Good Fellas: Sheamus and the Top 25 Irish Sports Heroes
All WWE fans know who Sheamus is by now.
Sheamus exploded his way onto the WWE surface when he had a feud with WWE champion John Cena. It was at the TLC pay-per-view in December that Sheamus would win the WWE championship to move to a main-eventer in the WWE.
He remains a main-eventer heading into the next WWE pay-per-view, Fatal 4-Way, where he will try to win back the WWE championship as he faces current champion John Cena, Randy Orton, and Edge.
Along with that, anyone in their right mind knows that Sheamus is of Irish decent, from Dublin, Ireland to be exact.
My question is, where does he rank amongst the greatest Irish sports figures of all-time? Good question.
First of all, can you even name any other Irish stars? Well, let me help you out with this list of greats that represent the third-largest island in Europe.
Let's begin, shall we?
25. Liam Daish
Liam Sean Daish (born 23 September 1968) is an Irish former football player who played as a centre-half.
Since 2005, he has been head coach of Conference National team Ebbsfleet United (formerly Gravesend & Northfleet).
Despite being born in England, Daish played internationally for the Republic of Ireland due to his Irish ancestry. He earned a total of five caps for his adopted country.
24. Ruby Walsh
Ruby Walsh (born Rupert Walsh on 14 May 1979 in Kill, County Kildare, Ireland) is the reigning Irish National Hunt champion jockey. He is the second child, and eldest son, of former champion amateur jockey Ted Walsh and his wife Helen.
Showing talent from an early age, Walsh won the Irish amateur title twice, in 1996-97 (aged 18) and 1997-98, before turning professional.
He won the English Grand National in 2000 at his first attempt, aged 20, on Papillon, a horse trained by his father and owned by Mrs. J. Maxwell Moran. Father and son then went on to win the Irish Grand National with Commanche Court the same year.
In the 2004-05 season, Walsh won three of the four Nationals: the Irish on the 2006 Grand National winner Numbersixvalverde, the Welsh on subsequent 2007 Grand National winner Silver Birch, and the English on Hedgehunter.
He rode Cornish Rebel in the Scottish, but was beaten a short head by Joe's Edge. However, his earlier success in that race on Take Control in 2002 makes him the only jockey currently riding to have won all four Nationals.
23. Tom Sharkey
Thomas Sharkey was a professional boxer from Dundalk, Ireland.
His in-ring career was between 1893 and 1904 and he went 40-7-5 with 37 knock outs.
Ring Magazine listed his punch as a top-100 punch of all-time.
22. Nicky Byrne
Nicky Byrne, who is actually in an Irish pop band called Westlife, had another life before the group.
He was a football player for Home Farm F.C. and St. Kevins Boys F.C. in North Dublin.
He became a professional football player, joined Leeds United as a goalkeeper in 1995, and was a squad member of the FA Youth Cup winning team of 1997.
He wasn't the best soccer player in Dublin, but his appeal won over a lot of fans. Singing in a big pop group doesn't hurt either.
21. Catherina McKiernan
Catherina McKiernan is a former long distance runner from Ireland who won six medals, one of them being a gold in the 1994 EAA European Cross Country Championships.
20. Sharon Foley
Sharon Foley is an Irish former athlete from Lifford, County Donegal from 1989 to 2003.
Foley was national pentathlon champion from 1993-95.
In 2001, she won both the high jump and triple jump events at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at Crystal Palace.
Foley's biggest achievement was her representation for Ireland at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart where she competed in the high jump.
Foley is now retired and married to Martin Gallen, with two children.
19. Trent Johnson
Trent Johnston (from Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia) is an Australian-born Irish cricketer.
In Oct. 2007, he published a book, "Raiders of the Caribbean" (co-authored with Gerard Siggins), with The O'Brien Press which tells the story of Ireland's remarkable performances in the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
Johnston first played club cricket in Ireland in 1995 and returned for four more seasons, meeting his wife Vanessa in the country, with whom he now has two children.
He continued playing Sydney Grade Cricket for North Sydney Cricket Club, but qualified for an Irish passport and then-coach Adrian Birrell decided he might be a useful addition to the Irish side.
18. Kieran Dynes
Kieran Dynes, born in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, is a former NASCAR driver.
He made his Nascar debut in Oct. 2000.
This came in the Busch Series race at Memphis Motorsports Park in Memphis, Tenn. Dynes started the event in 42nd place and slid to 43rd after his engine expired. He has also competed in the ARCA series.
In 2001, at Charlotte (Lowe's Motor Speedway), during happy hour, Dynes was caught up in an accident involving Kerry Earnhardt which left him with serious lower back injuries. Since then he has competed in Touring Cars (road racing) as well as ASCAR in England.
He is the only Irish driver ever to compete in NASCAR, as well as the first UK driver ever to compete in the NASCAR Busch series.
Though not the best driver, the fact that he made it to race with the big boys in the US in NASCAR is an accomplishment.
17. Barry McGuigan
Finbar Patrick McGuigan MBE, known as Barry McGuigan and nicknamed The Clones Cyclone, is a former professional boxer who became a world featherweight champion.
McGuigan, beyond the ring, is highly involved in making sure kids know how important education is.
