Tomás Ó Sé hands baton to Cluxton

Dáire Brennan / Sportsfile

Ah, that famous photo of Tomás Ó Sé handing the match ball to match-winner Stephen Cluxton after the 2011 All-Ireland final. 

After numerous humiliations in All-Ireland quarter-finals and semi-finals, a number at the hands of Kerry, Dublin finally clambered their way back to a decider in 2011. 

They entered the game as underdogs against a Kerry team who'd won five All-Ireland titles in the previous decade. 

For most of the game, Dublin looked like losing but Kevin McManamon's late goal saw things take off in another direction. 

Cluxton landed the famous winner in stoppage time and Dublin won the first of what would be seven All-Ireland titles in this decade. 

Ó Sé handing Cluxton the ball seems to signify a passing of the baton onto new perennial champs. 

Usain Bolt

Cameron Smith / Getty Images

Usain Bolt spent the decade as he started it, sauntering away from the competition in the biggest races in the world. 

The Jamaican cemented his reputation as the greatest sprinter of all time, winning eight Olympic gold medals in total, and an unprecedented three successive golds in both the 100m and the 200m. 

Such was his superiority, he was often able to glance back nonchalantly at those trailing behind him, like Harry Enfield's jockey stopping for a natter with his overworked rivals in that horse racing sketch. 

Cameron Smith's photo catches him in a classic pose, smiling back at the competition with his legs a blur. 

Katie's gold

David Maher / Sportsfile

Katie Taylor stands as one of the most successful and trailblazing athletes of the decade. 

She was herself instrumental in the Olympics finally welcoming women's boxing into the fold in time for London 2012. 

And her crowning moment arrived on Thursday 9 August 2012 when she triumphed over Sofya Ochigava to take the gold medal following a ferociously hard-fought encounter. 

So close to the promised land 

Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

Mayo fans and players will tell you 'the curse' is a load of old hokum. But its legend has very much intensified thanks to the events of the decade which now draws to a close. 

Keith Duggan's oft-quoted book House of Pain, detailing Mayo's trials and tribulations in finals and beyond was published in 2007. That's now four final defeats ago. There would appear to be plenty of scope for a sequel. 

They were still one of the stories of the decade, providing countless moments of thrilling drama, showcasing their resilience time and again. Great Mayo footballers - Lee Keegan, Keith Higgins and Andy Moran among them - decorated the era. 

Ultimately, five Connacht titles, one National League title, four All-Ireland final defeats (three lost by a point and one after a replay) was their lot. 

In the same way that 1990s snooker is as well remembered for Jimmy White as it is for Stephen Hendry, the present decade may be as well remembered for Mayo as it is for Dublin. 

The above picture is Brendan Moran's from the aftermath of the 2013 All-Ireland final loss to - who else? - Dublin. 

Brady in the fog

David Maher / Sportsfile

George: Ireland attempting to string together another attack, the momentum almost there...

Jim: They've scored!

George: (bemused) They've scored. Robbie Brady has scored... Out of the gloom, the brightness shines.

Robbie Brady celebrates in front of the Irish contingent after scoring a crucial away goal in the Euro 2016 play-off against the previously highly-rated Bosnia. 

The goal was more or less missed by everyone watching at home due to the intense fog that enveloped the curious little ground in Zenica where Bosnia like to play their home matches. (A few gimlet-eyed folk may have picked up Irish attackers celebrating in the box before our commentary team). 

Ireland would go on to beat Bosnia 2-0 at home in the return leg three days later, qualifying for Euro 2016 where they would reach the play-offs. 

It was an often trying decade for Irish football on - and most especially off - the pitch. But there were plenty of moments of joy which lifted the general air of gloom. 

Sheridan's lunge

David Maher / Sportsfile

Joe Sheridan's stunning finish in the dying seconds of the 2010 Leinster football final. 

The umpire, looming by the left goalpost, would appear to have the best view in the park but his counsel wasn't sought by referee Martin Sludden and he dutifully put up the green flag when told. 

For Louth fans, their county robbed of a first Leinster title in half a century, it was all too much to bear and the incident sparked ugly scenes in the aftermath with the referee jostled and manhandled as he left the pitch and a steward was injured by a missile thrown from the crowd. 

There followed a clamour for a replay but Meath ultimately decided they weren't going to go there.  

