Following Darren Clarke's amazing victory in the British Open, Northern Ireland can now claim back to back golf majors winners, the only country other than the United States that has done that since 1910.

It also gave them three of the last six major golf championships. an incredible feat for a state smaller than Long Island and with less population.

Northern Ireland's sporting success has given great heart to the state despite its troubles and it is not just golfers.

Here are Northern Ireland's top ten athletes as chosen by yours truly.

1. Rory McIlroy, US Open winner promises to be the next Tiger Woods. Despite a disappointing British Open he will be back winning majors in the next few years say the golf experts.

2. George Best, perhaps the greatest soccer player in British history.

A wonderful winger with Manchester United who singlehandedly won the European Cup for them in 1968--see You Tube video above of his amazing goal for San Jose Earthquakes in the twilight of his career.

Sadly could not handle fame and fortune and died of alcoholism.

3. Darren Clarke. The British Open win caps an incredible career during which he put Northern Ireland on the golfing world map and had a spectacular Ryder Cup career too.

An inspiration to all who came after him.

4. Mary Peters, won the gold medal for Britain in the 1972 Olympics in the penthatlon, an incredible performance.

Competed in every Commonwealth Games for Northern Ireland from 1958 to 1074. Now Dame Mary Peters and living in Belfast where the athletics stadium is called after her.

5. Martin O'Neill, an outstanding soccer player with Nottingham Forest and Northern Ireland he really made his career in soccer management, having an incredibly successful spell with Leicester City, Aston Villa and Celtic. Will likely be back in management this season

6. Graeme McDowell, US Open champion in 2010 surprised everyone with an inspired performance and also secured the Ryder Cup with a great performance later that year. Not as talented as McIlroy and Clarke, but a hugely popular individual.

7. Derek Dougan, former Northern Ireland striker was a fabululous player for Wolves in the old First Division. Also played on theonly All ireland soccer team that played Brazil in Dublin in 1973

8.Fred Daly, the first Irish player to ever win a major, he won the British Open in 1947 by a single stroke. He played on the Ryder Cup team four times.

9.Mickey Harte, Tyrone football manager at the helm when they made their historic breakthrough and won the All Ireland final in 2003 and won two other All Ireland titles after that. One of the greatest tacticians in GAA history

10. Willie John MacBride, giant of man, second row player who personified Irish rugby for a generation. Capped 63 times for Ireland he also led the most successful Lions side ever which won in South Africa in 1974.

Honorable mentions --Pat Jennings, Spurs goalkeeper, Mike Gibson Irish rugby player Joey Dunlop motorbike racing, John Watson Formula one, Pat Rice, Arsenal defender