Katie Taylor rules world of her own making

"What a load of tripe."

Katie Taylor rules world of her own making

That was sportswriter Paul Kimmage’s reaction to the latest Irish Sport Sentiment Index, which declared Katie Taylor our most admired sportsperson, for the third year running.

The survey also decided Taylor’s fifth world championship win in South Korea was the greatest Irish sporting achievement of 2014 and the year’s most memorable or iconic sporting moment.

Kimmage took particular issue with the Most Iconic claim.

“Nothing but admiration for Katie Taylor but… a joke,” he followed up, on Twitter. He shipped a bit of heat as well as some agreement.

Maybe, one day, we will be able to measure everything.

Katie Taylor featured in another list last week: Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50 Females.

This, it should be stressed, was a chronicle of fitness in keeping with the word’s traditional meaning, which mightn’t be the case if such a list was compiled by, say, Nuts magazine.

To put your mind further at ease, SI ran the rule over men earlier in the year, electing LeBron James the planet’s fittest, with a perfect 10 in the four categories assessed: speed, strength, agility and endurance.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Floyd Mayweather and Dez Bryant completed the top five.

No Irishman figured and, intriguingly, the sole Englishman named was Micah Richards, at number 23, a selection that made headline news on micahrichards.com.

There were no places for Pablo Zabaleta or Bacary Sagna, mind you, who have had to content themselves with superior rankings in the annals of current Manchester City right-full backs.

Maybe that is what jolted SI’s confidence in their methods, because the women’s list abandoned the careful measurement matrix.

Instead, it endorsed Allyson Felix as the fastest, Serena Williams the strongest, Simone Biles the most agile and attributed greatest endurance to Kristin Armstrong.

The rest of the top 50 are listed “in no particular order”. Katie is there, but Paul Kimmage, and others, will have wanted to see their workings. It is a fudge.

So, if the American publishing giants can’t even knock together a solid system for judging fitness, we might still be some way off accurately measuring achievement. Not to mind iconic status.

Even if we could juice playing numbers, opportunity, skillset demanded, fitness, talent and success into a meritorious data flow, would we like the results?

While most Germans and Spaniards and Americans and Brazilians and many more like them remain oblivious to the call of The Ugly Game; while you rarely see a black face inside the ropes at a serious golf tournament; while most Gaelic footballers who head to Australia come home disappointed; while boxing and the rest remain minority pursuits; would we be satisfied if, all things considered, sentiment out there found that playing for Everton in the Europa League was as good as it got, for Ireland, this year? And maybe, after that, playing for Stoke or Sunderland or Hull or Crystal Palace in the Barclays Premier League?

Would we be inspired by that?

I don’t think Paul Kimmage would, since he has often complained of the corrosive weed of soccer coverage in the media, strangling exposure for other sports.

But in advance of such an adjudication system emerging, it is easy to be cynical about Katie Taylor. We might consider her the first true convenience sportswoman.

A heroine that doesn’t take up too much of our time.

A provider of iconic moments that most haven’t actually seen.

TG4 says 200,000 tuned in at some time between live and highlights coverage of her semi-final and final in Jeju, last month.

Not bad, for dawn broadcasts, but the nation breathed freely enough.

Sure, we could do with some low-maintenance heroes at a time when we hear too much, in a week when we had to learn about Roy Keane’s doorstepping and the mirrored ceiling in Andy Carroll’s bedroom.

But it might be a little unfair to put down Katie’s appeal to a handy box-ticking exercise that doesn’t demand much investment.

And even if we could measure everything, it seems soon to assess her against others who sit in long-established hierarchies; someone who has built her sport from the inside, then sat atop it, refusing to be knocked off.

Anaïs Nin was a writer who made her name in an area where women hadn’t thrived.

Some people call her the original Carrie Bradshaw, now that Anaïs is dead and can’t hear them.

We’ll call it the area of dirty books, where, by all accounts, Anaïs also specialised in more authoritative material than you’d find between the covers of Nuts.

“The analogy between the artist and the child is that both live in a world of their own making,” she once said.

After her Olympic win, RSVP magazine called Katie Taylor “our golden child”.

If a 28-year-old woman can seem childlike to us at times, it may be down to her grace, her gentle manner, or the enviable certainty she exudes about who she is and what she believes.

Or it may be that she lives in a world of her own making.

As iconic achievements go, that probably still just trumps making it out of the Europa League group stages.

Subbuteo still lighting up Christmas

It is the gift that gives every year. Up into the attic for the decorations, then down with lights that won’t be resuscitated, and a couple of Subbuteo teams that will, once the keeper is left overnight to set.

What education that green sward provided. For many, it introduced a first acquaintance with the unpleasantness of ironing. For some, the last.

It provoked round table discussions; such as why do we have a round kitchen table, necessitating games where it was futile winning a corner because you couldn’t take one. Like Arsenal.

Until you moved to the floor and onto the tragedy of Rogue Knee Massacre.

Other frustrations: The cousin that flicked to kick. How difficult it was to get enough lift to satisfactorily bulge the net. That the ball would never truly rebound off a post, like it did in Mike’s Mini Men in Roy of the Rovers; rather sit there inviting the goalmouth scramble, having knocked the goal askew.

The futility of the pre-Rory Delap long-throw launcher. Did anyone ever head one in? But still magnificent. Now fresh questions, such as is there any way at all the young lad, when he goes to school, will dismiss what his pals are saying about Playstation 7 and Fifa 2018, and urge them to wait, just wait, til the oul fella goes up to the attic for the decorations?

That truly would be Christmas.



Pat McEnaney: Two refs! Barry Kelly in one half, Brian Gavin in the other. Just the added tactical element hurling needs: lads doubling back into their own half trying to win a free.

Andy Lee, pictured: Another gentle giant who richly deserved his world to change.


IOC: Just a rumour so far, but word they’re planning to axe the Olympic 200m. Are they round the bend?

West Ham: We will never again see a little fella standing wide-eyed in front of Andy Carroll without picturing his folks forking out £600 for the privilege.

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