It’s no secret that we’re a great bunch of lads. Admired universally for our love of drink, fighting and great craic. But us Irish are much more than just a fun loving people. As Conor McGregor demonstrated last Saturday night, we don’t mess around. His outstanding 13 second championship victory not only put Jose Aldo on the floor, but put the rest of the world on notice.
McGregor is the latest in a string of Irish athletes who took on the world and gave it a black eye.
1. Irish Cricket Team
Now, I, like many people, know absolutely nothing about cricket. I don’t even try and pretend to. I find it very confusing and to be quite honest rather boring. But, I do know one thing. On the night of March the 2nd 2011 WE BEAT ENGLAND. It was a wonderful feeling knowing we beat the old enemy at their own game. I could give you a detailed play by play on the score, the plays, the wickets but I haven’t a notion at all about this sport. All I know is that WE BEAT ENGLAND. And at the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.
Katy Taylor, Bernard Dunne, Kenny Egan, Barry McGuigan, Andy Lee, Darren Sutherland. Those are just a small few of the great Irish boxers who have won numerous titles in many bouts over the past 30 years to make Ireland one of the most feared countries to get in the ring with. The most memorable bouts to name a few include Katy Taylor winning gold in the 2012 Olympics, Bernard Dunne destroying Ricardo Cordoba to win the Super bantamweight title in 2009, Barry McGuigan winning multiple titles over an impressive 8 year career. I think the Irish boxing slogan should be “Do ya want a baitin?!”
For those wrestling fans out there, Sheamus’ WWE debut was a great feeling for the Irish fans. Never before had an Irish wrestler appeared on our screens in the worlds biggest wrestling promotion, Fit Finlay not inclusive. More importantly in 2009 becoming the first Irish born WWE champion in history and has since held the title on 2 more occasions and also winning the World Heavyweight and US titles, on top of King of the Ring, Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank wins.
4. Rory McIlroy
Among the legacy the Irish name leaves on the golf course, including Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell, one name stands out in particular. Ranked number 3 in the world Rory McIlroy is one of the greatest Irish golfers of all time. Winning the U.S. Open in 2011 was the crowning point for McIlroy as he swung his way through the competition to claim victory. After striking a deal with Nike, McIlroy is deservedly riding high.
5. The Irish rugby team
Shoulder to shoulder they stand. The proud men of four provinces. It is in no doubt that the Irish rugby team are the lifeblood of Irish sport. Every minute these lads spend on the pitch they give it their all. Rugby is undoubtedly the toughest sport of all. Many injuries, many hard tackles and many wars. You don;t have to be a rugby fan to get behind the boys in green because any time they step on to the field you are instantly captivated. The sheer size of these men is enough to strike fear in anyone. But it’s their sheer heart and determination that counts for most. We’ve witnessed many times where this is true, most notably and recently of all the 2015 six nations victory.
6. Italia 90
Those of us who were around during Italia 90 will tell you it was a great time to be alive. Unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky but since it was one of the greatest triumphs in Irish football, it was always talked about anytime the world cup came around. We stood defiant in the face of adversity. When they said there was no way Packie Boner would save that Romanian shot, he did. When they said there was no way David O Leary would score the winning penalty to take us through to the quarter finals, he did. The closest we’ve come since was in 2002 when we reached the knockout stages and lost to Spain. Italia 90 made Jack Charlton one of the greatest managers of all time and rightfully so. The players on his team have been forever immortalised in history.
7. The crowd at the 2012 Euros
The 2012 European Championships brought a great atmosphere to the country, as happens any time Ireland are in a tournament. There was an aura of hope in the air as Irish fans discussed if we could do it this year. Sadly it wasn’t to be as we crashed out of the tournament with zero points after losses to Italy, Spain and Croatia. Our efforts may have been rather unsuccessful but we left our mark on Europe. It wasn’t the players however, but the fans. Every Irish fan in the stadium continuously sang “The Fields of Athenry” despite our shortcomings against Spain.. It was a moment that will forever live on as a testament to our Irish pride and our defiance to have our spirits crushed. On that day we should Europe and the rest of the world that we will never go peacefully.
8. “The Notorious” Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor is the man of the moment. Fresh off a stunning 13 second knockout win over Jose Aldo, the UFC Featherweight Champion is the king of the world at the moment. Such a buzz has been created about McGregor over the last few years as he has gained a reputation as cocky and brash with the ability to back it up. He has silenced every naysayer in the world and brought to fruition everything he claimed. Even predicting exactly what would happen against Aldo has given him the nickname “Mystic Mac”. The Notorious One has said on numerous occasions that he says things and then goes out and does them, and there is no faulting that. He claimed as a young lad he would make it to the big time and he has. He claimed he would beat Aldo in the first few seconds and he did just that. The green white and orange was flying high in Vegas last Saturday as once again the Irish triumphed.
Time and time again we have proved that we are an unstoppable force. Whether it’s golf, football or knocking the shite out of lads in a cage, we stand tall among other nations as dominant. When we’re down and out, united we stand. When we’re kicking arse, we’re doing it together. Ireland rules the world in many aspects, but it’s our sense of community and pride where we are leagues ahead of the rest. Ireland and it’s people reign supreme as kings among men.