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Our writers take out the crystal ball and give their sporting predictions for 2016

It’s that time of the year again.

Niall Kelly

Usain Bolt File Photo Usain Bolt will be favourite to claim the men's 100m in Rio. Source: Adam Davy

MOST OF THE below predictions will be miles off but even the act of filling out this list has reminded me of how much I love sport and its unmatched ability to entertain, excite and inspire.

2015 was another brilliant year of sporting highs and lows, and next year is even more of an embarrassment of riches.

It’s so difficult to predict any of the below with any great certainty, so I’m just looking forward to living through the drama as it unfolds, for better and for worse.

Super Bowl 50: Carolina Panthers
Cricket World T20: Australia
Six Nations: Ireland
Cheltenham Gold Cup: Cue Card
Augusta Masters: Dustin Johnson
National Football League: Mayo
National Hurling League: Clare
Premier League: Man City
SSE Airtricity Premier Division: Shamrock Rovers
Champions League: Bayern Munich
Champions Cup: Clermont Auvergne
The Open: Jordan Spieth
All Ireland Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Tipperary
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Cork
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Andy Murray
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Serena Williams
Euro 2016: France
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Usain Bolt
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Dafne Schippers
F1 World Championship: Sebastian Vettel
Baseball’s World Series: Chicago Cubs
NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers 
Ryder Cup: USA

Sean Farrell

Jonathan Sexton tackled by Richard Hibbard Who will claim the Six Nations? Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

It’s just dawned on me that the only sporting event I was remotely interested in talking about this time last year was the Rugby World Cup.

You’d think I’d have learned a lesson in ’99, ’03, ’07 and ’11, but no. Now, it’s the one competition clouding my memory of an awesome year of sport.

So, projections? I’ll allow myself be swept up in the doom and gloom of Irish rugby and predict that our bid for a Six Nations three-peat will be in tatters by the end of February – the injury situation and RWC hangover are just too big to ignore and I’d happily swap a humdrum spring for a long-overdue win over New Zealand in November.

Aside from that, it’s the Olympics that I’m most looking forward to. It looks like Michael Phelps won’t be back to his dominant best, so the first week of swimming action will be intriguing to see who can take hold of the post-Phelps era while Missy Franklin keeps her legacy on an inexorable upward curve.

Euro 2016? Ah sure it’s great to be there.

Super Bowl 50: Seahawks
Cricket World T20: India
Six Nations: Wales
Cheltenham Gold Cup: Horsies
Augusta Masters: Rory McIlroy
National Football League: Dublin
National Hurling League: Tipperary
Premier League: Manchester United
SSE Airtricity Premier Division: Cork City
Champions League: Bayern Muuuunchen
Champions Cup: Saracens
The Open: Jordan Spieth
All Ireland Football Championship: Mayo
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Kilkenny
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Cork
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Cork
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Andy Murray
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Serena Williams
Euro 2016: France
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Usain Bolt
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce
F1 World Championship: Lewis ’Sports personality of the year’ Hamilton
Baseball’s World Series: NY Mets
NBA Finals: Dubs all day
Ryder Cup: Europe

Paul Dollery 

PGA Championship Golf Who will come out on top between Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy? Source: Jae Hong

There’s plenty on the sporting calendar every year to sustain the appetite over the course of 12 months, but the menu for 2016 looks particularly tasty.

I’m looking forward to seeing an Irishman defend a UFC title for the first time and more Olympic medals for our boxers in Rio, but watching Jonathan Walters spearheading our inevitable Euro 2016 triumph in France will usurp the lot. Allez les Verts!

Super Bowl 50: Patriots
Cricket World T20: Australia
Six Nations: Wales
Cheltenham Gold Cup: Don Poli
Augusta Masters: Jordan Spieth
National Football League: Kerry
National Hurling League: Clare
Premier League: Manchester City
SSE Airtricity Premier Division: Dundalk
Champions League: Barcelona
Champions Cup: Clermont Auvergne
The Open: Rory McIlroy
All Ireland Football Championship: Kerry
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Kilkenny
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Cork
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Cork
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Novak Djokovic
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Serena Williams
Euro 2016: Republic of Ireland (Ole ole ole!)
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Usain Bolt
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
F1 World Championship: Sebastian Vettel
Baseball’s World Series: SF Giants
NBA Finals: Golden State
Ryder Cup: USA

Ben Blake

Stephen O'Donnell and Andy Boyle raise the SSE Airtricity trophy Dundalk are chasing three-in-a-row. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

One thing I’ve learned from making predictions for similar articles in previous years is that whatever happens over the next 12 months, we are likely to be left looking like mugs (see my tip for St Patrick’s Athletic to win the Premier Division in 2015).

That said, they do act as the perfect excuse to look ahead into the not-too-distant future at the plethora of sporting goodness 2016 has got in store for us — Euro 2016, the Rio Olympics, the Six Nations, and various All-Ireland championships to name but a few.

