Wednesday 7 December 2016

Shane Long strike to topple world champions lands 'top moment'

Michael Verney

Published 18/12/2015 | 02:30

Shane Long celebrates after scoring against Germany
Shane Long celebrates after scoring against Germany

It's a moment that will live long in the annals of Irish sporting history - everyone will remember where they were Shane Long fired past Manuel Neuer.

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The Aviva Stadium erupted and the dream of Euro 2016 qualification became a distinct possibility for Martin O'Neill's side as they held on for a historic 1-0 win.

Long had only just come off the bench when he got on the end of Darren Randolph's long punt forward and lashed the ball home, and now the Tipperary man's goal against the world champions has been voted the Most Memorable Irish Sporting Moment of the year.

PSG SSSI 2015 (Read-Only).jpg  

The annual PSG Sport and Sponsorship Sentiment Index (SSSI), now in its sixth year, examines Irish people's attitudes towards sport, their sporting heroes, levels of participation and the impact of sport on the Irish psyche.

Twenty seven percent of respondents ranked Long's goal No 1 ahead of the injury that cut Paul O'Connell's Rugby World Cup short (22pc) and the Irish rugby team celebrating their Six Nations title at Murrayfield (15pc).


That goal helped Ireland qualify for France next summer and that achievement has been ranked as 2015's Greatest Irish Sporting Achievement (22pc), edging the men's rugby team's Six Nations win (21pc).

Joe Schmidt's Ireland side produced a breathtaking display in their crunch World Cup pool game against France but the result was marred by a string of injuries, with the cruellest blow being a sickening injury to O'Connell.

Despite the setback and his international career coming to a premature end, the Munster great topped the poll as Ireland's Most Admired Sports Star.

The talismanic captain, who will continue his club career with French side Toulon in the new year, took 22pc of the vote to edge out 2014 winner Katie Taylor (20pc), who won a European Games medal this year.

Conor McGregor has been the driving force behind the meteoric rise of mixed martial arts in Ireland and the undisputed UFC Featherweight champion moves from sixth to third on the 'most admired' list.

While Ireland's World Cup ended in disappointment, the Six Nations success has not been forgotten by the public as the team garner 26pc of the vote to top the Team of the Year poll.

They pipped the Ireland soccer team (24pc), with the Ireland women's rugby team third (14pc) while GAA sides scored 20pc combined with the dominant forces of Kilkenny, Dublin and both Cork Ladies footballers and camogie teams performing well.

Euro 2016 is the sporting event Ireland is most looking forward to (32pc) followed by the Six Nations (18pc), the Rio Olympics and Paralympics (17pc) and the GAA championships (13pc).

The Big Three continue to dominate. Soccer has come out on top as Ireland's Favourite Sport once again according to the 'SSSI'. It ranks No 1 with 21pc, ahead of Gaelic Games and rugby which both took 16pc.

Interestingly, soccer is three times more popular among males (32pc) than females (10pc), while rugby and Gaelic games (both 15pc) are the most popular sports among females.

What a sporting year it was.

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