2012 the year that was
A look back to the sporting year that was 2012
Novak Djokovic retained his Australian Open title by beating Rafael Nadal in an epic five hour, 53-minute, five-set final, while Victoria Azarenka picked up her first Grand Slam title with an easy 6-3, 6-0 victory over Maria Sharapova.
Ireland opened their Six Nations rugby campaign with a 21-23 home defeat by Wales, their second scheduled match, against France in Paris, postponed at the last minute due to an unplayable pitch. Next up was Italy in Dublin, Ireland winning 42-10.
Down Indiana way, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl, beating the New England Patriots.
In Gabon, Zambia won their first ever Africa Cup of Nations, beating favourites Ivory Coast 8-7 on penalties.
Fabio Capello resigned as England manager in protest at the FA removing the captaincy from John Terry pending his trial over alleged racial abuse of QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.
Ireland returned to France to play their rescheduled Six Nations match, drawing 17-17, completing their campaign with a 32-14 win over Scotland in Dublin and a 9-30 drubbing by England in Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day. Wales finished top of the table, winning all five of their games. The women’s team finished third in their Six Nations, beating Wales, Italy and Scotland along the way.
At Cheltenham, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Synchronised, ridden by Tony McCoy, won the Gold Cup.
In golf, Tiger Woods had his first PGA Tour win since 2009 when he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
A Korean goal seconds from time at the Olympic qualifier final in Belfield ended the Irish men’s hockey team’s hopes of making it to London 2012, the women’s team losing their final against hosts Belgium a week later.
In cricket, India’s Sachin Tendulkar became the first player to score 100 international centuries.
Riding Seabass, trained by her father Ted, Katie Walsh became the highest-placed woman in the history of the English Grand National when she finished third.
In GAA, Cork took the National League football title by beating Mayo.
In golf, Bubba Watson won his first major, defeating Louis Oosthuizen in a play-off at the Masters.
Ulster and Leinster advanced to the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup, Ulster beating Munster in Limerick and Leinster trouncing Cardiff Blues in Dublin – and they set up an all Irish final with, respectively, semi-final wins over Edinburgh and Clermont Auvergne.
Katie Taylor collected her fourth successive World Championship title in China.
Back in London, Leinster had a rather enjoyable day out, beating Ulster 42-14 to become only the second club to successfully defend the Heineken Cup.
A 94th-minute winner from Sergio Aguero against QPR gave Manchester City their first top-flight title since 1968, beating United on goal difference, while Chelsea won the FA Cup (beating Liverpool) and the Champions League on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich.
Back home, Kilkenny beat Cork to win the National Hurling League.
Matt Kuchar won his first major, the Players Championship in Florida.
Roy Hodgson was appointed England manager.
Ronnie O’Sullivan picked up his fourth World Championship snooker title, beating Ali Carter 18-11 at the Crucible.
The Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign didn’t get off to the most promising of starts with a 3-1 defeat by Croatia – and after losing 4-0 and 2-0 to Spain and Italy, it was time to come home.
Jordanstown golfer Stephanie Meadow scored the crucial point in Britain and Ireland’s first Curtis Cup success in 16 years, the 20-year-old going to become the first Irish player to win the British Open Amateur title since 1985.
Graeme McDowell, meanwhile, finished just a shot behind US Open winner Webb Simpson.
In the Epsom Derby, Joseph O’Brien rode Camelot – trained by his father, Aidan – to victory, adding the Irish Derby to his collection later in the month.
In tennis, Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal took the French Open titles
In golf Tiger Woods equalled Jack Nicklaus’ career tally of 73 PGA Tour wins with victory at Ohio’s Memorial Tournament.