Top 5 Sporting Heroes of an Irishman in his early 20s Growing Up

Courtesy Flickr tothefront

5. Paul Flynn

Waterford Hurling Legend Paul Flynn. Courtesy (Flickr)
Waterford Hurling Legend Paul Flynn. Courtesy TG4TV (Flickr)

Look, I know many of you will wonder who Paul Flynn is but here he is representing any GAA hero we would have growing up. We all know the GAA is a cornerstone of Irish life but it undoubtedly gives us great memories and heroes. For a Kilkenny man, players like DJ Carey have given great entertainment. From Cork, hurlers like Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Joe Deane and Diarmuid “The Rock” O’Sullivan remain icons of the game. Those from Kerry will tell their grandchildren fabled stories of Maurice Fitzgerald, Darragh Ó Sé and Colm “Gooch” Cooper. Foe me though as a Waterford man there has also been many that have given me great joy (and pain!!) down the years. Dan Shanahan scoring a hat trick in the Munster quarter final of 2004 and rifling the winning goal to the corner past Dónal Óg Cusack in the 2010 Munster final replay with Cork. The timeless Tony Browne winning hurler of the year in 1998. John Mullane tearing defences apart for almost a decade. Ken McGrath being the rock of the team and its leader, the moment he lifted the Munster Cup in 2004 after the epic clash with Cork will live with me forever. However one man for me stands above all for me, Ballygunnar’s Paul Flynn and one particular moment will go down in GAA Waterford folklore, that goal against Cork.

4. Stone Cold Steve Austin

The "Texas Rattlesmake" Stone Cold Steve Austin on his way to the ring. Cortesy (Flickr)
The “Texas Rattlesmake” Stone Cold Steve Austin on his way to the ring. Cortesy  softball_babe (Flickr)

Question any fella in his early 20s and ask him did he watch wrestling, most will deny it but let’s face it we all watched it as kids. We all knew it was fake but it was enjoyable. We had our heroes, we couldn’t get enough of the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels and a bit of Sweet Chin Music. To see The Rock dish out the People’s Elbow would thrill us all. However one man was better than the rest, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Who could ever forget his tussles with The Rock, Triple H and Booker T but undoubtedly we will always remember his long running the with the Corporation and Vince McMahon. Who could ever forget this timeless classic.

3. Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane lifts the Carling Nations Cup for Ireland. Courtesy (Flickr)
Robbie Keane lifts the Carling Nations Cup for Ireland. Courtesy Ryan Byrne (Flickr)

One of the nicest guys in Irish Football and a mainstay in the Irish team since 1998. He has been around the world in his club career, from Inter Milan to LA Galaxy he has scored goals everywhere and he remains a club legend at Tottenham Hotspur. However it’s his performances in Green that will always stand out. 131 caps, 62 goals, his record speaks for itself. He has virtually got every important Irish goal in the last 15 years. His goal in Paris in the famous hand of frog game is a great example but perhaps this is his greatest moment playing for the Boys in Green #COYBIG.

2. Roy Keane

The infamous handshake between Roy Keane & Mick McCarthy. Courtesy Stuff Mick Says (Flickr)
The infamous handshake between Roy Keane & Mick McCarthy. Courtesy Stuff Mick Says (Flickr)

The second Keane on the list and perhaps the most divisive of all. Every single man, woman and child had an opinion on Saipan, undoubtedly he divided a nation. However we cannot deny how good he was as a player. He almost single-handedly dragged us to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. He was the leader of an entire footballing nation. Saipan may have tarnished his image but at the time he was the hero of almost every soccer fan in the country. His leadership of Manchester United was the stuff of legend as well as his various on field battles with players like Patrick Viera. He was the leader of that Mancherster United team and probably the best no-nonsense midfielder in the world. His greatest night was arguably the 1999 Champions League semi final 2nd leg versus Juventus when he gave one of the greatest midfield performances from any United midfielder ever. But who could ever forget this clash in the tunnel.

1.Brian O’Driscoll

Brian O'Driscoll lifts The RBS 6 Nations trophy following Ireland's Grand Slam in 2009. Courtesy darksphere (Flickr)
Brian O’Driscoll lifts The RBS 6 Nations trophy following Ireland’s Grand Slam in 2009. Courtesy darksphere (Flickr)

Perhaps Ireland’s greatest sporting export and the idol of a nation. 141 test caps (133 Ireland, 8 Lions), 46 tries, 2 Six Nations, 4 Triple Crowns, 1 Grand Slam, 3 Heineken Cups, 4 Lions Tours, there is only one BOD. Undoubtedly the greatest player of his generation. He has been Irish rugby’s leader for the last 15 years. From that day in Paris in 2000 when he burst onto the scene as his hat-trick steered Ireland to their first win in Paris since 1972, he has been ever present in Irish sporting folklore. He had so many near misses with Ireland in the 6 nations and the whole country rejoiced when he lifted the trophy to end the Grand Slam drought in 2009 as it was the first since 1948.

He starred in Leinster’s three Heineken Cup as they became Europe’s greatest club side. He also starred in 4 Lions tours, his sole victory coming last year as he was controversially dropped by Warren Gatland for the 3rd test against Australia. A sad end to his Lions career. There was fitting end to career in the green jersey as he helped Ireland win the Six Nations on the very ground he burst on to the scene back in 2000, thanks to a nail-biting 22-20 victory in the Stade de france in Paris. Now with his career for Ireland at an end, we can look forward to the last few months of his career as he aims to help Leinster to a 4th Heineken Cup Crown. For now here is one of his finer moments.

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