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The sporting year in review: January

Remember this lot? A nine-dart finish, Roy Keane gets the road and Sky Sports in sexism shocka.

Gray and Keys: A January to forget.
Gray and Keys: A January to forget.
Image: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE YEAR BEGAN with the tragic news of the murder of Michaela McAreavey, daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, while on honeymoon in Mauritius.

The news rocked the GAA community as it paid fond tributes to McAreavy, 27, who stood proudly by her father’s side when he was interviewed following the county’s first-ever All-Ireland win in 2003.

Elsewhere, January was a month full of drama and controversy on and off the pitch.

The tennis season kicked off with the first Grand Slam in Australia, the new year proved unforgiving to some familiar faces in football management, and a couple of TV personalities found themselves making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The winners

Novak Djokovic: The world number three got his season off to the best possible start in Melbourne with a straight-sets win over Andy Murray in the Australian Open final. It was the first title of what would prove to be an unforgettable 2011 for the young Serb.

The Gaelic Players Association: The GAA and GPA signed off on the small print of an agreement which formally recognised the Players Association as a major stakeholder in gaelic games in this country. The agreement also guaranteed the GPA a minimum of €8.75m in funding over the next five years.

Matty Burrows: The Glentoran striker made headlines around the world when he was nominated alongside Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben and Neymar for FIFA’s Puskas Award for the best goal of 2010. Sadly, Burrows’ sensational backheel volley was beaten to the prize by Turkey’s Hamit Altintop.

The losers

Richard Keys & Andy Gray: The Sky Sports duo found themselves in the news for all the wrong reasons when leaked tapes showed them making sexist remarks about assistant referee Sian Massey. Further damaging leaks emerged which saw Gray sacked by Sky and Keys resign.

The Boys Roy: English football’s managerial merry-go-round kicked into gear nice and early as Woy and Roy, Hodgson and Keane, were shown the door at Liverpool and Ipswich respectively.

Munster: Tony McGahan’s men were unceremoniously dumped out of the Heineken Cup at the pool stages following a disappointing 32-16 defeat away to Toulon. It was the first time that Munster had failed to qualify for the knockout stages since 1998.

Alberto Contador: The three-time Tour de France champion was handed a one-year ban by the UCI after testing positive for banned substance clenbuterol during the 2010 race, a decision which he would go on to appeal.

Highlight of the month

Nine-dart finishes are generally pretty special so when one happens in the final of the PDC World Championships, it’s quite hard to beat. Step forward, Adrian “Jackpot” Lewis.

YouTube Credit: idontgiveashit14

Headline of the month

“Harrington disqualified in Abu Dhabi, Poulter says rules are ‘complete bollocks’” Padraig’s year didn’t get off to the best of starts after he was snared for a rules infraction while in contention at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The Dubliner was disqualified after a viewer spotted the offence on TV and emailed the European Tour to alert them.

Picture of the month

(Andrew Brownbill/AP/Press Association Images)

Venus Williams caused a bit of a storm at the Australian Open when she rocked up on court in a Jean Byrne-esque yellow number for her second round match against Sandra Zahlavova. Mind you, it was hardly the first time that Venus’s attire has caught the eye.

Sporting viral of the month

Everybody loves a no-look buzzer beater. This effort by American high schooler Austin Groff certainly did the rounds in January.

YouTube Credit: groff15

Tweet of the month

QPR’s Jamie Mackie wasn’t afraid to call out El Hadji Diouf for his less than gentlemanly response to Mackie’s broken leg.

Read more of our month-by-month review of 2011 here >

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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