Super Bowl 50: Carolina Panthers
Cricket World T20: South Africa
Six Nations: France
Cheltenham Gold Cup: Don Cossack 
Augusta Masters: Bubba Watson 
National Football League: Cork 
National Hurling League Waterford 
Premier League: Tottenham
SSE Airtricity Premier Division: Dundalk
Champions League: Bayern Munich 
Champions Cup: Saracens
The Open: Louis Oosthuizen
All Ireland Football Championship: Kerry 
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Tipperary 
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Galway
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Roger Federer
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Victoria Azarenka
Euro 2016: Belgium 
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Justin Gatlin 
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Dafne Schippers 
F1 World Championship: Sebastian Vettel
Baseball’s World Series: LA Dodgers 
NBA Finals: San Antonio Spurs
Ryder Cup: USA

Jackie Cahill

The Mayo team stand for the National Anthem Will it finally by Mayo's year? Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

The races for the All-Ireland senior hurling and football championships will throw up the usual thrills and spills.

I’m going for new winners in both, with Clare to win Liam MacCarthy and Mayo to finally end that football famine dating back to 1951, under Stephen Rochford’s management.

It’s now or never for them! Euro 2016 should be class and Spain are my tip. As for the Premier League, hopefully Liverpool can make the top 4 and Arsenal should clinch the title.

Super Bowl 50: Carolina Panthers
Cricket World T20: India
Six Nations: England
Cheltenham Gold Cup: Djakadam
Augusta Masters: Rory McIlroy
National Football League: Donegal
National Hurling League: Cork
Premier League: Arsenal
SSE Airtricity Premier Division: Dundalk
Champions League: Barcelona
Champions Cup: Toulon
The Open: Jordan Spieth
All Ireland Football Championship: Mayo
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Clare
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Galway
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Roger Federer
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Petra Kvitova
Euro 2016: Spain
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Usain Bolt
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
F1 World Championship: Lewis Hamilton
Baseball’s World Series: San Francisco Giants
NBA Finals: Golden State Warriors
Ryder Cup: Europe

Paul Fennessy

Jonathan Walters celebrates scoring a penalty Ireland have been handed a tough group at Euro 2016. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

What I’m most looking forward to in 2016? Euro 2016.

It will just be the fourth time in my lifetime I’ve watched Ireland at a major tournament (I was too young to remember Euro 88 and Italia 90), so I’ve learned to savour these occasions.

What makes it particularly exciting is that there is a genuine feel-good atmosphere around the team this time.

Whereas at Euro 2012, it was an Irish team trying and ultimately failing to play a drab Italian style of football, Martin O’Neill’s side are much more of a throwback to the eras of Mick McCarthy and Jack Charlton, who adopted a similarly positive approach to international football.

Getting out of the group won’t be easy, but it’s definitely doable. In recent times, both the Premier League and international football have provided a number of unlikely results, so there’s no reason why Euro 2016 shouldn’t continue this trend.

Moreover, Wales beat Belgium in the qualifiers, Costa Rica defeated Italy at the last World Cup and Sweden don’t look any better than Bosnia, so there is definitely scope for optimism from an Irish perspective.

Super Bowl 50: New England Patriots
Cricket World T20: India
Six Nations: England
Cheltenham Gold Cup: Djakadam
Augusta Masters: Jordan Spieth
National Football League: Dublin
National Hurling League:  Galway
Premier League: Man City
SSE Airtricity Premier Division: Dundalk
Champions League: Barcelona
Champions Cup: Toulon
The Open: Rory McIlroy
All Ireland Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Kilkenny
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Cork
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Novak Djokovic
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Serena Williams
Euro 2016: Spain
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Usain Bolt
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
F1 World Championship: Lewis Hamilton
Baseball’s World Series: St Louis Cardinals
NBA Finals: Golden State Warriors
Ryder Cup: Europe

Ryan Bailey

Kevin O'Brien celebrates taking a wicket with his teammates Ireland will compete at the ICC World Twenty20 in India this March. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

With such a feast of sport on offer over the course of the next twelve months, it’s difficult to pick one event which quickens the pulse more than anything else but the Olympic Games are always special while Euro 2016 has all the ingredients to be a memorable tournament.

If you’re looking for a success story in 2016, however, look no further than the World Twenty20 in March with both the Irish men and women once again competing on the biggest stage in India. In short, bring it on!

