Ten days in 2015 when sport stopped the nation in its tracks 4 years ago

Ten days in 2015 when sport stopped the nation in its tracks

1. Harrington's Honda hurrah

It had been a long time coming, but when Padraig Harrington finally got back into the winners' circle on the PGA Tour - more than six years after his US PGA Championship victory in 2008 - it was a special day.

The Honda Classic had been forced into a Monday finish and Harrington looked to have blown his chance with three dropped shots on the front nine, but a run of four straight birdies on the back side, and then this clutch putt on 18, forced a play-off with American Daniel Berger.

With fans at home straining to find a television or updates on Twitter, Harrington then nailed this teeshot on the second extra hole to win the tournament.

2. Mullins mauls the bookies

The opening day of the Cheltenham Festival traditionally has the Irish banker, but this year there were four as the shadow of Irish trainer Willie Mullins loomed large over Prestbury Park. The Carlow-based trainer saddled hot favourites in the day's four biggest races as bettors built up huge combinations of accumulators involving Douvan, Un Des Sceaux, Faugheen and Annie Power. The first three obliged in fine style and the mare Annie Power looked set to take the shirt off of many a bookie's back until this happened, saving the layers from an estimated €50million in further losses.

3. Ireland stand tall after rugby's craziest day

We knew it would be close, but the drama of the final day of Six Nations matches will take some beating. Ireland, Wales and England were all in position to claim the title, which would once again be decided on points difference, and the Welsh put down a marker with a 61-20 win over Italy that left Ireland needing to beat the Scots by 21. A 40-10 triumph in Murrayfield put Ireland back in the driving seat, but this try-saving Jamie Heaslip tackle proved crucial as it left England needing a 26-point win against the French. Twelve incredible tries later and England fell just short with a 55-35 victory that gave Ireland back-to-back Six Nations crowns.

4. McGregor backs up the big talk at UFC 189

The Notorious had, in the eyes of some, talked his way into a UFC featherweight title fight against pound-for-pound superstar Jose Aldo, but when the Brazilian pulled out with injury Conor McGregor was instead pitted against fellow contender Chad Mendes for the interim title. A superior wrestler, Mendes had McGregor on the mat but his lack of conditioning told and after McGregor survived his initial flurries he regained his feet and landed the killer blow.  

5. An epic clash of the ash

Kilkenny won yet another MacCarthy Cup but this year's hurling championship will be remembered for Galway's incredible semi-final victory over Tipperary.

The game started at a breakneck pace and never slowed, with Seamus Callanan was a man possessed for Tipp as he scoring a ridiculous 3-9 for the Premier County, but Galway kept pace and claimed a brilliant win when substitute Shane Moloney marked his Championship debut with the winning point in injury-time.

6. Dublin stay on top in Kingdom rivalry

The two titans of Gaelic football met once again in September at Croke Park and for the third time in a row it was the Dubs who emerged victorious to win their third Sam Maguire in five seasons.

It was a tense, low-scoring affair and Dublin's swarming defence proved too much for Kerry to break through as Hill 16 were left cheering their 25th All-Ireland title.

7. Shane ends Long wait for another special night

It had been 14 years since Ireland beat Holland en route to the 2002 World Cup but the wait for another competitive win over one of Europe's big guns finally ended when Shane Long ran onto Darren Randolph's massive ball up the field and smashed it past Manuel Neuer in the German goal.

Much like that famous day in Lansdowne Road against the Dutch, the victory reignited Ireland's flickering Euro 2016 hopes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceG7EUOjDGg

8. The Pumas rip Ireland's World Cup dream apart.

With the country on a high after Ireland's memorable victory over France a week earlier, Ireland faced Argentina for a place in what would be our first ever World Cup semi-final.

But Argentina had read a different script and tore into a lacklustre Irish side, opening up an early 17-point lead. Ireland fought back bravely to get within three points before the excellent Pumas stretched away again to win 43-20.

The writing was on the wall after the losses of captain Paul O'Connell, Jonathan Sexton, Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien, and the Argies were excellent, but it was still a tough pill to swallow.

9. We're on the road to France

With World Cup disappointment still hanging in the air, the Irish soccer team couldn't have picked a better time to lift the nation's spirits.

A battling 1-1 draw in the mists of Bosnia-Herzegovina had the effect of demystifying a side containing Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic, and once Jon Walters had put Martin O'Neill's men ahead in the second leg of the play-off from the penalty spot there was an unusual and immensely satisfying air of confidence around the Aviva Stadium.

10. McGregor eliminates the 'interim' asterisk

All the roads led to Las Vegas at the end of the year as Conor McGregor faced his toughest task to date, on paper at least.

In reality, 'The Notorious' didn't even break a sweat as he solidified his position as the best featherweight in MMA via a 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo at UFC 194.

Aldo had never been knocked out, went 10 years undefeated and had been the only 145 lb in UFC history but one counter left hook from the Irishman took all of that away.

It was certainly memorable.