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6 Famous Figures In Irish Sporting History - Whose Names You Might Not Recall

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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Those men who left an indelible impact on the Irish sporting consciousness - but whose names now escape us.

Silviu Lung


A star of so many RTE nostalgia programmes and yet very few can put a name to the face.

The Steaua Bucharest goalkeeper was a couple of months shy of his 34th birthday when he did us all a favour and failed to stop any of the five Irish penalties in Genoa that Monday evening - he even let Tony Cascarino's stodgy effort go past him.

The previous year he was part of the Steaua team that reached the European Cup final only to be spanked 4-0 by AC Milan. He was a member of the triumphant 1986 side, which beat Terry Venables' Barcelona on penalties as he still with Universitatea Craiova at that point, the club where he spent most of his career.

He made his last appearance for Romania in 1993, having been first choice since '79.

Now in his late 50s, Lung remains, according to recent photos, the proud wearer of a pristine moustache, almost three decades after most sensible footballers decided to ditch them en masse.


Martin Hansson


Some of you may remember this man.

He wept in the dressing room after the game when made aware that Thierry Henry had gotten his paw on the ball before directing it into William Gallas' path.


The Swedish referee stayed quiet for a while - as his job necessitated - but the following summer declared his love for the Irish nation, saying 'I love the people. I love the island. I love the beer'.

Goran Stavreski

The only qualifying group Ireland have ever finished top of was Euro 88 qualifying group 7. However, they were seconds away from repeating the feat in the Euro 2000 qualifying campaign. And they ended up not qualifying altogether.


It was a three way battle for the top spot come November 1999.

Going into the final round of games, Yugoslavia led Ireland by a point with Croatia a further point behind. However, Yugoslavia had to travel to play Croatia, while Ireland were out in Macedonia, a testing encounter but one which Ireland expected to win. The fabled TV3 curse was in it's infancy and so people weren't alive to it's destructive potential.

Niall Quinn scored after nineteen minutes and as things stood Ireland were going through. The Croatia-Yugoslavia game went to and fro but when the Croatians drew level at 2-2 just prior to half-time, things were on course.


Things remained as they were until the final minute when the Irish sportingly decided to leave Goran Stavreski completely unmarked at the last corner. It wasn't as if he didn't stand out. He boasted a Jens Jeremies-esque carpet of long hair which ran down his neck. He played professionally between 1992 and 2009. That night he bulleted an unstoppable header past a stranded Alan Kelly.


The night's most enduring image was that of Denis Irwin, who throughout his whole career rarely looked anything other than diligent and businesslike, punching the ground in an almost Sami Kuffour like display of disgust.

Simon McDowell



Ewan Murray could have been this century's Gary Mackay but for McDowell's intervention.

Chasing a first European Championship in 22 years, Ireland ran riot in the second half in Rome, running up their points difference tally significantly. This left France needing to beat Scotland at home by a minimum of 24 points or else Ireland would champions.

Unfortunately, Scotland proved to be even shiter than we anticipated and France passed their target with a full eighteen minutes left on the clock. That was that then.


However, the teasing French inexplicably let the Scots back into the game and with 76 minutes on the clock prop Ewan Murray went over in the corner. The scoreline now stood at 39-19.

In living rooms all around Ireland, people celebrated a Scotland score with a ferocity not seen in 19 years. After all the twists and turns it looked like Ireland had the championship in the bag.

That all changed when France won their own restart and all but most pollyannaish of people were gripped with that usual sense of foreboding.

When the ref called for the TMO, we held our breath. The TMO's name - Mr Simon McDowell of Belfast. Despite the inconclusive footage, McDowell examined whether Elvis Vermeulen had grounded the ball and said 'You may award the try'.

Dudu Aouate


Possibly the most loathed individual ever to stagger - clutching his face - across the path of an Irish sports team.

We're aware his name might still resonate with fanatical football fans, but to many others he is known that prick of an Israeli keeper - the man whose antics enraged the entire Irish nation one Saturday afternoon. The game remains one of the most frustrating and costly home draws Ireland have ever suffered, along with the 0-0 draw with Poland in 1991.

After going 2-0 up, Ireland were pegged back with two goals from set-pieces. They proceeded to pummel the Israelis for the rest of the ninety but Aouate, aided and abetted by the Greek referee succeeded in frustrating them.

The man also has a frankly excessive number of vowels in his surname.

Peter Allan


The Scottish referee/linesman at the heart of one of the biggest cock-ups ever. During Ireland's 2011 Six Nations game in Cardiff, Allan was asked by referee Jonathan Kaplan whether the ball that Mike Phillips had under his arm when dived over the line was the same one Jonny Sexton had booted out on the full a minute before.

He declared a try to be legal when it could have been described as illegal on four separate grounds. He somehow managed to miss the fact that a ball boy presented the ball to hooker Matthew Rees - despite the fact that said ballboy was standing right beside him.

The big screen showed everyone in the ground what had happened. Quick as a flash, the director focused the cameras on a guilty looking Allan, whose panicked demeanour resembled that of the Italian refs who realised they had erred in the Mexico-Argentina game of the previous year.


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