Time to turn our rheumy eyes to 2014 and show losers some love

Wash out the taste of a rotten 2013 with decent league campaigns for Sligo and Leitrim and Kildare

Let the Mayo footballers keep on keeping on, especially after their defeat to Dublin (above).

Let the Mayo footballers keep on keeping on, especially after their defeat to Dublin (above).


We end every year the same way, godding up the winners from the 12 months just gone as we circle the plughole one more time. It’s a nice tradition, not least for us media monkeys who would otherwise be on our knees in the dirt scrabbling for nuts and morsels at a time of year when there’s damn little sport around to provide them.

The glasses have all been raised by now though. They’ve been raised, drunk, refilled, reraised, redrunk and regurgitated. There is no horse left to flog – or if there is, it’s your local supermarket’s freezer section that’s doing the flogging (see how long ago 2013 feels already?)

Time to turn our rheumy eyes to 2014. And just for once, some love for the losers. The people who couldn’t bear to read an end-of-year review piece, who lunged for the remote as soon as any kind of retrospective came on the TV. They suited up just the same as the winners but when the time came to snapshot the year, they were faces in the far back row of the photo. A thought or two spared on their behalf, then.

Let the Mayo footballers keep on keeping on. Funny how all but one other team in the country failed to win last year’s All-Ireland yet it’s to Mayo we look first. That’s their curse and it’s far more acute than anything to do with a funeral in Foxford in 1951. Let them rise above it, secure them in the knowledge that the vast majority of teams can’t beat them.

Come back healthy
Let Donegal come back healthy. Grant that young Cork team a few early results. Find room for Paul Galvin in a Kerry team with only the odd legend left. Wash out the taste of a rotten 2013 with decent league campaigns for Sligo and Leitrim and Kildare.

It would be nice if the Galway hurlers could find some strength this year after the tragic winter’s loss of Niall Donoghue. Whether they do or they don’t, let them find a way back to some sort of normality. Ease a few of Kilkenny’s older soldiers back into action at their own pace. Rattle the Tipp hurlers out of their torpor. Have someone truthfully tell Oulart The Ballagh they’re a credit to their people.

This isn’t big and this isn’t clever but it really would be a lot of fun if Brian O’Driscoll scored the winning try against Wales in the Aviva next month. If it only levelled the scores and Johnny Sexton had to plant a tricky conversion to win, so much the better. Fix Seán O’Brien’s shoulder. Stitch Stephen Ferris back together once and for all.

Help the referees. They’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole now in rugby that it’s impossible to take charge of the games without looking like a prize twit. The forward pass from Jimmy Gopperth to Gordon D’Arcy against Connacht on Saturday night would have done a quarter-back proud yet it stood because the law-makers have outsmarted themselves with constant tinkering. It’s as though Pádraig Harrington has written the rulebook.

Save Pádraig Harrington. From terminal decline, from irrelevance, from himself. Cure Rory McIlroy’s habit of giving up after a few bad holes. Let us all wake up some day to find that he got married without anybody knowing a thing about it. Fat chance.

Hold his hands up
Nail down a few starting spots for Irish soccer players or find them a move that suits them. Keep John O’Shea in the Premier League. If Shay Given wants back into the Ireland squad, point him at his old spot in the dressing room. If Stephen Ireland wants the same, let him hold his hands up and say he made a mess of it first time around. Then welcome him back with open arms.

Bless Davy Russell with a big Cheltenham. If there’s no such thing as a good time to lose your job, New Year’s Day right slap in the middle of the season will take some beating as a bad one. Have him trot back down the chute in front of the grandstand at Prestbury Park in March waving his whip in the air. Maybe even on the Gigginstown second string.

Speed JT McNamara’s recovery. Ditto Tomás Waters. Ditto Gary O’Neil. Grant Derval O’Rourke a year in the arena rather than another on the treatment table. Make it so that Colm O’Neill never walks into the office of an orthopaedic surgeon ever again. Three cruciate operations before a man’s 25th birthday is enough.

Let the weather ease up so we can get around to at least trying to keep some New Year’s resolutions. Let the first drive of the year go straight or the first putt drop. Both is obviously too much to ask for so we’ll take one or the other.

Most of all, give the vanquished a reason to strap on the gear and go again. A small victory in itself. A noble one too.

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