OVER the last 12 months many stories have emerged across Irish sport – be it highs or lows.
In this special feature we look back over the joy and the pain faced by our Irish men and women who engaged in competitive sporting action across 2021.
Ireland lose to Luxembourg
Perhaps the lowest point for Irish football in many a year, Ireland’s home defeat in March to lowly Luxembourg, ranked 98th in the world at the time, was one which will take some time to forget.
Farrell’s Ireland beat the All Blacks
In need of a spark to ignite the new era under Andy Farrell, Ireland’s victory over the mighty New Zealand was a joy to watch in front of a packed-out Aviva Stadium and whetted the appetite for the Six Nations in the new year.
Mayo ends Dublin’s stranglehold
Wherever your allegiances lie, it was hard to begrudge Mayo when they ended Dublin’s remarkable unbeaten record - which stretched back to August 2014 - in a thrilling semi-final of this year’s Football Championship.
Maguire wows golf
After becoming the first Irish woman to qualify for golf’s Solheim Cup, Leona Maguire starred as the main player in this year’s event as she helped Europe to retain the trophy on US soil.
Her performance – scoring 4.5 points from five matches – unearthed the Cavan native to the golfing world and showed how far she can go.
Harrington suffers Ryder Cup hammering
After much anticipation to see how Ireland’s greatest ever golfer would fare captaining Europe in golf’s Ryder Cup, the humbling 19-9 defeat to the USA made difficult viewing for the legendary Padraig Harrington.
Blackmore takes racing world by storm
2021 will always be a year remembered for Tipperary’s Rachel Blackmore.
The 32-year-old’s astonishing success at Cheltenham and victory at the Grand National, where she became the first-ever female jockey to win, took all the front pages and inspired millions.
Kellie grabs gold in Tokyo
To add to Katie Taylor, another Irish boxing star emerged in 2021 in the form Kellie Harrington.
The part-time cleaner won a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics in the lightweight division, sparking joyous scenes on the streets of Dublin.
16-year-old Hunter makes cricket history
Cricket in Ireland doesn’t garner the participation levels of other sports.
So when Amy Hunter became the youngest batter to make a century in a match against Zimbabwe it rightly made headlines across Ireland and beyond.
Ronaldo meets Irish girl
During a difficult 18 months or so, the sight of 11-year-old, Addison Whelan, running onto the pitch at the Aviva to meet Cristiano Ronaldo and get his jersey sought to remind us of sport’s ability to uplift and inspire people.
Leinster win four in a row
We perhaps take Leinster’s success in the domestic game for granted but their fourth successive league title win showcased the strong foundations of Irish rugby and why Leinster players dominate the national team.