Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Moment?

Irish sport has provided some pretty seismic moments in recent decades and it has seen the emergence of individuals who would define eras and go on to become legends.

Which one though was the greatest? RTÉ have set themselves, and a panel of experts, the challenge to name the greatest moment of Irish sport from 1962 to 2012. And that panel of experts includes all of us through the mechanic of a public vote.

Some of RTÉ Sport’s analysts from Eamon Dunphy to Joe Brolly and Derval O’Rourke to Sonia O’Sullivan will debate the moments that are dearest to the hearts of the Irish public.

Recorded in front of a live studio audience, and hosted by Des Cahill and Evanne Ní Chuilin, the show will reflect on the 50 years of Irish sport between Ireland’s first TV Sport broadcast in 1962 up until the London Olympic Games.

The long list of moments from each period were collated from suggestions received through social media and emails to the show. The cross-sport expert panel collaborated to reduce the 1980s longlist (below) to a shortlist of five. Viewers will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite on the shortlist of five via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SMS or via

The first show will be broadcast this Thursday November 9th at 9.30pm and voting lines will also open at that time.


The 80s Longlist

1. Joe Connolly’s ‘People of Galway, we love you’ speech (1980)
Galway’s first All Ireland Hurling victory in 57 years inspired one of the most iconic speeches in GAA history.

2. Alex Higgins wins World Snooker Championship (1982)
Higgins’ iconic celebrations with his crying daughter in his arms and her soother in his mouth produced an enduring image after one of Ireland’s best-loved and most complex sportsmen overcame Ray Reardon.

3. Shergar Derby win (1981)
Before his disappearance in 1983, Shergar had captured the public imagination after an extraordinary debut season in 1981. He won the Epsom Derby by a record distance, the first in a historic triple, to which he added the Irish Derby and the King George. He was just about to go into his second year at stud when he was kidnapped.

4. Ireland win Triple Crown (1982)
The peerless Ollie Campbell inspired Ireland to their first Triple Crown in 33 years. It has been argued that this team sparked the breakthrough of rugby in the modern era in Ireland and we are reaping the rewards today.

5. Seamus Darby Goal (1982)
Probably the most famous goal in GAA history. With two minutes to go, Kerry were headed for an unprecedented 5th All Ireland title, when Seamus Darby came onto the pitch and stole victory for Offaly.

6. Eamonn Coghlan World Championship 5000m Gold (1983)
After suffering two fourth-placed Olympic finishes, Coghlan found redemption at the inaugural World Athletics Championships. A run that will be forever remembered for Coghlan’s pre-emptive celebration coming around the final bend, while over-taking the Soviet Union’s Dmitry Dmitriyev.

7. John Treacy Olympic Marathon Silver (1984)
The Waterford runner had finished 9th in the 10,000-metre final a week before he embarked on his first ever marathon. Treacy made his move with around the 20km to go and by the time the leading group entered the LA Coliseum, he was third alongside Portugal’s Carlos Lopez and Charlie Spedding of Britain. With about 300m left, Treacy put on a sprint finish to secure Ireland’s first Olympic track medal since Ronnie Delaney’s Gold in 1956.

8. McGuigan wins WBA World Title (1985)
McGuigan’s opponent, Eusebio Pedroza, had successfully defended his title 19 times but he didn’t have enough to deny Ireland its first world champion in 35 years.

9. Dennis Taylor (1985)
The Tyrone man overcame reigning champion and outright favourite Steve Davis in the longest World Championship Final ever in a game that broke TV viewing records, records that stand to this day.

10. Ireland Triple Crown (1985)
After an exhilarating second half display against Scotland, Ireland recorded their first win in Cardiff since 1967. Next up was England in Dublin and Michael Kiernan’s dropped goal provided one of Lansdowne Road’s landmark moments.

11. Dawn Run Gold Cup (1986)
Dawn Run became the only horse to complete the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup double and put Willie Mullins’ name firmly on the world racing map.

12. Shamrock Rovers 4-in-a-row (1987)
Four league titles in a row and three FAI Cups during a period that would prove to be the pinnacle of the club’s success since its formation in 1899 and probably the greatest ever League of Ireland achievement.

13. Dave ‘Boy’ comes so close in one of the greatest fights of the decade (1987)
In the first of their two fights at the King’s Hall, Belfast Larne’s Dave ‘Boy’ McAuley took reigning WBA Flyweight champion Fidel Bassa all the way to the 13th round before finally succumbing to the brilliant Columbian.

14. Stephen Roche’s climb at La Plagne (1987)
Roche became only the second rider in the history of cycling to win the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the World Road Race in the same year. The moment that encapsulated his achievement was his incredible climb at La Plagne.

15. John Fenton’s wonder-goal v Limerick (1987)
Cork’s 1987 Munster Final replay victory against Limerick will live long in the memory thanks to one of the greatest strikes in the history of hurling.

16. Who put the ball in the English net? (1988)
Ray Houghton’s 6th minute header sealed an unlikely win for the Republic of Ireland against England at the 1988 European Championships.

17. Ronnie’s shinner (1988)
A goal of astounding invention against the world’s best goalkeeper that just happened to come off Ronnie Whelan’s shin, put Ireland ahead against world football powerhouse, Russia.

18. Christie O’Connor’s Ryder Cup 2 iron (1989)
Christie O’Connor Junior went into his singles match against Fred Couples as a huge underdog. All-square coming up the 18th O’Connor was left with 229 to the green, while Couples was left with just a nine-iron. Captain, Tony Jacklin’s implored Christie to give “one more good swing for Ireland”, then watched as O’Connor’s 2-iron approach landed 4 feet from the pin and won the point which secured a 14-14 draw and saw Europe retain the trophy.

19. Offaly applaud Antrim off after historic All Ireland Hurling semi-final result (1989)
After one of the biggest shock results in the history of hurling, Offaly formed a guard of honour for their unlikely conquerors.

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