GQ named him as one of the 50 most stylish men of the past 50 years
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5.Roy Keane
Roy Maurice Keane (born 10 August 1971) is a former Irish footballer and the manager of English Championship club Ipswich Town. In his 18-year playing career, he played for Cobh Ramblers in the League of Ireland, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United (both in England), before ending his career with a brief spell at Celtic in Scotland.
A dominating central-midfielder, Keane was noted for his aggressive and highly-competitive style of play, an attitude which helped him excel as captain of Manchester United from 1997 until his departure in 2005. Keane helped United achieve a sustained period of success in more than 12 years at the club.
He played at international level for much of his career, representing the Republic of Ireland over a period of fourteen years, most of which he spent as captain. In the 1994 FIFA World Cup he played in every game, although he was sent home from the 2002 World Cup after an "incident" with national coach Mick McCarthy.
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6.Sean Kelly
John James 'Sean' Kelly (born 24 May 1956) is an Irish former professional road bicycle racer. He was one of the most successful road cyclists of the 1980s, and one of the finest classics riders of all time. From turning professional in 1977 until his retirement in 1994, he won nine monument classics, and 193 professional races in total. He won Paris–Nice seven years in a row and the first UCI Road World Cup in 1989. He won the 1988 Vuelta a España and had multiple wins in the Giro di Lombardia, Milan – San Remo, Paris–Roubaix and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Other victories include the Critérium International, Grand Prix des Nations and smaller tours including the Tour de Suisse, Vuelta al País Vasco and Volta a Catalunya.
Kelly never won the world championship, although he came close against Greg LeMond in 1989. Kelly was first to be ranked No.1 when the FICP rankings were introduced in March 1984, a position he held for a record six years. In the 1984 season, Kelly achieved 33 victories.
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7. Sonia O'Sullivan
Sonia O'Sullivan (born 28 November 1969) is an Irish runner from Cobh, County Cork. She was one of the world's leading female 5000 m runners for most of the 1990s and early 2000s. Her crowning achievement was a gold medal in the 5000 m at the 1995 World Athletics Championships. She won silver medals in the 5000 m at the 2000 Olympic Games and in the 1500 m at the 1993 World Championships. She has also won three European Championship gold medals and two World Cross-Country Championship gold medals.
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8. Christy Ring
Christy Ring Greatest Irish sportsperson ever video
Nicholas Christopher Michael Ring (12 October 1920[2] - 2 March 1979), better known as Christy Ring, was a famous Irish sportsperson. He played hurling with the Glen Rovers club from 1941 until 1967 and was a member of the Cork senior inter-county team from 1939 until 1963. Ring is widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game. Many former players, commentators and fans rate him as the number one player of all-time.
In a game as mythologised as hurling, Ring's universally accepted pre-eminence is remarkable. Yet, he possessed everything from talent and ferocious application to longevity and a string of records. Obsessive about the game, he worked relentlessly to sustain a formidable array of techniques, complemented by great vision and anticipation. A shamanistic sense of his own distinctness added to a reputation for eccentricity, but Ring's greatness, coupled with his physical resilience and resourcefulness, also demoralised opponents.

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9. Vincent O'Brien
Dr. Michael Vincent O'Brien (9 April 1917 - 1 June 2009) was an Irish race horse trainer from Churchtown, County Cork, Ireland. In 2003 he was voted the greatest influence in horse racing history, according to a worldwide vote hosted by the Racing Post newspaper. He trained six horses to win the Epsom Derby and was twice British champion trainer, to name but two of his many achievements. O'Brien was not related to Aidan O'Brien, who took over the Ballydoyle stables after his retirement.
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10. Paul McGrath
Paul McGrath (born 4 December 1959) is a retired Irish footballer, who played as a central defender.
In a career greatly hampered by physical and off-the-field problems, he played 14 professional seasons with Aston Villa and Manchester United (seven apiece). A tough tackler, he often defied medical knowledge, due to the conditioning of his knees.
Also a long-time member of the Republic of Ireland national team, he appeared with it at the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 1988, the team's first-ever international tournament.
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Original profile list of candidates.
George Best (soccer)
Best was discovered in Belfast by Manchester United scout Bob Bishop, whose telegram to Matt Busby read: "I think I've found you a genius". In 1968, he was named European Footballer of the Year and scored a crucial goal in the European Cup Final against Benfica as United became the first English Club to lift the trophy. After George left United in 1974, he became something of a footballing nomad but despite his personal problems, he remains one of the greatest players to have played the game.

