The Daily Telegraph is the predictable source of this intriguing question.
British news outlets have a long history of claiming the more successful of the Irish sports stars, a tendency which, in the best traditions of the Anglo-Irish relationship, we are hyper-sensitive about but they themselves are oblivious to. Their ardour for Irish sportspeople who fall into the also ran category in the international arena is, unsurprisingly, considerably less intense.
Most of this controversy has centred on Northern Irish sports stars, where constitutionally, thanks to the Downing Street Declaration and the Good Friday Agreement and so forth, the nationality of sportspeople is up for grabs.
However, excitable British sports broadcasters, with their usual sensitivity to such things, have often drifted into claiming sportspeople from the Republic. Sinn Fein types have bitterly noted that, according to BBC boxing commetator Harry Carpenter, Barry McGuigan famously delivered one of the greatest nights in British boxing in Loftus Road in 1985, while it was but a plucky little Irishman that was felled in Las Vegas in 1986.
Some other British sportspeople:
The legendary hurling footballer did Britain proud on no fewer than eight occasions in All-Ireland final games. The county Cork star (that’s Cork near Dublin) was a wizard with a hurling racket in his hand and one of the greatest hurley stars this Archipelago has ever produced.
‘The Warrior’, as he was known, got one over for Britain when he defeated fighter of West Indian extraction Chris Eubank in Millstreet, near Dublin, in 1995.
Christy O Connor Snr
Represented Britain in the Ryder Cup on ten occasions. He conquered Europe in the 1960s winning a massive forty-three professional tournaments and topping money lists galore. First played the royal and ancient game in Knocknacarra, Galway, near Dublin.
A traditional, bustling British-style striker, the legendary Gaelic star began his career with Abbeylara, near Dublin, where he won two Leinster finals, before being bought by their near neighbours Longford. A true British folk hero.