"A perfect goal," Joe insisted in the post-match interview before issuing this qualifier in rapid quick time: "It was a penalty if it wasn't a goal."

Louth haven't got near a Leinster title since. Indeed, the days of anyone but Dublin winning Leinster senior titles seem to have disappeared into history. 

O'Driscoll's fairytale ending

Paul Gilham / Getty Images

Having postponed his retirement by a year, Brian O'Driscoll would receive the send-off his years of excellence deserved. It would have been jarring to see his Ireland career end in defeat to Italy in Rome following a rare sin-binning. 

The excitement generated by Joe Schmidt's arrival in the Ireland job saw O'Driscoll being persuaded to give it one last hurrah in 2014 and he was rewarded with the second Six Nations title of his career to go with the Grand Slam of '09. 

The title was sealed in excruciatingly dramatic fashion in Paris - the venue for O'Driscoll's greatest display 14 years earlier - as Ireland held on to triumph 22-20 against France, thereby pipping England to the championship on points difference. 

"Je suis trés content," O'Driscoll told French TV afterwards as he was handed the Man of the Match gong, an admittedly sentimental decision. 

Messi, Ronaldo, Roche

Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

Of the three nominees put to public vote for the Puskas Award for the best goal of 2014, two were scored in the World Cup and the other was scored in the 2013-14 Bus Éireann Women's National League. 

Stephanie Roche's stunning goal in Peamount United's victory over Wexford Youths in October 2013 was uploaded onto the internet by team manager Eileen Gleeson and became what is commonly called an "internet sensation". 

It passed a million views worldwide within a matter of days and was tweeted approvingly by some of the most famous names in football. 

Over a year later, Roche would be a nominated guest at the FIFA Ballon d'Or awards where she was up for the gong alongside fellow nominees James Rodriguez and Robin van Persie. The Colombian would take first prize with Roche coming second in the poll on 33%.

The photo above, which was heavily reproduced, shows Roche swanning past the perennial nominees for World Player of the Year. 

Hickey's downfall

Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

One of the most extraordinary sporting stories of the decade was the arrest and jailing of long-time OCI president Pat Hickey in Brazil during the Rio Olympics. 

Hickey, president of the OCI since 1988, was dramatically arrested at his hotel as part of an investigation into alleged illegal ticket sales. 

The veteran sports administrater would spend almost five months in custody in Brazil before returning home in December. 

Brendan Moran captured this remarkable shot as Hickey was being wheeled from the Hospital Samaritano Barra into a waiting police car. 


Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile

The decade began with sports fans reeling from various injustices, notably the 'Hand of Henry' business and Lampard's goal that wasn't against Germany. 

By the end of the decade, soccer fans are chafing under the oppressive rule of VAR, their petty-minded review system that keeps on chalking off goals for only being a little bit illegal.

GAA, meanwhile, has Hawkeye, a much less controversial technological intrusion (although Bubbles Dwyer was still of the view that it did Tipp out of an All-Ireland).

The one slightly disconcerting aspect of Hawkeye - which as of yet only operates in Croke Park and Thurles - is that it overrules umpires so often, you're inclined to wonder how many tight games went the wrong way in years past.  

The above photo, from Piaras Ó Mídheach, captures Hawkeye being rolled out for a Walsh Cup game in Enniscorthy. 

Ireland's women triumph against New Zealand

Isabelle Picarel / IRB

Sadly, the Ireland women's rugby team finish the decade in rag order but they scaled the heights in the past ten years. 

A Grand Slam was won in 2013 and a further Six Nations crown was added in 2015. In between, they registered their greatest achievement with a stunning victory over New Zealand in the 2014 World Cup. 

Here is Niamh Briggs, one of the players of the era, captured in a state of ecstasy at the final whistle. 

Dundalk's era

Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

The decade began with Shamrock Rovers returning to the top table after their long years roaming - and we mean roaming - in the wilderness.

Sligo Rovers and St Patrick's Athletic scooped titles before Dundalk, under the remarkable management of Stephen Kenny, took a stranglehold of the league and haven't really let go. 

In rapid quick time, Kenny took Dundalk from the nether reaches of the Premier Division to runners-up spot in 2013. They would go one step better the following year, ultimately winning four of the subsequent five league titles, including two doubles. 

