You couldn’t make it up – seismic sporting events of 2016

O’Donovan brothers steal show, while world greets Mr Borussia Mönchengladbach

Olympic rowing silver medallists  Gary and Paul O’Donovan (left and second left) with host Graham Norton and other guests on the set  of the Graham Norton New Year’s Eve show. Photograph: PA

Olympic rowing silver medallists Gary and Paul O’Donovan (left and second left) with host Graham Norton and other guests on the set of the Graham Norton New Year’s Eve show. Photograph: PA

 

The Reeling in the Years people won’t know where to start with 2016, the task of squeezing the year’s multitudinous seismic happenings in to 25-ish minutes having an insurmountable look about it. Mind you, there are those who would prefer if they skipped the year altogether, much of it having a decidedly ‘you couldn’t make it up’ quality to it. Well, apart from that fake news lark.

At least sport gave us some respite from the madness, although, admittedly, it oft added to the lunacy. Too many memorable moments to count, here are some that might have slipped your mind:

(10) Paul O’Connell guessing the name of a German football club on A Question of Sport, despite only been given an “i” and a “g”. The video of the epic moment went viral, so from this day forth, from Beijing to Bogota, Brisbane to Berlin, Baghdad to Bloemfontein, he will be greeted as Mr Borussia Mönchengladbach.

(9) A suspect device led to Old Trafford being evacuated on the final day of the Premier League season, the first dramatic afternoon there since Louis van Gaal became manager. Graeme Souness sensed something sinister was in the air, telling Sky Sports’ viewers:

“IF IT IS A BOMB AND PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO TARGET FOOTBALL, HOW SCARY IS THAT GOING FORWARD?! . . . IT WOULD BE DESPERATE TIMES! THIS IS A DARK DAY FOR FOOTBALL IF THIS TURNS OUT TO BE AN EXPLOSIVE DEVICE!”

Knucklehead

(8) Mark Selby and Marco Fu combined to produce the longest frame in the history of the World Snooker Championships, the pair taking an entire 76 minutes to clear the table. It was, perhaps, the most painful 76 minutes in the history of televised sport. The BBC commentary team did its best to big it up, but John Virgo, unaware that his microphone was switched on, spoke for the planet: “I wanted to watch a bit of racing this afternoon. I’ll be lucky to watch some f****** Match of the Day.”

(7) Pat Spillane finding the words in October to sum up the nation’s feelings (well, 31 counties of it) – “Ah Jesus, I don’t know what to say to Mayo, honestly.”

(6) Back in April, England looked home and hosed in the final of the ICC World Twenty20, the West Indies needing 19 off the last over to beat them to the crown. “It’s a backside nipper, is this,” said David “Bumble” Lloyd, trying to persuade the Sky viewers that it was still a contest. Huh. Enter Carlos Brathwaite. Smash, gaddunk, thump, wallop. Four sixes off the first four balls. “Your greatest moment yet,” he was asked. “By far, mon,” he replied. Monumental.

(5) Leicester? Lovely. As Neil Lennon put it, “we wont see this again – 5,000/1 to win the league, it’s amazing!” What are the odds? Eh, 5,000-1.

Knighthood

(4) John Inverdale: “You’re the first person to ever win two Olympic tennis golds. That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?”

Andy Murray: “I think Venus and Serena have won about four each.”

For that alone, the fella deserved a knighthood.

(3) Michael (“If there’s a bit of rain about it makes the surface wet”) Owen might often be accused of being the King of Stating the Bleedin’ Obvious, but he has still some way to go to usurp Glenn Hoddle. His top offering of the year? Just beating his expertise on Slovakia’s Marek Hamsik (“He’s a two-footed player – he can play with his left foot or his right foot”) was his musing on whether Goodison Park would remain the same size for a whole 90 minutes: “If the pitch stays as big and wide as it is, Arsenal will pick Everton off”.

(2) “I was giving a talk at the novena in Ballintogher in Sligo last night.” Joe Brolly with the most GAA-ish opening to a slice of punditry ever.

(1) The O’Donovan brothers on Graham Norton’s New Year’s Eve show. A surreal ending to a surreal year. They even forgot to take their silver medals with them when they left the set, but judging by their intense disappointment at failing to win gold, as they revealed in the documentary Pull Like a Dog, you got a feeling they wouldn’t miss them. “It gets harder and harder every time,” said Paul about watching replays of the final.” You sense we’ll be hearing more from the fellas. In a golden kind of way.

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