Every March 17, the world goes green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. That includes athletes: NHL teams usually wear Irish-inspired warmup jerseys that are green and typically have shamrocks on them or, sometimes, Irish-ized names (like O'Stamkos), and sometimes MLB clubs at Spring Training wear green caps. But St. Pat's is also a good time to look at all the Irish and Irish-Americans who have excelled as athletes over the years. Here are a few of them. (And no, that does not include Steven Stamkos. He's a Canadian of Scottish descent.)
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The four-time Super Bowl winning QB of the New England Patriots has deep Irish roots: His paternal great-grandfather was from County Cavan and his paternal great-grandmother came from County Cork. Both immigrated to the United States during the potato famine.
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Dempsey might be the face of American soccer, but he traces his roots to Ireland. His paternal grandparents were Irish immigrants, and his last name means "proud" in Gaelic.
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One of the biggest names on the PGA Tour, McIlroy is from Northern Ireland.
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From his last name to his fiery red hair, McGwire wore his Irish heritage proudly during his career 15-year career with the Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals.
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Slater is one of the all-time legends of surfing. And while he might not look it, he has Irish heritage on his mother's side. (Also: Kelly? Pretty strong Irish first name.)
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McEnroe is an American tennis great — and he played with a ton of intensity. He credited his temper to his Irish roots, which he gets from his dad.
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McHale spent 13 Hall-of-Fame years as a power forward for the Boston Celtics, winning three championships and playing in seven All-Star Games. Like many of the athletes on this list, he traces his Irish ancestry through his father.
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Number 4 is a legend in Canada, but his old-country roots go back to Ireland. His grandfather, Robert, was a soccer pro who emigrated from Northern Ireland to Canada in the early 1900s. Adding to Orr's Irish bonafides: He played nearly his entire NHL career in Boston.
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Boxing in the early 20th century was dominated by Irish fighters, and that included Jack Dempsey. The world heavyweight champ from 1919-1926, Dempsey came from a family with a diverse lineage: he was part Irish, part Cherokee, and part Jewish.
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Another icon of early 20th century American sports, Hogan revolutionized golf by focusing on something new: swing theory. His approach to the game earned him nine Majors and 241 top 10 finishes in 292 career events. He credited his competitive spirit to his Irish heritage, which he got from a grandfather who came to the US from Ireland in the mid-1800s.
Because what's a list of Irish athletes without Notre Dame's iconic mascot?
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