Out with the old - what about the new?

Personal reflections from Irish Examiner sports writers, with some 2015 wishes and predictions to boot.

Out with the old - what about the new?

John Riordan (New York-based sports writer and columnist)

1. The sporting moment you savoured most in 2014?: “One event and one moment - both of which I savoured from too far away. The Munster hurling final brought with it an odd feeling of satisfaction. Not a classic of course but the setting at Pairc Ui Chaoimh and Cork bridging that gap inflicted deep homesickness. Then there was Colin Healy's late overhead winner for Cork City against St Pat's in August. Oh to have been down in that corner of the Cross celebrating and disbelieving.”

2. Who earned the manager of the year tag in your estimation and why?: “Gregg Popovich is more of a coach but he did manage his San Antonio Spurs carefully and masterfully in the months leading up to their fifth NBA title under his tenure. ‘Pop’ was able to lean on the key players that have been there for previous victories by resting them during the season. His coaching acumen is obvious but the future hall of famer's refusal to give a rattling damn what anybody outside his team thinks is central to his approach.

3. What was the biggest hard luck story you became engaged with in 2014?: “The Kansas City Royals were 90 feet from clinching their first World Series since the 1980s. A team that had been rock bottom for the best part of this century built slowly but surely in the way American sport allows. Suddenly they were the team that everyone loved. But their luck fizzled at home in the final inning of the final game, San Francisco's pitching hero Madison Bumgarner grabbing the final out - another wound during a difficult time in Missouri.”

4. What was the most fulfilling off Broadway moment you experienced in 2014 sport: “Broadway was a river and many city blocks away from where the Continental Youth Championships took place on Randall's Island in New York back in July. I was wired to the walkie talkie on Field 74, ensuring the efficient ebb and flow of young GAA players from across North America. When it was their time to leave after winning or losing, there was some joy and a few tears - just like Broadway in fact.”

5. If you could have a ringside seat at one event in 2015, it would be.... “Maybe it's foolishly naive but if this is to be the year that Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao finally touch gloves, I'd happily sit ringside. There's some hope of a May bout, they don't get along so hopefully they get it on. The atmosphere alone in the build-up will be worth the trip. It's been a depreciating story for half a decade but it still outweighs the circus element. None of us - fighter, promoter, fan - has anything to lose now. We all left our dignity behind us way back.”

6. Tell us someone to keep an eye and ear out for in 2015: “The NBA has good reason to believe that it has found a new star to take the league through 2020 in what is sure to be a fascinating period in US sport. The New Orleans Pelicans took Anthony Davis as the top draft pick in 2012 after the physically gifted power forward enjoyed the perfect year at the University of Kentucky. The 21-year-old's team will need to fare better if he is to get what he deserves but 2015 bodes well for his own reputation.”

Paddy Heaney (Irish Examiner columnist)

The sporting moment you savoured most in 2014 and why? “Donegal’s victory over Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final. Donegal were 9/1 outsiders. Dublin had won their previous games by an average margin of 16 points. The Dubs looked invincible. When Paul Flynn started kicking points for fun, they looked unstoppable. Then ‘the system’ took hold and Dublin unravelled. It was an incredible spectacle.”

Who earned the manager of the year tag in your estimation and why? “Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Donegal had ‘the system’. And Fizmaurice beat ‘the system’. And he beat it without Colm ‘the Gooch’ Cooper. He also guided his school to the Hogan Cup.”

What was the biggest hard luck story you became engaged with in 2014? “David Moyes’s doomed spell at Old Trafford. It was a stupid appointment. The fallow years which came after Matt Busby should have informed Manchester United that they needed to replace Ferguson with a proven winner.”

What was the most fulfilling off Broadway moment you experienced in 2014 sport (ie, away from the cameras and bright lights) “The Derry County final between Slaughtneil and Ballinderry ended in turmoil. A week later, Slaughtneil’s assistant manager John Joe Kearney walked into Shortie’s café in Magherafelt. Seated at another table was Ballinderry player and former All Star Enda Muldoon. They spoke briefly. It was amicable. Shortly afterwards, Muldoon left. When Kearney finished his meal and asked for the bill he was informed that Muldoon had already paid for it.”

If you could have a ringside seat at one event in 2015, it would be....(and why): “The All-Ireland Senior Football Final between Derry and whoever. Why? Because you’ve got to have a dream.”

Tell us someone to keep an eye and ear out for in 2015: “Patrick McBrearty from Donegal. A top class inter-county footballer requires talent and application. McBrearty has both, and at 21-years-of-age, he is ready to blossom.”

And that is just a taster of our 48 page sports supplement appearing with the Irish Examiner on New Year’s Day

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