Near miss

17 of the cruellest moments in Irish sporting history

Yesterday was not the first time there was heartbreak for Irish sports fans.

SO YESTERDAY WAS a tough day for Irish sports fans.

Joe Schmidt’s rugby side were seconds away from a historic first victory over the All Blacks before Ryan Crotty pounced for a stoppage-time try.

Aaron Cruden’s subsequent conversion sealed a 24-22 win for New Zealand and meant heartbreak for Irish sporting fans.

But we’ve been down this road before sadly. Here in no particular order are 17 of the cruelest moments in Irish sporting history.

1. Thierry Henry and that handball – November 2009

The assist lead to William Gallas scoring the goal that ended Ireland’s hopes of going to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.


Pic: INPHO/Sky Sports

2. Vincent Clerc and that try – February 2007

History is made with the first Six Nations game being played in Croke Park. Ireland lead 17-13 before Clerc’s 79th minute try snatches victory for France.

YouTube: LasGarzas11

3. Sonia O’Sullivan misses out on gold – September 2000

The closest Sonia came to an Olympic Gold was in the 5,000m final at Sydney. She is beaten in a sprint finish by Gabriela Szabo.


Pic: INPHO/Billy Stickland

4. Louth lose the Leinster football final – July 2010

Louth looked set to win their first provincial senior football title since 1953 when they lead 1-10 to 0-12. Then came Joe Sheridan’s 74th minute controversial goal. Bedlam ensued afterwards but Meath were crowned champions.


Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

5. Goran Stavreski’s goal – October 1999

Ireland were just seconds away from automatically qualifying for Euro 2000 when Stavreski scored with a bullet header for Macedonia. The game ended 1-1, Yugoslavia finished top of the group and Ireland lost on away goals to Turkey in their play-off.

YouTube: sp1873

6. Davor Suker’s goal – September 1999

To compound matters, Ireland had conceded a last-gasp goal the month before in a Euro 2000 qualifier. Davor Suker firing home in injury-time in Zagreb.


Pic: INPHO/Patrick Bolger

7. Michael Lynagh’s try – October 1991

Ireland were closing in on a semi-final place at the 1991 Rugby World Cup when they lead Australia 18-14 at Lansdowne Road. But then Michael Lynagh’s 76th minute try dashed those hopes.


Pic: INPHO/Billy Stickland

8. Wim Kieft’s goal – June 1988

Ireland only needed a draw to reach the semi-finals as they faced the Netherlands in their final group game in Gelsenkirchen. With eight minutes left they were on course as the teams were drawing 0-0. But then came Wim Kieft’s bizarre headed goal and the Netherlands went on to win the tournament.

Go to 1.32


9. Rob Heffernan at the 50km walk – August 2012

Heffernan sets a national record at the Olympics in London but finishes 4th and misses out on a medal. After that heartbreak the Cork man came back this year to win gold at the same event at the World Championships in Moscow.


Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

10. Losing to Belgium – March 1981

Ireland came desperately close to reaching the 1982 World Cup. But they were hit by their controversial loss to Belgium when Ceulemans 88th minute goal helped them win 1-0 in Brussels.

YouTube: sp1873

11. Heartbreak against Korea – March 2012

The Irish men’s hockey team were extremely unlucky not to qualify for the London Olympics. But they conceded a last-minute deflected strike at Belfield as Korea defeated them 3-2 in their qualifier.


Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

12. Defeat in Christchurch – June 2012

Ireland come close to toppling the All-Blacks but Dan Carter’s late drop goal seals a 22-19 win for New Zealand.


Pic: INPHO/Billy Stickland

13. Limerick hurlers finale – September 1994

Limerick are closing in on their first All-Ireland senior hurling title since 1973 as they lead by five points. Then Offaly produce a sensational comeback, lift the Liam McCarthy Cup and Limerick’s wait is still going on.

Go to 8.45

YouTube: Bryansford Gael

14. Eoin Rheinisch at Beijing – August 2008

Rheinisch narrowly misses out on a medal at the K-1 event in Beijing but finishes fourth, losing out to Benjamin Boukpeti as he becomes the first athlete from Togo to win an Olympic medal.


Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

15. Seamus Darby’s goal – September 1982

For Kerry fans this is the cruelest moment as Darby deprives them of five-in-a-row and GAA immortality. On the other hand, Offaly fans will view it differently.

YouTube: kilkennyfootball

16. David Alaba’s goal – March 2013

A huge setback for Ireland’s qualification hopes for World Cup 2014 as Austria’s David Alaba fires home in the 93rd minute to grab a 2-2 draw. The end is in sight for Trapatoni after this.


Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

17. Colm Coyle’s point – September 1996

Mayo’s quest for an All-Ireland senior football title since 1951 still goes on. They never got closer than 1996, leading by a point late on when Colm Coyle’s long punt forward sees the ball hop over the bar and Meath grab a draw. They go on to win the replay.



What have we forgotten? Let us know in the comments section below.

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