It’s a conversation (or sometimes a heated debate) that has taken place many times over a pint of Harp in pubs all across Northern Ireland – who are the very best sports stars Northern Ireland has to offer?

In a bid to answer those burning questions, Harp brought together four local sports experts to start the debate and thrash out their top three.

Former World Featherweight Champion Barry McGuigan was joined by Graham Little (Sky Sports), Adrian Logan (former UTV sports editor) and Jackie Fullerton (voice of NI football) at The Harp Bar in Belfast to attempt to reach definitive answers.

Barry McGuigan, Graham Little, Adrian Logan and Jackie Fullerton (with the HARP Angel) picked the Top 3 Harp Living Legends

Football, horse racing, GAA, motorsport, rugby, athletics, boxing, hockey, cricket and golf were all on the agenda and after some serious consideration – and much mickey-taking – the panel eventually agreed their Top 3 Living Legends…

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates after a shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the HSBC Champions golf tournament at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (AP Photo)

AP McCoy

AP McCoy will be the special guest at this Saturday's point-to-point event in his home town of Moneyglass. Picture: Press Eye.

Pat Jennings


The consensus among the panel was that AP, Pat and Rory have all had an incredible impact and reached the very top level; the pinnacle of what is possible to achieve in their chosen field.

The filmed chat, created by Harp as a way to champion the very best of Northern Ireland sport, saw much lively debate as the experts whittled down a longlist of 24 men and women who each, in their own right, could be considered a giant of their sport.


Criteria for inclusion in Living Legends: Giants of NI Sport

1. Legends all had to be living

2. Legends had to have reached the highest point in their sport ie played for the Lions, played for Northern Ireland, won Olympic Gold, been world champion, won All Irelands, won majors in golf, etc.

Final shortlist had to –

1. Have made an impact internationally

2. Stayed at ‘the top’ for a significant period of time

3. Be a household name

Long List (personalities)

AP McCoy, Richard Dunwoody, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, Barry McGuigan, Dame Mary Peters, Dennis Taylor, Willie John McBride, Mickey Harte, Peter Canavan, Carl Frampton, Dave Boy McAuley, Billy Bingham, Eddie Irvine, Jonny Rea, Jimmy Kirkwood, Wayne McCullough, David Healy, Martin O’Neill, Pat Jennings, Mike Gibson, Syd Millar, Sean O’Neill.


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