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7 Irish sports documentaries we'd love to see made

From Windsor Park to Millsreet, these are stories that deserve to be retold.

IRELAND IS A nation that lives and breathes sport.

In some instances entire communities are based around clubs. Complete strangers who would otherwise have no interest or business sharing eachother’s company wind up jumping side by side, hugging like lifelong friends or join in an enraged.

But what happens when the competition ends? It’s merely consigned to a sepia-tinted memory, only to be retrieved by a short paragraph here, or a short snippet on Reeling in the Years.

Last night, the magical story of ‘When Ali Came to Ireland’ was screened again on RTÉ. Below, are seven more stories from Irish sport that we feel deserve to be immortalised in film and redistributed to the nation with added chunks of information we outsiders couldn’t have known at the time.

1. Working title: ‘The Irish trio who took down Lance’

A simple format, but incredible stories would come from in-depth interviews with Paul Kimmage, David Walsh and Emma O’Reilly as they piece together the framework of Lance Armstrong’s long reign in cycling and his rapid fall.

Credit: @RoughRider2013

Scene with most dramatic music: O’Reilly falls foul of the man she once massaged. After disposing of his syringes, she finds herself the target of a smear campaign.

2. Working title: ‘Rule 42: Open the Gates’

The culmination of all of the behind the scenes wrangling that went on between Ireland’s sporting bodies. In particular, the GAA’s approach to dealing with traditionalists who wished Gaelic Games venues would remain closed to “foreign sports”.

Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Scene with most dramatic music: The film could open with footage of Notre Dame and Navy American football teams competing at the venue in 1996. The climax comes shortly before the end when English rugby captain Martin Corry steps out of his team’s line to applaud the crowd after God Save the Queen had echoed around GAA HQ.

3. Working title: ‘Off the Air’

In 2013 Ireland’s favourite sporting broadcasters disappeared from the airwaves. The ‘Off the Ball 5′ reappeared in podcast form, but left behind a trail of rumour, claim and counter-claim. What happened? This documentary will ask Denis O’Brien and Eoin McDevitt to explain just that.

Credit: @SecondCaptains

Scene with most dramatic music: No music, just silence, as the five sit around a Dublin pub in the realisation that everything they have built doesn’t belong to them.

4. Working title: ‘Tarnished gold’

Michelle Smith de Bruin is Ireland’s most decorated Olympian, yet only a small handful would ever venture to call her ‘great’ these days. This film would seek access to the treble gold medal winner, assess her rise to become a darling of Irish sport and the subsequent plummet from grace.

Pic: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Scene with most dramatic music: The 1998 day when Smith de Bruin was handed a four-year ban for tampering with a urine sample.

5. Working title: ‘A night in November’

Deliberately borrowing the from Marie Jones’ play on the same subject, the film would take the viewer back to Windsor Park in November 1993 for Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland and the events which surrounded it.

Pic: INPHO/Andrew Paton

Scene with most dramatic music: After coming through the intense, claustrophobic atmosphere of Windsor Park Ray Houghton’s goal provides a euphoric release in Giants Stadium.

6. Working title: ‘A football town’

The story of the proposed move to bring Premiership football to Dublin. ‘The Dublin Dons’ seemed a very real possibility ( or “a fantastically sexy option”, according to the club’s then chairman) as Wimbledon struggled to make themselves at home outside of Plough Lane.

The film would trace the movements of major players like Sam Hammam, Owen  O’Callaghan and that man Eamon Dunphy and the meetings they held between 1996 and 1998.

Pic: INPHO/Allsport

Scene with most dramatic music: The protests against the move gathered on both sides of the Irish Sea with supporters angry at the idea of losing their football club. One set feared it would be moving away, the other feared it was moving in.

7.  Working title: ‘Mind games — Collins v Eubank’

It’s rare, outside of an Olympic year, that boxing will bring Ireland to a standstill, but Steve Collins managed just that. His 1995 bouts with Chris Eubank were compulsory viewing for all the family, despite the immense brutality.

Pic: INPHO / Billy Stickland

Collins’ persona, his intense ring entrance, the rumours of hypnosis – it all added fuel to an already legendary match-up.

Scene with most dramatic music: Millstreet – the points decision after 12 rounds with Eubank on March 18 1995 – ‘The new super-middleweight champion of the world…’

That’s just a handful. Tell us, which story in Irish sport would you like committed to film?

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