The 2013 Naughty and Nice list in Irish sports

He eventually said Goodnight Vienna after the defeat away to Austria, but even before that game the Italian was adamant that he deserved a new contract. Thankfully the FAI, for once, saw sense.

There’s a new management team on the merry-go-round and the honeymoon period is alive, alive o. For Trap, however, it is all over and not a day too soon. Arrivederci. Grazi.

Rory McIlroy
WeeMac finally won a tournament in 2013 when he lifted the Australian Open trophy earlier this month.  He also provided more headlines on and off the course than probably any other Irish sportsman or woman this year.

From his romantic interests to his booming legal battles to his Olympic tribulations, Rory just couldn’t stay out of the news at a time when his game was going through the ringer.

Thankfully he looked back to his best as the New Year approached, but his end of season wish for privacy will fall on deaf ears. That’s the price of a $150 million sponsorship deal Rory, so get on with it.
And get back to what you do best – playing golf.

Rob Heffernan
He has a smile as wide as the river Lee in his beloved Cork, and Rob Heffernan had the whole nation smiling with him when the gold medal arrived home from the 50 kilometer walk at the world championships in Moscow last August.

It was only Ireland’s third ever gold medal at the world championships and the second for Cork as Heffernan followed Sonia O’Sullivan and Eamon Coghlan into the record books.

His was a triumph for hard work and perseverance after heartache at previous world and Olympic Games and he deserves all the credit that has come his way since.

Dan Martin
A nephew of the great Stephen Roche and a first cousin to Nicolas, Martin hit the front page headlines not once but twice in 2013, quite an achievement for an Irish cyclist in the current sporting climate.

Glory arrived first in March with a stage win and then overall victory in the Volta a Catalunya, not far from his home in the Catalonian town of Girona. In doing so he became only the second Irishman, after Sean Kelly, to win the renowned title.

Months later he took a leaf out of Kelly and Roche’s book when he won a stage on the Tour de France.
Martin’s victory on stage nine, ending a wait for an Irish win that went back to Roche’s stage 16 honour in 1992. Roche himself says there is more to come from Martin and he’d know.

Willie Mullins
Aidan O’Brien is the king of the flat, but Mullins is now very definitely Ireland’s top jumps trainer after a hugely successful year. He posted the fastest 100 winners in a season at Fairyhouse on Sunday and was the man of the moment for the Irish at Cheltenham last March.

The Cotswolds belonged to Mullins with five winners in the first two days, one of them a personal triumph as his son Patrick steered Back in Focus to victory in the John Oaksey Chase.

Hurricane Fly, Champion Hurdle winner, was voted horse of the year back home and Mullins was definitely the trainer of the year.

Tony McCoy
Ruby Walsh summed it up perfectly when he said most jockeys would be happy with 400 winners after the great McCoy passed the 4,000 winner mark for his career with victory aboard Mountain Tunes for JP McManus at Towcester in November. A pure born genius.

Paralympics team
Ireland enjoyed incredible success at the World Paralympic Games in Lyon in July, spearheaded by the dynamic duo of Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth. They won two gold medals apiece to cap a great games for an incredible Irish team a year after their triumphs at the London Olympics.

Ireland ladies rugby team
Triple Crowns don’t come easy as the males who represent Ireland will tell you, so credit was given where credit was due back in February when a 30-3 win away to Scotland capped the achievement for the Irish ladies team. That the game was live on RTE television tells you how big it was. They went on to win the Grand Slam and see the job done.

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)

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