Six times Irish sports stars have been called British in the media

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Nothing causes more anger among the Irish than when the sports stars of these coasts are labeled British.

Ireland is a small country, with a small population compared to our neighbors, so every time a sports star moves up to the top ranks in their field, they fill the nation with pride.

Here are six examples of sports stars who have been called British despite the clear assertion of their Irish identity.

1. Katie Taylor

Ireland’s Katie Taylor celebrates at the 2012 Olympics. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

The most recent incident came after Katie Taylor’s unanimous decision victory over Delfine Persoon.

In doing so, she maintained her status as the undisputed lightweight champion and queen of boxing.

However, Sky Sports presenter Anna Woolhouse got her foot in it by asking Anthony Joshua what he thought of his “GB Olympian team company” despite Taylor winning a gold model while representing Ireland.

2. Shane Lowry

Irish stars called British
Shane Lowry after winning the third hole in the play-offs on the last round of the Irish Open in 2009. Photo: Andrew Redington / Getty Images

Shane Lowry won his very first major in 2019, the Open Championship in Portrush, Northern Ireland.

The proud Offaly-man warmed up before taking the start and was called up as British as commentator Laura Davis tried to lend her support.

“It would be great for the fans at home and for us too because it’s nice to see a British Open winner,” she said, which was not well received by the fans.

3. Conor McGregor

Irish stars called British
Conor McGregor has always been proud of his Irish roots. Photo: Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC / Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

During Conor McGregor’s meteoric rise to stardom, the Dubliner has never backed down from his Irish roots.

His entry music is Sinead O’Connor’s Foggy Dew and the Chieftains, but that hasn’t stopped the BBC from claiming him as one of their own.

Following his emphatic victory for the interim featherweight title over Chad Mendes at UFC 189, the BBC wrote that he was the “first UFC champion of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland”.

4. Paul Dunne

Irish stars called British
Paul Dunne and his caddy Darren Reynolds celebrate on day four of the British Masters. (Photo: Andrew Redington / Getty Images)

Another golfer is on this illustrious list and the second entry is Paul Dunne after his exploits as an amateur in the 2015 Open Championship.

The then 22-year-old Wicklow man was tied for the lead after three rounds of play when commentator Mark James called him the ‘B’ word.

However, he tried to laugh about it the next day after the backlash he received by saying he called her only British because the BBC likes to be “inclusive”.

5. Brian Carney

Irish stars called British
Brian Carney is in line for Munster. © INPHO / Billy Stickland

Brian Carney didn’t hesitate and immediately corrected a Sky Sports presenter about the GB label.

The subject of reforming the Great Britain and Ireland rugby union team was up for debate, but the presenter simply referred to the Great Britain team.

Carney, from Cork, questioned whether we “can start with a lesson in geography and a lesson in sovereignty please”. It’s Great Britain and Ireland. Unless they changed it and gave me the memo. ‘

6. Glenn Whelan

Irish stars called British
Irishman Glenn Whelan recognizes the crowd as he is substituted. Photo: INPHO / James Crombie

Whelan has never been a glamorous player, but someone who will work his socks off and do a job in the middle of the park.

The Dubliner won an impressive 91 caps for the Republic of Ireland but was claimed to be British by Jeff Stelling, in an accidental blunder in all honesty.

When discussing Stoke City in 2017, he claimed the team had a very British appearance, naming Whelan among the examples to back up his claim.


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