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Lance, London, Katie and Poznan: here's what our writers thought of 2012

And what we reckon we’ll be saying this time next year…

The London 2012 opening ceremony.
The London 2012 opening ceremony.
Image: Mike Egerton/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Tony Cuddihy

What has been your sporting highlight of 2012 So far, so predictable, but it has to be Katie winning gold. I thought Aer Lingus would make me miss the fight, but thankfully I got to start off a week in Bilbao with a dodgy internet connection and the crackly voice of Jimmy. It was all celebrated with pintxos and too much beer. And wine. And…

Biggest disappointment Mario Mandzukic’s opening goal for Croatia against Ireland. For three minutes we had every chance of being Denmark, or Greece, but even at the time I knew the tournament could not end well for us.

One song from the past 12 months to sum up the year ‘Call Me Maybe.’ Mainly because it’s the only song from the last year I can recall (I’m more of a Lyric FM man), and I’m fairly certain we used it as a hashtag on a Wes Hoolahan story. Or maybe it was Harry Redknapp.

Your sports personality of the year? Páidí Ó’Sé but, then again, he’s the sporting personality of most years.

Who should we look out for in 2013 James McCarthy. He finally seems to have made a starting place in the Irish midfield his own, and his performances for Wigan have become more and more influential. I had a vision of him playing in a Manchester United shirt the other night and I wasn’t even drunk — he fits what Alex Ferguson needs, Fergie just doesn’t seem to know it yet.

One (sports) book we should read over Christmas Dave Simpson’s ‘The Last Champions’ — the story of the Leeds United side that won the last First Division title before it became the Premier League. Carl Shutt’s is a name I hadn’t heard in a long time…

Finish this sentence… this time next year… …we’ll be speculating who the next Ireland manager will be.

Sean Farrell

What has been your sporting highlight of 2012 D’Olympics! The whole damn lot of it. Right from the opening ceremony (which I thought would be rubbish) through to the Modern Pentathlon. Every new day brought something incredible, one minute we could watch some of the greatest swimming races ever and days later we were watching David Rudisha make history on the track. And that’s not to even whisper about what happened in the ExCel Arena.

I wanted Olympics for Christmas, got a Lynx set and a scarf instead.

Biggest disappointment I didn’t expect much from Euro 2012, but I expected more than that. Over eight months of expectation were dumped in the bin by Mario Mandzukic after just three minutes.

One song from the past 12 months to sum up the year Hmm, a tenuous link for Lance and his lost yellow jerseys? We-e are never, ever, ever getting back together.

Stuck in your head now too.

YouTube: Taylor Swift

Your sports personality of the year? Not even close: Paddy Barnes. The man is a ray of sunshine.

Who should we look out for in 2013 He’s on the cusp of senior stardom already, so Munster’s JJ Hanrahan should see his star rise from reserve to regular. No doubt by November there will be calls for a senior cap to be thrust his way.

One (sports) book we should read over Christmas Haven’t read it, but like the look of Cliffs of Insanity by Keith Duggan looks good. Nothing like a bit of escapism in the Atlantic.

Finish this sentence… this time next year… we’ll be getting out our our Snowboarding to English, English to Snowboarding dictionary and brushing up (no curling pun intended here, honest) in time for Sochi 2014.

Paul Fennessy

What has been your sporting highlight of 2012? It’s hard to look past the obvious choice of Katie Taylor winning gold at the Olympics. Like all the best sporting moments, it had practically the whole country engaged, including people who wouldn’t normally be interested in sport. Ken Egan’s jacket was a close second.

Biggest disappointment? I’m going to go with Ireland’s performance in the World Cup qualifier against Germany. It was so disheartening given that, despite the fact that the Euros were an abject failure, Trap and his colleagues appeared to have learned little from their experiences in the summer and were still willing to adhere to the same tired formula as before.  Annalise Murphy narrowly missing out on an Olympic medal would also be up there.

One song from the past 12 months to sum up the year? I’ll be very unimaginative and pick ‘Good Times, Bad Times’. There were a near-equal amount of sporting highs and lows this year, therefore Led Zeppelin’s nicely vague lyrics fit the bill.

