A sporting year full of highs and lows
The Cheltenham Celebration and, to a degree, horse racing in basic took an inordinate quantity of flak at the start of the pandemic, but the market as a whole has actually handled to recuperate well from that particular PR catastrophe.
It assisted that for a while racing was quite much the only sport on our screens, illustrating to the wider public that the show could go on in a safe and expert manner.
The GAA club championships were one of the real success stories of the summer and fall as they were lastly allowed to leave from the shadows of the inter-county beast.
The local scene blossomed like a sunflower and was a most welcome diversion, following an especially uncertain spell, when it looked like we might not have any live sport to get our teeth into at all.
I was among the lucky couple of that had the opportunity of attending video games in the flesh, and when I cast my mind back throughout the years I realise how really blessed I was.
That stated, the wonderful streaming services provided in counties made sure the matches were given a broader audience, with the action beaming into sitting spaces the length and breadth of the country.
Sadly the home entertainment didn’t come without a price, as over-exuberant county last celebrations, along with drowning of sadness, resulted in spikes in the number of cases in all corners of the land, something which left a slight sour taste.
Nevertheless, it needs to be stressed that the Association itself was blameless because consider they managed what could be controlled well, although that didn’t stop big and loud sobs of indignation as the inter-county championships were okayed to consent.
Regretfully, apart from a couple of really special highlights, like Cavan and Tipperary winning the Ulster and Munster finals respectively in football, and Waterford battling back to beat local competitors Kilkenny in the tossing semi-final, the championship petered out in a predictable, ordinary manner, with favourites Limerick and Dublin winning their respective codes at a canter.
The future of inter-county Gaelic football is sadly looking as bleak as a long winter season’s evening as the All-Ireland series is not far off going the way of the Leinster Champion with the Dubs hoovering up titles with greater ease than a Dyson.
Some will attempt to persuade you that it’s a cyclical and this is an once in a lifetime group, but numerous ‘irreplaceable’ gamers have currently reoccured given that their domination began and Dublin continue to get stronger.
There’s no denying that the kids in blue are a genuinely extraordinary outfit, but unlike the all-conquering Kerry and Kilkenny teams of old, they’re not generational talents that will fade away, the conveyor belt will make sure that the inequality will stay for a long period of time to come.
The often-maligned League of Ireland ran an incredibly tight ship and managed to run off their competitors in a really professional and safe way, although we again got fairly foreseeable outcomes, with Shamrock Rovers proving flawless as they romped to the Premier Department title, with strong rivals Dundalk turning the tables to clinch the FAI Cup.
At least the pecking order was ripped to shreds throughout the water as Liverpool won the top-flight crown for the very first time in 30 long years, with the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea up until now back they barely registered in the rear-view mirror.
While the newest edition of the league has actually been as mad as a box of frogs, the Merseysiders look more than capable of retreating once again, despite their well-documented injury problems.
It actually has been a crazy season so far, with Spurs going from title-contenders to also-rans in a matter of days and Manchester United going from no-hopers to oppositions.
In truth neither are likely to get their hands on the silverware, with Manchester City again being the only reasonable risk to Liverpool, although fans reside in hope, and this time of year that belief should be more powerful than ever.
I best regards hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and there’s more gifts under the tree than the Leeds defence kindly handed to Manchester United on Sunday.