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11th Dec 2016

Here are your nominees for RTÉ’s Sports Team of the Year award

Tough one to call

Darragh Murphy

There have been so many heroic performances from Irish teams in 2016 that it seems like something of an impossibility to narrow it down to one solitary “best”.

12 teams are in the running for RTÉ’s Sports Team of the Year award and there doesn’t initially appear to be any startling omission from the list of nominees which was revealed on Sunday evening but nor does there seem to be an obvious pick.

Connacht‘s memorable journey to the Guinness PRO12 Grand Final and ultimate 20-10 victory over Leinster has earned them a nod, which will come as scant consolation given the recent news of head coach Pat Lam’s impending departure from the province.

John Muldoon with fans and the trophy 29/5/2016

Cork‘s six-in-a-row of All-Ireland Ladies football titles was always going to put them in contention.

Consecutive Sam Maguires for Dublin has put them in the reckoning, following their narrow replay victory over Mayo in October.

There will be no surprises to see Dundalk on the shortlist after their heroics at home and in Europe. Stephen Kenny masterminded a third SSE Airtricity Premier Division on the bounce as well as a journey to the Europa League group stages where the Lilywhites gave themselves every chance of qualifying for the knockout round.

Stephen O'Donnell lifts the SSE Airtricity League trophy 28/10/2016

Ireland’s Paralympic Cycling team came home from Rio with five medals, an impressive return.

Similar praise was heaped on Ireland’s Paralympic Athletics team and they too are in the conversation.

An historic victory over the All Blacks in Chicago was the highlight of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland team‘s year but 2016 was an unforgettable one as a whole due to the victories over Australia and South Africa.

Kilkenny ended their 22-year drought this year as they claimed the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie title in a back-and-forth encounter with fierce rivals Cork.

Kilkenny players celebrate at the final whistle 11/9/2016

Northern Ireland, in their first ever European Championships, exceeded all expectations by escaping their group at Euro 2016.

Skibbereen’s O’Donovan brothers – Gary and Paul – captured the nation’s hearts and a silver medal in the lightweight double sculls at Rio 2016 to earn their nomination.

Like their cousins to the north, the Republic of Ireland also got out of their Euro 2016 group and provided endless entertainment with their performances on the pitch and with their unique fans off the pitch.

Roy Keane with Robbie Brady at the end of the game 22/6/2016

And finally All-Ireland hurling champions Tipperary close out the shortlist thanks to their dethroning of former champs Kilkenny.

The RTÉ Sport Awards 2016 are live on RTÉ One on Saturday 17 December at 9pm.

Diarmuid Connolly makes his long overdue GAA Hour debut and talks to Colm Parkinson about everything from the black card to his rivalry with Lee Keegan and how he honed the ability to kick accurately with either foot.

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