Adrian Logan: Magic moments lift gloom
Published 22/12/2007 | 09:21
Looking back on sport over the past 12 months, it was by no means a vintage year but there were a few things to brighten the spirits throughout 2007.
When you consider Northern Ireland, the Monaghan senior team, two golfers Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy, Ireland v England at Croke Park and the Irish cricket team then you can see we had some wonderful moments.
Northern Ireland shortened the year with some moments of magic, a young man called Healy and thousands of super fans.
Northern Ireland were a joy to watch and while Healy grabbed all the headlines, Stephen Craigan and Sammy Clingan were superb. Add in Aaron Hughes, Steve Davies, Warren Feeney and all the rest and you can see it was quite a journey.
Moment of the year was Healy's breathtaking winner against Denmark which broke Davor Suker's Euro qualifying goalscoring record.
I remember it well. I just sat down and laughed. I laughed out loud. It was one of those never to be forgotten moments.
Of course before then the damage was done for Northern Ireland with the two disastrous defeats away to Iceland and Latvia. Those were the killer blows for a team who had tried to pick up the pieces when Lawrie Sanchez left before his contract was up.
Now Sanchez has been sacked by Fulham. What goes around comes around.
Nigel Worthington stepped in and I think most people believe he deserves a real chance with this side.
Before I leave this topic, I must praise the Northern Ireland fans. They travelled thousands of miles to support the side and they were always a credit.
Away from Northern Ireland, what about Padraig Harrington?
For sheer drama the finish at the Open was second to none. It looked at one stage as though he had blown it before being forced into a sudden death play. The TV shots of him and Sergio Garcia crossing the same bridge at Carnoustie was something else.
Harrington's win showed that in sport sometimes the good guys do come out on top.
It was quite week, too, at the Open for Rory McIlroy.
Our own home-grown talent is going to be a player to be reckoned with in the years to come.
McIlroy won the leading amateur at the Open before moving into the professional ranks.
He's only been there a short period of time but already he's making his mark.
Now this time last year who would have thought we would have been talking about cricket as one of the high profile sports? What a year it was for Trent Johnson and his team. They had travelled to the World Cup more in hope than expectation and came home heroes.
It was a tournament to remember and the victory over Pakistan was the game that put Irish cricket firmly on the map. It was great to watch.
The other highlight for me was to stand in Croke Park when the England Rugby team ran out and the Queen was played with total respect.
It was marvellous moment for Irish sport and for Ireland as a country.
The GAA deserve the utmost of praise for their efforts and the game and occasion that day was something which will never be repeated.
It was great to stand and watch the famous old stadium emerge into a bright brand new future which will do good for all sport on these islands.
Few of us thought that day would be the best it would get.
The 43-13 victory was something to behold. Shame about the World Cup, though. What a joke that turned out to be for Ireland.
And that's that. There was little else to make me jump out of my seat. I can only hope for better in 2008.
Still, a very Happy Christmas to all the sports stars who gave us moments to remember in 2007 and to everyone else.
Ulster sides flatter to deceive on the big stage
In GAA terms there wasn't much to cheer from a Ulster point of view in 2007.
Donegal gave us false hope with their first-ever win in the National League and Crossmaglen delivered the All Ireland club title.
Cross again defied all the odds to show us that they are without doubt the greatest club side we have ever seen.
They are still on track for yet another crack at club glory and in all honesty who would bet against them.
Donegal did well in the league. Under Brian McIvor they were the best side I saw in the spring and they were deserving of their title.
Unfortunately for them they couldn't deliver in the All-Ireland.
Elsewhere Tyrone struggled. The Ulster final win over Monaghan flattered to deceive and Tyrone never looked like a side that had the hunger to go back to Croke Park and win Sam Maguire.
They did win Ulster but the win over Monaghan left more questions than answers.
Meath gave us the answer all the same. A poor enough Meath side beat Tyrone in the All Ireland quarter final. Despite a brilliant individual goal from Sean Cavanagh it was not to be and Meath marched on.
After that it was down to Derry and Monaghan to produce the goods. Derry had a real chance against Dublin but I feel the belief wasn't there.
In Kevin McCloy and Paddy Bradley Derry have excellent players and I feel they can do better next season.
After Derry's exit, it was down to Monaghan against the All Ireland champions Kerry.
Before the game everyone handed out platitudes that Monaghan would give Kerry a real game but few felt they would win. What an effort all the same from the Monaghan men.
Seamus McEnaney's side were great to watch. They put Kerry to the pin of their collar and the defending champions needed all their experience to pull away and win, only just. We can only hope that Monaghan can build on that platform for 2008.
After that it was a predictable championship with two poor semi finals and a final to forget. In fact Cork forgot to turn up and Kerry easily took another title.
The championship needs the likes of Armagh and Tyrone firing on all cylinders if we are to have a competition to svaour. Kerry won but all in all it was poor stuff.
This week I name my heroes of the year - a drum roll please . . .
They are Padraig Harrington and David Healy.
Harrington's nerves of steel and skill were very special and to be crowned the Open champions in such dramatic fashion was the stuff of dreams.
And there's David Healy. I am running out of words to describe the genius that is Healy. What a man!