Taylor takes top gong again but there were unlucky ones

Katie Taylor was crowned RTE Sportsperson Of The Year for the third time on Saturday night as another terrific twelve months of sporting success at local, national and international level was rightly commended.

The history-making Bray lady remains undefeated 22 bouts into her professional pugilism career, adjacent to spectacular success in the amateur ranks which yielded success at Olympic, World and European level.

If it’s possible for an athlete to be still improving heading towards their 37th year, it is not folly to suggest such is the case with Taylor. After all, she is now a unified Lightweight World Champion across at least four of the sport’s different governing bodies.

However, those better versed in these things than I seem to agree that in fighting at Madison Square Garden and, indeed, taking the scalp of her most genuine rival, Amanda Serrano, she has taken her status to a new level.

Who knows how long more we have to me awestruck by this sporting phenom. If there is to be a swansong soon, hopefully Brian Peters can work some magic and ensure it’s a rematch with Serrano at Croke Park.

While this corner has absolutely no beef with Taylor and would not, for a millisecond seek to detract from her astounding resume of successes, the point is surely worth making that it is to be at the very least hoped there was meaningful discussion before the decision was arrived as there were certainly plenty of other noteworthy contenders.

David Clifford – enough said – World Golf number one Rory McIlroy, European Rugby Player of the Year, James Ryan, jockey Colin Keane, Limerick hurling Captain Declan Hannon (see D. Clifford), Padraig Harrington, cyclist Sam Bennet and lady golfer Leona Maguire, to name but a few.

Multiple Major winner Padraig Harrington

Elsewhere, while local bias would of course loved to have seen Eamonn Murray collect the Manager accolade, naturally and deservedly, that went to Vera Pauw, who magnificently masterminded the mesmeric journey the nation’s ladies soccer team have brought us on. So far.

Furthermore, it is imperative the Irish boss gets any and all support which can be directed her way, in the face of the bovine excriment currently swirling around. Wordplay at its very worst solely to sate the necessity for the idle minded to be intraveinously fed outrage on an almost constant basis.

Having said that, while I would have absolutely no axe to grind with our all conquering rowers being honoured – the O’Donovan brothers and Fintan McCarthy have been a breath of fresh air for the nation, surely it stood to reason that with Pauw taking the managerial award, those whom she worked with should’ve been a shoo-in for the collective one.

No matter, while it was great to see Rhasidat Adalekki being honoured as it gives some indication that that what has traditionally an Irish strength in Athletics making something of a comeback but, also on that very point, it was a shame that Ciara Mageean didn’t also receive some recognition as her season was punctuated with several moments of brilliance.

For all that, given that GAA still probably has the biggest pull on my heart strings – albeit in a head bobbing finish with horse racing – it was indeed fitting to see Jimmy Barry-Murphy inducted into the RTE Sport Hall Of Fame.

JBM

His glory laden playing days were slightly before my time, but as I have often said previously, it’s indicative of a person’s impact in their area of expertise when (a) they become instantly recognisable by their nickname alone and (b) when people with no interest in or knowledge on a given sport knows of them.

Hannon pointed out as such when referring to Mick Mackey and reflecting on Limerick’s fourth Munster SHC title in a row. The trophy for which is now the Mick Mackey Cup.

All bar a miniscule percentage of society will know of JBM. Whether that be the older generation who recall his feats on the playing fields, those of us who couldn’t help but be bowled over by his success in management or even people who might know him as the father of Bryan Barry-Murphy who has carved an accomplished career for himself in soccer as a coach with Rochdale and Manchester City.

Though heading towards his 69th year, it would still never surprise this observer to see JBM pop up in a dugout with some Cork team again. If he did, it wouldn’t do their prospects any harm!

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