DJ Carey (hurling)
D.J. Carey is widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers of his generation. In a senior inter-county career that lasted for fifteen years, he won five All-Ireland titles, ten Leinster titles, four National Hurling League titles and two Railway Cup titles. At twenty-two he was one of the youngest-ever recipients of the Texaco Hurler of the Year accolade and collected a record equalling nine All Star Awards.

Eamonn Coghlan (athletics)
Coghlan ran the first of his 83 sub four-minute miles in Pittsburgh, in 1975 and then set the indoor world record for the mile in 1983 - a record which stood for 14 years and is still the second fastest indoor mile of all time. He competed at three Olympics, twice finishing fourth but his greatest moment came in 1983 when he memorably won the 5,000m at the World Championships in Helsinki. He remains Ireland's only ever male World Champion gold medallist.

Ronnie Delany (athletics)
In 1956, Ronnie Delany won Olympic Gold in Melbourne in the 1,500m by beating the home favourite John Landy with a thrilling final sprint that also broke the Olympic record at the time. After that victory, Delany continued his brilliant running career in North America where he was next to unbeatable on indoor tracks as he put together an unbroken string of 40 indoor victories and broke several indoor world records.

Ken Doherty (snooker)
Doherty is the only player ever to have been both world amateur (1989) and world professional champion (1997). He became only the third player from outside the United Kingdom to win the World Championship when he beat Stephen Hendry 18-12 in the 1997 final. Ken also reached the World Championship finals in 1998 and in 2003 and spent 15 years in the Top 16 ranked players including ending the 05/06 season as the world no.2.

Joey Dunlop (motorcycling)
Best known for road racing, Joey Dunlop was voted the fifth greatest motorcycling icon ever by Motorcycle News in 2005. His achievements include three hat-tricks at the Isle of Man TT (1985, 1988 and 2000) where he won a record 26 races in total. During his career he won the Ulster Grand Prix 24 times and six consecutive TT Formula One world titles.

Mike Gibson (rugby)
Gibson first played for Ireland in 1964, and earned his 69th and final cap in the second and final test win against Australia in Sydney in 1979, at the of age 36. He appeared in 12 Tests for the British & Irish Lions and toured a record five times with them. When the International Rugby Hall of Fame was instituted in 1997, Gibson was one of the initial fifteen inductees.

John Giles (soccer)
John Giles began his career at Man Utd but it was as at Leeds that he became a key part of Don Revie's all conquering team. Between 1967 and 1975, Leeds won two League titles, the League Cup, two European Fairs Cups and the FA Cup. Giles played 59 times for Ireland and became player-manager of the Irish team in 1973 while still a Leeds player. In 2004, he was chosen as the best Irish player of the last 50 years by the FAI in the UEFA Jubilee Awards.

Padraig Harrington (golf)
Padraig's big breakthrough came in 2006 when he won the European Order of Merit. He used this success as a springboard to winning the Open Championship at Carnoustie in 2007 - becoming the first Irishman to win the trophy in 60 years. In 2008, Padraig went one better by successfully defending his Open Championship and then adding the USPGA Championship three weeks later. Padraig has also played in 5 Ryder Cups and been on the winning side three times.

Kevin Heffernan (gaelic football)
In 1958, Heffernan captained Dublin to victory in the All-Ireland football final. He was also part of the winning National League teams of '53, '55 and '58, and won seven Railway Cup medals with Leinster. In late 1973, he took over as manager and in 1974, he guided 'the Dubs' to their first Leinster title in nine years and first All Ireland win since 1963. He led Dublin through their great battles with Kerry in the 1970s and was at the helm when Dublin beat Galway in the All-Ireland Final of 1983.

Alex Higgins (snooker)
The 'Hurricane' was one of the most controversial and extrovert characters snooker has ever seen. He won the World Snooker Championship at the first attempt in 1972 before reclaiming the title 10 years later, a victory which is remembered for the emotional images of a tearful Higgins hugging his wife, little baby girl and the trophy. Perhaps his greatest legacy is that many of today's household names credit the 'Hurricane' as being the man that attracted them to the sport in the first place.