Your sports personality of the year? There are several contenders, but I’m going to go with a joint award for David Walsh and Paul Kimmage. Their fearless and tireless journalism has belatedly paid off, as it undoubtedly proved a significant factor in the eventual exposure of Lance Armstrong and other drug cheats. Cycling is consequently an immeasurably better and fairer sport as a result.

Who should we look out for in 2013? He’s already racked up a considerable amount of appearances for Barcelona, but expect Thiago Alcântara to be even more prominent over the next few years, as the likes of Xavi et al come closer to retirement. Andy Zhang – the golfer who competed in the US Open at 14 this year – is also clearly set for big things.

One (sports) book we should read over Christmas… It’s not exactly new, but ‘Why England Lose: And other curious phenomena explained’ by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski is a superbly written and enlightening look at various footballing trends, explained in a manner that’s in equal parts forensic and entertaining. It has been dubbed the ‘Arsene Wenger of football books’ and given its innovative take on the sport, such praise is well-deserved. ‘Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson’ by Paul Kimmage is also well worth a read for those of you that haven’t checked it out yet.

Finish this sentence… this time next year… Regretting sticking with Trap and not offering Mick McCarthy the Irish job, and waxing lyrical on a fine, Heineken Cup-winning year for Ulster.

Germany’s manager Joachim Low and Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. INPHO/James Crombie

Niall Kelly

What has been your sporting highlight of 2012? In a year in which I was in Twickenham to see Leinster defend their Heineken Cup title and in Poland for Euro 2012, it feels strange to say that my sporting highlight came when I was sitting on the couch at home. But that’s how much Katie Taylor’s Olympic gold medal meant to me and, I suspect, to quite a lot of others as well. There was so much anticipation and expectation, it seemed unthinkable that Katie might not get the prize we all knew she deserved — and still it could have gone either way in the end. There may have been a tear or three.

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Biggest disappointment? That we only got three minutes of actual football before our Euro 2012 illusion was smashed to smithereens. That, and the fact that we couldn’t celebrate Sean St Ledger’s goal properly because some muppet in the crowd blew a whistle and we thought the referee had given a free-out.

One song from the past 12 months to sum up the year? Jimmy’s Winning Matches was great at the start. Then it got old.

Your sports personality of the year? Ian f**king Poulter. The heart and soul of the greatest Ryder Cup comeback ever.

Who should we look out for in 2013? Craig Gilroy. The whole world will be talking about him when he scores the series-winning try for the Lions in Australia.

One (sports) book we should read over Christmas… David Walsh’s “Seven Deadly Sins” or Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle’s “The Secret Race”. Preferably both.

Finish this sentence… this time next year… We’ll be wondering how much longer interim manager Rafael Benitez has before Liverpool sack him again.

Pat McCarry

What has been your sporting highlight of 2012: Europe’s comeback at the Ryder Cup just edges out Leinster’s semi-final win over Clermont in the Heineken Cup. From the ice in Nicolas Colsaerts’ veins on Friday to Ian Poulter keeping Europe in the mix on Saturday and the high drama on Singles Sunday, the Ryder Cup, for me, had it all. I must have cursed and praised Martin Kaymer a thousand times in the space of two hours.

Biggest disappointment: Ireland 0-60 New Zealand. Touring with the squad (or in their vicinity) for almost month, I felt they really deserved to win the second test in Christchurch. The fact that they did not even draw it was a gigantic drag. What followed a week later in Hamilton was abject and drawn out. New Zealand fielded a makeshift back-row, had no Richard Kahui, Corey Jane and rested Julian Savea. Dan Carter was missing too. Within 20 minutes of kick-off it we were facing a hiding that duly materialised.

One song from the past 12 months to sum up the year: ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford and Sons. Some excellent performances by Irish athletes and teams this year but the promise of things to come means waiting for further success might not take too long. We have great young stars such as Annalise Murphy, Craig Gilroy and Robbie Brady coming through and the next few years and plenty more that are not content to wait in the wings any more.

Your sports personality of the year? Novak Djokovic —  he’s a perfect mix of both sporting great and personality. Although he only won the Aussie Open as a Grand Slam this year, he played in three epic finals and his quarter-final match against Juan Martin Del Potro at the US Open was tennis at its best.

Who should we look out for in 2013: Jordi Murphy. Craig Gilroy was the shining light for Ireland in the November and Murphy is a back-up for O’Brien and McLaughlin at Leinster but I’ve been really impressed with him in the Pro12 games I’ve witnessed.

