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Dublin: 13°C Sunday 16 May 2021

The sporting year in review: May

AVB introduces himself in Dublin, Leinster regain their crown and the sporting world says farewell to a legend. You were wearing your blue jumper, Father?

Leinster celebrate their Heineken Cup win in Cardiff.
Leinster celebrate their Heineken Cup win in Cardiff.
Image: Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport

THE MONTH OF May sees several of the biggest sporting contests on this side of the world draw to a close – the Champions League, the Heineken Cup, the FA Cup and, not to forget, the National Hurling League.

Fortunately however, before any of them can end there is the small matter of a final – the climactic event which pits the last two sides left standing against one another in an epic face-off for silverware.

This year was no different. Here’s what happened.

The winners

Barcelona: Considered the best footballing side of this generation by many, the Catalan giants cemented their place in the history books by winning a third Champions League title in five years. Despite Wayne Rooney’s equaliser before half-time, Alex Ferguson’s side had no answers after the break as Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Pedro and Lionel Messi tore United to pieces in a 3-1 win at Wembley.

Leinster: In what was possibly the most thrilling Heineken Cup final ever, Leinster came from behind at the Millennium Stadium to win out 33-22 against the Northampton Saints. Fly-half Jonny Sexton stole the headlines with his two tries, three conversions and four penalties, in what was a momentous turnaround by Joe Schmidt’s men. Relive the game here with Niall Kelly.

Andre Villas-Boas: When the Aviva Stadium (or the ‘Dublin Arena’ as UEFA insisted on calling it) was awarded the Europa League final,  Irish fans pinned their hopes on a glamour final involving Liverpool or Manchester City. However, in all-Portuguese tie Columbian striker Falcao’s 44-th minute header proved the difference to hand Villas-Boas an incredible treble and catch the eye of a certain London-based Russian oligarch.

The losers

Ryan Giggs: The all-time record holder for Premier League appearances was named in the House of Commons as the subject at the centre of a super injunction involving Imogen Thomas. Liberal Democrat MP John Hemmings said what thousands of Twitter accounts had already let out during what was an incredibly stormy couple of months for the Welshman.

Macho Man Randy Savage: For anyone who followed the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in the ’80s, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage was a legendary figure. The man synonymous with the catchphrase “Ohhhh Yeahhh”, had reportedly died in a car crash but it later emerged that the cause of death was cardiovascular disease and that he was dead before the collision.

Highlight of the month

Already mentioned, but deserves another as this game was truly epic. The mental strength showed by Leinster and, in particular, Sexton was spectacular to watch as they regrouped at half time to re-emerge a different animal for the second 40 minutes.

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Headline of the month

Super Mario: Balotelli does it again by stepping in to stop schoolyard bully We’ve become accustomed to reading headlines similar to this one over the past year as the Italian striker generally gets up to some kind of mischief on a weekly basis. This time, he showed a softer side to Mario by confronting a bully after meeting the victim. Top bloke.

Picture of the month

(Pic: PA)

Neil Lennon is attacked by John Wilson, a 26-year-old Edinburgh man during Celtic’s 3-0 win at Tynecastle.  Hoops assistant boss Alan Thompson is ready to pounce…

Sporting Viral of the month

Seven spectators at the Warrnambool Carnival in Australia were taken to hospital after a riderless horse mistakenly jumped over an eight-foot boundary and landed on the unsuspecting crowd. In the video, you can see Banna Strand veer off from the other horses before making the leap in the freak accident.

YouTube credit:

Tweet of the month

Having surpassed Liverpool’s record of domestic titles, Wayne Rooney celebrated Manchester United’s Premier League win by shaving ’19′  into his chest and tweeting the picture with a comment which simply read: “Champions”.


Seve Ballesteros: The five-time major champion lost his battle with a cancerous tumour on the brain at the age on 54 on May 7th, passing away in the company of his family at his home in Spain. The days and weeks that followed witnessed the golfing world pay their respects to a man who will always be remembered for five major wins and his shot from a car park in the 1979 British Open.

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

About the author:

Ben Blake

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