What a journey we've been on. The 2014 Balls.ie Irish Sports Beard Bracket Extravaganza has been one of the most hotly contested competitions of the year Right from the first round, when eventual finalist Aled Walters ousted defending champion John Muldoon, we knew this would all be too close to call.
Indeed Walters felled many other great beards on his way to the final. Namely the chin furniture of Gordon D'Arcy and Royston Keane. Meanwhile, Cathal Cregg overcame all the odds to book his place in the decider after he convincingly beat fan favourite Conor McGregor in the semi-final.
Midway through the vote during the final, it looked like Aled Walters had it all sown up given he possessed at 79% to 21% lead. However thanks to some great work by canvassers on the ground in Roscommon, Cregg steadily dragged himself back into the race and eventually overtook Walters. With 45 minutes left in the vote this morning, Cregg led by 0.8%.
Our roving reporter Conor Neville witnessed firsthand the mayhem that took over the western county in the latter stages.
@MarkFarrelly131 Canvassers all over the place here.Older people in remote, rural Roscommon being bussed into internet cafes to vote in time
— Conor Neville (@ConorNeville) December 4, 2014
Did it make all the difference? We can confirm that in the last three-quarters of an hour alone we received nearly 600 votes which could have swung it one way or another...
However, ladies and gentlemen, we can now confirm that after receiving 52% of the 14,008 votes cast, the 2014 Irish sports beard of the year is...... Cathal Cregg!
Hard luck to Aled and congratulations to Cathal. Maybe this will give him the courage to actually grow said beard back! Also, big shoutout to Barry Downes for the brilliant graphic!
Now that the 2014 Irish sports beard of the year is decided we turn our attention to the vote for the 2014 Alternative Irish Sports Person of the Year... Who deserves to take the crown off 2013 Shane Curran? Who has entertained you the most over the last 12 months?
Let's here your nominations. You get in touch below...
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