Is McGregror Ireland's biggest ever sports star?

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Conor McGregor made history at Madison Square Garden on Sunday to become the first ever fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously.

The dominant 28-year-old beat Eddie Alvarez via a second round KO to add the lightweight title to the featherweight belt he won in December.

McGregor is fast becoming one of the most popular figures in world sport, and of the many questions raised after UFC 205, is where he fits into Ireland’s list of greatest ever sports stars.

From boxing to rugby to golf, Ireland – with a population of 4.6 million – has had many famous sports stars down through the years.

Here, we pick out six of the best in no particular order.


Outside of Ireland, not many people would have heard of Henry Shefflin but the Kilkenny man is the most decorated player in hurling history – one of Ireland’s national sports.

With 10 All Ireland medals, 13 Leinster titles and 11 All Star awards to his name, Shefflin was virtually unplayable at the peak of his career.

Now retired, the 37-year-old is the top championship scorer of all time with 27 goals and 485 points.


The greatest footballer ever to play for Ireland?

At the pinnacle of his career he was considered one of the best midfielders in the world for his impressive performances for Manchester United and Ireland.

His fall-out with Mick McCarthy at the World Cup in 2002 might outweigh some of his stand-out moments in the green jersey, but nevertheless, he is one of the country’s most legendary figures.


Taylor has been one of the stars of Irish sport with multiple world boxing triumphs and an Olympic gold medal at London 2012.

Credited with raising the profile of women’s boxing, Taylor bowed out in the early stages of Rio 2016 Olympics and has since turned professional.


A former world number one, McIlroy is one of three players to win three majors by the age of 25 – along with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

The 27-year-old is one of the most talent golfers of his generation and has the potential to win multiple majors going forward – with four already to his name.


With 133 international caps, O’Driscoll is Ireland’s greatest rugby player.

For club and country, he was a totemic presence and bossed teams around with his physicality, speed and skill.

Strangely overlooked for the World Rugby Player of the Year award in 2009, the Dublin man is undoubtedly one of the country’s top three sports stars.


The Antrim man rode a record 4,358 winners and was a 20-time champion jump jockey.

To become the first ever jockey to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award also speaks volumes of his achievements and how highly he was rated as an athlete.


Is he Ireland’s most charismatic sports star? Absolutely.

But is he Ireland’s greatest athlete? This is still up for debate but from what he has achieved over such a short space of time definitely warrants him a place in the top five.

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