He may have a small fortune to his name, countless titles, and an army of adoring fans, but one accolade is still out of reach for UFC ultimate fighter Conor McGregor — a message of congratulations from Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Since taking office in 2011, Mr Kenny has published numerous statements welcoming the achievements of Ireland’s most prominent sporting stars.
Messages of support followed the rugby Six Nations victories and World Cup appearances, with similar remarks welcoming the Irish football team’s successes at Euro 2016, the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, and the cricket team’s historic 2011 world cup victories.
The official seal of approval, and similar remarks from opposition leaders, are seen as confirmation of a sporting star’s arrival at the top of their profession.
However, despite McGregor’s latest victory against Eddie Alvarez last weekend and seeing his fans — and in his usual fashion, himself — proclaim the Dublin-born fighter as one of the most successful Irish athletes of his generation, any Government congratulations seems highly unlikely.
Asked last night why the Taoiseach has yet to send formal congratulations to Mr McGregor over his achievements in a sport which has divided public opinion due to its violent nature, a spokesperson for Mr Kenny did not offer an explanation.
While later releasing a behind-the-scenes photo of Mr Kenny and Mr McGregor jokingly pretending to punch each other, the spokesperson did not say why no acknowledgement of the Dubliner’s achievements has been made to date unlike other sports people.
In January last, then sports minister Michael Ring told the Irish Examiner the UFC “wouldn’t be a sport for me” and also conceded “it would not be something I’d go across the world to see”.
Rugby star Jamie Heaslip also came under fire in recent weeks by controversially describing Mr McGregor as “the greatest sports star of our generation”.
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