The top sports news stories of 2011 - lots of thrills and a few chills


Rory McIlroy wins the US Open

It’s the time of year when us sports journalists get lazy. We put the feet up, dust down the clichés and do what we always do for the final edition of each and every calendar year – we look back.

We reminisce. We remember the way we were.

We’re not alone. In the past week, the Texaco Awards, the Manager of the Year, the RTE Sports Awards and the Sporting Excellence awards have all been presented with many of the same faces taking to the stage.

Once again, at a time when the economy is dragging us all down with it, sport has offered us a relief from the tedious monotony of bailouts and banking crises here in Ireland.

Enda Kenny may have won the general election back in February, but I’d hazard a guess more people will be able to tell you that Ireland won through to the European Championships when they hammered Estonia in November’s playoff.

It has, to quote the song, been a very good year for Irish sport. These are my highlights.

Rory McIlroy’s US Open Win

JUST last week the great Rory McIlroy admitted that he had cried when he spoke to his mum and dad after his collapse at the Masters in April when he threw away a four shot lead and lost the green jacket he had tried on for size for three days running by a whopping 10 shots.

There were tears again at Congressional in June, tears of joy as the 22-year-old from Holywood in the County Down became the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923.

McIlroy blew the opposition apart as he secured an eight shot winning margin and became the youngest major winner since Tiger Woods at the Masters in 1997.

That he led from start to finish, with rounds of 65, 66, 68 and 69, banished the painful memories of Augusta forever. McIlroy was born to be a star -- at Congressional he became a hero.

Ireland’s Annihilation of Estonia

Giovanni Trapattoni

GIOVANNI Trapattoni has been picking up gongs galore of late, and why not? Ireland’s Manager of the Year deserves all the accolades currently coming his way after guiding his team to a first major finals in 10 years.

The Irish side won’t be favorites to win Euro 2012 next summer, not by a long shot. They won’t even be favorites to get out of a group that features world champions Spain, Italy and Croatia.

But that doesn’t matter. Trap has put the pride back into Irish football and the smile back on Irish faces.
Thousands of fans will forget about double digit recessions and the like when they travel with Joxer to Poland next summer. It’s time to party like it’s 1988 – and we will!

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