Italia '90 voted Ireland's greatest sporting moment 5 years ago

Italia '90 voted Ireland's greatest sporting moment

"The nation holds its breath."

It's one of those tournaments that captured the nation. The fact that the Irish public had to withstand nearly 15 minutes of nerve jingling penalties.


Sheedy scored, Houghton scored, Townsend and Cascarino did too but it was David O'Leary who it all went down to.

Next thing you know Ireland are in the quarter-finals. What a time to be alive.

RTÉ had been running Ireland's greatest ever sporting moment for the past few weeks now with some upsets along the way.

Padraig Harrington's British Open win in 2007 triumphed over the Grand Slam and Katie Taylor's gold medal.


But Italia '90 was always going to be favourite and it has forever been immortalised.

The penalty shootout was in a list alongside Harrington taking home the Claret Jug with Ireland beating England in 1988 and Munster beating the All Blacks.

It wasn't one-sided though in voting. Far from it.

For a moment, it looked like Harrington would defy the odds yet again and he came oh so close to being awarded the greatest Irish sporting moment in history. The voting was as followed:

  • Ireland beating England in 1988 - 8%
  • Munster defeat the All Blacks in 1978 - 21.8%
  • Padraig Harrington winning the British Open in 2007 - 34.6%
  • Ireland's penalty shootout in Italia '90 - 35.6%

Both David O'Leary and Packy Bonner were on hand to accept the award on the night and Bonner said:

"It's quite amazing. We were talking earlier about that emotion and how people remember it. All these years later, how quickly does time go by? How brilliant is it to be able to celebrate these moments, if you look at all the moments the Irish love their sport and we love the big occasions and we love looking back at things. I'm delighted and it's for all the players and all the staff."

David O'Leary also chimed in:


"It's just amazing. What summed up tonight, landing at Dublin Airport, the man at passport control. There was a big queue behind me and he said he was a boy (at the time) and still asked me about the penalty. And I'm trying to rush through the place because I'm holding up the place."