2011

It’s been a year where sportstars at home and abroad have again had plenty to say for themselves. Fintan O’Toole and John Riordan picked out their best offerings

GAA

“We’re playing ourselves. We’ve a fair good chance of winning.”

- Lar Corbett plays it straight when a passer-by in San Francisco Airport clocked the tracksuits of the All-Star travelling party and asked the Tipperary star who they were playing.

“15 minutes to go, we thought we had it won. That’s life though, you know? Who said life is fair, like?”

- Kerry manager Jack O’Connor reacts philosophically in defeat after September’s All-Ireland final against Dublin.

“It took a Cork man to come down to Kerry and show them to play football!”

- Knocknagree native John Fintan Daly has taken a certain pride in managing Kerry club Milltown/Castlemaine to county and Munster intermediate football titles this year.

“I’ll be honest with you I was hoping he’d go for the point. If he’d missed it I would have absolutely killed him!”

- Manager David Power wasn’t exactly backing Tipperary substitute Colman Kennedy to go for goal in the dying moments of the All-Ireland MFC final. Yet the Clonmel Commercials bullet to the top corner won the title for the Premier county and was recently voted the TG4 Goal of the Year award.

“They had to pull me off the pitch. I was sitting on the centre circle and the stewards had to ask me to leave.”

- He may just have won the All-Ireland title but Bernard Brogan got a reality check when evicted from Croke Park in September after the trophy presentation.

“We’re not going to win a popularity contest and we know that.”

- UCC manager Paul O’Keeffe knows what place his side have in the affections of the wider GAA public. Their Cork SFC title win this year added further fuel to the debate surrounding the participation of third-level sides in club championships.

“I had it in my head all week that if we were stuck late on and needed a goal, I’d just try to put a dip on any shot. Thankfully someone managed to tap it into the net. Actually who got it by the way?”

- Alan Kerins recounts Clarinbridge’s dramatic late goal in the greatest match of 2011 as they defeated De La Salle by 3-22 to 1-27 in the All-Ireland club SHC semi-final. And it falls to the media to inform him Eanna Murphy was the match-winner.

“Some of the decisions that they make are crazy. They’re totally out of their depth. It’s very hard to get a straight answer out of them, they’ll just bluff you off. There wouldn’t be a hope I’d go back with Portlaoise if those two were involved next year.”

- Colm Parkinson doesn’t spare Portlaoise managers Mick Lillis and Mark Kavanagh in his post-match assessment after their Leinster club SFC loss to St Brigid’s.

“I’m not the first manager that Colm has fallen out with but I might be one of the last. It’s water off a duck’s back to me.”

- Safe to say Lillis was not too perturbed by Parkinson’s criticism.

“We played Sligo in a challenge match for the opening of Ballinascreen’s new pitch. There was a black pot along the sideline. It was a beautiful day. I thought someone was setting up a barbecue. I thought we were going to get burgers. But it was a heart monitor machine. I thought to myself ‘There is something going haywire here’.”

- Old school Derry boss John Brennan is not a fan of the new-fangled methods of GAA management.

“We’ve been watching Shi’ite football. You know, there are people who go to the Hague for war crimes – I tell you this, some of the coaches nowadays should be up for crimes against Gaelic football.”

- Pat Spillane’s creative summation of what was witnessed during the first 35 minutes of August’s All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Donegal.

“We won’t be going to Ballybofey or Castlefinn next year when we start off training thinking how we can make Pat Spillane feel good.”

- Not that the criticism of Donegal’s style of play concerns their manager Jimmy McGuinness too much.

“I’m proud of the boys so I am and all them mysterious calls in the middle of the night I enjoy them, keep coming.”

- Those late night anonymous callers had little effect in Davy Fitzgerald between Waterford’s Munster final meltdown against Tipperary and their All-Ireland quarter-final revival against Galway.

“I heard number one called out and I thought who is that. Then I realised that’s me!”

