Jeez, it wasn’t a bad old sporting year, was it?
As 2021 heads for the exit door, we are taking a look at the most read stories on SportsJOE in 2021. It certainly brings back some great memories.
The breakdown is four football stories, four rugby, one GAA and one golf. There were three more GAA stories from 10 to 15, with some more Ryder Cup and Tokyo 2020 stories featuring just below.
We will count it down from 10 to 1, and you may be surprised to find what story you all viewed most on the page. In fairness, though, it was pretty funny.
Most read stories on SportsJOE in 2021
10. Eddie Jones arguing with English reporters after defeat to Ireland
Ireland finished their Six Nations campaign on a high after giving England a few good licks at the Aviva Stadium, in March. Following the game, England coach Eddie Jones clashed with reporters over his team’s style of play.
Asked if he was ‘still able to get through to the players’ after five years in charge, Jones responded, “Yeah, most definitely, I don’t think that’s the issue. If it was the issue, I wouldn’t be the coach of the team.”
9. Roy Keane on the jersey swap request he regrets
During a walk and talk with old Manchester United teammate Gary Neville, Roy Keane spoke of the regret he had after he asked to swap jerseys with Germany midfielder Matthias Sammer, back in 1994 after Ireland beat them in a friendly. “I was polite enough,” he reflected, before adding, “I shouldn’t have been asking anyway.”
8. Rory McIlroy’s emotional Ryder Cup interview
The Northern Irish golfer endured a torrid time at the Ryder Cup as he struggled in fourballs and foursomes action, against a strong USA side. He rallied to win a Sunday Singles point for Team Europe then delivered a highly emotional post-round interview.
7. All Blacks coach dismisses Ireland’s “Kiwi” connection
New Zealand head coach spoke very well about the Kiwis that were in Ireland’s matchday squad, after his side lost 29-20 to Andy Farrell’s side at the Aviva Stadium. “I only saw three Irish players,” he declared, when asked about James Lowe, Bundee Aki and Jamison Gibson-Park.
6. Roy Keane on the two players who it is “not acceptable” to criticise
Earlier this season, in a chat with David Walsh of The Sunday Times, Roy Keane gave a wide-ranging interview and was at his most searingly honest. During that chat, he spoke about the two England players it is almost unacceptable to criticise – Harry Kane and Harry Maguire.
5. Wayne Barnes and two late calls that went against Ireland
Back in February, referee Wayne Barnes was under scrutiny, on our House of Rugby show and elsewhere, for a couple of late calls that favoured Wales and went against Ireland. One of those calls really got under the skin of Ireland captain Johnny Sexton.
4. Mickey Harte clashes with Oisin McConville over his half-time analysis
Our biggest GAA story of the year came as Mickey Harte played the pundit, and fought his corner fiercely. We never thought we’d be writing that in 2020!
At half-time in a Derry vs. Donegal game, on the BBC, Harte lit into fellow pundit. Oisín McConville. “I just want to pick up on something that Oisin said at the start, he described this game as defensive, and that’s doing it a disservice.” From there, it all kicked off… !
3. Roy Keane has ITV crew in stitches with Neil Diamond concert story
As England fans bellowed their Sweet Caroline renditions, at Euro 2020, Gary Neville played the perfect straight man as he teed up Roy Keane for a great Neil Diamond concert story. Keane’s reaction to a concert-goer singing along too loudly had the ITV panel buckling at the knees.
2. Bundee Aki overheard in the stands after Faf de Klerk hit on Conor Murray
Our one British & Irish Lions Tour entry in the Top 10, and something that may well have been missed if crowds had been allowed into the games, in South Africa.
During the Second Test, Faf de Klerk put in a shot on fellow scrumhalf Conor Murray and Bundee Aki was far from happy. He was picked up launching a tirade from the stands, as he watched on.
1. Roy Keane’s reaction to that Luke Shaw goal was every Irish mammy
If he does not over-do it and appear on our screens each week, Roy Keane is a real gem of a pundit. He has the ability to jump from reminiscing, to winding lads up, to cracking dry jokes and then ripping a player or coach to shreds.
One of his many Euro 2020 highlights was his ‘Irish mammy’ reaction as he fussed over spilt tea when fellow pundits Gary Neville and Ian Wright went buck mad over an England goal.
How did our pundits react to Shaw's goal?
"Gary destroyed my notes!" ?
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) July 11, 2021
2022, the pressure is all on you now!