clinic serif;”>A year ending in an even number is always music to a sports fan’s ears. That may seem odd, prostate but it means that during the summer there will be at least one major sporting event to go along with the already packed schedule of events.
cheap serif;”>First up was Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Compared with the World Cup, the Euros tend have a much higher standard of football due to the absence of weaker nations, and this year’s edition was certainly no different. It was a magnificent tournament with very few poor games and an infinite number of talking points. Spain flattered to deceive all the way through, and then produced an exhibition of perfect football in the final. Italy had a shock renaissance, which flew in the face of the doomsday predictions offered by pundits pre-tournament.
The Irish public were treated to the dismal fairing of our own national team. Outclassed in each of our three group games, it’s scant consolation that both finalists came from our group, as a cocktail of simple errors, poor management and a lack of adventure saw us perform even below the most conservative of expectations.
Every leap year the world fixes its eyes on one city for the Olympic Games and this time it was London hosting the pinnacle of global sport. Michael Phelps bowed out of swimming with a golden swansong, there was déjà vu on the track as Usain Bolt once again destroyed the competition, while Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis lit up the stadium with awe-inspiring hometown performances.
The Irish took heart from the fantastic success of our boxers, who took home four medals. Katie Taylor’s gold will no doubt go down as a treasured national memory. There was also success for Ireland in the Equestrian arena, with Cian O’Connor producing a stunning last day surge to earn a bronze.
Summer had been preceded by concern in GAA circles that the national games might be cast aside by the two major international events taking place overseas. This was certainly not the case, with both codes enjoying fascinating years.
In football, there was a genuine sense of evolution and a changing of the guard at the top table. Teams like Kerry and Tyrone which have dominated the landscape for so long were significantly weaker, allowing new pretenders to the crown in the form of Donegal and Mayo.
The Seanie Johnston transfer saga dominated the early months of summer while defensive play, gamesmanship and cynical fouling became the topics du jour for the umpteenth championship in a row.
Hurling had a fine championship too, with abiding memories including Galway demolishing Kilkenny in the Leinster Final and Tipperary’s Lar Corbett playing follow the leader with Tommy Walsh for 70 minutes, oblivious to the fact that his teammates were being beaten out the gate. Cork, Limerick and Clare all showed strong signs of a return to glory being on the cards, while Tipperary, Dublin and Waterford took big steps backwards.
Scrappy play continued to be a sore point. Hurling fans always take pride in the fact that it is “a man’s game” and are unlikely to pour scorn on anything short of decapitation. However, even the most ardent fan would admit that the constant rucking and physical scraps are ruining the spectacle of what used to be a free flowing and skilful game.
Elsewhere, the horse racing summer was once again lit up by the brilliance of Frankel, who staked his claim as one of the all-time greats. In golf, Rory McIlroy returned to the peak of his game in August to claim his second major. Bradley Wiggins and his Team Sky machine completely dominated the Tour de France, becoming the first British man to win the race.
With the traditional summer sports coming to an end, we can now look forward to the start of new seasons in club soccer and rugby amongst others. All in all it was a great summer of sport… but what else did you expect?
– Anthony Strogen