16. Kevin McBride
Kevin Martin McBride (born May 5th, 1973 in Clones, County Monaghan) is an Irish boxer, who competed for his native country at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
McBride has a career record of 32-6-1 with 29 KOs.
15. Daniel Martin
Daniel Martin is a young and up-and-coming Irish racing cyclist who currently rides for Garmin-Transitions.
He was the 2008 Irish National Road Race champion.
At age 23, he is arguably one of the best young cyclists in the world.
14. Brian Whelahan
Brian Whelahan (born August, 1971 in Birr, County Offaly) is an Irish sportsperson.
He currently plays hurling with his local club Birr and was a member of the Offaly senior inter-county team from 1989 until 2006.
His selection on the GAA Hurling Team of the Millennium, the only player selected who was still playing at the time of selection, sees him widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game
13. Bob Tisdall
Robert "Bob" Morton Newburgh Tisdall (16 May 1907 in Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon now Sri Lanka – 27 July 2004 in Nambour, Queensland, Australia) was an Irish athlete of English origin who won a gold medal in the 400 metre hurdles at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
12. Glenn Ross
Glenn Ross (born 27 May 1971 in County Down, Northern Ireland) known by his nickname "Big Daddy", is a Northern Irish International strongman and power-lifter who has represented Ireland and the UK in several World's Strongest Man competitions and various World Grand Prix and European team competitions.
This guy hasn't missed a meal in a long time. I wouldn't say that to his face though.
11. Eddie Macken
Eddie Macken (born October 20, 1949 in Granard, Longford, Ireland) is an Irish equestrian show jumper, who was a member of the Irish team—along with Paul Darragh, Capt. Con Power, and James Kernan—that won the Aga Khan Cup three years in a row (1977-79).
10. Sean Kelly
John James "Sean" Kelly (born 24 May 1956) is an Irish former professional road bicycle racer. He was one of the most successful road cyclists of the 1980s, and one of the finest classics riders of all-time.
9. Eddie Jordan
Edmund "Eddie" Jordan (born March 30, 1948) is the founder and former owner of Jordan Grand Prix, a Formula One constructor which operated from 1991 to 2005.
He is currently a pundit for the F1 coverage on the BBC alongside David Coulthard.
Though he didn't produce any class wins, he did produce a driver. Eddie Jordan gave a young German called Michael Schumacher his Formula 1 debut before rivals Benetton lured him away.
8. Seamus Elliott
Not to be confused with WWE's Sheamus, Seamus "Shay" Elliott (born to James and Ellen Elliott on 4 June 1934 in Dublin, Ireland, died 4 May 1971 in Dublin) was an Irish road bicycle racer.
Shay Elliott was talented and the first Irish cyclist to make a mark as a professional rider in continental Europe.
7. Fit Finlay
David J. "Fit" Finlay, Jr. is a semi-retired Northern Irish professional wrestler and road agent—and he loves to fight.
He currently wrestles on the SmackDown brand of World Wrestling Entertainment under the ring name Finlay.
Finlay has held 22 championships in various promotions throughout his career, including the WCW World Television Championship and the WWE United States Championship.
6. Vincent O' Brian
Voted greatest horse trainer of all-time by Racing Post, Dr. Michael Vincent O'Brien. An Irish race horse trainer from Churchtown, County Cork, Ireland, O'Brien was voted the greatest influence in horse racing history, according to a worldwide vote hosted by the Racing Post newspaper.
He trained six horses to win the Epsom Derby and was twice British champion trainer, to name but two of his many achievements
5. Eddie Irvine
Edmund "Eddie" Irvine, Jr. (born 10 November 1965, Newtownards, County Down) is a former racing driver from Northern Ireland.
In 148 races, Irvine had four wins and 26 podium finishes.
He also finished second in the 1994 Twenty-Four Hours of La Mans race.
Stephen Farrelly (born January 28, 1978) is an Irish professional wrestler and actor, best known by his ring name Sheamus.
He won over Irish hearts when he won the WWE Championship in December of 2009 against John Cena in the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs pay-per-view.
PWI ranked Sheamus #94 in the Top 500 singles wrestlers in 2009.
3. Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith became famous in Ireland in the summer of 1996.
She was a triple gold medalist at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, for the 400m individual medley, 400 m freestyle and 200m individual medley. She also won the bronze medal for the 200m butterfly event.
I don't live there, but I am almost certain that a conversation about what Michelle did in 1996 is brought up daily in Ireland.
2. Forrest Griffin
Though born in Ohio in the US, Griffin stated on his Web site that he is of Irish decent and he was looking forward to fighting in Ireland with the UFC.
He is a former UFC light heavyweight champion and has a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
At age 30, he is still competing in the UFC and has a lot of heart and will when he is in the Octogan. He is 17-6 in 23 fights.
Griffin's latest victory was against Tito Ortiz at UFC 106 as he still tries to win back fans after his lackluster performance against Silva at UFC 101.
1. John McEnroe
Even though he is Irish-American and born in Germany on a military base, McEnroe's father is of Irish decent.
McEnroe was the world's No. 1 tennis player in 1980 and was inducted into the tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.
He won over 80 percent of his matches with an 875-198 singles record.
McEnroe was a four-time US Open champion, a three-time Wimbledon champion, and was well-known for his crazy antics on the tennis court when things didn't go his way.