Saturday 18 January 2020

Popularity contest season in full swing

Weird Wide World of Sport

RTE Sportsperson of the Year award winner, James McClean
RTE Sportsperson of the Year award winner, James McClean

Dave Devereux

It's that time of year again when the great and the good in the sporting world are patted on the back for their wonderful achievements.

Yes, awards season is in full flow and our national broadcaster relived the highlights of the past twelve months in the RTE Sport Awards on Saturday night.

James McClean was deemed to be the outstanding performer by the voting public, a decision which yours truly finds more than a little baffling.

Don't get me wrong, I like McClean, both as a player and a character, but naming him the outstanding sports star on these shores in 2017 is a bit of stretch.

There's no doubting that the Derryman was one of the stand-out performers in Ireland's ill-fated attempt to reach the World Cup in Russia, providing some memorable moments along the way, particularly his winning goal in Cardiff.

Admittedly, it was far from a vintage year for Irish sport, but McClean got the nod ahead of world champions and All-Ireland winners, people who have something tangible to show for their efforts.That said, these sort of awards are pretty irrelevent anyway.

Sports fans will remember the year for Dublin completing the three-in-a-row, Galway ending a barren spell by landing the big hurling prize, Aidan O'Brien hitting new heights or Katie Taylor being crowned world champion, not some inconsequential popularity contest.

Apart from the very occasional exception these kind of polls are a complete waste of time, one man's opinion over another and just an excuse to get the bow-ties and frocks out from wardrobe.

However, who am I to go against the grain? Some times you just have to go with the flow, so I might as well hand out my own highly sought-after end of year gongs.

The glass is half empty award: There's only one candidate for this, none other than moaner supreme Jose Mourinho. I remember a time when the Portuguese 'Special One' was a breath of fresh air in the Premier League, now he's just a pain in the rear end.

Whether the Red Devils are winning or losing you can rest assured Mourinho will find something to complain about. It's got to the point now where I just don't bother listening anymore.

The egg on your face award: This one goes to colourful jockey Frankie Dettori for his premature jock-elation when his mount Lady Aurelia crossed the line in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August.

The Italian celebrated with great gusto on the 10/11 favourite, but was ashen-faced with shock moments later when he discovered that he had been beaten by a nose by Marsha. The jockey certainly won't be keeping that DVD for posterity.

The complete farce award: The Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor fight wins this one hands down. From the moment the freak show was concocted it was only ever going to have one outcome - Mayweather would win comfortably on points and the two protagonists would walk away with fists full of dollars.

Unfortunately, the people who were duped into thinking it was any sort of realistic contest could be fooled again, if the Dubliner sets his sights on more filthy lucre.

The moment of sheer stupidity award: Donal Vaughan's rush of blood to the head in the All-Ireland final arguably cost Mayo the chance of winning their first All-Ireland title since 1951.

With the game on a knife edge and Dublin leading by a point in the 48th minute, John Small, who had already been yellow-carded, unfairly challenged Mayo's Colm Boyle.

Before the referee could dish out his punishment to Small, Vaughan opted for retribution of his own and barged into the Dublin defender, earning him a straight red card.

It's no certainty that Mayo would have gone on to win, but playing with a one-man advantage for over 20 minutes would surely have strengthened their cause.

He hasn't exactly endeared himself to the public since, with his transfer from Ballinrobe to near neighbours Castlebar Mitchels, a mere hop, skip and a jump down the road, causing much consternation.

He may win silverware by joining a more successful club less than half an hour away, but a bit like a lot of these end of years awards, there could be something hollow about the victories.

Wexford People

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