At the end of an­other year of sport­ing highs and lows, takes a look back on an av­er­age 12 months for the Ir­ish Har­ring­ton and the Ir­ish box­ers gave us some­thing to cel­e­brate

‘In­side Right’

Bray People - - Bray People -

DOESN’T TIME fly. It seems like only yes­ter­day that yours truly was re­flect­ing on a pretty dire 2007 and while this year was slightly bet­ter it’s still not time to be fre­net­i­cally wav­ing tri­colours from the rooftops.

While we had a few fine in­di­vid­ual dis­plays and some praise­wor­thy per­for­mances both home and abroad our na­tional teams in the head­line sports con­tin­ued to fail to ig­nite on the world stage.

The ob­vi­ous high­light was Pádraig Har­ring­ton be­com­ing the first player, other than Tiger Woods, to win two ma­jors in the same year since Mark O’Meara won the Mas­ters and Bri­tish Open in 1998.

The Dubliner may sound like a pen­guin on helium but the boy sure can play golf.

His in­cred­i­ble back-to-back vic­to­ries have ce­mented his place as the great­est Ir­ish golfer of all time, prov­ing his Open suc­cess in 2007 was def­i­nitely no fluke.

There’s plenty out there that will still ar­gue that Har­ring­ton’s achieve­ment was some­how di­min­ished by the ab­sence of Tiger Woods in the two events but he proved last year in Carnoustie that he can beat the world’s top golfer.

Un­for­tu­nately he’ll just have to win one more ma­jor with Tiger in the field to fi­nally si­lence the mind­less boo-boys.

Else­where, it was a good year for box­ers from the Emer­ald Isle. It makes a change from the plas­tered pugilism we’re used to see­ing at three in the morn­ing af­ter the night­clubs close.

We showed our mas­tery of the an­cient art with an ex­cit­ing run at the Olympics, re­turn­ing with a haul of three medals, with Kenny Egan, Dar­ren Suther­land and Paddy Barnes briefly lift­ing the spir­its in this doom-laden coun­try.

The prepa­ra­tion and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the box­ing team should be a ex­am­ple to all other com­peti­tors from this coun­try.

Un­for­tu­nately the rest of the Olympics was a bit of an em­bar­rass­ment for the Ir­ish team.

The ma­jor­ity of our ath­letes seemed to go into the Games strug­gling with in­jury or with se­ri­ously in­ter­rupted prepa­ra­tions, re­sult­ing in a host of dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mances.

All we got to cheer was Róisín McGet­ti­gan and Alis­tair Cragg ac­quit­ting them­selves pretty well by reach­ing fi­nals but the bar sim­ply has to be raised higher.

We need to be go­ing to th­ese world events har­bour­ing hopes of re­turn­ing with medals in­stead of just go­ing along to make up the num­bers.

But again it was in eques­trian sports where we ex­celled, if that’s the right word, at em­bar­rass­ment.

De­nis Lynch fol­lowed in the foot­steps of Cian O’Con­nor to leave the coun­try red-faced and re­mind us that cor­rup­tion is rife in this elite sport.

At least our box­ers proved that as a na­tion we can punch well above our weight on the world stage with the right prepa­ra­tion and queen of the ring Katie Tay­lor showed that yet again.

The Bray woman saw off all-com­ers to re­tain her world light­weight ti­tle and was named AIBA fe­male boxer of the year.

Hope­fully, Tay­lor will get the chance to show her sub­lime skills in the Olympics in Lon­don in 2012 with ‘In­side Right’ con­fi­dently pre­dict­ing her to re­turn with the gold medal if given the op­por­tu­nity.

It wasn’t a great year for our soc­cer or rugby teams, with both fail­ing to set the world alight.

The boys in green have man­aged to get a few de­cent re­sults on pa­per but the man­ner of their vic­to­ries would hardly fill the na­tion with glo­ri­ous ex­pec­ta­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately the Ir­ish team have a cen­tre about as rock solid as a Rolo. Dar­ron Gib­son and Glenn Whe­lan are de­cent play­ers at a cer­tain level but can’t be ex­pected to con­trol an in­ter­na­tional mid­field.

Andy Reid is no world beater ei­ther but at least has the abililty to open up a de­fence with a though­ful pass. But we’ve all come to re­alise by now that there’s no point in wast­ing ink on the topic be­cause Gio­vanni Tra­p­at­toni is the most stub­born and con­trary man since Vic­tor Mel­drew.

The rugby boys are not looking quite so men­ac­ing as they did a cou­ple of years back ei­ther.

Af­ter an aw­ful World Cup and Six Na­tions Ed­die O’Sul­li­van fi­nally de­cided to do the noble thing and jump ship and al­though De­clan Kid­ney would def­i­nitely have been ‘In­side Right’s’ choice for the job, the re­cent Au­tumn in­ter­na­tion­als wouldn’t fill you with con­fi­dence. How­ever, we’re will­ing to put our feel­ing on ice on this one and re­turn to the topic in the spring.

Thank­fully, we had Kid­ney’s Mun­ster to fly the flag for Ir­ish rugby again with their su­perb Heineken Cup win.

On the home front Kilkenny’s awe­some dis­play against Water­ford in the All-Ire­land fi­nal was the high­light, and that’s not easy for a long­suf­fer­ing Wex­ford­man to ad­mit.

While feel­ing a de­gree of sym­pa­thy for the Déise you just had to sit back and ad­mire the artistry of the Cats. ‘

In­side Right’ is fed up of hear­ing the virtues of Mun­ster hurl­ing.

Last year Water­ford were the best Mun­ster had to of­fer and look what Kilkenny did to them. No team in the coun­try would have lived with them on that Sun­day in Septem­ber. It’s just a pity it wasn’t Cork.

From a to­tally per­sonal point of view, see­ing the Wex­ford foot­ballers reach the All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal brought an enor­mous sense of pride.

Ja­son Ryan’s achieve­ment of bring­ing this mag­nif­i­cent bunch of play­ers from ap­par­ent no-hop­ers to real ti­tle con­tenders de­serves huge credit. Here’s to more of the same in 2009.

Ire­land’s win in the In­ter­na­tional Rules was also some­thing to savour. At least we’re the best in the world at some­thing!

We also ac­quit­ted our­selves well in the Rugby League World Cup, qual­i­fy­ing for a semi-fi­nal play-off, but then again the squad was about as Ir­ish as vin­daloo.

Speak­ing of vin­daloo, ‘ In­side Right’ bet­ter rush down to the butcher’s to col­lect the turkey be­fore it closes.

The St. Stephen’s Day curry just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Pádraig Har­ring­ton, win­ner of two ma­jors in 2008.

Kenny Egan, who re­turned from the Olympics with a sil­ver medal.

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