Belfast Telegraph

A sporting year we won't forget

It has been a memorable year for Ulster sport. There have been |many wonderful stories covered by the Belfast Telegraph over the |past 12 months. In chronological order Steven Beacom looks back |on his top 10 Northern Ireland sporting events in 2013

Irvine rides to World glory (February 21, 2013)

Newtownards cyclist Martyn Irvine will never forget 2013 — a year he enjoyed and at times endured.

Out for six months with a hip fracture, Irvine roared back, winning World Cup gold in Manchester and a bronze medal in the European Championships.

Before all that he became champion of the world in stunning fashion.

At the World Track Championships in Belarus in February, Irvine won silver in the individual pursuit and less than an hour later produced the ride of his life in the 15km scratch to take gold.

Next year, Irvine competes in the Commonwealth Games plus the Giro d'Italia, which will start in Northern Ireland.

Rampant Reds spot on (April 13, 2013)

All season Cliftonville had played scintillating football. They deserved to win the Irish league title in style and wanted to do it against big rivals Linfield at Solitude in April.

Needing a win for the dream to come true, with the score at 2-2 approaching injury time, it looked as if Cliftonville's party would have to wait... then Tommy Breslin's side were awarded a penalty after the brilliant Liam Boyce had been fouled.

Captain and fantastic servant to Cliftonville, George McMullan, stepped up and slotted home the spot-kick to clinch the crown amid incredible scenes in north Belfast. It was a champion climax to a champion campaign for the Reds.

Dunlop to the four (June 5, 2013)

Michael Dunlop had already experienced a stunning amount of success at the Isle of Man TT in 2013.

Victory in the opening Superbike race was followed by wins in the Supersport and Superstock races.

He was far from finished completing a sensational four timer at the TT by speeding to the top spot on the podium in the second Supersport race at the meeting.

Dunlop, who also won races at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix, had been a few seconds behind Kiwi Bruce Anstey but displayed character and class smashing his own race record and setting a race record of 128.667mph to triumph for the fourth occasion that week.

Another string to his Bowe (July 6, 2013)

The British and Irish Lions had waited 16 years for a series win and when they got it, Ulster's Tommy Bowe played his part.

With the series between the Lions and Australia tied at one apiece, coach Warren Gatland shocked the rugby world by dropping the great Brian O'Driscoll for the decider.

He was vindicated with the Lions hammering the Aussies 41-16. Bowe didn't score but like the rest of those in red did his job as the tourists ran riot.

Tommy's Ulster team-mate Rory Best also made the tour, captaining the midweek side, while Tom Court also saw some action Down Under after a late call up.

Brolly off his trolley (August 3, 2013)

With Ulster counties failing to make an impact, the most talked about issue in GAA in 2013 came courtesy of Joe Brolly's extraordinary verbal attack on Tyrone and their star player Sean Cavanagh.

Acting as a pundit for RTE, former Derry star Brolly slammed Cavanagh after his rugby style tackle to stop an opponent from having a shot on goal during Tyrone's victory over Monaghan in an All-Ireland quarter-final.

Cavanagh escaped with a yellow card, but not from the wrath of Brolly who blasted that Tyrone had “achieved something absolutely rotten” claiming that Cavanagh was “an absolute disgrace.”

Tyrone fans thought Joe had lost the plot, but Brolly had become the hottest GAA pundit around.

We were Fab, Capello (August 14, 2013)

Northern Ireland fans had little to cheer about in 2013 with embarrassing defeats to Luxembourg and Azerbaijan the lowlights, but looking back to a balmy night in August will raise smiles among the Green and White Army.

That evening Fabio Capello, who earlier in the World Cup campaign dismissed Michael O'Neill's side as ‘only Northern Ireland' was left feeling sheepish after ‘only Northern Ireland' defeated his mighty Russian side 1-0 at a packed and raucous Windsor Park.

Martin Paterson scored the only goal in a marvellous team performance to send the Russians home wondering what had hit them on and off the pitch.

Carl King of the Odyssey (19 October, 2013)

Northern Ireland has been crying out for a world class professional boxer and we have found one in the shape of the outstanding Carl Frampton.

In February, Frampton won the European Super Bantamweight Crown beating Kiko Martinez in the ninth round and in October he was back in action again in Belfast knocking out Frenchman Jeremy Parodi in the sixth round to retain his title.

The sold out Odyssey Arena was bouncing, reverberating to the sound of Frampton's name as he took another step closer to a world title shot in 2014 under the astute management of Barry McGuigan, who knows a thing or two about being a boxing hero in these parts.

Martin feeling Keane (November 5, 2013)

Ever since Martin O'Neill expertly captained Northern Ireland in the 1982 World Cup finals, fans here have held the hope that one day he would manage this country. Well, in November he became boss of Ireland... the Republic of Ireland.

And in a move that had everyone on both sides of the border debating, he appointed Roy Keane as his assistant.

Together they inspired the Republic to a 3-0 victory over Latvia in their first match in charge. There is now increased confidence among Republic supporters for 2014 when the European Championship groups will be drawn. The Republic v Northern Ireland and O'Neill v O'Neill is a distinct possibility.

AP McCoy 4000 not out (November 7, 2013)

There is just no stopping the magnificent man from Moneyglass.

It's only when he triumphs in the really big races or reaches landmarks though that he receives the credit he deserves.

One of those monumental landmarks came in November when he became the first jump jockey to ride 4000 winners. McCoy was aboard Mountain Tunes in the 3.10 at Towcester when he achieved the amazing milestone, with his wife Chanelle and children Eve and Archie at the course, along with other members of his proud family.

To put AP's numbers into perspective the second must successful jump jockey has amassed just over 2500 winners. The amazing AP is still riding away and even thinking about hitting the 5000 mark.

William's treble yell (December 13, 2013)

In the year that Ulsterman Boyd Rankin was called into England's Ashes squad, his old team Ireland succeeded with a terrific trophy treble.

Captained by William Porterfield, the Irish won the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier and ICC World Cricket League titles before competing a hat-trick by emerging victorious in the Intercontinental Cup trophy in December.

They did it by beating Afghanistan by 122 runs with John Mooney taking 10 wickets to ensure Trent Johnston's last international ended perfectly.

Porterfield has become a top class skipper inspiring his team to glory while canny coach Phil Simmons continues to take Irish cricket forward.

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