Home Features MacKenna On Monday’s Sporting Predictions For 2019

MacKenna On Monday’s Sporting Predictions For 2019

Sport does the strangest things to people, even those it shouldn’t.

Many years ago, working in the late Sunday Tribune, part of the summer’s light GAA coverage was a quiz with someone famous each edition, and questions on their own county with a league table at the end of the championship. With Dublin playing one weekend and Bertie Ahern leading the country as it creaked and cracked badly, it was a shot in the dark.

At the next desks over was the political department who had been trying to talk for months and months to no avail. You can imagine their faces when 10 minutes after an email reached his PR person there was a call to reception and an announcement over the intercom. “There’s a Bertie Ahern on line two. For sport.” He got every question right.

The trite line is that sport is an escape and thus so many lust after it and its path away from the problems of reality. But that’s far too easy for sport is a mirror of society. It’s sociology. It’s psychology. It’s politics. It’s joy. It’s cheating. It’s corruption. It’s brilliance. It’s lies.

And as Bertie Ahern showed way back then, it’s unpredictable and makes people react in the most illogical way. That, of course, makes looking ahead hard but, still, crystal ball out, we’ll give it a go. And besides, people love a list. Thus here are our 19 predictions for 2019.
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1. This being rugby country, and with Ireland the first number two team to be the number one team in the world, and with this being the year we are definitely going to win a World Cup, where better to start. A nation holds its breath. Until the quarter-finals that is.
There’ll be tears, so many tears.

From CJ Stander and Bundee Aki as Ireland’s Call belts out against Scotland. To those falling after a crushing victory over hosts Japan as it confirms our place atop the group table. And then they’ll be shed in a brutal torrent when South Africa beat the only major country in a nine-team sport that still won’t have made it past the last eight.

However, that won’t stop the calls of heroism and call outs to heroes. There’ll be a manager of the year award for Joe Schmidt, a knighthood for Jacob Stockdale, an open-top bus parade through Dublin with Shane Ross right in the middle of the goys, making friends and influencing people.
God bless every last one of them.

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2. Speaking of Shane Ross, the dear leader of our sport will be splashing the cash as an election tip-toes ever nearer. It means that sailing clubs across south Dublin will be in for a major boost to the coffers, Dundrum can expect a state-of-the-art dressage facility to go up in its midst, and Ballinteer will become the national centre of excellence for lawn bowls.

A working class hero is something to be.
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3. A loss away to Kerry in the league on 9 February is clung to by Dublin supporters as proof anyone can do anything if they put their minds to it. It doesn’t matter that it’s the third team with the first 40 players away in their role as UN Ambassadors of fair sport, it’s still used to wipe away any suggestions that this has gotten pretty stupid and boring.

That’s despite their winning of all their other league games en route to that title, despite six Leinster counties withdrawing from the provincial championship as it’s a complete waste of theirs and everyone else’s time and hard-earned money, and despite their annihilating of everyone else on the way to the five in a row via an average winning margin of 27 points.

If only the rest had their dedication. If only the rest could be a master race.

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4. Fresh from a points decision over a chimpanzee in what had been dubbed the fight of the century, there’s controversy as Floyd Mayweather’s next opponent is announced. He’ll slug it out with Katie Taylor in Los Angeles in 2020. Those calling it out as wrong are reminded that it’s okay as the purse is €189m. It’s 2019 remember. When profit justifies all.

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5. Conor McGregor is committed.

When he started roaring at himself in a mirror that “you’ll do nothing”, it was seen by many as a publicity stunt. But 11 hours later, when fists started to fly, close friend Ryan Tubridy intervenes. Dana White calls it a sad day, while in the background conjuring a way to turn mental health into a more profitable comeback if he could only get him out on day release.

It’s announced he’ll play the winner of Taylor-Mayweather in a game of chess.

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6. Tired of his own dance-for-me-boy attacks on the NFL, Donald Trump sets his sights on a new sport. Major League Baseball. Having watched Hanser Alberto of his hometown New York Yankees drop a routine flyball, the President calls for the re-establishment of the negro leagues in a Mr Burns’ style moment of madness.