Kenny was rewarded by being placed on a path to taking the Republic of Ireland senior job in 2020. When he departed, his assistant Vinny Perth took over, guiding Dundalk to another league victory in 2019. 

Cork ladies historic run

Paul Mohan / Sportsfile

Only two teams won the All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football title this decade. The Dubs have just completed a three-in-a-row but prior to that the Cork women went on a historic run which saw them accumulate an extraordinary 11 of the previous 12 All-Ireland victories. 

Only the Capital, in 2010, broke the sequence with Cork winning five in a row (2005-09) and then six in a row (2011-16) setting new standards in the women's game in process. 

A number of feted players, Brid Stack, Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley, were there for all 11 with the latter two also winning seven camogie titles in what was a great era for Cork camogie.

Trap takes Ireland to Euros 

David Maher / Sportsfile

Back when Irish fans regarded John Delaney as only being a former w****r. After the injustice of Paris in 2009, Ireland would secure qualification for their first major tournament in a decade in November 2011. 

If the fates had conspired against us in the 2010 qualifying campaign, then the Gods certainly sought to make amends for Euro 2012.

Having once more finished runners-up in their group, Ireland were gifted with what everyone agreed was the 'jackpot' draw in the play-offs, being pulled out alongside Estonia. 

Fans were subsequently at a loss to understand how Estonia had finagled their way to that point. Our hopes were confirmed when Ireland pummeled the poor Estonians (who wound up finishing with nine men) 4-0 in the away leg in Tallin, effectively sealing qualification. 

FAI CEO John Delaney donated his tie to the visiting fans and then made plain his delight with his successful manager.  

Canning's delight

Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile

By 2017, Joe Canning was a long time labouring under the tag of 'best player never to win an All-Ireland'.

Galway's dispiriting loss in the 2015 All-Ireland final was their sixth straight final defeat since their last victory in 1988. 

However, when 2017 rolled around, the county had finally gotten all their ducks in a row under manager Micheal Donoghue - and they knew it.

A crushing victory over reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary in the league decider in April signalled to many that their time had come. 

They beat Waterford - themselves seeking to bridge an even longer gap - in a novel final in September but it is the dramatic semi-final win over Tipp in the All-Ireland semi-final which may well go down as the signature game of this campaign. 

Canning won the game the with a dramatic wonder-point in the closing seconds and Sportsfile's Piaras Ó Mídheach captured the delight on his face, and on the faces of the Galway fans behind, as they watched it sail over.

'We got to semi-final... first time in 28 years'

Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

After years of letdowns and recriminations, England enjoyed their first truly feelgood World Cup since Italia 90 as they reached the semi-finals in Russia in 2018. 

Gareth Southgate's side overcame more than just Colombia and Sweden en route to a last-four berth.

They overcame their longstanding penalty hoodoo in World Cups, they overcame the cliquishness and north-south division which often blighted their national team, and they overcame the reflexive hostility of neutrals everywhere by their general decency, with many - even in this country - admitting that they might stand to see them win the whole thing out. 

After all that, the selected image is one of the most heavily meme-able shots of the World Cup, that of Harry Maguire chatting to his girlfriend Fern Hawkins after the Colombia game. 

Ireland gains Test status

Seb Daly / Sportsfile

It was a memorable decade for Irish cricket. The first half was characterised by continued one-day success, most famously in the 2011 World Cup victory over England, a win inspired by Kevin O'Brien's extraordinary record-breaking century. 

In the latter half, while the one-day success waned, Ireland were finally and belatedly welcomed into the family of Test playing nations. 

They took their opening bow in Test cricket against Pakistan in Malahide in May 2018. It was a highly creditable performance over three days with Kevin O'Brien once more writing his name large in the history books with Ireland's first ever Test century. 

Limerick delight

Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

Hurling entered another golden era in the latter part of the decade. The chief requirement for a hurling era to earn the 'golden' tag is that the big three aren't winning anymore. 

With a thrilling and fancy new championship structure, the 2018 campaign represented a state of nirvana for hurling fans. 

Classic piled on top of classic as each week provided more absurd drama and breathtaking skill. People almost became passé about it by the end. 

Hurling's greatest championship ended with the most romantic possible winners. Limerick were the bridesmaids during hurling's last revolutionary era in the mid-1990s but in 2018, they finally got married, bridging a 45-year gap to their last All-Ireland title. 