Roy Keane (soccer)
Roy Keane left Cobh Ramblers to begin his career in England with Nottingham Forest before signing for Man Utd in 1993 where he soon became the most influential player in the team. During his 12 years at Old Trafford, Keane won seven Premiership titles, four FA cups, the Champions League and was voted Players Player of the Year & Football Writers Player of the Year in 2000. Keane played 66 times for Ireland and captained the team to qualification for the 2002 World Cup... enough said!

Sean Kelly (cycling)
Sean Kelly's remarkable cycling career saw him ranked No.1 when the FICP rankings were introduced in 1984, a position he held for a record six years. Kelly's victories included winning the prestigious Paris-Nice race a record seven times in succession, the Tour of Spain in 1988, the Green Jersey in the Tour de France a record four times, the Nissan Classic four times and many more titles before he retired in 1994.

Jack Kyle (rugby)
The highlight of Jack Kyle's Ireland career came during the 1948 Five Nations Championship when, in many peoples eyes, he masterminded Ireland's success in winning the Grand Slam. In 1949 he also helped Ireland win the Triple Crown and in 1951 they were the Five Nations Champions. In 1950 Kyle also played in all six tests for the British Lions on their tour to New Zealand and Australia. In 2002 he was named the Greatest Ever Irish Rugby Player by the Irish Rugby Football Union.

Eddie Macken (show jumping)
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Eddie Macken was the world's number one show jumper. During this period, he was a member of the Irish team that won the Aga Khan Cup three years in a row (1977-1979), he won a record four consecutive Hickstead Derbies (1976-1979) and also won two individual World Championship silver medals (1974 & 1978). Macken represented Ireland at the Olympic Games in 1992 & 1996 and was team trainer in Athens in 2004.

Tony McCoy (horse racing)
McCoy rode his first winner in Thurles in 1994 and since then he has broken record after record. He has been the champion jockey for 14 seasons in succession and became the fastest jockey to reach the 1,000 winner mark. In 2002, McCoy beat Sir Gordon Richards' record of 269 winners in a season, ending the campaign on 289 and in 2006 he became the first jump jockey to ride 2,500 winners. He is the leading jumps rider of all time with over 3,000 winners.

Paul McGrath (soccer)
'The Black Pearl of Inchicore' joined Man Utd in 1982 and won an FA Cup winners medal in 1985 before joining Aston Villa four years later. During his time at Villa Park, McGrath was voted PFA Player of the Year in 1993 and won the League Cup with Villa in 1994 beating Utd in the final. McGrath won 83 Republic of Ireland caps and starred in the Euro Championship in Germany in 1988 and even more memorably in Italia '90 and USA '94.

Barry McGuigan (boxing)
McGuigan won the European Featherweight crown in 1983 and two years later, he became the WBA World Featherweight Champion by beating Eusebio Pedroza of Panama on points in a thrilling fight at QPR's Loftus road ground. McGuigan made two successful defences of his crown before losing to Stevie Cruz in Las Vegas in 1986, where he lost a close decision after suffering dehydration because of the extreme heat. In 2005, McGuigan was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Aidan O'Brien (horse racing)
Aidan O'Brien took the place of his legendary namesake at Ballydoyle when Vincent retired in 1994 and has continued the stables' success story ever since. In 2001, he won seven European classics and over twenty Group One races, to become the first overseas trainer to win the British trainers' title since Vincent in 1977. And in 2008, he came close to equalling the record of 25 Group One wins in one season as well as becoming the first trainer since 1935 to sweep all five of the Irish classics.

Vincent O'Brien (horse racing)
The 'Master of Ballydoyle' won four Cheltenham Gold Cups, three Grand Nationals and three Champion Hurdles before he turned his attention to flat racing in the 1950s. O'Brien was even more successful on the flat winning both the Irish Derby and the Epsom Derby six times each, among many other big race wins. O'Brien was voted the greatest figure in the history of horse-racing by the readers of the Racing Post in 2003.

Mick O'Connell (gaelic football)
Mick O'Connell won the first of twelve Munster titles with Kerry in 1958 and collected the first of his four All Ireland successes the following year when the Kingdom defeated Galway in the final. O'Connell's reputation as one of the all-time greats of gaelic football was recognised when he was named in the midfield position on GAA 'Football Team of the Century' in 1984 and then in 2000, he was also named on the GAA 'Football Team of the Millennium'.

