Brian O’Driscoll has hailed three-time major winner Padraig Harrington as Ireland’s greatest-ever sports star.
The Dubliner bridged a seven-year gap last Monday when he held his nerve in a playoff against rookie Daniel Berger to secure his first win in the US since 2008.
Harrington rubber-stamped his stature as one of Ireland’s greatest sports people when he won three Majors in two years – The British Open in 2007 and 2008 and the US PGA Championship in 2008.
Last Monday’s cheque for €900k edged Harrington above superstar Rory McIlroy in career earnings and it also reignited a great Irish barstool debate – who is Ireland’s greatest-ever sports star?
“I saw Shane Lowry say almost immediately afterwards ‘without a shadow of a doubt Ireland’s greatest ever sports man' and he is,” said O’Driscoll on tonight’s Off The Ball show on Newstalk.
“No-one dislikes Padraig Harrington. He has such a passion for what he does, He came in and spoke to us during Declan Kidney's reign. We used to have people come in and speak to us and Padraig came in and spoke, no joke, for two hours solid without one note. It was incredible. It was incredible."
While O'Driscoll cited Denis O'Brien as an inspirational person that he has met, he also confirmed that Christy Moore was an unlikely regular visitor to the Irish rugby team hotel when they needed something extra to drive them on.
"Eddie used to love bringing in Christie Moore. It was an annual thing and then Declan carried that on. We would go out to Killiney and set up a little room and some lads would go up and sing a song and some lads would absolutely butcher a song. It was fantastic."
The Irish reputation for loquacity is well-founded. Even when Padraig Harrington produced one of his less tortured rounds, a 63 in Phoenix two years back, his answer to a prosaic inquiry about his swing was 1,850 words long.