20. Simon Zebo's flick against Wales
The first half of Ireland's opening Six Nations game was the peak of our performance in this year's competition. Simon Zebo went over in the corner after 10 minutes thanks to a sublime pass from Brian O'Driscoll.
And then Zebo produced this beautiful piece of skill to keep possession of the ball in lead up the Cian Healy's try.
Although he would be injured in the next game against England, it was the beginning of a breakout year for Zebo, making a Heineken Cup semi-final with Munster and then the Lions squad.
19. Suarez Biting Ivanovic
We knew that Luis Suarez was fond of a nibble before that fateful night in Stamford Bridge, but we didn’t expect him to try get a healthy chunk of Ivanovic. In probably the biggest football incident this year Suarez once again became public enemy number one and the fact he looks a bit like a chipmunk didn’t help his case. He was slapped with a 10 match ban but judging how he has started this season he should get banned every year. Wait, he does get banned every year...
18. The Simon Zebo and Paddy Jackson rap video
On the eve of Simon Zebo’s Lions debut last summer, some web sleuthing from Balls towers uncovered the flamboyant winger with cohort Paddy Jackson lip syncing and dancing to Kanye West’s and Jay Z’s “Otis”. It was a gem hidden in plain sight in the vast confines of the Youtube world.
The reaction was instantaneous and the video went viral within a matter of seconds as Zebo confirmed his status as one of Ireland’s most charismatic sports stars and Paddy Jackson proving his JCB effort was no one off with the silkiest of moves.
Gentlemen, we need a sequel.
17. Rob Heffernan wins gold at the World Athletics Championships
On August 14th, 30 years to the day from when Eamonn Coghlan won gold in the 5000m in Helsinki, Rob Heffernan won Ireland's third ever gold medal at the World Athletics Championships.
He had suffered heartbreak the previous year, finishing fourth in the 50k walk at the Olympics, but 2013 was his redemption.
Heffernan broke clear of eventual silver medal winner, Mikhail Ryzhov, with 10k left and never looked back.
His post-race interview with Will Downing is well-worth a listen.
16. The FAI Cup Final
The 2013 Airtricity league season was full of drama but there can be no denying that the very last game of the Irish football season was sporting drama at its best. Sligo Rovers came into the FAI Cup final as firm favourites but fell behind early with Drogheda United playing their best football of the season. The game swung on two substitutions with 20 minutes to go. The outstanding Paul O’Conor (now signed with Sligo) was forced off injured for Drogheda, while Danny North was introduced for Sligo.
North scored the equaliser with 12 minutes left and with 5 minutes to go put Sligo ahead for the first time with a brilliant volley set up spectacularly by the ageless Joseph Ndo.
Drogheda players were furious that referee Paul Tuite indicated they should wait for the whistle but never blew. A long stoppage followed which saw Drogs captain Derek Predergast sent off. Drogheda piled forward and equalised in the 92nd minute through Ryan Brennan to ecstatic scenes from their supporters. A mere 2 minutes later, Danny North cleverly chested the ball into the path of Anthony Elding who near bust the net to hand Sligo the Cup in the most dramatic way possible.
The final score of 3-2 doesn’t come close to telling how thrilling this cup final was.
15. Shane Long's header against England
Ireland have had their fair share of battling draws against England. It's as if God or some other supernatural force knows that losing would be too hard to bear. Niall Quinn, Kevin Sheedy and Tony Cascarino have all nabbed goals in these draws but Shane Long's screamer of a header in May was the best of the lot.
In the opening quarter of the game, Seamus Coleman whipped in a crisp cross, Long stole ahead of the England defence and arrowed a superb header past Hart and into the far corner.
14. The Off The Ball Five leave Newstalk
March 4th was a huge day for fans of Irish sports radio. Ken Early, Eoin McDevitt, Ciaran Murphy, Simon Hick and Mark Horgan who became known as the OTB5 resigned from Newstalk over disagreements with the scheduling of Off the Ball with the station. The show went ahead that night and every night since without them.
Over their eight years with Newstalk on Off the Ball the five had built up a considerable following. And in the the coming months various rumours popped up about where the five would eventually land with 2FM, Nova and others being mentioned.
They eventually emerged newly reborn as Second Captains in May with a podcast hosted by the Irish Times and would also go on to record a successful four episode TV show with RTÉ.
13. Limerick Munster Final pitch invasion
"The ref would be well advised to blow the whistle and let the session - I mean, let the party begin" - Liam Aherne, Limerick Live 95FM
Before the GAA started disapproving of pitch invasions for health and safety reasons, this sort of thing was a common sight. At All-Ireland finals, when games were almost won and entering injury time, you would see streams of supporters gathering expectantly on the end-line so they could invade the pitch as soon as the whistle blew.
However, when Limerick sealed their first Munster title since 1996, we saw the finest example of this phenomenon. A fair percentage of the Limerick support watched the final few minutes of the game from the end-line. When the whistle did blow they converged on the pitch. It was like Wimbledon when it rains and the covers come on. The Limerick supporters looked like they were being pulled by a team of invisible ball boys. They had the pitch covered in no time. A phenomenally retro experience.
12. Tony O'Donoghue's post-match interview with Noel King
Noel King isn't particularly used to giving post-match interviews. Those accorded to the U-21 manager and the women's manager tend to be less confrontational and inquisitorial. It showed too.
Kinger seemed to be expecting a back-slapping interview after the 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan and he became testy when the issue of Kevin Doyle's position on the wing was brought up. Possibly hearing the excessive criticism of the influential RTE panel behind Tony's question, King lost his composure. "This conversation is incorrect," he said, whatever that means.
The worst moment was when King attempted to walk off and O'Donoghue called him back. It was tough to watch.
11. Joe Brolly's rant
The most talked about moment of this year's football championship and I feckin' missed it at the time. A mere half a mile from Croke Park, I sat in my house watching the Tyrone v Monaghan quarter-final. I remember watching Sean Cavanagh drag down Conor McManus when he was through on goal and while the cynicism rankled with me, I didn't dwell on it much as this sort of thing has been happening in football for as long as I can remember.
Dublin were set to face Cork in the second match so during the break I made a quick trip to Tesco in Drumcondra, thinking I wouldn't miss anything. Of course, being a bit of a social media addict I found myself checking Twitter while in the shop. It was clear from the online reaction that Joe Brolly was going off on one. There I was, stranded in the vegetable section, while the rest of the country sat fixated on a Derryman who was clearly fed up of the sport he once loved.
Many agreed with Brolly, many disagreed, but whichever stance you take there's no denying that Brolly is box office.
You can see numbers 30 - 21 here.