People to watch in 2012


Sport, TV and politics:five to watch next year


Soccer player

Born in Sidcup, in southeast London, the 20-year-old Republic of Ireland youth international looks ready for a breakthrough year. Having earned his place in Arsenal’s first-team squad for a trip to Wigan in the 2009-10 season, he made his senior debut in an FA Cup replay against Leyton Orient in March, playing on the left side of midfield for the full 90 minutes. But he has had a patchy year, partly from missing the early stages of the current campaign through injury. So far he has made 13 reserve appearances for Arsenal and was part of the first-team touring squad to Germany in preseason.


Gaelic football player

The Dublin dual star is attracting the attention of the Australian Rules team Carlton. It is expected he will assess his options after he completes his Leaving Certificate, next June. Kilkenny has an impressive scoring record in both minor hurling and football, and is likely to continue his development in both codes at under-21 level for Dublin next year. The lure of a professional sports contract in the sun may be hard to resist.


Olympic swimmer

Gráinne Murphy is possibly Ireland’s leading hope in the pool at the London Olympics. From Wexford, she previously won a silver medal in the 1,500m freestyle at the 2010 European Aquatics Championships. She already has three gold medals from the 2009 European Junior Swimming Championships and is the current Irish record holder in the 1,500m category. She was awarded the Texaco young-sportstar prize in 2009 and was shortlisted for the RTÉ Sports Person of the Year award in 2010.



Damo and Ivor, a duo created by Andy Quirke, were launched in April this year on RTÉ’s Republic of Tellywith the music video Everybody’s Drinkin’. The song went to number one on iTunes within 36 hours, and the pair are now regulars on the show, often premiering music videos from their debut album, Epic Choons. Next year they’ll be returning for a new season of Republic of Tellyand doing some live shows. It’s only a matter of time before they land their own TV series.



After an unsuccessful campaign in 2007, Regina Doherty was elected for Fine Gael this year in the Meath constituency. Her background is in business: she worked in IT for 20 years, at Horizon Technology Group and later in her own business. She is chairwoman of the Committee on Health and Children and has not been afraid to argue her position on issues such as the Croke Park deal and the disability cuts in the budget, even when these cause her problems with the Fine Gael hierarchy. In February she will co-ordinate a national project to recruit champions for Special Olympics Ireland.

Business, finance and arts: five to watch next year



Phillip McMahon is one half of the theatre outfit Thisispopbaby and has co-curated and worked with the Electric Picnic, the Abbey Theatre and Project Arts Space. He will direct a new musical, Alice in Funderland, for the Abbey main stage early next year. It is the first new homegrown musical commissioned by the Abbey in several decades. Another show McMahon directed, The Year of Magical Wanking,sets off on a nine-week tour of Australia next month.



The Dublin duo of Conall Breacháin and John Duignan, playing guitars and drums, are hotly tipped for mainstream success in the next 12 months. They were first spotted at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival in 2009, an event they returned to this year. Recently they released their debut album, Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwards. Irish Timesmusic critic Jim Carroll writes: “They’re a band you could see still in the game five or 10 years from now, which is a goal most acts want to achieve.” The hope is that they can secure nationwide distribution for their new album next year.



Caroline Grace-Cassidy began her acting career in the TV series Custer’s Last Stand Up, playing Miss Mull. Since then she has gone on to appear in Irish and international productions and has worked in film with the director Jim Sheridan, among others. Yet, following a number of rejections for acting roles last year, she decided to write a novel, after seeing a writing competition advertised. The result, When Love Takes Over, is due out in February, published by Poolbeg Press.



One of the brightest economists to emerge in the past year is this 33-year-old lecturer at the Kemmy Business School, at the University of Limerick. Kinsella has several publications to his name, including Ireland in 2050: How We Will Be Living, Understanding Ireland’s Economic Crisis: Prospects for Recoveryand Quick Win Economics. His areas of interest are computable economics, macroeconomics and Irish public policy. He is a research fellow at the Geary Institute, at University College Dublin.



Dylan Collins is fast becoming one of the most trusted and experienced Irish investors and online games entrepreneurs. His major successes include Jolt online gaming (which was acquired by GameStop), Demonware (which was acquired by Activision Blizzard) and Phorest. A project to watch out for is the online children’s game Fight My Monster, an enterprise of which he is chairman. Brown Bag Films has announced it will develop a TV series based on the game.