Joe Brolly, Paul Kimmage and Co make their predictions for 2016
From hilarious tweets to the wisdom of waterfalls, we’re in for some new year treats
Joe Brolly: My friend John Fogarty tweeted last week: "At a wedding. Priest's advice to wedding couple: 'focus, commit, believe and achieve.' Jim McGuinness has a lot to answer for."
The cleric's advice will only work if the groom is Michael Murphy. But the holy man's words are proof, if proof were needed, that gobbledegook has conquered the world. England's leading sports psychology website BelievePerform (@BelievePHQ) rang in the new year with the chilling advice: 'Start the year by becoming a growth mindset coach'. This was coupled with some standard bunkum: 'Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start thinking of what could go right.' Zzzzzzzzzz. Then there are the nutritionists telling players that eating giant bags of Doritos and quaffing fizzy drinks isn't good for them.
A friend bought me the Ladybird Book of Mindfulness for Christmas. It reminds us there is wisdom in waterfalls and suggests things like not talking for a day and conveying our feelings with a smile or a frown. Other titles in this series are The Tooth Fairy, Homeopathy, The Life Coach and The Loch Ness Monster.
I would like to thank those readers who have contributed to the debate on these important matters, including Aidan who wrote to me enclosing a photograph of his car park pay machine bearing the message, 'Change is possible'. Each morning Aidan focuses on this message and believes it has transformed his life. He now uses a bicycle instead of driving to work. While he cycles, he sucks a boiled sweet and is able to block out the world completely while he savours its flavours. Aidan has crashed twice already, suffering minor fractures, but as Kieran Shannon might tell you, it is only through adversity that we can truly achieve.
Another Christmas gift I received from a reader was Mindfulness for Dogs by Sam Hart. The blurb says: "This book teaches the dog owner how to be with your dog in the present moment. Dogs are amazing spiritual teachers."
And so say all of us. I'm off now to enrol in a growth mindset coaching course. Happy New Year.
Shane Lowry wins his first Ryder Cup singles but it's not enough to save Europe from defeat at Hazeltine National. With predictable spin, the European Tour points to concerns over three successive US defeats while describing the result as "good for the future of the event, going forward."
Dan Martin wins the Olympic Road Race . . . Okay, so it's a big if, but if Dan Martin has a decent spring and a healthy Tour de France, there is every chance he can become the first Irishman ever to medal at an Olympic cycling event. The 256-kilometre road race on August 6 - two weeks after the Tour - contains almost 4,000m of climbing and is tailor-made for the 29-year-old.
1) Brian O'Driscoll will send many tweets. They will be 'hilarious'.
2) An Islamist terrorist atrocity will take place at or near one of the world's major sporting events. Another sporting event will take place shortly afterwards with players wearing black armbands and columnists will say that this is the best possible answer to terrorism. Seriously?
3) It will be made illegal to pass comments which suggest a female sports star is attractive. Unless it's Caitlyn Jenner, then you will be required by social media law to slobber away big time about how well she looks.
4) Many people will say how 'brave' a top sports star is for admitting to a problem few people care about when someone they actually know in real life is suffering from it.
5) It will be pointed out that Mo Farah, Chris Froome, Seb Coe and Uncle Tom Cobley are 'not like Lance Armstrong'.
6) Lee from St Albans will find hurling to be highly interesting and be quoted extensively in the Irish media to this effect.
7) There will be many photos of Roy Keane scowling with the word 'legend' appearing nearby.
8) The phrase 'Champions League format' will be used as though it may magically transform a dead rubber between Louth and Leitrim into Real Madrid v Barcelona.
9) It will be observed that teams who lose by more than ten points are 'being done no favours' by the current system.
10) A team full of players incapable of passing the ball 30 yards to each other will be revealed to have done 167 sessions since the New Year.
11) The Sigerson Cup will miraculously make no contribution whatsoever to 'player burnout'.
12) Economic recovery will be proved by the reappearance of really, really interesting articles about helicopters at the Galway Races.
13) We'll pretend that we knew who won the first round of that Olympic boxing match before the score comes up on the telly.
14) Those 'Gay Premier League Stars' will decide to keep it under wraps for another year. No point in taking things too fast after all.
15) The fact that human beings die will be seen as 'putting sport into perspective'.
16) Especially after someone dies of a laughing fit brought on by one of Brian O'Driscoll's tweets.
The IABA will manage to get rid of Katie Taylor from the national team some time before the Rio Olympics. An IABA spokesman will say: "Sure we have another 20 female boxers as good as her." The Taoiseach will intervene. The IABA will tell him to mind his own business, before asking him for more money.
