With 2018 drawing to a close, it’s time to sit back, relax, and revel in what was one of the most successful years in Irish sporting history.
From Gold medals to Grand Slams 2018 will forever be remembered as a year when Ireland excelled on the global stage.
At Pundit Arena HQ, we sat down to discuss our top Irish sporting achievements of 2018. As expected the discussion caused plenty of heated debate, but we eventually narrowed it down to five.
So, here goes…
5. Sanita Puspure’s World Rowing Championship victory
At 36-years-old, Sanita Puspure shocked the world when she achieved her dreams of becoming a world champion.
The mother of two has faced hardship throughout her career, only to come back and win her first world championship whilst juggling such a busy life, she is a role model for all athletes and shows what can be achieved if you set the bar high for yourself and never give up.
4. Irish Rugby’s Grand Slam victory
Considering it was only our third ever Grand Slam title, it would be hard to leave this incredible achievement off the list.
It started with Johnny Sexton’s last-gasp drop goal in Paris and ended with a dominant 40-minute blitz in London, and all the way in between was a pure joy as Ireland swept aside all comers in the 2018 Six Nations Championships.
3. Irish Women reach Hockey World Cup Final
Ranked 15th out of 16 teams going into the tournament, Graeme Shaw’s side lit up the competition, qualifying for the World Cup final in London, a feat that no other Irish side, in any sport can claim to have achieved.
With two notable scalps of India, Ireland progressed to the final after a dramatic shoot-out victory over Spain, before falling to tournament favourites Holland in the final.
These girls’ remarkable achievement had the entire country behind them, as was proved when they arrived home in Dublin to a heroes reception.
2. Limerick win All-Ireland hurling title
John Kiely’s men ended a 45-year long famine in August of this year when they defeated reigning champions Galway to lift the Liam MacCarthy cup for the eight time in the county’s history. In what was one of the most exciting summer’s of Hurling in memory, The Treaty men’s victory was one that the whole country could savour.
1. Ireland’s Victory over New Zealand
Joe Schmidt’s charges capped off an amazing 2018 with their greatest victory to date when they toppled New Zealand in Dublin for the first time ever.
Not only was it the significance of the victory that made it so special, but the manner in how Ireland went about it. Following a highly successful 2018, Ireland went into the November test as many people’s favourites, and not only did Sexton, Furlong and Co. cope with that favourites tag, they also rose to it, dominating New Zealand all over Landsdowne Road proving that right now, heading into a World Cup year, Ireland a force to be reckoned with in World Rugby.
So that was Pundit Arena’s Top Five Sporting Achievement’s for 2018, but in what was such a monumental year for Irish sport, narrowing it down to just five was pretty horrible, so here are some honourable mentions.
- Gary and Paul O’Donovan win World Rowing Championship Gold
- SBG Ireland’s Five gold medals at the IMMAF Championships
- Leinster Rugby’s incredible double-winning season
- Mullinalaghta’s shocked Leinster championship victory
- Katie Taylor’s continued dominance in world boxing
- Thomas Barr wins the bronze medal at European Championships 400M hurdles
- Rhys McClenaghan wins Pommel horse gold medal in both Commonwealth and European Championships
- Dublin’s fourth All-Ireland football win in a row
- TJ Doheny wins world boxing title