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.
Spain retained their title with a comfortable 4-0 win over Italy in the Euro 2012 final.
Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, Nicolas Roche finishing 12th.
In golf, Ernie Els won his second British Open after long-time leader Adam Scott let it slip away, having been four shots clear on the 15th tee.
Roger Federer and Serena Williams triumphed at Wimbledon.
Later in the month a little shindig by the name of the Olympic Games got under way in London. The Irish highlight in the opening days was Annalise Murphy winning the first four races in the Laser Radial sailing class, but she was to finish – agonisingly – fourth in the medal race.
In Scotland, meanwhile, Glasgow Rangers were voted out of the Premier League due to their financial woes, later gaining admittance to the third division.
Ireland collected five medals at the Olympic Games, Katie Taylor (you might remember) winning gold, John Joe Nevin silver, and Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Cian O’Connor all taking bronze. The Games were a dazzling success for the hosts, 29 of their 65 medals gold, their best tally since 1908.
Rory McIlroy confirmed that he’s quite useful at golf by winning the USPGA Championship by eight strokes, his second Major.
Back in London, the Irish team had a memorable Paralympics, Mark Rohan, Jason Smyth, Bethany Firth, Darragh McDonald, Michael McKillop all winning gold, Rohan and Smyth two each, with three silver and five bronze also brought home.
Donegal beat Mayo to win their first All-Ireland football title in 20 years and Kilkenny made it six hurling titles in seven years by winning their replay against Galway – Henry Shefflin and Noel Hickey collecting their ninth All-Ireland medals.
Wexford completed their first three-in-a-row in camogie, Ursula Jacob scoring 2-7 of their tally against Galway.
Europe completed an extraordinary comeback to claim the Ryder Cup in Medinah, winning eight and tying one of the 12 singles matches.
The Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifying campaign got off to a shaky start in Kazakhstan, the team needing two goals in the last three minutes for a 2-1 win.
Andy Murray became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a Grand Slam title, beating Novak Djokovic in the US Open final. Serena Williams won her fourth US Open title, beating Victoria Azarenka.
At Doncaster, Camelot’s bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970 failed when he was beaten in the St Leger by Encke.
Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by cycling’s governing body after a damning report by the US Anti-Doping Agency.
Back home, there wasn’t a whole lot of confidence ahead of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Germany in Dublin, but not too many anticipated a 6-1 thrashing.
Ireland followed that up with a 4-1 win in the Faroe Islands. The pressure on Giovanni Trapattoni still mounted but the FAI opted to stick with him.
On the club front, Sligo Rovers won their first League of Ireland title in 35 years. And in GAA, Cork won their seventh All-Ireland women’s football title in eight years with a nine-point defeat of Kerry.
Shane Lowry, meanwhile, had his first professional European Tour victory at the Portugal Masters and Frankel the wonder-horse retired unbeaten after making it 14 straight wins in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
In baseball, the San Francisco Giants ‘swept’ the Detroit Tigers 4-0 in the World Series.
Katie Taylor, meanwhile, announced that she would stay amateur and would defend her Olympic title in Rio 2016.
Sebastian Vettel became the youngest three-time Formula One champion when he held off the challenge of Fernando Alonso in the final race of the season in Brazil.
In rugby, Ireland finished a testing old year with a 46-24 victory over Argentina in Dublin, a fortnight after losing to South Africa, and in football Derry City beat St Patrick’s Athletic 3-2, after extra-time, to win the FAI Cup.
Rafa Benitez was appointed interim manager of Chelsea after the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.
Fionnuala Britton made history in Budapest by becoming the first woman to win the European cross-country title two years in a row, the Irish team, completed by Linda Byrne, Ava Hutchinson, Lizzie Lee, Sarah McCormack and Sara Treacy, also taking gold.
In football, Lionel Messi beat Gerd Muller’s 40-year old record of 85 goals in a calendar year. He finished with 91.
Tom Watson was appointed United States Ryder Cup captain for the 2014 event at Gleneagles and, in horse racing, Frankie Dettori received a six-month ban after failing a drugs test in France.