brennan's brief | 

When we’ve seen off this variant of Covid, there will be so much to look forward to in the 2022 world of sport

Rachel Blackmore celebrates victory on Minella Times in the 2021 Aintree Grand National last Saturday

Rachel Blackmore celebrates victory on Minella Times in the 2021 Aintree Grand National last Saturday

John Brennan

Just when the world of sport was beginning to breathe easily, and wonder if we were moving close to normality, along comes Omicron.

And so we have Premier League matches off, rugby matches in doubt, a limit on the number of people who can go to horse race meetings. In short we’ve a right midwinter mess.

At least it is the depths of winter. Sports like the GAA, golf and tennis are barely alive, football’s League of Ireland is on its break and right now we can cope. Imagine if this had been August?

Would the All-Ireland Hurling and Football Finals have ever been held? Would the LOI season have been completed, would the Lions Tour have finished.

Now we are in a race between getting boosters into our arms and Omicron shutting sport down for a while, whether that be through halting games altogether, or at least banning spectators from attending them.

Still, the year will turn in barely a fortnight’s time and when we’ve seen off this variant of Covid, there will be so much to look forward to in 2022.

The usual staples of our year of sport will all be there and there’s so much else to look forward to, such as World Athletics and Swimming Championships held over from last year. There’s a three-Test tour of New Zealand for our rugby team and, of course, an Autumn/Winter World Cup in Qatar next November.

Who will be the stars of the new year? Well, would anyone have guessed it would have fallen to history-making jockey Rachael Blackmore to be a true meteor of this one.

Maybe cyclist Sam Bennett will come back from his injury-hit season and sprint to Grand Tour stage wins again in 2022. Our top golfers, Rory, Shane, Leona, will go Major hunting, and our equestrian sportsmen and women will do as well as they always do.

Will Limerick hurlers make it a three-in-a-row of Liam MacCarthy Cups? Will the footballing Dubs come back, or is their 2011-20 era of dominance over? And can Ireland’s soccer team, as their manager Stephen Kenny has challenged them to do, win their Nations League group.

We’ll all find out on warmer days next year, days when we’ve seen off Omicron, we hope!


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