Let’s face it, decades ain’t what they used to be. There was a time was when you knew where you stood with a decade. The sixties? Flower power and beards. The seventies? Sideburns and disco. The eighties? Everything was massive: shoulder pads, mobile phones, hair. You used to be able to tell a decade simply by looking at the trousers involved.
But the decade just gone didn’t even have a name. At best it was a bad 1930s tribute act. The only unifying theme was division. Culture was too fragmented, its method of delivery being more significant than the content, the medium becoming the message. Even the predominant trouser, the skinny jean, was a niche interest, given how it excluded those of us with chunkier thighs.
Still, all decades allow us to contemplate the great sweep of time, that merciless agent of change which yields to no man or trouser style.
I mean, look at the world of sport 10 years ago. The best soccer player was a fellow called Lionel Messi, the golf world was obsessed with Tiger Woods, tennis was dominated by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic and Liam Sheedy’s Tipperary were facing off with Brian Cody’s Kilkenny for All-Ireland hurling glory. Where are they now, eh?
Predictions are a mug’s game, but they do fill copy in sports pages in early January when the alternative is darts and the McKenna Cup. To look ahead to the next decade is to foresee the great themes of the last one play out and also to be safe in the knowledge that no one will be bothered checking back in 10 years’ time, especially as we should be well into the apocalypse by then.
It’s likely the future of sport will continue to be defined by how it is consumed as much as what actually happens on the field. This used to be a simple matter of TV companiesbattling for rights and sport pocketing the cash so that 19-year-old kids could buy the Maseratis they so badly need.
Then broadband providers and mobile phone operators joined in the act and everyone suddenly realised that sport was just a means of selling your product. Now, the latest Premier League broadcaster wants you to buy a juicer and the new John Grisham while watching Watford v Crystal Palace. Advances in technology mean that you will enjoy the 2030 FIFA World Cup on your toaster and sprinkle the Superbowl over your breakfast. If none of this makes any sense now, wait till Mattress Mick buys the rights to the All-Ireland Championships.
Sports-washing will be further used byquestionable regimes to launder heinous crimes. This has worked splendidly for places like Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain who distracted us from the corpses of migrant workers and political dissidents with kick-ass golf courses, awesome Grand Prix action and ooh, look, Neymar!
Following suit, Saudi Arabia’s rumoured investment in Manchester United results in some really great brand synergies, though Bobby Charlton expresses reservations when managerial sackings take the form of public beheading in the Old Trafford centre circle. Following the collapse of the Oregon project, Nike partner with North Korea, impressed by shared core values of starvation, secrecy, and dog execution squads.
Irish soccer recovers from its financial nadir thanks to a move back toward street football.
This is not just a euphemism — the Republic of Ireland play all their home qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in a housing estate in Finglas after selling their half of the Aviva for apartments for Google workers.
The new approach works wonders in a decisive game when crack Polish striker Robert Lewandowski is called in for his dinner, while a Jeff Hendrick goal is deflected in off a lamppost.
John Delaney will bounce back thanks to his pluck and resolve, and Ireland’s winning ambivalence. Delaney, Bertie Ahern, Michael Lowry, and Sean Fitzpatrick come together for a wildly successful Newstalk panel show called ‘Quare Eye’ where they dispense advice to small businesses on how to, wink, get things done.
Soon Delaney nostalgists push for a return to high office. Eamon Dunphy leads the charge with an incendiary column in The Star which says Irish football needs a firm hand and, also, more free bars, but then rows back on his podcast later the same day after a heated argument with himself. The whole thing loses momentum somewhat but, nonetheless, Delaney is crowned 2026 Dancing With The Stars glitterball champion.
The GAA continues to focus on trifling folderol like micro-chipped sliotars, oddball hurling formats, and hang-gliding from the roof of Croke Park. This proves much more fun than sorting out boring stuff like fixture plans and competition structures.
Believing that all GAA problems must be solved by a gimmicky jaunt to a far-flung destination, Central Council push through a plan to play the Tier Two football championship on the moon. TG4 show the final but viewers complain about a lack of atmosphere.
Dublin win another 10 All-Irelands, mainly because the rest of Ireland is now under water.
This is good news for Cork who are all about rowing now to be honest. The home club of the O’Donovans is rebranded as Skibbereen Swans in the new World Rowing League as the melting of the polar ice caps proves a boon for aquatic sports. The nation weeps when Ireland lose a playoff to reach the Water Polo World Cup.
Conor McGregor enters political office as the climate catastrophe sees a fearful public cry out for strong leadership. McGregor’s slogan — “I’ll thump climate change like it’s an oul fella in a bar” — proves a winner with voters.
Finally as the new decade rolls around, advances in cyborg technology mean Robo-Messi wins the Ballon D’Or, Roger Federer bleeps and whirrs his way to Wimbledon glory and, emerging from the post-apocalyptic hellscape, a tall figure with menacing red diodes for eyes marches on Croke Park, a Kilkenny baseball cap covering its pulsing metallic dome as it reveals no plans to step down after 32 seasons in inter-county management.
Now that’s what I call a decade.