Analysts announce that it will likely play well with his base. Key Republicans in the Senate and the House defend the remarks.

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7. The Women’s Soccer World Cup is called the biggest and best yet, proof that the female version of the game is thriving and beloved. The coverage is glowing but false, fawning but a lie, because those who scream equality won’t analyse and opine with any equality at all.

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8. As Team Sky exit the stage left, their ultimate season is the stuff of dreams. Chris Froome, weighing in at a mere six stone and close to starvation shacks up for the race looking like the grave awaits. Instead a yellow jersey and champagne on the Champs Elysees is forthcoming as he finishes the three-week event in nine days, this after walking from Le Tour’s Belgium start to France with his bike on his back.

Sport loves an underdog. He is perhaps its greatest.

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9. The boardroom of Manchester City celebrate as their genocide in Yemen sees them gain the key port city of Hodeidah, allowing them to purchase more jewel-encrusted Mercedes and a 747 that actually cannot take off as it’s made of solid gold. Crucially some of the money makes its way down to Pep Guardiola’s summer transfer budget and with the team playing attractive football, the sporting world salutes the work of Khaldoon Al Mubarak and the rest of the boys.

Football isn’t a matter of life and death… Oh wait, sometimes it is.

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10. Accepting the filth of the past will never be cleaned up, Seb Coe and the IAAF decide to make drug use a part of their sport, but with a twist. A draw is held before each World Championship race, with every athlete drawing a substance they have to infuse themselves with two hours before the off. The BBC panel agree with Coe as it will boost the interest but change their tune when, after pulling heroin from the hat, Dina-Asher Smith falls asleep in the long jump pit. Justin Gatlin wins the 100m, seemingly immune to all concoctions.

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11. With 72 people showing up for the 0-0 between Finn Harps and Bohemians, a League of Ireland fan does a strange and unique thing. Going on social media, they blame John Delaney for the state of affairs and bemoan those bar-stool Premier League onlookers.

This is real football. They are a real fan.

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12. Neil Francis declares the Leinster Schools Cup last-four clash between Blackrock and St Mary’s the most important moment in the history of Ireland.

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13. Neil Francis declares the Leinster Schools Cup final between Blackrock and St Michael’s the most important moment in the history of humanity.

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14. Neil Francis declares himself the greatest invention since the wheel. Joe Brolly launches legal proceedings.

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15. In a motion put forward in the Dáil by Danny Healy-Rae and Shane Ross, it’s decided that horse racing is no longer to be considered a sport, rather an extension of agriculture.

REPRO FREE***PRESS RELEASE NO REPRODUCTION FEE*** Bid Announcement for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 15/11/2016 Pictured at the bid announcement for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in the Aviva Stadium was Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

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16. With the lower-tier hurling competitions runoff over the May bank holiday weekend, the sport is left to focus on The Greatest Show on Earth via the Liam McCarthy Cup.

It doesn’t matter that the Leinster Championship is a damp squib, that the Munster championship is below its own normally high standards, or that the quarter-finals are one-sided. One decent semi-final and an epic final mean it’s once again been the sport of the summer, the most beautiful creation out there, and it’s thriving. Always thriving.

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17. When boxing is pulled from the Olympics, the IABA call an emergency meeting. The council, confused by their own rules and existence in general, manages to disband itself. Chaos follows with the subsequent PR effort admitting this both did and did not happen.

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18. After a win over Gibraltar in our European Championship qualifying opener, John Delaney decides to give himself a pay rise, claiming the buck stops with him and this is his reward. A draw at home to Georgia three days later sees him sack Mick McCarthy.

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19. December rolls around again with the PDC darts finally bringing forth an important realisation. This is the best we have and it’s wonderful. Real, honest, open, accessible and still fun. Darts is declared the national sport of the world. And about time too.

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About Ewan MacKenna

One of the country's top sports journalists, and a recipient of Irish Sports Journalist of the Year.