In the end, the biggest surprise in the annual the PSG Sport and Sponsorship Sentiment Index announced on Thursday was that Shane Long's goal against Germany was run so close for the 2015's most memorable sporting moment.
The Republic of Ireland striker's joyous larrup past Manuel Neuer at the Aviva in October was maybe the one moment all year guaranteed to be replayed for years to come – more so even than the Jon Walters's goals against Bosnia and Herzegovina that finally sealed qualification for Euro 2016.
For Paul O’Connell’s hamstring injury against France in the Rugby World Cup to poll in such proximity – 22 per cent of respondents made it their moment of the year as opposed to Long’s 27 per cent – probably says as much for our capacity to wallow in misery as it does about our feelings for the retired Ireland captain.
The Sports Sentiment Index was carried out by PSG Sponsorship in conjunction with leading research agency Ignite Research.
The research was carried out among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 to 65, with quotas imposed on gender, region, age and social class.
The research was carried out between December 10th and 15th. Presumably, this accounts for Conor McGregor's one-punch knockout of Jose Aldo not making it into the top-five most memorable moments of the year. Respondents weren't given the option of voting for it.
Since three days of the polling had passed before the fight, his lightning left to Aldo’s jaw was clearly just defeated by timing here. There’s little doubt that it will live longer in the memory than Billy Walsh’s resignation, which came in at fifth place with six per cent of the vote.
McGregor’s place in the popularity standings would surely have likewise received a bump if the survey was carried out at a later date, say in January, to make it a comprehensive reflection of the year.
Even with the timing, he comes third in the poll for Most Admired Sportsperson at eight per cent. Whether he'd have overtaken Katie Taylor at 20 per cent or O'Connell at 22 per cent is up for debate. But it's reasonable to assume he'd have run them close
“It’s unfortunate,” says Kieran McSweeney of PSG Sponsorship. “You have to do the survey sometime and it just happened to fall on the wrong weekend for Conor. I would say if we even did it this weekend, his name would rise up the ranks.
“It is interesting to see the impact [he] has had was not a flash in the pan. Last year he was the country’s sixth most admired sports star while this year he moves up to third as his popularity and profile continue to rise.”
There are apparent contradictions to the survey. Despite yet another premature exit from a World Cup, the Ireland rugby team go down as more deserving of the title of team of the year. They polled at 26 per cent, with the Republic of Ireland soccer team charting at 24 per cent.
Yet when respondents were asked what they considered the greatest sporting achievement of the year, the soccer team qualifying for France came in at a higher number (22 per cent) than the men’s rugby team winning the Six Nations (21 per cent).
The nature of these surveys – not to mention the nature of the GAA – always leaves the domestic sports looking in worse shape than they probably are. Because we are such a tribal people, it is no surprise to see what could be loosely termed The GAA Vote splintered.
Hence, Henry Shefflin is the only GAA player to make it on to the list of most admired sportspeople of 2015, even though he retired from intercounty hurling in 2014.
Looking ahead to 2016, there’s no debate over what is the most anticipated event of the year.
Euro 2016 in France is where it’s at and no mistake. Proof, as if it was needed, that the great Irish public never saw a bandwagon it didn’t like the look of.