Johnny Sexton’s drop goal to secure victory against France in Ireland’s opening Six Nations encounter has been voted as the most memorable sporting moment of 2018, according to the Teneo Sport and Sponsorship Index (TSSI).
In a game that will live long in the memory, France missed a penalty in the 77th minute to keep Ireland’s faint hopes of a win alive but there was still much work to do.
With tired legs, Ireland’s ball carriers desperately went through the phases to bring play up to the other half of the field. After 24 phases, Sexton risked a cross-field kick, which many Irish fans probably groaned at, but it was beautifully timed and Keith Earls gathered the ball and secured possession.
With almost 83 minutes on the clock, CJ Stander made a brilliant carry and Conor Murray was given the signal by Sexton. After 41 phases, the World Player of the Year nailed the drop goal, Nigel Owens’ whistle blew and the Irish following in the Stade de France erupted.
Although it was only their first game in the championship, it was the pivotal moment that saw Joe Schmidt’s men march on to claim their first Grand Slam title in nine years.
The drop goal received 31% of the votes in the ‘Most Memorable Sporting Moment’ category while the Irish Women’s Hockey team’s win against Spain to send them to the World Cup Final came in second place with 21% of the vote.
It was a magical year for Irish rugby and that was widely represented throughout the survey results. They were named as the Team of the Year ahead of Graham’s Shaw’s side and the All Ireland hurling champions, Limerick, as the Grand Slam champions received 41% of the vote.
Their win over world champions, New Zealand was also voted as the greatest Irish sporting achievement of 2018 as it was the first win ever over the All Blacks on home soil.
The Rugby World Cup in Japan was also named as the sporting event people are looking forward to the most in 2019.