- Brendan Cummins on being withdrawn to receive a standing ovation during the Munster final in July, the game where he matched Christy Ring’s record of 65 senior hurling championship appearances.

“He’s the world’s worst referee and he still gets to referee GAA matches.”

- Longford whistler Derek Fahy is the firing line as Wexford goalkeeper Anthony Masterson cuts loose after their controversial All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Limerick.

“The club has evolved from nothing really. I remember the dressing rooms when I was younger, there was cows running through them one day.”

– Clare hurler John Conlon gives an illustration of how far his club Clonlara, the 2008 county SHC champions, have come.

“I want to say this, and I want you to print it — screw all those people who have written us off. Martin McHugh saying we don’t deserve to be in the last eight, Pat Spillane saying we’re not a good enough team — this win is a message to them.”

- Limerick footballer Stephen Lavin gets it all off his chest after they qualify the All-Ireland quarter-final against Kerry.

“We didn’t have a TV in our house growing up.”

- New Dublin defender Sean Murray, who sports a distinctive top-knot of hair, responds to a question as to whether he was a fan of watching past sides from the capital on TV as a child.

“No disrespect to anyone but it’s a f***ing Mickey Mouse league.”

- Wexford defender Darren Stamp is less than enamoured with the format for Division 2 of the National Hurling League.

“I don’t regret my part in the book. It was with total honesty that I approached it and I don’t believe I revealed any secrets within the squad.

- Kevin Cassidy on his controversial departure from the Donegal squad for contributing to the book ‘This Is Our Year’.

“Keeping me out of the championship team were Cha (Fitzpatrick), Derek Lyng, Martin Comerford, Eddie Brennan, Eoin Larkin, Henry Shefflin. It wasn’t a crowd of muppets that were keeping me out of there”

– Kilkenny’s Michael Rice shows some pragmatism on why he didn’t start in 2007 or 2008.

“What now? God only knows.”

– Mick O’Dwyer when asked what his plans are now that his tenure in Wicklow has come to an end

SOCCER

“Be careful of the cat. Don’t say you have the cat in the sack when you don’t have the cat in the sack.”

- Our very own Giovanni Trapattoni trying to play down Ireland’s chances prior to the Euro 2012 play-off against Estonia.

“The cat is in the sack, but the sack is not closed. The cat is in it, but it’s open — and it’s a wild cat.”

- The follow-up quote heard round the world. 4-0 was simply not enough to get the sack closed.

“There is no racism, but maybe there is a word or gesture which is not the correct one. The one affected by this should say ‘this is a game’ and shake hands.”

- Sepp Blatter managing to make the cat thing seem logical.

“We are not in a crisis. We are only in some difficulties and these will be solved.”

- This was earlier in the year from the FIFA president. He was a little too confident that allegations of corruption surrounding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights were baseless.

“It’s something you don’t think is going to happen, it’s a bit of a fairytale to last so long.”

- Alex Ferguson on his 25 years as Manchester United manager.

“I think that because I am rich, handsome and a great player people are envious of me. I don’t have any other explanation.”

- Fergie’s former player Cristiano Ronaldo could probably do with a bit of humility. But out of the other side of that handsome face, he claims he doesn’t care about critics. All very confusing.

“He plays football like he’s being controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation.”

- Maybe Sky Sports’ newest star Gary Neville will finally nuke the perception that RTE’s analysts are relevant or deserving of our respect. Neville was of course talking about Chelsea centre-back David Luiz after his team lost 2-1 to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in November.

“Why Always Me?”

- More of a tee-shirt design than a direct quote but when Mario Balotelli brought his fireworks on to the pitch during that 6-1 hammering of Manchester United in October, the Manchester City striker added a new phrase to the footballing lexicon.

“In this room [Real Madrid’s press room], Jose Mourinho is the chief, the f***ing man. In here he is the f***ing man and I can’t compete with him. If Barcelona want someone who competes with that, then they should look for another manager. But we, as a person and an institution, don’t do that.”

- Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola got inside his own head but at least the Champions League semi-final went well despite his meltdown, Mourinho’s side lost 3-1 on aggregate.

“My favourite book is Lord Of The Rings, although I haven’t read the book, I have watched the films. The book must be good because the films are so good.”

- Aberdeen’s Darren Mackie has probably never read Beowulf either.

“It is not in good shape. Evidently, it was run over by a bus. It has to be fixed.”

- Real Madrid spokeswoman Marta Santisteban, answers queries about the Copa del Rey trophy after Sergio Ramos dropped it on to the street during their celebrations in the city.

“I truly believe that something bigger was pulling for this team.”

- US goalkeeper Hope Solo showed extreme class after her team lost the World Cup final on penalties to Japan in the wake of the tsunami disaster.

“It seems Pele took the wrong medication. Instead of taking his night pill, he took the morning pill. He got confused and didn’t know what he was talking about. I suggest next time he take the right pills before making any suggestions and that he should change his doctor.”

- Diego Maradona took Pele down a peg or two after the Brazilian’s assertion that his compatriot Neymar was better than Lionel Messi.

“I think you can be a great manager but you can also be a good man. I think it’s allowed.”

- We couldn’t fit the while Roy Keane interview in here.

“Why is it bizarre? Football fans love it. If some stupid fans don’t understand and appreciate such a gift they can go to hell. I don’t want them to be fans. If they don’t understand and don’t believe in things I believe in they can go to Chelsea, they can go to anywhere else. People will queue to come and visit it from all over the UK and it is something that I and everybody else should be proud of.”

- Fulham chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed defends his decision to erect a statue of the late Michael Jackson outside Craven Cottage.

RUGBY

“I told them what I thought of them; that they’re a bunch of undisciplined, spoiled brats, disobedient, sometimes selfish, always complaining, always whining, and they’ve been [frustrating me] for four years.”

- French coach Marc Lièvremont lashes his players for disobeying orders and going out to celebrate their Rugby World Cup semi-final win over Wales.

“I was down the Waikato River whitebaiting. I think Ted (coach Graham Henry) had missed me a couple of times and then I finally got a call from Milsy (Mils Muliaina) and he said, ‘Start answering your phone, you idiot’, so that was sort of the message I needed.”

- New Zealand out-half Stephen Donald after getting a surprise call to replace injured Colin Slade in the World Cup.

“Three notches lower than a funeral.”

- South Africa coach Peter de Villiers on the mood in the Springboks dressing room

“You have got to relieve the pressure and let off steam at the right time.”

- England manager Martin Johnson defending his players and captain Mike Tindall’s behaviour following a drunken night out during the tournament. The fallout continues.

GOLF

“It’s a circus. He hits a shot and they start screaming and scream for five minutes, so it’s just a matter of blanking them out.”

- Australian golfer Robert Allenby describes what it’s like to play with Tiger Woods in the opening round of the Masters in Augusta.

“I wouldn’t have me there either.”

- Golfer John Daly on being banned from the Australian PGA fr walking out of the Australian Open.

“It’s disgusting what he’s just done there. You look at his work ethic, and he’s a credit to the game and an inspiration to all of us who are trying to be professional golfers, but some parts of him are arrogant and petulant. Somebody has to come on the green and maybe putt over his spit — it doesn’t get much lower than that.”

- Sky Sports commentator Ewen Murray after Tiger Woods spat on the green at the Dubai Desert Classic. Woods was later fined by the European Tour and apologised for the incident.

“As my social status in Japan is getting higher, I believe that is one of the responsibilities, to provide for those people who are in need.”

- Ryo Ishikawa on his decision to donate all of his 2011 earnings to earthquake relief in Japan.

“I hate that word. It’s just a terrible word. It’s not something you want to be associated with — worst thing you can be called in golf, apart from ‘cheat’.”

- Rory McIlroy shudders at the ‘choke’ word after his final-round collapse at the 2011 Masters.

