With the year coming to an end, let’s take a look at Ireland’s achievements and choose our top 10 Irish sporting moments of 2019.
Ireland is a small nation with a modest population, but its sporting influence and ability, both globally and at home, is huge. Irish sportsmen and women consistently compete at the top of sports competitions year-round.
With native Gaelic football and hurling, and mass participation in other sports such as football, rugby, hockey, and boxing, the Emerald Isle’s sporting scene is thriving and regularly creates memorable moments.
Here are the top 10 Irish sporting moments of 2019.
10. Kate O’Connor’s heptathlon silver medal – a real-life Wonder Woman
Kate O’Connor became the first ever Irish woman to win a medal at any level in the under-20s European Champions hosted in Sweden in July.
The youngster finished in third place in the heptathlon race and only 22 points behind the winner, Maria Vicente, of Spain. Before this feat she surpassed her personal best in the javelin, high jump, and 200m sprint.
9. Wexford wins the Leinster Championship – the re-crowning of a champion
Wexford faced Kilkenny in the 2019 Leinster Hurling Championship final after having not won the provincial championship for fifteen years. However, this current crop of Wexford players, under Davy Fitzgerald, paid no head to history to defeat the Cats 1-23 to 0-23 and reclaim the title.
Wexford announced themselves as genuine contenders for the All-Ireland Championship.
8. Leinster win the Guinness PRO14 Championship – adding another league title to their belts
Irish side Leinster were crowned Guinness PRO14 champions for the 2018/19 season, their sixth league title!
The side finished thirteen points clear of ‘Conference B’ before defeating Munster in an all-Irish semi-final 24-9. Glasgow Warriors waited in the decider but Leinster prevailed by three points in a tight game, 18-15.
7. Tipperary win the Liam McCarthy Cup – the victors destroyed their competition
Tipperary resumed the throne of hurling kingpins after they ruthlessly dispatched Kilkenny by a scoreline of 3-25 to 0-20 at Croke Park.
Tipperary lost to Limerick in the Munster final but regrouped to defeat The Cats for the third time this decade in an All-Ireland final, their 28th title overall.
6. Irish women’s hockey team reach the Olympic Games – forging ahead for global fame
Fresh off the back of their astounding 2018 World Cup performance where they finished runners-up, the Irish Women’s Hockey team defeated Canada to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.
After a 0-0 draw, Ireland won 4-3 in a tense penalty shootout and became the first women’s hockey team from Ireland to qualify for the Olympics.
5. Duffy’s late equaliser in Denmark – the saviour of the game
Ireland headed to Denmark in June this year with one eye on the past and one eye on the Euro 2020 Championship. Denmark had ended Irish World Cup hopes in 2017, but Ireland were two for two in their Euro qualifying group and looking for a third victory.
Denmark took the lead on the 76th minute before Shane Duffy stood up and headed home a late-equaliser on 85 minutes to salvage a great away point for Ireland, continuing their unbeaten run.
4. Michael Conlan fighting in his hometown – winning on home soil
Michael Conlan lived every boxer’s dream and fought in his own backyard, headlining Feile An Phobail’s flagship event at Falls Park in West Belfast.
The Belfast native defeated Argentinian Diego Alberto Ruiz before a rousing crowd, creating one of the best spectacles of the year and one of Ireland’s top sporting moments.
3. Katie Taylor crowned two-weight world champion – continually striving for more victories
One of Ireland’s most decorated sportsperson, Katie Taylor, became a two-weight boxing world champion in November 2019 after defeating Christina Linardatou in Manchester.
From Bray, County Wicklow, Taylor added WBO Super Lightweight title to her lightweight world championship and increased her professional record to 15-0. Taylor is also an Olympic champion.
2. Dublin winning five-in-a-row All-Ireland titles – unprecedented record-setters
One of the top Irish sporting moments of 2019 was Dublin winning the unprecedented five-in-a-row All-Ireland football titles in September.
The Dubs defeated Kerry in a replay to forge their immortality, scooping up their 29th title in the process. The side shows no signs of slowing down beieng favourites for the 2020 title and they have created a legacy unlikely to be matched in our time or beyond.
1. Shane Lowry winning The Open – a shocking but well-deserved victory
The top Irish sporting moment of 2019 was when Offaly man, Shane Lowry, won his first ever Open, made sweeter by the fact it was on Irish soil at Royal Portrush in Derry.
Lowry claimed the 148th Open championship, and only the second on the Emerald Isle, in style finishing six shots clear of runner-up, Tommy Fleetwood. The whole of Ireland celebrated Lowry’s shock victory.
There is no shortage of great Irish sporting moments to choose from throughout 2019, with hard-working, skilled, and dedicated Irish traits on show. The country is improving in all sports year in year out, and we look forward to what’s to come in 2020.