The Alternative Sports Awards 2010

1 THE Mary Byrne award for best female performance this year, happily, has been marked by our girls representing on the world stage.

From Derval taking another silver medal at the European Championships in Barcelona last July to the peerless Katie Taylor pinning another bauble on her vest at the world championships in Barbados later in the summer.

Teenage swimmer Gráinne Murphy glided to a wonderful second place at the Europeans — but for us the U17s’ World Cup adventure in Trinidad and Tobago deserves a nod, if not solely for the imaginative goal celebrations. As MaBy sang, this is a man’s world — but it’d be nothing without a woman or a girl.

2 THE Chilean miners prize for getting stuck in a depressing, seemingly-never-ending, potentially-career-ending black hole saga.

Come on down, Limerick hurling! It was a case of another year, another player power saga. Justin McCarthy assembled a new squad like the first scenes in a by-the-numbers heist movie. Like the South American colliery workers, he was eventually pulled free from his ordeal.

3 THE Socks and Sandals: an award in recognition of unusual fashion choices.

The judges deliberated over this one for a loooong time. We could have had Stephen Ireland’s wardrobe. Or the American Ryder Cup team’s tissue-thin wet gear which they learned wasn’t, in fact, water-proof at a very rainy Celtic Manor.

But, come on, it has to be Paul Galvin’s year. Far be it from us to criticise the Kerry footballer’s clobber — dude obviously knows his stuff — but his decision to pull red GAA socks over a pair of trendy, thigh-hugging skinny jeans while out coaching St Brendan’s young footballers, clinches the statuette. Bravo, sir.

4 INAUGURAL Brian Lenihan U-turn award. Trapattoni spent a week talking up Seamus Coleman ahead of the friendly with Norway. His parents drove from Donegal with relatives sitting on each other’s laps in the back seat, as they spun towards Lansdowne Road to witness their son’s international debut.

The Italian left the Everton flier sitting on the bench for the night in his tracksuit.

5 THE Frost Nixon award for heavyweight interview. When Derval met Roy. One of our most successful athletes travelled to Ipswich to grill her hero Keano. It beat Tubridy’s dis-interested chats with various sports stars through the year.

6 THE Joe Pesci in Goodfellas dong for ruthless end to a career.

Sean Óg Ó hAilpín was called for a sit down with Cork hurling boss Denis Walsh. Despite a decade and a half of fanatical effort, it didn’t end well for the former Hurler of the Year. No one is safe. His brother Aisake — man of the match against Tipperary in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in May — threw his hat at it and returned to Australia.

7 BEST chant of the year? ‘Who are ya?’ Tallaght welcomes Azzurri legend Alessandro Del Piero.

8 EDDIE HOBBS award in recognition of value for money. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut play out the longest tennis match ever recorded at Wimbledon. After 11 hours, 5 minutes of play over three days, the match finished 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68 (183 games) as Isner progressed. That’s a good deal.

9 THE Bill Cullen-sponsored Poor Choice award. Step forward Martin Sludden. The referee caused the biggest controversy in Gaelic games this year when he robbed Louth of an historic Leinster SFC crown with the shakiest of decisions. The details have been raked over; Meath’s Joe Sheridan threw the ball into the Wee County net at Croke Park. Sludden told his umpire to raise the green flag. Various gurning men in red encroached the hallowed sod and created what would later be described as ‘ugly scenes’. Not cool.

10 THE Golden Hearing Aid. Sorry what? I didn’t catch that? Can you repeat that there please? On a panel that’s known for its crisp analysis and often, its two-footed debate, Ossie Ardiles brought something new to the table: incoherence. The Tottenham legend and World Cup winner probably spoke more sense than most under the Montrose studio lights during the South Africa tournament last summer, but we just didn’t realise.

11 THE Stephen Ireland Award for contributions to hair dressing. We love the athletics coverage on RTÉ — and in particular Gerry Kiernan’s do. Keep rocking the ‘fro, brother.

12 THE Whitney – a prize in recognition of a really bad gig. In a year that saw John Giles sing The Very Thought of You on the Late Late and Galvin spin Jay Z and Dizzee on Radio Kerry, the judging panel were spoilt for choice in this category.

But one third of Crystal Swing hucklebucking through the Castleisland Desmonds’ dressing room door was a sight to behold. And Derek ultimately led his adopted side to Celebrity Bainisteoir victory too.

13 Alex Higgins award for the most expensive bar tab. AFL ‘super agent’ Ricky Nixon (is it a bird, is it a plane?) told us that the touring International Rules galoots found notorious Harcourt Street hotspot Copper Face Jacks the most... welcoming... establishment in the entire country. I’m sure they totted up a bit of a bill.

But surely it’s to one of our own, Mr J Delaney of Abbotstown. When the Slovakians changed the venue of Ireland’s fixture from Bratislava to Zilina, the FAI chief organised transport from the capital. Then, when he filled the carriages with free booze, the now famous ‘disco train’ was born. He was shouldered from the platform as a hero.

Twitter: @adrianrussell Contact: adrianjrussell@gmail.com

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