The one-point win over reigning champions Galway sparked emotional scenes as 'Dreams' sung by the late Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries blared out over the Croke Park tannoy. The above picture, from Brendan Moran, captures Sean Finn in a state of ecstasy. 

Grand Slam No. 3

Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

The continued struggles in the World Cup has soured things, especially in the wake of the brutal letdown in Japan. 

But it was still a highly successful decade for Irish rugby. Under Joe Schmidt, Ireland won three Six Nations titles and twice dispatched New Zealand. 

2018 represented the peak for Irish rugby - alas they once more fell from a great height in time for the RWC - as they won a third ever Grand Slam, a tour down in Australia and overcame the All Blacks in Dublin for the first time. 

The Grand Slam was sealed in memorable fashion in Twickenham on St Patrick's Day. Whereas the famous 2009 Grand Slam was an anxious nail-biter, the 2018 triumph was a satisfying victory lap, Ireland having essentially made sure of the win by half-time. 

Jacob Stockdale's superbly snatched try - he's pictured above in the act of scoring - gave the visitors a 21-5 lead at the break. 

France singing in the rain of Russia

Quality Sport agency / Getty

The increasing European dominance of the World Cup continued in this decade with Spain (2010), Germany (2014) and France (2018) each winning football's grandest prize. 

The French began the decade at their lowest ebb, despised manager Raymond Domenech leading them to humiliation at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. 

They gradually finagled their way back into the hearts of their disgusted nation and by the time a new and exciting crop of players emerged, the bandwagon was back on the freeway. 

Their World Cup win wasn't the most swaggering but the 4-3 win over Lionel Messi's Argentina in the last-16 provided one of the tournament's most thrilling games. They dispatched Croatia, conquerors of England, in the final to win their second World Cup. 

A downpour in Moscow during the celebrations enabled photographers to catch some great shots, including this one of Benjamin Mendy sliding on the turf. 

Hockey shootout

Craig Mercer / Sportsfile

The Ireland women's hockey team's run to the World Cup final in 2018 was an adventure nobody expected.

They had missed out on qualification for Rio in agonising circumstances, watching their male counterparts become the first Irish team to compete in an Olympics since the foundation of the state. 

For the World Cup campaign proper, the wider public began to only take notice when Graham Shaw's team escaped their pool following an unlikely 1-0 win over India in the second game. 

The quarter-final against India was televised live, with Ireland triumphing on a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw. 

The best was yet to come against Spain in the semi-final. Anna O'Flanagan gave Ireland the lead in the first half but Alicia Magaz equalised in the second period. 

Then came another dramatic shootout. The above picture captures the reaction of the players after Gillian Pinder sealed the win.

Glory for Lowry

Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

The Open Championship returned to the Irish coastline for the first time in 68 years in 2019 and it ended in a glorious party for the hosts. 

Shane Lowry, long one of the most popular sportspeople on the island, romped to victory by six strokes from Tommy Fleetwood.

His majestic third round of 63 on Saturday paved the way and his triumphant walk up the 18th green on Sunday will live long in the memory. 

Rapinoe ascends to superstar status

Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

A great shot of a now famous celebration from the most political of players on one of the most political of sports teams. 

The 2019 Women's World Cup broke new ground for the women's game and the US team won their third successive tournament. 

Megan Rapinoe emerged as an emblematic figure for the triumph, topping the goalscoring charts alongside team-mate Alex Morgan and England's Ellen White. 

It's certainly arguable whether she was the tournament's best player - she was, after all, dropped for one the competition's most memorable match-ups, the 2-1 semi-final victory over England. 

But Rapinoe was clearly the most vivid personality and was (controversially) awarded the Women's Ballon d'Or this month.   

The good times

Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

The lads in happier times. John Delaney and Pat Hickey ruled their respective organisations for a very long time, rising high in European sports administration. 

Both finish the decade having been deposed from their roles. 

Return to glory for Woods

David Cannon/Getty Images

It was a horrendous decade for Tiger Woods, all told, but it ended in a glorious crescendo with his comeback victory in Augusta in 2019. 

A couple of years back, with his injuries mounting, his demons laid bare before the world and his world ranking number shooting up and up like the Greek National Debt Clock, it appeared fanciful that Woods would ever see days like this again.

 His win in the Masters in April marked one of the most emotional finales ever witnessed at the famous course.