With the GAA's current television deal due to finish after the All-Ireland finals, the three-year flirtation with pay-per-view will end, for the moment. The reaction to the arrangement with Sky has been overwhelmingly negative, unfairly so at times, but the hysteria which greeted it when first announced in April 2014 has been shown to be just that. It was not the end of the world, and RTé's role as cheerleaders in that outcry was a low point in the station's history.
RTé needs the GAA, just as the GAA needs RTé, for now at least. The reaction to the Sky deal has not been forgotten either in Croke Park. Still, the national broadcaster will retain its position as the primary home of the championships for another three years, with TV3 favourites to reclaim its lost rights from Sky. But at a time when sports organisations with a good product to sell - which is what the GAA have - are experiencing a huge increase in television revenue, how long will it be before the Association starts looking at other options?
The positivity around the celebrations of the Olympics and European soccer championships to be blighted by ongoing further revelations of skulduggery at the highest levels of officialdom; and in the real world, Kilkenny for the hurling, Dublin for the football and Irish-owned, trained and ridden winners of both Cheltenham Gold Cup and Epsom Derby.
Finally, the negativity around the absence of Leinster and Munster from the knockout stages of the European Cup to be overshadowed by a massive dogfight among all four Irish provinces for the Pro12 league and the three Irish qualifying spots for next season's European competition, with Connacht possibly edging out Munster.
Despite the gloomy assessment from some, including the manager, Ireland will qualify from their group at the European Championships in June. Versailles will witness unprecedented scenes of decadence as the Irish supporters celebrate a place in the last 16. The format of the tournament will work in Ireland's favour and they will continue the noble tradition by drawing all their games on the way to qualifying.
TJ Reid and Richie Hogan to carry on doing extraordinary things for Kilkenny and the meeting of Clare and Waterford in the summer to produce a contender for score of the championship from the wondrous wrists of Austin Gleeson or Tony Kelly, along with some reservations over certain refereeing decisions.
In championship rugby, the most important person on your roster is your head coach. If Ireland's quest for a threepeat is successful, they will have to win away in London and Paris. Now that Saint-André is back in the cuckoo's nest and the strictly limited Lancaster is assessing coaching applications for under 16 schools teams, Ireland have to face their principal rivals who now have coaches with real aptitude and proven ability.
Given that Joe Schmidt has probably figured out that his MO has been figured out, he'll realise that he needs to change tack and be bold. Without the depth, leadership and requisite talent in his squad, if he pulls this one off he will be next up after Mother Teresa.
In the NFL, the New England Patriots, despite having a continuous injury list that would drive you to drink, should today clinch home field advantage throughout the play-offs. All of America is talking about the Panthers or Cardinals, while forgetting that the Patriots have the best coach and the best quarterback. So, the Patriots with a full and fit roster to go back to back in what should be a riveting and highly competitive play-off series.
I predict that team managers will pick their teams and publish them, then play as selected and not seem to be bound by the Official Secrets Act. They will also start giving their real opinions on the opposition.
I predict that players will appear in interviews as young men of intelligence, not afraid to say something interesting even if they fear it may be used by the opposition against them, the same sort of interesting things which might get them a job. I predict that no player or manager will use the phrase in interview, "We knew we would get a hard game coming up here today".
I predict that administrators will speak the truth and not say things like, "The media have an agenda against player x and county y". Finally I predict that the Pope will forget the Rosary, Dolly Parton will stop sleeping on her back and pigs will start flying to new heights. In other words, things won't change much in the GAA and it will be the same doublespeak business as usual. And despite all that there will be plenty of fun too. A healthy new year to all.
Leinster didn't so much get the rub of the green on Friday night against Connacht, they were covered in the stuff. And buoyed now by that leg-up they will race away to the Pro12 title, beating Scarlets in the final in Edinburgh on May 28.
Connacht meanwhile, gutted by having been whistled off the park to get nothing from the game, will fall further off the pace and finish in a dogfight for qualification for the Champions Cup next season. With Munster. And they will beat them in round 20 to clinch their place. Along the way, however, Robbie Henshaw will confirm that he's moving to Dublin in the summer.
Robbie Keane will play his last game for the Republic of Ireland and retire. He'll be lauded for his goals and praised for his commitment and then the reality of the lack of replacements will hit home hard. Questions will be asked about the FAI's elite talent development but they'll swerve answering them by pointing to qualification for the Euros. And while Ireland will continue to fall further behind other nations in this area, everyone will finally begin to appreciate Keane for all that he's done.
Sunday Indo Sport