The Lead Story: O’Mahony the latest Irish sporting hero






Sir Alex Ferguson’s description of Roy Keane’s best ever Manchester United performance could have been used to sum up Peter O’Mahony’s demolition job on the All Blacks last Saturday.

  “It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him,” said Fergie of Keane’s display against Juventus in the 1999 Champions League semi-final in Turin.

  We are fortunate in this country to have witnessed some terrific individual and team displays from athletics to rowing and everything in between. There are, of course, far too many to mention, but this week I’ve picked three world class displays from my lifetime.

1. McGrath v Serie A

This is right up there with Roy Keane’s Captain Marvel act for Manchester United against Juventus or indeed his performance against the Netherlands at Lansdowne Road in 2001.

  Before the opening World Cup ’94 Group E game at the Giants Stadium in New York much of the talk had been about the Italians and in particular Serie A superstars such as Roberto Baggio and Guiseppe Signori. However, it was Inchicore’s ‘Black Pearl’ who stole the show as he put his body and head on the line time and time again to keep Arrigo Sacchi’s boys scoreless.

2. Dunne v Cordoba

I was lucky enough to be at the O2 (now 3 Arena) on Saturday, March 21st 2009 as Bernard Dunne from Neilstown knocked Ricardo Cordoba through the ropes to win the WBA Super Bantamweight title. It was ESPN’s ‘Fight of the Year’ with six knockdowns occurring in the fight.

  Dunne had been under severe pressure – well behind on all three judges’ scorecards going into the eleventh – and had been knocked down four times. However, he mustered the energy to floor the Panamanian three times in the eleventh to send the old Point Depot wild.

  Dunne’s win capped a memorable day of Irish sport which also included Ireland’s first Grand Slam win in rugby for 61 years.

3. Dunne v Russia

Richard Dunne’s finest performance in a Republic of Ireland jersey (or makeshift jersey) came during a European Championships qualifier in Moscow in 2011.

  Dunne, who was arguably just as battered and bruised as his boxing namesake was at the O2 in 2009, repelled repeated Russian attacks as Giovanni Trapattoni’s troops held on for a precious 0-0 draw at a time when such results were a little more palatable!