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The Top 30 Most Memorable Sporting Moments Of 2014: No. 30 - 16

The Top 30 Most Memorable Sporting Moments Of 2014: No. 30 - 16
By Balls Team Updated
30. Odell Beckham Jr Catch

Odell Beckham Jr’s one-handed touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys in week 12 of the NFL season wasn’t enough for his team to win the game, but when Eli Manning chucked up a prayer from midfield on the first play of the second quarter, we were treated to a moment that has become one of the defining images of what the NFL has become, a weekly showcase of astonishing athleticism.

As the ball reached Beckham Jr., with the arms of Cowboys defender Brandon Carr all over him, he stretches to his body’s absolute limit and somehow gets enough grip on the football to pull it in, in bounds, and cross the goal-line for the touchdown.

Defensive interference penalty flags fly, professional athletes put their hands on their heads in disbelief. Twitter explodes. This was a moment we will see again and again in the decades to come.

The greatest NFL catch ever.

29. Phil Mickelson's Ryder Cup press conference

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN40iwDDI5w

Press conferences are boring, dull, turgid affairs. 99 times out of 100 it’s stock questions met with stock answers. Granted, there can be some variation on the stock answers but in reality it is a case of the interviewee trying to get out of there as fast as possible while giving interviewers enough to get by. Phil Mickelson following Europe’s trouncing of the USA in the Ryder Cup was not like most press conferences.

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Europe had better players going into the weekend. Europe probably cared more as well. Then there was the case of the captains. It’s debatable how much influence a Ryder Cup captain really has. Some overestimate their influence and some underestimate it. According to Phil Mickelson, the Ryder Cup captaincy matters. Paul Azinger had pods. Pods matter apparently.

There’s no doubt Tom Watson was on the laissez faire end of the captaincy scale. Whether a different captain would have had any effect on the American performance is debatable but Phil Mickelson’s public dressing down of Watson, who was sat a few feet away, was probably not the correct way to air his grievances. It made for fascinating viewing though.

28. Mario Gotze's World Cup Final winning goal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXnZBfZcBEo

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As far as 0-0 World Cup finals go, this was certainly on the more enjoyable side of things. Granted, when you look back, Germany’s 7-1 semi-final victory does seem like the pinnacle of the tournament but in reality, that would have meant very little for Germany were it not for Mario Gotze’s volley past Sergio Romero.

Aside from Kramer’s concussion and Neuer’s tackle on Higuaín, there was no outstanding highlights to think back on but that’s not to say it was a dire final, a la Italia 90. It was close without being horribly defensive. While Argentina were certainly no pushovers, Germany did deserve the result. Eventually, Mario Gotze came on in the 88 minute and it was he who clinched the biggest prize in world football with that well taken volley in extra time.

27. Stephanie Roche nominated for the Puskas Award
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0L0WIK2Ync

It's over a year since Stephanie Roche scored that unforgettable volley for Peamount Utd. We were still talking about in it 2014 though as FIFA recognised its greatness by naming it as one of the nominees for the The Puskas Award.

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The initial list of ten was whittled down to three by public vote with Stephanie making the cut along with two superb World Cup goals, Robin van Persie's diving header for the Netherlands against Spain and James Rodriguez's volley against Uruguay.

You can still vote for Stephanie's goal here. The winner will be announced on January 12th.

26. Ger Brennan's All-Ireland Club Football Final winning speech
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xocfC7VB1uo

When St. Vincent's won the All-Ireland club football championship on St. Patrick’s Day, Ger Brennan took up the microphone and addressed the crowd with the most progressive winning speech ever given by a GAA captain.

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Brennan thanked both girlfriends and boyfriends of the players for their support during the run to winning the title.

25. St. Pat's win the FAI Cup for first time in 53 years

Since 1961 St Pats had won 5 league titles (6 if you ask Pats fans) and had reached the FAI Cup final 7 times. They had lost each of those finals. For more than a decade now Pats fans obsession with the FAI Cup grew deeper and deeper. When manager Liam Buckley spoke to fans after winning the 2013 league title he was told one thing; 'Now win the Cup!' In November he delivered.

Christy Fagan's second goal led to wild celebrations and tears from Brian Kerr. To thousands from Inchicore and surrounds, this wasn't one of the moments of the year, it was the moment of a lifetime.

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Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

24. Katie Taylor wins her fifth consecutive World Championship

Early on a Monday morning in late November as crusty eyes opened to another week of work, Katie Taylor was already getting down to business in South Korea as she took on Yana Allekseevna in the World Championship Lightweight Final.

The Bray won took gold by unanimous decision defeating the Azerbaijani 40-36, 39-37 and 39-37.

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It was her fifth consecutive World Championship title.

Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

23. Paul O'Connell's 79th minute tackle against Australia

(Click on the image if it's not playing.)

Ireland have played poorly against an improving Australia side who are piling on the pressure in the last few minutes to overcome a three point deficit. Memories of the New Zealand game from last year come flooding back. Enter Paul O’Connell. A massive hit on Australian backrow Ben McCalman sends him flying behind the gainline, and lifts a waning Ireland. O’Connell was the gigantic leader Ireland needed, but not the one we deserved. An unbeaten November followed and dreams of a glorious 2015 started from there.

