Year in review: Rea impeached, Frampton hangs up gloves and Candy 16 for Hunter

Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea have been involved in a series of exciting battles

This gives an indication of how successful Northern Ireland bikers have been in recent times, as 2021 can be considered a relatively meager year compared to those that came before it.

For the first time in seven years, Jonathan Rea of ​​Ballyclare will not enter 2022 as the reigning Superbike world champion.

After a thrilling battle that lasted all season, the Kawasaki rider was narrowly advanced in the pursuit of the championship by Turkish Yamaha star Toprak Razgatlioglu – 13 relatively meager points the eventual winning margin.

Rea ended the season with the same total number of individual race wins as his rival – but his bid for a seventh consecutive title ultimately fell through due to a combination of technical issues, disadvantage in straight-line speed and some unusual mistakes which led to accidents.

Although he had to settle for an unusual second place in the series, Rea finished a good distance from the new champion and this impressive tally of race wins indicates that the 34-year-old’s powers do not appear to be waning. and he can harbor realistic ambitions to win back his crown next season.

Glenn Irwin was once again the Northern Irish riders’ choice in the premier “big bike” category of the British Superbike Championship.

The Carrickfergus rider overcame an illness early in the season and a lingering shoulder injury throughout the campaign to make the end-of-season showdown and secure eighth place in the series.

The Honda Racing rider has also added another victory to his tally, but will have high hopes of fighting for the title in 2022 as he begins a new year, hopefully injury-free after undergoing surgery on this. embarrassing shoulder.

While international road racing is also set to resume after a two-year hiatus, his ambitions will also be to add to his tally of four North West 200 wins and make his long-awaited Isle of Man TT debut.

Dubliner Jack Kennedy clinched a third British Supersport title while County Tyrone teenager Cameron Dawson ran for the British Junior Supersport crown.

Despite the significant disruption to the calendar caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, two Irish national road events were held – the Armoy road races in late July and the Cookstown 100 in September.

Michel dunlop
Michael Dunlop has won the Armoy road races five times

Michel dunlop dominated Armoy with a quintuple, bringing to nine his winning streak in the feature film “Race of Legends” and his career winning streak in the County Antrim reunion to 24.

The Ballymoney rider set a new lap record on the circuit for good measure.

Cork rider Mike Browne and Adam McLean of Tobermore won the doubles at Cookstown, with Forest Dunn winning the main race after just seven riders decided to take their places on the grid due to the dangerous conditions.

North West 200 wins record holder Alastair Seeley had to refrain from racing on UK short circuits as he failed to acquire a suitable race, but the Carrick native had great success at home, winning the Ulster Superbike and Supersport championships in a certain style.

End of an era and success stories

Carl Frampton was moved at the end of his boxing career
Carl Frampton was moved at the end of his boxing career

The year 2021 finally marked the end of the career of the boxing world champion two weights of Northern Ireland Carl Frampton after an illustrious career.

The 34-year-old hung up his gloves seconds after his WBO loss to the super feathers by the American Jamel Herring in early April.

The Belfast boxer was arrested for the first time in a 31-fight professional career after failing to become Ireland’s first three-weight world champion.

Frampton can now reflect on those landmark fights and nights of glory that earned him a prominent place in Northern Irish sporting history, encouraged by his huge group of followers.

While one Belfast boxer called him one day, another continued on his steady course to what he hopes will be a world title as Michael Conlan secured unanimous points defeat TJ Doheny at Falls Park on August 7th.

The victory saw Conlan win the interim WBA featherweight world title, but a bigger prize awaits him as he lines up a probable featherweight world title shot with Leigh Wood in New York on St. Patrick’s Day.

Conlan also received good news regarding the widely perceived injustice he suffered at the 2016 Olympics.

the conclusions of an independent report published in late September provided justification for his controversial points loss to Vladimir Nikitin in his bantamweight quarter-final at the Rio Games.

The fight, in which Conlan was denied a second Olympic medal, was one of eleven deemed “suspect” in the report’s findings.

Conlan faced Doheny for 12 rounds at Belfast's Falls Park
Conlan faced Doheny for 12 rounds at Belfast’s Falls Park in August

Meanwhile, Lewis Crocker successfully defended his WBO European welterweight title with an impressive victory in the seventh round on Artem Haroyan at Ulster Hall.

The Belfast fighter dropped his Armenian opponent in the sixth round with a left hook and finished it with a powerful body kick in the seventh.

