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'Superstar' Eddie Macken | Longford's box-office Aga Khan hero

Legendary Longford equestrian star Eddie Macken was the first name on the county's sporting Mount...



Legendary Longford equestrian star Eddie Macken was the first name on the county's sporting Mount Rushmore when it was picked earlier, and it's no surprise really.

His is one of the most recognisable names from Irish show jumping history, and his success on the world stage are up there with any this country has ever seen.

Macken helped Team Ireland to three Aga Khan Cups in a row from 1977 to 1979, picked up two individual silver medals at the Show Jumping World Championships in 1974 and 1978, and took part in two Olympic Games'.

Former Longford football manager Denis Connerton says he remembers Macken's heyday as if it were yesterday.

"I couldn't have missed it! This guy is a superstar from Granard in Longford... winning three Aga Khan's is unreal, but he also won four consecutive Hickstead Derbies, which was a very prestigious competition at that stage.

"The first horse he won [a world medal] with was called Pele, so you couldn't really lose on a horse [with a name] like that! He won two individual silver medals at the world championships, which is some achievement for anyone from this country, never mind from Longford.

"He has to be my number one, he's really a box-office figure in Longford. It's something that you don't associate that much with Longford, an Irish equestrian show jumper, so for a guy like that to come from Longford, he'd have to be my number one.

"This guy really raised the profile of [the sport]... to be such a dominant figure of that era, at a time when he would have been coming up against the fantastic British and German show jumpers, it was a big sport.

4 August 2017; The Association of Sports Journalists in Ireland hosted a luncheon, at the Croke Park Hotel, to celebrate the start of Ireland's three-in-a- row Aga Khan Cup wins in 1977. Pictured at the were, from left, David Darragh, James Kernan, Capt. Con Power, and Eddie Macken, at the Royal Dublin Society, Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

"He was a hero with my parents in particular, he was a fabulous, fabulous sportsperson. The horse he had, he had one as I said called Pele, another called Boomerang.

"He had a very long career and at the 2004 Olympics ended up being the trainer of that team, so he was a really great sportsperson."

Longford senior footballer Mickey Quinn echoed those sentiments, saying that although Macken's achievements were before his time, everyone in the county knows his name.

"When the Aga Khan and Dublin Horse Show was on growing up it was put on the TV and there was talk of 'Eddie Macken this and that'. Three Aga Khan's in a row, getting to two Olympics in 1992 in Barcelona and 1996 in Atlanta.

"When you're on an international stage like that, it's a completely different level for a Longford sportsperson. To see someone held to that high esteem... it's just a phenomenal achievement."

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Aga Khan Eddie Macken Equestrian Longford Mount Rushmore Show Jumping