Inspired by the weekend papers I decided to go ahead and put my neck on the line and predict some of the bigger sporting events gracing our calender’s over the ensuing 12 months. When my predictions prove wholly inaccurate I’m sure some friends will be delighted to see my thoughts evidenced in writing, affording me no room to escape.
Kidney’s heros may have proven the silver lining in a year that was for many reason the darkest cloud to loom over our tiny Island in the past decade, but can we realistically expect a repeat? To win a Grand Slam is an outsatnding feat, to do it two years running, near impossible. Ireland’s chances are always bleaker when the fixture list includes visits to Twickenham and the Stade de France. My hunch says a close competition this year, the French to win on points, no Grand Slam, England to cause an upset against either Ireland, France or Wales.
Again I think the French are going to take the silverware, but which side? Clement are locked in the group of death but would take serious stopping if they emerge. Biarritz have a 100% record but have yet to face quality opposition. Stade are wonderfully unpredictable. That leaves Toulouse, yet to dazzle as they have in previous seasons but still my favourite to win. Leinster to pose the biggest treat outside of France but come up just short.
Wold Cup 2010:
Well the safe money is on the English media to blow their side’s chances way out of proportion in the early stages, before the nations dreams are shattered in either the semi-final or final. Hampered by overly attacking full backs and only one quality finisher (assuming the tiresome Heskey gets the nod over Defoe) Capello’s men just don’t have the complete team needed to win the Cup. Argentina have quality all over the pitch…but not in the dug out where Maradona seems destined to destroy his teams chances, Brazil look the only viable South-American candidate. Despite past reputation and a huge degree of expectation Spain are still my team to win. Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Torres and Villa would arguably all make the current World XI side. Keep and eye on Germany, definitely the best outside bet.
Crushingly low standard this season, personified by the “Big-4″s sudden morality. Arsenal are a treat for the eyes but still lack a solid defence which will prove their undoing. Man Utd. entering a transitional period, not good enough to win this season…or next. Chelsea will capture the title with a handsome number of games to spare. Arsenal, United and Villa will take the remaining Champions League spots. Pompy, Hull and Wolves to go down.
Bayern Munich and Bordeaux are the teams to avoid, but not the finished article and won’t go all the way. Spanish giants Madrid and Barça lead the charge but I have a haunting suspicion Chelsea will claim the one trophy their cabinet has yet to hold.
The extent of Federer’s dominance will depend on the fitness of Nadal. The Spaniard remains the only true threat to the Swiss in Wimbledon. Rafa however shows little sign of regaining form anywhere near that of ’08. Del Potro will not excel to the level expected of him in the aftermath of last year’s US Open, not just yet. Murray will go another year without a Slam. Djokovic appears to be the only other candidate likely to take anything off the wold number 1. Federer to take all Slams bar Rolland Garros which will go to Djokovic.
Alas, the King has fled his throne and when he is summoned before the jury that is the US media/public his head may indeed roll. Arise Prince Mcllroy and become all that is expected of you. But make haste, young prince, for if big Phil doth sense your hesitance he will snatch the glory from your grasp…and he’ll take some shifting!…1 major for Mcllroy, season dominated by Mickelson.
An unuashamedly surprise-free zone. Kilkenny to claim their five in a row. Galway and Tipp the only ones to make them break a sweat.
Can you ever write off Kerry? As a Cork man id have to say no. But the Kingdom are very beatable, with an aging squad, not to mention the considerable loss of Tommy Walsh. Tyrone will fancy their chances as always but this should be Cork’s year. The leesiders physicality and skill level is second to none, a question mark still hovers over whether they can conquer their Croke Park demons.