Christy O'Connor Snr (golf)
'Himself' won at least one professional event each year during the 1960s on the British Tour, a level of success matched by very few other players. O'Connor played in every Ryder Cup from 1955 to 1973, setting a record of ten appearances in the event which stood until it was surpassed by Nick Faldo in 1997. He was twice (1961 and 1962) recipient of the Harry Vardon Trophy for leading the British Tour's Order of Merit and was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2009.

Brian O'Driscoll (rugby)
O'Driscoll has led Ireland to three Triple Crowns in 2004, 2006 and 2007 and finally to the Grand Slam in 2009 where he was named player of the Six Nation's Championship. O'Driscoll has scored more tries for Ireland that any other player during the course of his 93 international caps. He has toured three times with the British & Irish Lions, including once as captain, and helped Leinster claim the Heineken Cup for the first time in their history in 2009.

Mick O'Dwyer (gaelic football)
As a player, Mick O'Dwyer won every honour in the game but he is probably best known as a manager. During his years as manager of his native Kerry, his team played in ten All-Ireland finals, winning eight of them. Since stepping down as Kerry manager in 1987, O'Dwyer has worked his magic by leading Kildare and Laois to Leinster titles and in 2009, leading Wicklow through the greatest summer in their football history.

Jack O'Shea (gaelic football)
Jack O'Shea was a key player during the Kerry domination of football in the late 70s and the 1980s. He played in eight All Ireland Finals, winning seven of them. He also won ten Munster titles, picked up a record six All Star awards for a midfield position and was also named Texaco Footballer of the Year award four times. He also captained Ireland in the International Rules Series in 1984 and 1986.

Sonia O'Sullivan (athletics)
The Cobh athlete dominated the world of middle distance running throughout the mid-1990s, winning silver (1,500m) and then gold (5,000m) at the World Championships' in 1993 and 1995 respectively. Sonia also became a double World Cross Country Champion in 1998 and while she did suffer more than her fair share of Olympic heartbreaks, at Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996), Sonia finally managed to get her hands on an Olympic silver medal (5,000m) in Sydney in 2000.

Mary Peters (athletics)
Mary Peters represented the north of Ireland at every Commonwealth Games between 1958 and 1974 winning 2 gold medals for the pentathlon, plus a gold and silver medal for the shot put. After finishing 4th and 9th in the 1964 and 1968 Olympic Games, she crowned her career with gold in the 1972 Olympic pentathlon. the north of Ireland's premier athletics track, on the outskirts of Belfast, is named in her honour.

Christy Ring (hurling)
Christy Ring is widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game. His tally of eight senior All-Ireland medals was a record which stood for over a decade while Ring was captain of his county for three of those successes. In 1984, Christy was named in the right wing-forward position on the GAA 'Hurling Team of the Century' and was subsequently named on the GAA 'Hurling Team of the Millennium' in 2000.

Stephen Roche (cycling)
Stephen Roche began his professional career in 1982 and showed his potential by finishing third overall in the 1985 Tour de France, winning his first stage in the great race along the way. In 1987, Roche completed the remarkable feat of winning the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and then gold at the World Road Race Championships becoming only the second rider ever to achieve the Triple Crown of Cycling.

Henry Shefflin (hurling)
Henry Shefflin's status as one of the modern greats of hurling is based on a career that has yielded seven All-Ireland titles, nine Leinster titles and five National Hurling League titles. He is the second highest scorer in Championship history and has won eight All-Star awards... so far. He was also won the three most prestigious personal awards in the game - the Vodafone, Texaco and GPA Hurler of the Year Awards in both 2002 and 2006.

Michelle Smith de Bruin (swimming)
Michelle Smith's three gold medals at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 thrilled the Irish nation watching back home but her success led to suspicions about those performances. In 1998, FINA banned the swimmer for four years for tampering with a urine sample in an out of competition test. Despite this, Smith was not stripped of her Olympic medals because the drug test was conducted two years after the games. She remains Ireland's most successful Olympian.

John Treacy (athletics)
John Treacy famously won the World Cross Country Championship in Glasgow in 1978 and then repeated the success in Limerick the following year. In the 1980 Moscow Olympics, despite collapsing from heat paralysis and dehydration in his 10,000m heat, he recovered to finish seventh in the 5,000m final. Four years later, Treacy finished ninth in the 10,000m Olympic final in Los Angeles before crowning his career with a silver medal in the men's marathon.

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