One (sports) book we should read over Christmas: This Love is Not for Cowards by Robert Andrew Powell. The American author spends a year in one of Mexico’s most dangerous cities as he charts the disastrous 2009/10 season of Ciudad Juárez Lindios (Los Indios).

Finish this sentence… This time next year… We will see the British & Irish Lions win their first series since 1997.

Steven O’Rourke

What has been your sporting highlight of 2012 Michael McKillop’s two gold medals at this summer’s Paralympics will stay with me for a long time. When you write about sport for a living, it’s easy to become cynical, especially in relation to athletics. However, McKillop’s wins provoked that rarest of emotions; pure, unbridled, joy. It still makes me smile to just think about those races.

Ireland’s Michael McKillop celebrates winning gold. INPHO/Courtney Crow

Biggest disappointment: Kildare going nowhere. Kieran McGeeney was supposed to be the great lilywhite hope but it just hasn’t happened. It’s now 12 years since Kildare won a Leinster title and losing to Meath in the semi this year was a bitter pill to swallow. You have to wonder has Geezer done all he can with the county.

One song from the past 12 months to sum up the year I think Fintan’s nailed this category with ‘Needle and the Damage Done’ but I’ll stick with a similar theme and go with ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’. Of course, technically, the song should be ‘The Drugs Do Work But, Eventually, Testing Will Catch Up Or Your Team-mates Will Out You And You’ll Be Stripped Of Your Titles’

Your sports personality of the year? Alex Zanardi. When I was training for the marathon a couple of years ago, I used a paper cut – to my hand – as an excuse not to go out for a run. This guy lost both legs in an horrific racing accident and came back to win two golds and a silver at this year’s Paralympics. Perspective.

Who should we look out for in 2013 Michael Drennan at Aston Villa. Could very easily be the player to take over from Robbie Keane in the Irish attack and has scored goals for fun at every level.

One (sports) book we should read over Christmas Iron War – Dave Scott, Mark Allen & The Greatest Race Ever Run. I like books about running (or in this case Ironman races)  much more than I actually like running. This book details the rivalry between Scott and Allen that saw them finish a 139-mile, eight-hour, race less than a minute apart.

Finish this sentence… this time next year… Why we stuck with Declan Kidney for so long after a disastrous Six Nations sees us finishing fourth.

Fintan O’Toole

What has been your sporting highlight of 2012? The drawn All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Galway, and the individual attacking duel located in that between Henry Shefflin and Joe Canning. Twelve points for Shefflin as he spearheaded Kilkenny’s charge back into contention while the game was bookended by two moments of Canning brilliance — the sublime first-half goal and the glacial nerve at the death to nail a free to level the game after missing one moments previously.

YouTube: hockeyhurlingshinty4

Biggest disappointment? Ireland’s Euro 2012 opener against Croatia. It was always going to be difficult to emerge from the group but it would have been nice if those faints hopes had extended to a second game. And to lose out as a result of defensive incompetence – the trait that Trap was meant to have eradicated from the team – made the defeat all the more galling.

One song from the past 12 months to sum up the year? ‘The Needle and Damage Done’ by Neil Young for a year that was defined by the fall of Lance.

Your sports personality of the year? Katie Taylor. It’s a predictable answer but her grace in victory and ability to live up to dizzying expectations was remarkable. I watched her fight for Olympic Gold in the Horse and Jockey Hotel in an interval to a Tipperary hurling press conference. It was interesting to watch the nervous expressions of Tipperary hurlers like Brendan Cummins and Eoin Kelly during the game and their celebrations when the result was announced. Taylor drew admiration from everyone of the country and  even stars from other sports were enthralled by her feats.

Who should we look out for in 2013? Shane Lowry. The Irish golf headlines will be dominated by Rory McIlroy in 2013 but watch out for the emergence of Lowry. He finished the year strongly to win the Portugal Masters – his first European title as a professional – and has a brilliant gutsy attitude.

One (sports) book we should read over Christmas… Keith Duggan’s  ’Cliffs Of Insanity’, a great narrative about a small dedicated group of people immersed in surfing in West Clare.

Finish this sentence… this time next year… We’ll be on the hunt for a new Irish soccer manager after Trap departs following an unsuccessful World Cup qualification campaign.

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