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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018

The A-Z of the 2017 sporting year

From Atlanta’s Super Bowl collapse to Zebo’s move to France.

NEW YEAR’S EVE is always a good time for reflection, a chance to take stock of the year that was and what might be in store for 2018.

In terms of the sporting world, there were a lot of ups — Katie Taylor becoming a world champion — and downs — bloody Denmark — but for the most part it was a memorable year.

With that in mind, here is our sporting A to Z of 2017:

A is for the Atlanta Falcons’ Super Bowl collapse

NFL 2017 - Super Bowl 51 - Game Source: Bob Andres/PA Images

NO TEAM HAD ever surrendered a 25-point lead in a Super Bowl but, up 28-3 mid-way through the third quarter, the Atlanta Falcons somehow conspired to lose the game.

B is for the Blues Sisters All-Ireland title

The Dublin ladies football team had lost three finals in a row before victory over Mayo in September.

C is for Cork City’s league and cup double

City started the season at a record-setting pace and claimed both major trophies by the time the dust had settled.

D is for Dublin’s continued domination

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Dublin are unbeaten in the All-Ireland senior football championship since the 2014 semi-finals and their success doesn’t look like coming to an end any time soon.

E is for Eriksen breaking Irish soccer hearts

For twenty minutes it looked like Ireland might be going to the World Cup but Christian Eriksen’s hat-trick put paid to that idea.

F is for Froome’s adverse findings

Multiple Grand Tour winner Chris Froome found himself with lots of questions to answer after he was found with twice the permitted threshold of legal asthma medication Salbutamol in his system.

G is for Gooch finally winning a club All-Ireland

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Founded in 1886, Dr Crokes had only won one All-Ireland senior club football title before this March. The talents of Colm Cooper finally helped them double that total.

H is for Harrington and the year of her life

In one season, Jessica Harrington claimed wins in the Cheltenham, Punchestown and Leopardstown Gold Cups with Sizing John, as well as taking victory in the Irish Grand National thanks to our Our Duke. Some trainers don’t have careers that successful.

I is for Italy not qualifying for their first World Cup since 1958

Four-time winners Italy crashed out of the World Cup playoffs to Sweden, missing their first finals in 60 years. Russia 2018 won’t be the same without them.

J is for Joe Canning winning an All-Ireland

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

He was heavily criticised by some at the start of the season but Canning answered those critics in style by helping Galway to the All-Ireland and claiming Hurler of the Year honours.

K is for Katie claiming her first professional world title

What a year for Katie Taylor. Six fights as a professional, six wins and a world title to boot. 2018 promises even more from the Bray superstar.

L is for Las Vegas and that boxing match

From the sublime to the ridiculous and the most-hyped boxing match in history as Floyd Mayweather easily took care of Ireland’s Conor McGregor.

M is for Martin’s sixth place finish in the Tour de France

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Finishing sixth on a Grand Tour is some achievement in itself. However, Dan Martin accomplished it despite breaking two vertebrae in his back in a crash on stage nine.

N is for the NFL’s Take a Knee protests

2017 was the year the sporting and political worlds crossed as Donald Trump’s remarks resulted in a whole host of NFL players protesting by taking a knee during the US national anthem.

O is for O’Callaghan’s record-breaking year

Con O’Callaghan scored 15-63 this year across both codes in all competitions and his team-mates and coaches say he can only get better.

P is for Paul Dunne winning his first European Tour event

Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

Just two years after turning professional, Wicklow’s Paul Dunne claimed his first European Tour win when he won the British Masters by three strokes from Rory McIlroy, after a final round 61.

Q is for Qatar as PSG dominate European football

They’re one of Europe’s most exciting teams to watch, but as they dominate domestically and in Europe, closer attention was being paid to their ownership in 2017, especially as they twice broke the world transfer record this summer.

R is for Rena Buckley’s unprecedented success

The fact remains, if a male GAA player had Rena Buckley’s success — 18 All-Ireland titles after helping Cork to the camogie crown this year — they’d build a statue of him outside Croke Park.

S is for Sergio Garcia finally winning a major

Source: UPI/PA Images

For 18 years as a professional, it looked like Sergio Garcia was destined to always play the bridesmaid role when it came to golf’s majors. This year, however, the Spaniard finally got to wear the green jacket that has eluded him for so long when he won the Augusta Masters.

T is for Tiger’s comeback

Speaking of the Masters, a certain Tiger Woods made a better-than-anticipated comeback this year which has golf fans around the world chomping at the bit to see him in action at Augusta in 2018.

U is for the U18 Irish women’s basketball team

In a thrilling couple of weeks at the National Basketball Arena, the U18 women’s team became the first Irish basketball side to reach Division A of the European Championships.

V is for the Vuelta a Espana and Ireland’s Team Aqua Blue winning a stage

Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The Irish professional team was only founded in January of this year, but they had their first success on a Grand Tour when Stefan Denifl claimed Stage 17 of this year’s Vuelta.

W is for the Women’s Rugby World Cup

The less said about Ireland’s performance, the better, but everyone agrees that the tournament — hosted in Dublin and Belfast — was the biggest and best to date.

X is for Xavi Alonso retiring from football

One of the coolest footballers to ever grace the world stage, the Spaniard’s absence will be keenly felt by anyone who watched his effortless swagger on a football field.

Y is for the Yellowbellies’ resurgence under Davy Fitz

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Fitzgerald lit a fire in the Yellowbellies and, after a relatively successful 2017, Wexford’s hurlers could be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.

Z is for Zebo’s move to France

It cost him a place in the Ireland squad, but Simon Zebo’s decision to move from Munster to France at the end of the season is one that could see the winger reap many rewards in 2018.

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