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17 Greatest Irish Athletes of All Time

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RantSports honors Saint Patricks Day with the best Irish athletes

RantSports
Mike DiNovo-US Presswire

March brings us a lot of great things. It brings us NFL free agency, March Madness, the beginning of the Major League Baseball season and so much more. March is also known for celebrating Saint Patricks Day and Irish heritage.

There have been so many great Irish athletes to play sports over the years. So many sports included and so well rounded it is unfortunate to leave some athletes off this list. Sorry to say this, Ken Shamrock didn't make the cut. In order to find out who the best is you must follow the end of the rainbow to the pot of gold.

Possibly the biggest splash is being made in golf. Tiger Woods reign of dominance may be over. An Irish golfer has now won four of the last 10 majors and seven majors in the last six years. Those golfers include the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world Rory Mcllroy.

Irish athletes have always been prevalent in the baseball and basketball world, but now we are seeing more in the NFL. Soccer is easily the most popular in the Irish community and it lands a spot on this list.

Over 25 combined championships are shared between these 17 athletes. Was that "luck of the Irish?" Possibly, but more likely great skill, talent and determination.

Of course 17 athletes have been chosen because of the historic date that Saint Patricks Day is celebrated on. Because of so many great athletes on this list, no order is needed. Just the very best are listed. Who is the best Irish athlete of all time? That's for you to decide

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John Stockton

Stockton
Russ Isabella-US Presswire

Probably the best pure point guard to ever play the game.

He may not have been as good Magic Johnson, but he was unbelievable in his prime. Stockton has the four highest assists seasons in NBA history and he has the most assists all time. If only Michael Jordan wasn't in the way, he may have won two championships.

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Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan
Tim Heitman-US Presswire

Seven no hitters and most career strikeouts.

Nolan Ryan was the ultimate intimidator. Crowd the plate and you'll find out. Ryan leads second place Randy Johnson for all time strikeouts by nearly 1,000. The current active career strikeout leader is Jamie Moyer who is more than 3,000 strikeouts away from Ryan's record. Safe to say that record is safe for a long time.

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John Daly

Daly
Christopher Hanewinckel-US Presswire

John Daly was the Happy Gilmore of golf for a while. Long drives, loud yelling, club throwing and more. But the reality is Daly was a great golfer in the early 90s winning majors and always in contention.

His golf game was always better than his wardrobe as you can see.

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Jack Dempsey

Jack Dempsey
Ed Mulholland-US Presswire

Jack Dempsey was one of the greatest boxers ever. It would have been interesting to see him vs boxers from other generations. Dempsey's career legacy lands in the top 10 boxers of all time.

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Bill Walton

Bill Walton
Jason Watson-US Presswire

Maybe the most underrated center in NBA history.

This guy was dominating down low when basketball was dominated by big men, unlike today. His best moment came in 1977 when he won finals MVP outplaying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar along the way.

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Mark McGwire

Mark McGwire
Derick Hingle-US Presswire

Win as a player then win as a coach.

He would win a World Series as a hitter and then as a hitting coach 22 years later. "Big Mac" was part of the classic home run chase in 1998 when he hit a record breaking 70 home runs.

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Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly
Richard Mackson-US Presswire

So what if he was 0-4 in Super Bowls?

Making it to four straight Super Bowls is unbelievable and will never be done again. His power and accuracy over a 10 year stretch was Hall of Fame caliber. If only Scott Norwood would have kicked it a little more to the left.

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Ben Hogan

Hogan
Debby Wong-US Presswire

Nine career majors is impressive.

Ben Hogan ranks fourth all time in majors dominating his era. Maybe the most underrated golfer of all time. When he retired he had the second most major victories of all time trailing only Walter Hagen.

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Ed Walsh

Walsh
Brett Davis-US Presswire

Nearly 100 years after his retirement, he still has the lowest ERA in MLB history.

Ed Walsh was the best pitcher of his era and maybe the best overall player until Babe Ruth came onto the scene. He ended his career as a World Series champion and a Hall of Famer.

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George Best

George Best
Denny Medley-US Presswire

Soccer is the most popular sport in Ireland and George Best contributed to that. He went on to score 253 career goals before retiring at 37 years old.

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Kevin Mchale

Mchale
Cary Edmondson-US Presswire

Of course Larry Bird was the man in Boston, but Kevin McHale helped big time. He won three NBA titles as a very versatile big man that hit nearly 80% of his free throws.

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Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter
Kim Klement-US Presswire

"Mr. October" may be the best one on this list.

Five World Series championships will do that when you're the leader of the New York Yankees. Derek Jeter has so many clutch hits and so many memorable moments over his career.

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Tom Brady

Brady
Kirby Lee-US Presswire

Being drafted No. 199 in the sixth round is different today.

Tom Brady may have been drafted late, but his career is of Hall of Fame caliber. Three Super Bowls and two MVPs later he gives every quarterback that is drafted late hope to succeed.

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Jason Kidd

Kidd
Debby Wong-US Presswire

One day Jason Kidd will make the Hall of Fame.

Everywhere he goes the team wins and that's not a weird coincidence. In the 2011 NBA Finals he helped the Dallas Mavericks pull arguably the biggest upset in NBA history.

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Whitey Ford

Ford
Brian Spurlock-US Presswire

The Yankee franchise is mostly known for its hitting.

But Whitey Ford, who won six World Series is without a doubt the best pitcher in Yankees history. Don't get me wrong, Mariano Rivera is the best closer ever, but in the end a starter beats a closer.

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Muhammad Ali

Ali
Mark Zerof-US Presswire

Probably the best boxer ever.

Muhammad Ali faced the best and he beat the best. Ask George Foreman and Joe Frazier. Ali is not only of Irish ancestry, but he also fought and beat Alvin Lewis in Ireland in 1972.

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Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq
Kim Klement-US Presswire

So many nicknames, but for these circumstances we will go with "The Big Shamrock."

In Shaquille O'Neal's prime he was absolutely unstoppable. You had to intentionally foul him to contain him. Maybe his acting and video game career didn't skyrocket, but his basketball career is without a doubt top 10 all time.