The 10 greatest sporting memories from growing up in the 1990s 4 years ago

The 10 greatest sporting memories from growing up in the 1990s

Brought to you by Seat Leon FR

Ah, the nineties! When we all sported bowl haircuts,  the wearing of friendship bracelets and pop-offs were mandatory, and the reign of the boy band started in earnest.

If we were all watching 'Dawson's Creek' and 'My So Called Life", it was only because we only had a handful of TV channels, or there was no good sport on the box.

Thankfully, for those of us unmoved by the crying faces of either Claire Danes or James Van Der Beek, there was no shortage of epic sporting moments in that decade, which you think was much more recent than it actually was.

crying

It ended 16 years ago! Don't cry, Clare and James, we are here to take you on a trip down memory lane, through the greatest moments from each of the 10 (count them) years of the nineties.

Hold on to your Tamagotchis, because here we go.

1990: Italia '90

World Cup The Irish team meet Pope John Paul II 1990 Ireland team kit man Charlie O'Leary meets Pope John Paul II with Fran Fields on the left Mandatory Credit ©INPHO

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Kind of obvious this one, really. We could bang on about Frank Rijkaard spitting in Rudi Voller's hair, Roger Milla dancing around the corner flag, Gazza crying or Gary Lineker's accident, but we all know it was about Jackie's Army, giving it a lash and putting the entire world under pressure.

They didn't score many goals (two) but the Republic of Ireland took us on arguably the greatest sporting journey in this nation's history. Kevin Sheedy's goal against England, Eamon Dunphy throwing his pen after drawing with Egypt, Big Niall popping up to draw with the Dutch, meeting the Pope in shellsuits, David Freakin' O'Leary, Packie Bloody Bonner and that git Schillaci.

Was the country ever really right after it all?

1991: Meath and Dublin's four-part epic

Leinster Football Championship Third Replay Dublin vs Meath 6/7/1991 Brian Stafford of Meath celebrates after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO

If familiarity breeds contempt, what comes after contempt? Big, mean Meath were the kings of Leinster and consistently one of the top teams in the country, winning three of the last four provincial Championships coming into this Leinster SFC preliminary round game.

The Dubs were good, the Dubs were skilful, but Meath had Brian Stafford, Bernard Flynn, Liam Hayes, Colm O'Rourke and countless other skilful men who could, as they say, handle themselves on the field.

Their ensued possibly the greatest epic in the history of the game - four Croker Classics that gripped the nation. The first game ended in a draw, the second was level after extra-time, as was the third and Meath edged past in the fourth by a single point - David Beggy, the unlikely hero who kicked the winning point.

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1992 Michael Carruth wins

"Michael Carruth is the champion of the Olympic Games. Michael Carruth is the champion, the champion, the champion."

We couldn't put it any better than Jimmy Magee. Some day, that.

1993: The Grand National that wasn't

Poor Esha Ness, forever consigned to the realm of Table Quiz question - the Grand National winner that never was. The 50-1 shot won the famous Aintree race in the second fastest time ever, but it was all for nothing as the result was declared null and void.

The 147th running of the steeplechase was an unmitigated disaster, with 30 of the 39 runners failing to notice a false start had been called - they raced as normal around the punishing course, only to realise it had all been for nothing.

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1994: Ray Houghton beats Italy

World Cup 1994 18/6/94 Republic of Ireland v Italy Ray Houghton celebrates scoring Mandatory ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Giants Stadium in New Jersey was a sea of green as the great immigrant rivalry between the Irish and the Italians was resoundingly won by the Green Army off the field, and remarkably won by the men in green on the field.

The Azzurri would go on to reach the World Cup final, only losing out to Brazil on penalties, but in that opening fixture they were unable to find a way past an inspired Paul McGrath after Ray Houghton had given Ireland a 1-0 lead with an exquisite, looping, possibly jammy right foot shot from 25 yards.

Gianluca Pagliuca was stranded, the diminutive Houghton was cart-wheeling. Cue bedlam.

1995 Steve Collins beats Chris Eubank, twice!

Steve Collins lands a punch on Chris Eubank 1995 ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

It is almost hard now to comprehend how big a deal these two fights were. Dublin Steve Collins deigned to take on the unbeaten Chris Eubank for the WBO super-middleweight title and the cocky Londoner came over to Millstreet, Cork for the fight in March.

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After his brutal epics with Nigel Benn, Eubank was seen as the biggest star in European boxing, when European boxing was riding the crest of the new Sky Sports wave, but Collins ignored the hype, hired a hypnotist and won via unanimous decision.

Over 25,000 were in attendance in Páirc Úi Chaoimh six months later to witness the rematch, where the Celtic Warrior successfully defended his belt.

1996: Michelle Smith wins three gold medals*

1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Swimming 22/7/1996 400 metre Freestyle Final Michelle Smith Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Before you write a strongly worded letter to the editor, look at the asterisk! Those medals may still officially stand, but only the most staunch defenders of the Dublin swimmer puts any stock in that page of the record book.

But, admit it, for a few days at least there during the 1996 Atlanta Games, we were all luxuriating in the fact our little island had produced such a dominant swimmer.

Never mind that sore loser Janet Evans, sure didn't Bill Clinton himself show his support for Smith! And we all know he was as pure as the driven snow. Eventually came the doubt and the urine samples laced with whiskey, but for most, for a time, there was blissful ignorance.

1997: Ken Doherty wins World Championship

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This was a big deal, this was a really big deal! This was our own Ken Doherty winning the snooker World Championships at the Crucible, against Stephen Hendry of all people!

The dominant Scot was gunning for his sixth title on the spin, but the Ranelagh native smashed him 18-12 in the final. The Manchester United fan got to parade his trophy at Old Trafford and snooker clubs around the country enjoyed a very profitable few months.

1998: Offaly hurling fans protest

All Ireland Semi-Final 22/8/1998; Offaly v Clare Angry Offaly fans protest at the end of the match when the ref blew the match up early © INPHO/James Meehan

Pacifism works. Not that the Offaly hurlers were practicing any non-violent forms of protest (Michael Duignan was very lucky to stay on the field after a dirty stroke as Offaly came up three points short against the reigning All-Ireland champions Clare).

Except they didn't come up three points short, instead referee Jimmy Cooney came up two-and-a-half minutes short. The official blew for full time prematurely and all hell broke loose. The Offaly players and fans staged a sit-in, the GAA had a meeting and a rematch was called.

Of course, after keeping faith, the Faithful County won the day and won the All-Ireland - beating Kilkenny in the decider.

1999: Brian O'Driscoll makes his Ireland debut

Australia vs Ireland First Test, Ballymore, Brisbane. 12/6/1999. Justin Bishop, Matt Mostyn and Brian O'Driscoll during the Anthems. ©INPHO/Patrick Bolger

Perhaps not, on the face of it, the most pivotal day in Irish sport, but the images of a skinny 20-year-old in that baggy green jersey are well imprinted in everyone's minds now.

Ireland lost that day in Brisbane to Australia, but it was the first step in a glorious career that would see Brian O'Driscoll line out 132 more times for his country. Remarkable to think now that he made his Test debut before he had even played for Leinster.

Never beat the All Blacks though...

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