Looking for­ward to an ex­cit­ing year of sport­ing action in 2009

Bray People - - Sports -

‘IN­SIDE RIGHT’ is back in action af­ter the fes­tive sea­son and feel­ing a lit­tle worse for wear.

Af­ter over-in­dulging on turkey, crisps, cho­co­lates and of course the evil al­co­hol, we should be head­ing to the sports fields our­selves to shake off the ex­cesses, but for now we’ll stick to the arm­chair pun­ditry as we look for­ward to what should be an­other bumper sport­ing year.

As the dust is blown off the crys­tal ball we keep on the desk for just such an oc­ca­sion, the first pic­ture that comes into fo­cus is Manch­ester United play­ers danc­ing around the Premier League tro­phy af­ter re­tain­ing their crown fol­low­ing a mam­moth strug­gle.

Liver­pool will stay in the race un­til April but they’ll get the jit­ters when the winning line is in sight, while Chelsea seem to lack the con­sis­tency and killer in­stinct of a cou­ple of years back, leav­ing United to saunter their way past the winning post to col­lect the ti­tle with the low­est winning points tally ever.

United fans won’t have a Cham­pi­ons League win to cel­e­brate though, as Barcelona’s name is al­ready writ­ten on that one, with the mes­meris­ing Lionel Messi sure to show that he’s the best player in the world, leav­ing a cer­tain Mr. Ron­aldo in the shade.

We’ll then get to see just who is the bet­ter player as the two go head to head next sea­son, when Ron­aldo moves to his beloved Real Madrid with wads of cash in hand.

On the home front, God only knows who’s go­ing to tri­umph in our do­mes­tic league. The way things are go­ing Car­rick United could win it, with so many teams un­sure of their long term or even short term fu­ture.

The Ir­ish team will defy the crit­ics by qual­i­fy­ing for the World Cup in South Africa, with Stephen Ire­land head­ing home the cru­cial goal that sends us through from a pin­point Andy Reid cross.

In Gaelic games, Kilkenny will again cruise to a facile All-Ire­land suc­cess, while we’re ex­pect­ing a Cork team made up of wa­ter car­ri­ers, tea ladies and a few lads they dragged away from the bar at the lo­cal to give it a good lash in the Mun­ster cham­pi­onship.

In foot­ball, Dublin will fi­nally make the long-awaited break­through to the All-Ire­land fi­nal but will end the sum­mer bro­ken-hearted again as they’re out-bat­tled by fel­low bot­tlers Mayo.

Both sides will do ev­ery­thing in their power to lose the game but the western­ers will even­tu­ally fall over the line to deny the down­trod­den Dubs.

Con­tin­u­ing our merry jaunt in cloud cuck­ooland, we can see the Ir­ish rugby team winning all be­fore them in 2009.

Things mightn’t have looked too rosy as Ire­land strug­gled to play with any co­he­sion in the re­cent au­tumn in­ter­na­tion­als, but the one crumb of com­fort we do have is that our Euro­pean coun­ter­parts in the main were equally in­ept in the re­cent tests. In our favour we do have Eng­land and France at Croke Park and Wales blow as hot and cold as a Sa­hara snow­storm, so hope springs eter­nal.

In horse racing, it doesn’t look like the Ir­ish will have a par­tic­u­larly strong hand at Chel­tenham, well at least in the main cham­pi­onship races.

In the Cham­pion Hur­dle, ‘Binoc­u­lar’ looks like he just has to turn up and jockey Tony McCoy will most likely need a pair to see his ri­vals, they’ll be so far back.

The Gold Cup again looks to be a straight shoot-out be­tween the Paul Ni­cholls duo, ‘Den­man’ and ‘Kauto Star’, with the lat­ter looking to be back to some­where near his best in the King Ge­orge, and if the for­mer is in good fet­tle af­ter his health scare we could have the ti­tanic bat­tle we hoped for last March.

An­other Ni­cholls in­mate, ‘Mas­ter Minded’, looks un­touch­able in the Cham­pion Chase, and the Nicky Hen­der­son-trained ‘Punchestowns’ looks like the stay­ing star that will mop up the World Hur­dle prize.

The Ir­ish will prob­a­bly have to con­tent them­selves with a hand­i­cap or two and a Wil­lie Mullinstrained bumper win­ner.

Else­where, we’re pre­dict­ing that Pádraig Har­ring­ton will make his­tory by winning three Bri­tish Opens in a row, al­though a hob­bling Tiger Woods, just on the road to re­ha­bil- ita­tion, could run him close. Usain Bolt will knock an­other tenth of a sec­ond off his 100 me­tres world record whilst run­ning to the toi­let af­ter a spicy curry, and Ron­nie O’Sul­li­van will storm to the world snooker ti­tle af­ter find­ing peace with him­self and im­me­di­ately an­nounce his re­tire­ment from the game.

Any­way, enough of what lies ahead. ‘In­side Right’ is start­ing to get a headache from squint­ing at this damned crys­tal ball.

Back into the drawer with you for an­other year.

Stephen Ire­land will score the goal that sends Ire­land into the World Cup in South Africa.

Mas­ter Minded will romp home in the Cham­pion Chase at Chel­tenham.

Eoin Larkin and Kilkenny will make it four-in-a-row.

Usain Bolt will con­tinue to break records.

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