Thursday, February 05, 2009

My Top Five...and Another One

To be honest on Sunday when I Tweeted that I had Blogging Fatique Malc suggested that I write up my Top Five Sporting Occasions. I'm going to give you two. One my all time top five and one reflecting my Irishness my Top Five Irish sporting occasions.

1. It has to be the Champions League Final of 2005. As a Liverpool I was glad to be back in the same stadium as Old Big Ears. Thinking we could be 90 minutes away from winning it to keep. Of course 45 minutes in and 3 nil down it was hard to lift yourself up. The dog was staring at me his regular dog walker to take him out and just the second half resumed he was whining and refusing to move from my feet even if the rest brought the lead in. So I actually missed the first two goals yet heard the roars from the Livingston Inn whilst trying to persuade the dog to hurry back. I have almost worn out the "Ours to Keep" DVD of the event.

2. Another footballing one and this time I was there. Livingston had gone into adminstration just before the semi-finals of the 2004 CIS Cup but they got through the game but there was a mass clear out of playing staff. So we trundled off to Hampden the press had us as underdogs but Hibs had yet to beat us that season. The Green and White of Leith filled three quarters of the national stadium. The Amber and Black formerly from just along the London Road at Meadowbank but now at Livingston filled one corner. For the first 45 we sang but couldn't hear ourselves against the wall of noise. The in the second half 8 miunutes, two goals and suddenly all you heard was the Livi faithful. Every football fan dreams of watching their team lifting a trophy. Now I dream of seeing them do it again.

3. The scoreline 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6tells an epic tale. But even that masks the drama of the 4th set tie-break. Bjorn Borg was going for a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title John McEnroe was the young upstart trying to deny him. And he demolished the champ in the first set. But this was Borg's turf as much as Roland Garos and he dug in and game back. The following year saw Borg retire this was a rivalry that could have matched that of Federer and Nadal today in length and intensity and this was the pinicle, little did we know they meet so few more times in the future.

4. Usain Bolt 100m at Beijing 2008. Some barriers take ages to break, the 4 minute mile the, 1 minute 100m breastroke, and each incremental .1 of a second in the 100m. We'd been stuck in the 9.7 for what seems like ages. The up steps the Jamacian who sprints for about 60m then jogs in in 9.69 seconds. What if he'd run for the line, could he have broken 9.6 as well as 9.7 in one race, and unlike the swimmers in the Cube no helpful boyancy wear.

5. Superbowl XXVII 2003 Dallas Cowboys v Buffalo Bills. It may have been one of the most one side Superbowls in history but it was the birth of a franchise in an age of free agencies and salary caps. Troy Aikman QB, Emmitt Smith RB and Micheal Irwin WR were the three stars along with the big Offensive line they all brought their A game to the big show. It was mesmeric and the first of three rings in 4 years.

The Irish related top 5.

1. 25 June 1982, the place Valencia. World Cup hosts Spain were taking on little Northern Ireland on a ground they had never lost on. Northern Ireland had only drawn their two previous games against Yugoslavia and Hondurus. But at the start of the second half Gerry Armstrong finds the back of the net in the 47th minute. But 15 minutes later with just under half an hour to go Mal Donaghy is sent off. But they not be Brazil but Norn Iron and yer men kept their line and took the win to progress to the second group stage.

2. There is a young Irish man who may be the next big thing in golf and last weekend at just 19 Rory McIlroy won his first professional the Dubai Desert Classic. Not that it has come as a shock since turning pro the youngster from Holywood has been pressing for it and almost won before coming 2nd in the UBS Hong Kong Open, 3rd in the South African Open and 5th in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. He's already ranked 16th in the WORLD and is ahead of a certain Tiger Woods at the same age.

3. The 2006 Six Nations especially final week. It is down to the last week and France and Ireland have 3 wins and a loss each. Both teams were away for week 5. France to the Millennium Stadium to face Wales. Ireland to of all places Twickenham to face to World Champions England. France were up on the second game of the day. France had the vastly superior points difference going the day but that didn't stop the Welsh who as the clock ticked over to the 80th minute led 16-11 having never trailed but the French got a converted try on the 80 and a penalty after a further 6 minutes of added time. Could the Irish even win at Twickers to only lose on points. The green shirts came out fighting but they never looked like getting the points deficeit but for the third time that day the final score didn't come until after the 80th minute was on the clock. In this case both teams scored in the added time. Ireland ran out 28-24 winners and in days of yore would have shared the championship.

4. Ryder Cup 2006. The tournamnet came to Ireland but Ireland's favourite son Darren Clarke was recently bereavd having lost his wife Heather to cancer and having taken a severe drop in his playing commitments in the mouth leading up to her death. However, when he strode out to the first tee the roar was almost as if it was wishing the man who'd barely lifted a club in anger in the previous year. In the end it was more that emotion as Darren and his 11 team mates including since triple major winner Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley making a quarter of the team. Clarke won all three of the games he was selected for but just missed out on dropping the winning shot.

5. The is a little bit of a personal passion. In 1999 I was in Carlisle preparing for the final of the UK Civil Service Double Rinks bowls final. The same day in Jersey the British Championship were drawing to a close. Ireland lay in 4th going into the final rounds of matched. The papers laid out the ranifications what Scotland, England or Wales would have to do to win. Almost as an after thought the still mathematical possibilty of an Irish win was mentioned. We went on to lift the title in Carlisle but bowls not being a mainstream sport it was a while before at the Champions dinner we learnt that the day was one of double Irish celebrations.

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