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25 sports personalities who made us glad to be Irish in 2014

Stephanie Roche, Mark English, Seamus Coleman and other athletes who inspired us over the last 12 months.

1. Niamh Briggs

Niamh Briggs celebrates after beating New Zealand Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Was Ireland’s top points scorer at the Rugby World Cup and earned a nomination for IRB Women’s World Player of the Year in the process.

2. Stephanie Roche

Stephanie Roche 20/8/2014 Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Made it on to the final list of three players up for the Puskas Award, alongside footballing superstars Robin van Persie and James Rodriguez.

3. Seamus Coleman

Seamus Coleman Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Was named as Everton’s Player of the Season in addition to being named on the Premier League’s PFA Team of the Season.

4. Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor 12/8/2014 Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Made a successful return to MMA following a long absence through injury, triumphing at UFC Dublin in the process.

5. Briege Corkery

Briege Corkery Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Helped Cork to triumph in both ladies football and camogie.

6. Mark English

Ireland's Mark English celebrates winning bronze in the Men's 800m Final Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Became the first-ever Irishman to win a bronze medal at the European Athletics Championship.

7. Carl Frampton

Carl Frampton celebrates winning Source: Presseye/Kelvin Boyes/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Became the IBF Super Bantamweight Champion of the World on a memorable night in Belfast.

8. Andy Lee

Andy Lee celebrates winning Source: Raymond Spencer/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Was crowned champion of the world, becoming the first Irishman to win the title in the US since 1934 after defeating Matt Korobov in Las Vegas.

9. Rory McIlroy

Jamie Donaldson and Rory McIlroy celebrate Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Won the British Open and USPGA titles, in addition to being part of Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning team.

10. Michael McKillop

Michael McKillop displays his medal Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Had another hugely successful year in which he became the Double European Paralympic Gold Medallist.

11. John O’Shea

John O'Shea celebrates scoring Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Scored Ireland’s all-important equaliser against Germany in the sides’ World Cup qualifier, while he also captained a Sunderland side that memorably avoided relegation with a series of impressive late-season victories.

12. James O’Donoghue

James OÕDonoghue Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Played an integral role in Kerry’s All-Ireland-winning triumph, securing Footballer of the Year in the process.

13. Jonathan Sexton

Jonathan Sexton kicks a penalty to tie the game at half-time Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Was nominated for IRB Men’s world player of the year and was pivotal part of an exceptional year for Irish rugby.

14. Jason Smyth

Jason Smyth displays his medal Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Claimed a fantastic double gold at the IPC European Championships.

15. Richie Hogan

Richie Hogan 7/9/2014 Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Inspired Kilkenny to yet another All-Ireland triumph and won Hurler of the Year as a result.

16. Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor has her arm raised by the referee after the judges declared her the winner Source: Doug McDermott/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Won her fifth world title and sixth European title to consolidate her status as an Irish sporting icon.

17. Fiona Coghlan

Fiona Coghlan Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Retired on a high, as the Ireland Women enjoyed a memorable World Cup campaign, exceeding expectations with a fourth-place finish.

18. Annalise Murphy

Annalise Murphy Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Managed to book her spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio despite having to perform in extremely difficult conditions.

19. Christy Fagan

Christy Fagan at the final whistle Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Was named PFAI Player of the Year as St Pat’s ended a long wait for FAI Cup glory.

20. Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Was part of Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning team and retained the French Open title.

21. Jamie Wall

Jamie Wall Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: Spoke out bravely about the physical and mental battles he’s faced after a freak accident left him without power in his legs.

22. Bill O’Herlihy

Bill O'Herlihy pictured with John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady Source: Steve Langan/INPHO

Why he’s on the list: The legendary broadcaster retired earlier this year following several years at the heart of RTÉ’s sporting coverage.

23. Katie McCabe

Katie McCabe Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Featured in the Ireland under-19 women’s memorable run to the semi-finals of the European Championships and also lit up the FAI Cup final with a fabulous free kick.

24. Richie Towell

Richie Towell

Why he’s on the list: Played a highly influential role in Dundalk’s title win and gained a PFAI Player of the Year nomination in the process.

25. Stephanie Meadow

Stephanie Meadow Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The Antrim native finished in an incredible third place at the US Open, having only just turned professional.

Which sports personalities made you glad to be Irish in 2014?

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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