Sport

Friday 25 July 2014

The biggest sporting breakthroughs of 2013

Declan Whooley

Published 18/12/2013|11:02

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Podge Collins enjoyed a stunning year of success with Clare's hurlers

We look at some of the biggest sporting breakthroughs both at home and abroad over the past 12 months.

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1. Clare Hurlers

One of the most opening hurling championships in recent years, the Banner men recovered from a first round Munster defeat to Cork to overcome the Rebels at the second time of asking in the All-Ireland Final replay.

Having narrowly avoided relegation in the National League, few gave Clare’s youthful side to be challenging for honours come September, but in just his second season in charge he led his charges to All-Ireland glory.

The age profile of the team and the game plan involved would suggest that this will not be a flash in the pan.

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2. Irish women's rugby team

On a muddy St. Patrick’s Day in Milan, the Irish women rugby team secured their first ever Grand Slam and helped bring much-needed publicity to the sport.

Two penalties from Niamh Briggs was enough to seal a 6-3 win over the Italians to cap off a remarkable campaign in what was the first ever women’s game televised live on TV.

Philip Doyle’s men will mark another first next season as they defend their crown when they will play at the Aviva for the first time when they face the Italians, with Ashbourne to remain the home for the other fixtures.

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3. Adam Scott ends long Australian wait for Green Jacket

Australia has produced numerous great golfers but none tasted success in the U.S. Masters at Augusta until Adam Scott this year.

After eight runner-up finishes by his fellow countrymen, three achieved by Greg Norman, Scott finally ended the wait for a prized Green Jacket by overcomming Argentine Angel Cabrera in a playoff in April when he sunk a 15-foot putt on the second extra hole.

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4. Nairo Quintana, second place at the Tour de France

It wasn’t a vintage year for cycling with further fall-out from the Lance Armstrong doping controversy, but one man made a name for himself for all the right reasons.

Nairo Quintana was asked by Movistar to help team leader Alejandro Valverde finish on the podium at the Tour de France in July but the young rookie was quickly promoted when his Spanish colleague fell off the pace.

The 23-year-old rode a brilliant race to finish second overall and also claim the white and polka-dot jerseys for the top young rider and the best climber.

Quintana's performance in the three-week race, during which he also won a stage, marked him out as a future winner of cycling's grandest prize.

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5. Israel Folau ties Australian rugby try-scoring record

A series defeat by the British and Irish Lions, three defeats by New Zealand and two by South Africa left Australian rugby at a low ebb in 2013 but they managed to unearth an attacking gem in rugby league convert Israel Folau.

The former Australia Rules player had featured in only 14 matches for his club New South Wales Waratahs when he was handed his Wallabies debut in the first test against the Lions and he marked the occasion with two tries.

Eight more tries followed as the devastating 24-year-old runner equalled former Australia winger Lote Tuqiri's record of 10 test touchdowns in a season.

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