Super Bowl 50: Patriots 
Cricket World T20: New Zealand 
Six Nations: Ireland
Cheltenham Gold Cup: Vautour 
Augusta Masters: Jordan Spieth
National Football League: Dublin
National Hurling League: Clare
Premier League: Man City
SSE Airtricity Premier Division: Cork City
Champions League: Barcelona
Champions Cup: Toulon 
The Open: Pádraig Harrington (!)
All Ireland Football Championship: Kerry
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Kilkenny  
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Cork
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Novak 
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Serena 
Euro 2016: Germany 
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Usain Bolt
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce
F1 World Championship: Lewis Hamilton 
Baseball’s World Series: Washington
NBA Finals: Golden State Warriors
Ryder Cup: Europe 

Paul Hosford

Super Bowl Football The New England Patriots will be looking to make it two Super Bowls on the bounce. Source: Michael Conroy

I can’t see anything that would lead me to believe the Patriots and Warriors don’t repeat. Despite their problems, the Pats are still an excellent team.

At home, I can’t call anyone but Dublin and Kilkenny for Sam and Liam and the Cork ladies will repeat their claims as the best teams in the country.

In the Premier League, I just think City have the deepest squad to go the distance, though who isn’t cheering for Leicester?

In the LOI, Cork City have improved and the constant thorn in their side, Richie Towell, has left for Brighton. So, hopefully…

Super Bowl 50: Patriots
Cricket World T20: Bangladesh
Six Nations: Ireland
Cheltenham Gold Cup: A horse?
Augusta Masters: Ricky Fowler
National Football League: Dublin
National Hurling League: Tipp
Premier League: Man City
SSE Airtricity Premier Division: Cork City
Champions League: Barca
Champions Cup: Saracens
The Open: Rory McIlroy
All Ireland Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Kilkenny
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Cork
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Cork
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Djokovic
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Petra Kvitová
Euro 2016: Germany
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Usain Bolt
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Dafne Schippers
F1 World Championship: Hamilton, I guess?
Baseball’s World Series: The Cubs finally get it done
NBA Finals: Warriors
Ryder Cup: Europe

Alan Waldron

Ashling Thompson and Ailish O'Reilly Galway will look to wrestle the All-Ireland senior camogie title back from Cork. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

After five years of living overseas, the idea of watching GAA has me more excited than ever. The Sunday Game theme tune, the first ads for the championship as the summer approaches, heck even the O’Byrne Cup is pushing my buttons at the moment.

Being able to watch north hemisphere sport without disrupting my sleep pattern will even be a treat; it’s the simple things in life sometimes.

Aside from that, the obvious big ones – Euro 2016, Rio Olympics, Ryder Cup and seeing Ireland go for three in a row in the Six Nations, 2016 is promising to be a belter.

Super Bowl 50: Patriots
Cricket World T20: India
Six Nations: Wales
Cheltenham Gold Cup: Coneygree
Augusta Masters: Jason Day
National Football League: Mayo
National Hurling League: Waterford
Premier League: Manchester City
SSE Airtricity Premier Division: Dundalk
Champions League: Bayern Munich
Champions Cup: Saracens
The Open: Rory McIlroy
All Ireland Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Clare
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Dublin
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Cork
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Novak Djokovic
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Eugenie Bouchard
Euro 2016: France
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Usain Bolt
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Dafne Schippers
F1 World Championship: Lewis Hamilton
Baseball’s World Series: LA Dodgers
NBA Finals: Oklahoma City Thunder
Ryder Cup: USA

Eoin O’Callaghan

Horse Racing - 2015 Cheltenham Festival - Gold Cup Day - Cheltenham Racecourse Last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygee is currently sidelined with an injury. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

An incredible 2016 awaits and there’s something special about a summer that’s jam-packed with sports events. I’ve always loved the European Championships, regardless of Irish involvement, but this promises to be an extra special edition.

As much as our country will be there, I’m not sure enough is being made of Michael O’Neill’s achievement in pushing Northern Ireland through a remarkable qualification campaign.

As we know only too well, the feeling of stepping out into a major tournament after a lengthy absence is hard to match and it will be fantastic to see our entire island represented at a competition for the very first time

Super Bowl 50: Arizona Cardinals
Cricket World T20: India
Six Nations: Wales
Cheltenham Gold Cup: Road To Riches 
Augusta Masters:Jason Day 
National Football League: Dublin
National Hurling League: Waterford
Premier League: Arsenal
Airtricity Premier Division: Cork City  
Champions League: Barcelona
Champions Cup: Leicester Tigers 
The Open: Adam Scott 
All Ireland Football Championship: Dublin 
All Ireland Hurling Championship: Tipperary
All Ireland Ladies Football Championship: Cork
All Ireland Camogie Championship: Kilkenny
Wimbledon Men’s Singles: Novak Djokovic
Wimbledon Women’s Singles: Agnieszka Radwanska 
Euro 2016: Germany
Men’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Usain Bolt
Women’s 100m gold at the Olympic Games: Dafne Schippers
F1 World Championship: Nico Rosberg
Baseball’s World Series: San Francisco Giants
NBA Finals: San Antonio Spurs
Ryder Cup: USA

What are you looking forward to most this year and who are you backing for success?

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