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Let's face it, 2020 has been something of a sporting write-off. Sure, they're playing, but with nobody there in person to see it, it's not really the same. As the great Celtic manager Jock Stein put it, football without fans is nothing, and that pretty much goes for every other sport too.
There are some events continuing, however, and plenty for fans to get excited about from the comfort of their sofas. The great philosopher Homer Simpson said that sports weren't about who wins or loses, but how drunk you get, and just because we're in the midst of a global pandemic doesn't mean that we can't grab a few cans and enjoy watching elite athletes kick balls, thump each other in the mouth and propel small white objects hundreds of metres down a field with a metal stick.
One of the sports to call it first was the GAA, who had to postpone their whole season. Usually at this time of year, we'd have just watched the All-Ireland Finals, but instead, we're gearing up for the start, and this year's should be a classic. It's a total throwback: the first year that will be a straight knockout, like your aul fella goes on about: provincial champions make the semis and then play off for the All-Ireland. We've not seen it for twenty years, and it has the potential to produce huge upsets. The football final will be on December 19th this year as well, so expect Christmas celebrations to start early in Carlow when the Fighting Cocks pick up their first Sam Maguire. In a year of unpredictability, nothing is impossible and, yes, I did pick Carlow just so I could remind you all of their amazing nickname. Scientists are pretty busy at the moment, but perhaps they'll have time by December to investigate the effects of extreme cold weather on pasty folk from rural Ireland in tiny, tiny shorts. Will we see GAA players in tights or, god forbid, trousers? To reiterate: anything is possible.
You might have forgotten, what with the chaos that has intervened, but the 2020 Six Nations is still going and Ireland can still win it. In fact, it's quite simple: the two games that were cancelled were before the UK went into lockdown, so all we have to do is beat Italy at home on October 24th and France away on October 31st, grabbing the bonus points along the way, to pick up the cup. That's it. Easier said than done, of course. Well, not Italy, as they're shite, but the potential for a huge showdown in Paris with the French is there. England, Scotland and Wales only have one game left, so there is a backdoor option too, although that would involve England losing to Italy for the first time ever. ANYTHING. IS. POSSIBLE
OK, not everything: Shamrock Rovers would need to lose every game, Bohs win every game and somehow have a goal difference swing of forty billion goals for the Tallaght men not to become League of Ireland champions for the first time in nearly a decade. Given that Rovers haven't lost a game all year, it seems more than unlikely. When the League of Ireland finishes, however, that won't be the end of club football. Dundalk got themselves to the Europa League Group Stage and were rewarded with a glamour tie against Arsenal, who come to Ireland on December 10th to remind themselves how much they hate playing the Europa League. Winter Thursday night trips to play Dundalk are probably not why Arsenal's galaxy of stars decided to join the Gunners, but hey - maybe Mesut Özil will be so unpopular that they actually make him play. Fans might be allowed into the Aviva Stadium by then. Our beloved national team, who face Bulgaria and Wales in November, might have scored a goal by then. Stephen Kenny's men managed zero goals in the international break just gone, and just one in the break before that, but hope springs eternal. Of course, anything is possible. Bulgaria at home. Shane Duffy. From a corner. Repeat it enough times and it might come true.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
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