“You could see it a couple of weeks ago at The Masters. Tiger was playing fantastic the first nine on Sunday but there wasn’t really somebody who was scared of him any more.”

- Martin Kaymer discussing the same tournament.

“How are we going to count all the shots? I can’t keep track.”

- Kevin Na’s may or may not have needed 16 shots to complete the par-4 ninth hole at the Valero Texas Open.

“Our hat policy is the same as Augusta’s. Turn your hat around.’”

- Quail Hollow member to Rickie Fowler

“His swing is definitely better than mine was at the same age. But in 1999 my swing came together, and I had a pretty good next two years.”

- Tiger Woods on Rory McIlroy’s US Open win.

“I can’t f***ing hit it. I’m f***ing useless.”

- Darren Clarke needlessly panicking on the putting green just a week before winning the British Open.

“I’ve caddied for 33 years, won 145 times and this is the most satisfying win of my career.”

- Caddie Steve Williams losing the run of himself after his new boss Adam Scott won the Bridgestone invitational.

GENERAL

“There’s two proud people in the stands and probably four million proud people at home.”

- Kevin O’Brien’s mother and father were in the stands in Bangalore to witness his record-breaking century as Ireland secured a historic and unforgettable win over England in the Twenty20 cricket World Cup.

“I had an unbelievable year. Nothing can really ruin that. I will always remember this year as the best of my life.”

- Hard to argue with Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion Novak Djokovic.

“It’s just really really bad timing,”

- At the other end of the scale was Conor Niland’s food poisoning episode which obliterated his dream match against Djokovic in Flushing Meadow.

“Don’t even look at me. If I see you in the corridor don’t even walk past me... I get a code violation for expressing who I am, we’re in America last time I checked... you’re totally out of control, you’re a hater and you’re just unattractive inside.”

- Serena Williams isn’t wrong: freedom of speech is definitely enshrined in her country’s constitution. Chair umpire Eva Asderaki better watch out if she ever even thinks about penalising the tennis star again. Williams proceeded to lose in the US Open final to Samantha Stosur by the way.

“I’m sure our physio knows what he’s doing so I’m leaving my pubic area in his hands.”

- Australian Rugby League side Brisbane Broncos forward Sam Thaiday was philosophical about his injury battle with osteitis pubis.

“It’s good to know that I’m loved but I’ll have to do a survey to see if I’m more loved than Bob.”

- Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt proves there are limits to his justifiable ego. And yes, he does have a long way to go before he matches Bob Marley.

“Why do we always have to talk about Sebastian? If you want to know about him, ask him yourself.”

- Mark Webber dismissing claims that the Red Bull team were set make him follow team orders to allow Sebastian Vettel a stronger chance of winning a second Formula One title.

“I’m the Charlie Sheen of baseball, without drugs and a prostitute.”

- Glad the now former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen cleared that up. He has since taken over at the Miami Marlins. He’s a quote machine.

“Start drinking early. Get nice and rowdy. It’s a 4.15 game, a lot of time to get lubed up. Come out here, and cheer for the home team.”

- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked if he had a message for fans before the first game of the season.

“He meant stay hydrated, drink a lot of water. Be loud, drink responsibly.”

- A Patriots team spokesman fights the fire.

“It was like a reverse Anne Frank thing.”

- Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber took heat for this clanger when he described hiding out at the house of his Jewish agent, Mark Lepselter, to avoid the media in the wake of leaving his pregnant wife.

“It’s hard for him because he’s illiterate.”

- Now former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona gives his pitcher Josh Beckett a confidence boost as he faced a brain function test a few days after suffering a concussion.

“Tell them Rocky is fictitious — Joe was reality. Rocky’s fists are frozen in stone. Joe’s fists are smokin’. Rocky never faced Ali or Holmes or Foreman. Rocky never tasted his own blood. Champions are made in the ring not in the movies. There deserves to be a statue of Joe Frazier in downtown Philadelphia.”

- Last but nowhere near the least. The Reverend Jesse Jackson speaking at the funeral of former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier.

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