Wednesday 21 February 2018

Look away now! The 10 worst Irish sporting moments of the year Newsdesk Newsdesk

There were some brilliant moments in Irish sport in 2015 but, as ever, there were things we would rather forget.

1. Ireland showjumpers robbed of Rio place

During the second and deciding team competition at the European Championships in Aachen on August 21, a steward ran across the path of Ireland's Cian O'Connor and his horse, Good Luck. The stallion was producing a great round but hit the next fence, and those four faults saw Spain pipping Ireland for an Olympic slot by 0.38 points.

There was a protest to the Ground Jury followed by an appeal to the Appeals Committee that night, but both proved unsuccessful.

Horse Sport Ireland have appealed to CAS and a verdict is expected next month.

2. Ian Keatley booed by Munster supporters at Thomond Park

A night to forget at Thomond Park on December 12.

With seven minutes to go in Munster's 31-19 defeat to Leicester in the Champions Cup, Ian Keatley was substituted after a poor night at the office.

Ironic jeers and cheers from a certain section of the home crowd greeted the decision.

Former players and analysts were shocked by the lack of support.

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The sound of Munster fans ironically cheering the substitution of Ian Keatley was shocking

3. Ireland women's hockey come agonisingly close to booking Olympic berth

Ireland’s women's hockey team were left devastated after they fell to China following a shoot-out in their World League Round 3 after normal time ended 1-1 in Valencia.

A victory would have guaranteed Darren Smith's side a place at Rio next year but they lost 4-3 in the shootout.

They had a chance to qualify for the fifth-sixth playoff but we're beaten 6-1 by the USA, a team they defeated 2-0 earlier in the tournament.

Ireland players dejected after the penalty shootout defeat to China in midweek

4. Rufflegate

Tyrone's Tiernan McCann created one of the biggest controversies of the GAA year in the quarter-final win over Monaghan.

McCann went down theatrically after getting his hair ruffled by Darren Hughes, leading to the Farney man's dismissal.

The CCCC proposed an eight-week ban for McCann's action but the CHC ruled that it was out of order and McCann was free to play in the semi against Kerry.

Tiernan McCann hits the floor after Darren Hughes brushed his hair

5. Drubbings

The gap between the top five or six teams in gaelic football and the rest was illustrated in clinical fashion last summer.

Dublin romped to a Leinster title, an Aidan O'Shea inspired Mayo annihilated Sligo in the Connacht final and Kerry beat Kildare by 27 points in their last eight clash.

The amount of teams capable of lifting Sam Maguire seems at an all-time low.

Barry John Keane celebrates scoring one of Kerry’s seven goals against Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

6. Clare hurling debacle

Davy O'Halloran and Nicky O'Connell left the Clare squad in March after refusing to accept punishment handed down for an alleged breach of discipline.

O'Halloran claimed to have been humiliated in front of the rest of the panel by Davy Fitzgerald.

A statement from the Clare players and management refuted O'Halloran's account.

O'Halloran joined the county football panel in April, O'Connell returned to the hurling squad after apologising to them.

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Clare's Davy O'Halloran

7. Depleted Ireland make Rugby World Cup exit

After back-to-back Six Nations titles, Ireland were viewed as dark horses for the Rugby World Cup.

Ireland suffered the loss of Sean O'Brien, Paul O'Connell, Jonathan Sexton and Peter O'Mahony in the impressive win over France that allowed us to avoid the All Blacks.

A rampant Argentina cut Ireland to shreds and were 17-0 up after 15 minutes, tries from Luke Fitzgerald and Jordi Murphy saw the gap fall to three, but the Pumas regained their dominance and ran out winners by 23 points.

All four semi-finallists came from the southern hemisphere.

Ireland's players are left shattered by defeat

8. Annie Power falls at the last in Cheltenham

Willie Mullins' spectacular mare cost punters over €50m when she fell at the last in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle on day one of the Cheltenham festival in March.

Ruby Walsh and the Closutton handler had already visited the winner's enclosure with Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen in the champion hurdle but Annie Power cost everyone their accumulators.

The only consolation is that her stablemate Glen's Melody ended up winning the race.

If Annie Power hadn't arisen sound from her full-tilt tumble on Tuesday, the ensuing headlines would have blighted the entire event

9. Joe Brolly's Marty jibe

The 1993 All-Ireland winner landed himself in hot water with his on-air insult directed at Cavan football and popular GAA broascaster Marty Morrissey.

Speaking on the Sunday Game during the Ulster SFC clash between Cavan and Monaghan, Brolly said: "Somebody said it's as ug;y as Marty Morrissey, their football... maybe, I should apologise to the people of Cavan."

He later apologised and Morrissey accepted it.

Joe Brolly and Marty Morrissey at Croke Park

10. Sledging

During a game between Donegal and Tyrone in this year's Ulster minor championship, it was alleged that a Donegal player was taunted about the recent death of his father.

A report from the Ulster Council which was never published said that the player was the victim of sledging but the verbal abuse was not about the death of his father.

In a recent interview, Cork camogie captain Ashling Thompson claimed that she was taunted about the suicide of a former boyfriend during a club game.

Milford GAA and Cork Camogie star Ashling Thompson

Some terrible moments outside Ireland:

(Allegedly) corrupt officials

The web of deceit and racketeering ensnared officials from FIFA and the IAAF, athletics' world governing body, as officials again demonstrated sport is not their main motivation.


Racism in Paris

Chelsea fans were caught on video racially abusing a Paris commuter attempting to board the metro. The despicable scenes prompted widespread condemnation.


Gerrard departure

Steven Gerrard so nearly guided Liverpool to a first title in 24 years only to slip in 2014, and a year later his career with his hometown club ended in ignominy. He was sent off 38 seconds after coming off the bench in his last appearance against Manchester United in March, and his final game for the Reds ended in a 6-1 loss at Stoke.


Referee failings

Craig Joubert awarded a penalty against Scotland, allowing Australia to win, when he should have given a scrum. A nation wept.


Mourinho criticises Carneiro

There are numerous theories for the cause of Chelsea's dramatic demise from Premier League champions in May to relegation fighters in December. But perhaps most avoidable was manager's Jose Mourinho's ugly handling of team doctor Eva Carneiro, who was dropped and described as "naive" by the Portugese after she treated Eden Hazard during an opening day draw with Swansea. Attending to Hazard meant the winger had to leave the field, which temporarily left Chelsea with nine men. Carneiro, a popular figure amongst the players at Stamford Bridge, no longer works for the club and is taking legal action against Mourinho.

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