2013 is best remembered as year we won Prop Idol
It should have been the year we recorded our first ever win over the All Blacks.
It was the year we contributed mightily to the first Lions Test series success since 1997 and yet, if pushed to identify the biggest positive of 2013, I would have to say it was the emergence of a pool of props we thought way beyond our capability.
Bear in mind the number of imported props at all four provinces since the game went open. Most, if not all, were sought of necessity, with the few indigenous props we did manufacture subject to reinvention and a change in playing position.
I am thinking of Reggie Corrigan, John Hayes and Peter Bracken, all converted back-five forwards.
For so long Corrigan vied with Marcus Horan as the partner to Hayes. Quite how the Cappamore Bull survived as long as he did represents a modern-day miracle.
Amazingly, all that has changed -- and how. Suddenly there is a conveyor belt of propping talent coming through the club and schools systems.
Leaving the established pairing of Cian Healy and Mike Ross aside, we've got Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Jack O'Connell, Paddy McAllister, Adam Macklin, Denis Buckley, JP Cooney, and not one over 25.
Then there's the extraordinary Clongowes front-row upon which the back-to-back cup successes of 2010 and 2011 were built. If you haven't yet heard of the Byrne brothers -- Edward and Bryan plus tight head Dan O'Byrne -- watch this space.
Suffice to say that, as 2013 comes to an end, emerging Irish front-row talent is as strong now as it's ever been.
JOKERS FULL OF GREAT IDEAS FOR 'ROCK NAME CHANGE
THE banter has been flying in light of rugby and GAA joining forces in south Dublin since Blackrock College RFC and Cuala GAA entered a ground-sharing agreement at the rugby club's facilities at Stradbrook.
Some local jokers suggested a change in name to 'Carrig Dubh Gaels' with a modification in anthem also to 'Cuala Boys Are We'!
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.