Wednesday 21 February 2018

Now, let the debate begin . . . who would you chose?


One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Ok, maybe that is a bit extreme when trying to quantify the impact and debate that will no doubt explode when Sunday Independent readers wash the ink off their hands after trawling through 32 pages of opinion on who are Ireland's greatest-ever sports stars.

The fundamental, endearing aspect of being a sports fan is that everyone has an opinion. Watching and enjoying sport is one thing, engaging in a good old bar-stool debate is another.

What makes someone worthy of being talked about as one of Ireland's greatest-ever sports stars? And is there a bias towards certain sports that will lead to others missing out?

The Sunday Independent has given us The Stars of 50 Years of Irish Sporting Success today, as voted for by their team of sporting experts - a team that is drenched in big names who have not only seen it all, but analysed it all, while Eamonn Sweeney has presented us with a delightful insight into the sporting and socio-economic background in Ireland during each decade. We see household names like Roy Keane, Henry Shefflin, Brian O'Driscoll and Pádraig Harrington. But then there are the stars who the aforementioned quartet worshipped. The likes of Eddie Keher, Willie John McBride and John Giles.

What about those who missed out - Paddy Barnes, Darren Clarke? What exactly do they have to do?

The sheer diversity of this list makes it unique and appealing, not just to today's generation, but to the sports fans of the 60s and 70s. So if you haven't heard of cricket player Alec O'Riordan, athlete Mary Peters or rugby player Mike Gibson, you will have now.

While any list akin to this one is subjective and will no doubt divide opinion, today's comes with an added bonus. While the likes of Paul Kimmage, Eamonn Sweeney, Dion Fanning and Co have provided us with a template, we are now passing the ballot box to the readers.

Every day this week on, we will give you the chance to vote for your top sports stars in Ireland over the last five decades with a series of online polls on Included in the polls will be the 50 who have made the Sunday Independent list and also the ones who nearly made it, but ultimately fell short.

Personally, I will be diving straight in and navigating as quick as I can to the most recent decade, 2005-2014, to ensure that British Open winner and Irish golfing legend Darren Clarke makes the cut. Now, who loses out? Here are the contenders: Colm Cooper, Pádraig Harrington, Robbie Keane, Tony McCoy, Rory McIlroy, Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll, Henry Shefflin, Katie Taylor, Ruby Walsh. This could take a while.

The Sunday Independent team of experts have had their say - now it's your turn.

See every day this week to vote for your Top 10 in each of the past five decades.

Ger Keville is Digital Sports Editor with

Sunday Independent

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