YESTERDAY’S MAN Conor McGregor’s achievements in the octagon are in danger of being forgotten about in 2022. Pic: Sportsfile
The way I see it
AS one of many people who spent the second half of the Christmas period in isolation, it provided this columnist plenty of time at least to look ahead to the brighter horizons of 2022.
Not one for New Year’s resolutions, instead I have put together ten sporting moments that I would love to see happen this new year.
Some suggestions are deadly serious, and ones I feel would make a positive impact for many of us. Others are more tongue-in-cheek, as I try to remain a hopeless optimist for change!
Split-season actually staying split
A LANDMARK decision from the GAA was voted in last year that 2022 will see a split-season format adopted for inter-county and club calendars.
After years of tug-of-war and fall-outs due to the mix and match nature of the old system, not to mention the unpredictability and lack of meaningful club games due to the inter-county beast, progress finally appeared to be made for a sustainable calendar.
Now it’s up to the GAA chiefs and fixture gurus to honour that commitment.
That means not returning to club football in March, pulling pre-season competitions where necessary to streamline the season, and showing a willingness for change.
Time will tell.
No more ‘dummy’ Mayo teams
LAST year in the run-up to the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin, James Horan decided to list the whole Mayo senior football panel a few days out from the game, instead of the starting XV.
Some people embraced the whole ‘PR’ side of the announcement, but others just saw it for what it was: more cloak and dagger stunts designed to avoid showing your full hand to the opposition. It’s not the ‘one percent’ managers seem to think it is.
That culture of secrecy has ravaged the inter-county GAA scene in recent times, and done nothing but frustrate and alienate supporters. Last year we saw players named to make their debuts in starting teams and then pulled on game day.
It’s shocking bad form and needs to stop.
Look across the pond at the Premier League managers – are they allowed do it?
Winter soccer for Mayo clubs
IF soccer is ever going to thrive in clubs across Mayo again, then a return to winter football is what is needed.
The demands of playing Gaelic football at club levels are only going to increase for the next while, so long gone are the days where it’s possible to play both Gaelic and soccer at the one time. Unfortunately, some clubs in the Mayo Super League are suffering as a result.
Talking to people recently who follow it religiously, it was clear that the standard this year just wasn’t anywhere near as high across the board as it was even five years ago.
There is a desire for GAA players to play with their local soccer clubs too, if time allowed.
But will the Mayo soccer chiefs make the change needed?
Oisin to say, ‘No’
PICTURE this: Oisin Mullin hops off the plane in Geelong, his drivers are waiting with his name written (spelt incorrectly ‘Mullen’) on placards at the arrivals hall.
As he collects his bags off the conveyor belt, spotted easily by the Kilmaine/Mayo headband wrapped around the handle, the ‘Green and Red of Mayo’ starts to blast out on his airpods thanks to Spotify shuffle.
The Kilmaine flyer gets emotional, has a last-minute change of heart, and rings Mayo logistics man, Joe Doyle, immediately to book him the next flight home.
Stranger things have happened!
A re-born Man United
LIFE after Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to be tough for Man United, but Sweet Jesus we didn’t think it would be this tough!
Life after Sir Alex at Man United has seen the club turn into a reputation destroyer – think The Special One, Louis Van Gaal, ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Ole Gunnar, and, dare I say it, the GOAT (Cristiano Ronaldo) is even struggling to change our fortunes.
It’s not as if we don’t have the players (over £1billion worth of the world’s best) to get the job done.
Maybe a Roy Keane and Sir Alex combination might put some manners in them.
Battle of Brize: II
OKAY, so who doesn’t want to see a ‘Balla versus Mayo Gaels’ Mayo Senior Championship showdown in 2022?
Mayo Gaels manager James Fallon put it perfectly when asked by Mike Finnerty after their County Intermediate Final success last year: “We would, and they would too!”
When I mused about the prospect of meeting in the county senior quarter-final on the Mayo News Football Podcast earlier this year, a wiley former journalist from South Mayo, who will remain nameless to protect his identity, was quick to point out that we could also meet in a relegation final.
I told Liam Horan (oops!) that I was summoning the powers of the ‘Law of Attraction’!
Jake Paul to meet his match
SOME older readers may not know who Jake Paul is.
Well, he’s a millionaire YouTuber turned boxer, boasting a 5-0 professional boxing record. However, the disclaimer is that he actually hasn’t ‘fought’ any professional boxer.
He runs his mouth like a spoilt child, picks and chooses his fights against typically washed-up former UFC fighters and former professional basketball players (for real).
Fortunately, his last fight flopped on PPV numbers so maybe people are copping on to his bluffing. Now all I want is to see him knocked clean out in the first round by a proper boxer, thus sending his millions of ‘fans’ into floods of tears.
Non-Covid affected calendar
I HATE to bring the ‘C Word’ into this column, but above all else, I really hope 2022 spells the end of the pandemic’s influence on sport.
Covid’s influence hampered heavily with the credibility of some sports. The Premier League has been a nightmare throughout Christmas, the World Darts Championship lost two of its best players, and let’s not mention the GAA.
Because as sickened and all as we feel, imagine what the good folk in Kerry are feeling after being ‘out-cute’d’ (allegedly) by the All-Ireland champions of 2021.
The end of Conor McGregor
THERE’s no doubt about it, 2022 could spell the end for Conor McGregor as a sportsman.
Once a fan, in the early days before his wealth and power changed his character for the worst (not that it was squeaky clean anyway!), he’s now in danger of his UFC achievements being forgotten.
Not too long ago he was at the pinnacle of his sport, knocking fighters out for fun and inspiring a young generation in Ireland with a story built on belief, fortitude and hard work.
Now he’s the furthest thing from a role model you can find. And he’s probably one bad UFC loss away from falling into the trap of becoming a parody of himself.
Mayo fans to unite again
HAS there ever been a defeat that divided Mayo people more than the 2021 All-Ireland Final? The fall-out from the Tyrone defeat was as bad as it has ever been, like opening up old wounds and pouring salt all over them.
A culture of ‘If you’re not with me, you’re against me’ crept in and rational discourse became almost impossible.
There’s only one thing that will help mend this battle scars. Here’s hoping 2022 will bring it!
FOOTBALL Billy Joe Padden takes a sobering look back at Mayo’s latest All-Ireland Final defeat and explains how it might impact on the coming season
FOOTBALL This Friday evening sees the Mayo footballers line out for the first time since last September’s All-Ireland Final when they face Galway
FOOTBALL The resurfacing works on the MacHale Park pitch will have to be completed ahead of schedule if the ground is to host a massive Connacht championship tie
FOOTBALL Mike Finnerty picks out five attackers who will be trying to force their way into James Horan’s plans for the upcoming National League
FOOTBALL The Kilmeena forward answered our questions ahead of next Saturday’s Connacht Junior club championship final