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6 Moments When A Player Did Something Out Of Character And It Paid Off

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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We can't remain in our boxes forever - everyone's got to mix it up a little bit. To coincide with the release of The Gambler starring Mark Wahlberg in cinemas this Friday, we have decided to take a look at some times players did something wildly out of character and it paid off big time.

How much would you risk? Play your own Black Jack game here.

Domhnall O'Donovan's last minute point against Cork

When Clare were dispatched to the qualifiers in the 2013 All-Ireland championship, their first assignment was against Laois. On that day, they racked up a remarkable 1-32. Every one of the fifteen starters scored. Bar one.

And yet it was the corner back who ghosted up the pitch and heaved a sliotar over the crossbar when Clare needed it most in the closing stages of the drawn All-Ireland hurling final.

Here is the raspy voiced but peerless Syl O'Connor of Clare FM describing those unforgettable scenes, ably assisted by former All-Ireland winner Niall Gilligan.


John O'Shea nutmegging Luis Figo

One of the proudest moments in Irish sport. It is a wonder that Christy Moore hasn't been commissioned to write a song about it.

Back when he was the new young kid on the block, enjoying a wonderful first season with United, John O'Shea was sprang from the bench during United's 2003 Champions League loss to Real Madrid.


He proceeded to take the game to the Galactico's, ridiculing Luis Figo in the process. Operating in a halfway house between starter and impact player before that night, O'Shea's up-and-at-'em performance in the second half against Madrid helped him nail down a place for the following few seasons.

David Duval at the 1999 Ryder Cup


During his brief spell at the pinnacle of golf, David Duval was unpopular among sports fans who like to see players wearing their hearts on their sleeves, their faces contorting with emotion. He played the game like a robot with shades on. His closed off demeanour made it impossible to tell whether he was having a good round or not.


However, he ditched this routine for the final day of the 1999 Ryder Cup, when he and the entire US team leapt around the course like mad men, shamelessly geed up the crowd at every opportunity, and punched the air and high fived their caddies after every half decent shot.

It worked. 10 - 6 down at the start of the day, America won the singles 8 1/2 to 3 1/2 to claim a famous victory. Duval himself trounced Jesper Parnevik 5 & 4.

The God Bless America fervour that swept around the course that day has not been matched at any subsequent Ryder Cup. This may have something to do with why America keep losing. Who knew a speech from George W Bush could be so inspirational?


Stephen Larkham drop goal in 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-final

Back in the 90s, there were out-halves like Rob Andrew who kicked the ball and did nothing else, and then there were trendier, more stylish out-halves like Gregor Townsend who knew every trick in the book but never kicked the ball.

Stephen Larkham belonged to the latter tradition. In extra-time of the 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-final, with the score poised at 21-21 between South Africa and Australia, Larkham shocked his team, by attempting a drop goal from roughly the halfway line.

A commercial has even been made in Australia honouring the famous kick with his teammates and former coaches imploring him not to kick it.


Peter Stringer's break in the 2006 Heineken Cup final

Feted for his quick pass, Peter Stringer was often criticised for not varying his play enough. One famous UK journalist said he would struggle to get a contract with a Premiership team as a third string back-up as a result of this failing. Hard to square with the fact that last season, in the twilight of his career, he was Bath's first choice scrum half.

However, that all meant that when he did opt for a break, he succeeded in wrong-footing the opposition all the more. And it helped him score one of the most famous tries in Munster history.


David O'Leary at Italia 90

David O'Leary scored 11 goals in about a million appearances for Arsenal between 1975 and 1993. Furthermore, he had only played 27 minutes in the competition thus far. And naturally he had never taken a penalty in his career.

So, with the nation preoccupied with holding it's breath, he was the ideal man to slot the ball past old Silviu Lung. O'Leary showed otherwordly coolness to pass the ball to net.

How much would you risk? Play your own Black Jack game here.


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