The hometown victory took Crocker’s career record to 14-0, with the Belfast man also securing a hard-fought unanimous victory over Deniz Ilbay in Bolton in March.

At this year’s rescheduled Games in Tokyo, Aidan Walsh won a bronze medal in the welterweight division in an otherwise disappointing Olympics for Irish boxers.

Lisburn’s Kurt Walker was one medal victory away in Tokyo after astonishing world champion Mirazizibek Mirzakhalilov to reach the quarter-finals, only to be narrowly beaten by American Duke Ragan.

Walker, 26, has joined the pro ranks of management firm Conlan Boxing and will make his featherweight debut, with an opponent yet to be revealed. His stated ambition is for one day fight for a world title at Windsor Park.

Katie Taylor maintained her perfect professional record by securing her 19th consecutive victory
Katie Taylor has held all the belts of the world lightweight title since June 2019

Ireland’s Katie Taylor continued to make her way onto the world stage, beating Kazakh Firuza Sharipova on points in her final defense of her undisputed lightweight world title.

It was a 20th professional victory for wife Bray Taylor in a career that has included six knockouts.

Matchroom Boxing reported that the victory put Taylor, who also defeated American Jennifer Han on points in Leeds in September, prominent for a huge showdown with Amanda Serrano in 2022.

Jason Quigley of Donegal failed to win the world title in November, suffering from a KO in the second round as he was overwhelmed by Demetrius Andrade in his fight for the WBO middleweight world title.

Belfast’s Caoimhin Agyarko ended the year on a high, winning the WBA international middleweight title with a last-minute stoppage win over Noe Larios Jr in December for a 10th professional victory in as many fights.

Sweet 16 for schoolgirl Hunter

Irish Hunter thrilled after record-breaking 16th birthday feat

Irish cricket teams have seen varying fortunes in another year affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Highlights including a record-breaking Amy Hunter from Belfast round on her 16th birthday as Graham Ford stepped down as men’s coach.

The men started 2021 in Abu Dhabi with a 1-1 draw with hosts UAE before suffering a disappointing 3-0 loss to Afghanistan in Super League World Cup matches despite two centuries of defeat. opening and talisman Paul Stirling.

Irish cricket mourned in January following the death of former international pitcher and former national team manager Roy Torrens at the age of 72.

A planned Zimbabwe tour in March was canceled due to Covid before an ODI 2-1 loss to the Netherlands three months later.

June also saw the retirement of Kevin O’Brien Day Match – the versatile player still holds the fastest century record in ICC World Cup history, scoring 100 points on just 50 balls against England in 2011.

A century after skipper Andrew Balbirnie helped Ireland secure a first-ever victory over South Africa with the ODI Series at Malahide ending 1-1. The Proteas clinched a 3-0 win in the T20 Series and the summer home games continued with a 3-2 T20 win over Zimbabwe followed by a 1-1 ODI draw with the Tourists.

Curtis Campher won four remarkable wickets in four balls as Ireland started their T20 World Cup campaign in October with a seven wicket victory over the Netherlands.

However, they missed the Super 12 after group losses to Sri Lanka and Namibia and a month later Ford announced his departure after four years at the helm of the South African. Former Northamptonshire boss David Ripley has been appointed interim head coach on a three-month contract.

Graham Ford quit his post in Ireland after two years of three-year contract
Graham Ford quit his post in Ireland after two years of three-year contract

The women’s team had to wait until May to play their first competitive game of the year – indeed, they had not been in action since September 2019 due to the pandemic.

Their opponents in Belfast were Scotland and Ireland missed the series winners 3-1, including three wickets in four balls for Leah Paul.

Another T20 home series victory came in July with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands, but the Irish failed to advance in the T20 European World Cup qualifiers at La Manga.

Only one place for the 2023 World Cup was up for grabs and the loss to Scotland proved to be decisive as Ed Joyce’s side missed the game, despite all-rounder Eimear Richardson being named player of the tournament.

The focus was on the one-day game with a World Cup qualifying warm-up tour to Zimbabwe and Ireland secured a impressive 3-1 series victory on hosts.

This included this wonderful shot from the birthday girl Hunter. She struck a stunning 121 steps in Harare to become the youngest player to reach an international century.

The Irish made an early comeback to Zimbabwe for the World Cup qualifiers, but after just two games the tournament was scrapped after the detection of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.

This meant that the three qualifying places offered were decided on the team standings and although Ireland failed to qualify, they secured a place in the International Cricket Council (ICC) women’s championship.

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