Belfast & Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Sporting Heroes

22 Jul 2020
When it comes to sport, Northern Ireland has always punched above its weight.

Iconic footballer George Best (who has a statue outside Windsor Park and after whom Belfast City Airport is named) and goalkeeper Pat Jennings lead our team of footballing greats.

Golf's Rory McIlroyGraeme McDowell and Darren Clarke are well known global names. Royal Portrush Golf Club, one of the world's best links courses, hosted The Open in 2019 which was won by Ireland's Shane Lowry.

Boxing world champions Carl 'The Jackal' Frampton, Rinty Monaghan (who has a statue in the city centre) and Barry McGuigan (born in Clones, Ireland), champion jockey Sir Tony 'JP' McCoy and snooker world champions Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins and Dennis Taylor have done the business in their sporting disciplines.

Olympic pentathlon gold medallist Dame Mary Peters is held in incredibly high esteem for everything she has achieved, both professionally and through her ongoing charitable endeavours with the Mary Peters Trust. NI's main athletics track is named after our Golden Girl and is resplendent with a statue of the Dame herself.

Motorbike racing is embedded in our sporting culture and the Dunlop family, Joey, brother Michael and Michael's son William, each became road racing legends, and sadly died doing what they love best. On the track, Superbike superstar Johnny Rea has won the World Championship a record five times (as of 2019). Eddie Irvine achieved four Formula 1 wins before his 2002 retirement from the high octane motorsport. 

The Northern Ireland football and Ulster Rugby teams have excelled on the international stage. And ice hockey's Belfast Giants continue to do well in the UK game.

And if you want to experience Ireland's indigenous games of Gaelic football, hurling and camogie, check out the pan-Ulster league, particularly Tyrone GAA.

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