22. The Dunphy and Giles Cadbury's ad
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE8TvsYMPkg

In this digital age a lot of think pieces are started with someone talking about how in this digital age, phrases like ‘awesome,’ ‘all time’ and greatest are shamefully overused to the point where they no longer have any meaning.

Well with this Dunphy/Giles offering we get to witness true greatness in the art of excellent ad making. Funny, entertaining and completely unexpected; its quality speaks for itself.

The peculiar thing is that it’s almost like the two lads are doing an impression of the Apres Match fellas doing an impression of them – something even the makers of Inception could never have dreamt up. It has it all. The Dunphy face as he goes to bite the chocolate, Giles referencing street football, personal stereos and the value of taking each game on its merits…

Then there are the bizarre waves from the kids’ coaches, followed by the two buckos dancing the afternoon away, like uncles at a wedding.

I think I might go watch it again...

21. Aiden McGeady's late winner vs Georgia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P0-l-4_LCQ

Irish football fans can be neatly split into two categories. Those who understand why Aidan McGeady is such an important player for us and those who don’t. The latter group have grown tired of the constant promise and the never ending lack of a killer pass. Whereas the McGeady sympathisers will forever argue that for all his flaws, the Everton man should be the first name on the teamsheet because at least once a game he will do something to unlock a defence.

That glorious moment against Georgia was McGeady’s way of saying thanks to all those who defended him when it seemed like a pointless endeavour. Much like Keith Fahey’s goal against Armenia in 2010, McGeady popped up to give us three precious away points when in reality we barely deserved one. Fahey’s goal turned out to be incredibly important come the end of that qualifying campaign. Who’s to say we don’t look back on McGeady’s in much the same way?

20. Shaun Maloney's crushing goal at Celtic Park

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GccPPnee-4I

We may try to forget this. But the most heavily anticipated Ireland match in over two years was decided by Sean Maloney’s curling shot from the edge of the box.

Losing local derbies is always more sickening. Both sides had been equally bullish at the outset. Tough one to take.

19. UFC comes to Dublin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9vo0TbUXSc

After 5 long years, the UFC was back in Dublin. Paddy Holohan set the tone with an impressive rear-naked choke, and the UFC commentators expressed their disbelief at the noise the crowd was making for an undercard fight.

Cathal Pendred then somehow managed to stay alive against an opponent who later tested positive for PEDs, despite the consistent threat of a referee stoppage, only to recover and manage a miraculous victory, again via RNC. When Neil Seery made it 3 wins from 3 for Irish fighters via a unanimous decision the O2 was absolutely rocking, you could tell that something special was taking place.

Norman Parke and Gunnar Nelson recorded victories on the main card, before the King made his entrance. He had never fought a striker like Diego Brandao before they said… McGregor showed the UFC they needed to significantly upgrade the standard of his opponent, and he also showed those who doubted him that he was a legitimate contender for the crown.

As The Notorious’ words rang around the O2 “We’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over!” the Irish fans watching thought “Jesus, we just might be.”

18. James Rodriquez's wonderstrike

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GESyL3MkgNU

Most people don’t even remember the score of the 2014 Round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay, because there was a goal scored in that match that made everything else seem irrelevant, such was its quality. (The score was 2-0, by the way.)

A hopeful lob forward is headed clear, the ball is prodded back towards the box and into the path of a rising superstar, who having been turning heads in the group stages seemed destined to leave his mark on the tournament in a truly memorable way, a quick glance at the goal, a chest to get the ball onto his favoured left foot, and then James Rodriguez unleashed a perfect volley which smacked in off the under-side of the crossbar and over the line.

The goal was voted by the fans as goal of the 2014 World Cup, and serves as one of the defining moments of a memorable tournament.

17. Robin van Persie's Superman header

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOXiWODZNqk

You can argue which World Cup goal is better but we'll argue that for fans watching on TV; Van Persie's was the most important. It came in the first weekend of action as the vaunted Spain started the defence of their title. The Dutch team performance was magnificent and was highlighted best by Daley Blind's perfectly Dutch (they use space better than anyone) pass and RVP's magical leap to loop the ball over Casillas and in. For TV viewers it was the real start to a month of brilliant football.

16. Germany 7 - 1 Brazil

An inordinate amount of people tried but all the languages on earth simply did not have the words needed to sum up what happened in Belo Horizonte in early July. The Mineirazo as it was dubbed in the Brazilian press brought about the kind of national mourning that is rarely seen on such a universal scale.

In hindsight it is easy to see why it happened. An inept Brazil side with little to no tactical discipline were torn apart by the best team in world football. But that really wasn’t the script at the time.

We look back on that Brazil side as a joke, they had Fred up front, but up until the quarter final victory over Colombia, they were still heavily fancied to win the tournament. They lost Neymar in that game and things seemed to crash down to earth as soon as they brought out his shirt in some kind of strange tribute to a captain who wasn’t dead but was just at home watching the game on TV. When the match started it became clear that David Luiz and Dante were as unconnected as two centre backs have ever been in the history of football. The goals just kept going in, neutrals everywhere may have let on that enough was enough but in reality we were all bit disappointed that Germany didn’t keep going for 10.

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