Tuesday, May 24, 2005

TSA's Top 10 Super Summer Hits!

Aside from the Istanbul business, the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday and the play-offs top flight football has largely packed its diamond encrusted suitcase and is currently stuck in an airport queu waiting to go on its holliers. But fear not, sports fans! The disappearance of the football behemoth from our view allows "other" sports to scuttle into the light and, for a few short months at least, enjoy the oxygen of publicity. This summer promises much, so, being a Hornby-esque male, I am condemned to present my top ten confrontations of the summer in snappy list format......

1. British & Irish Lions v New Zealand
Don't get me wrong, New Zealand is a beautiful country, I've seen Lord of the Rings you know; the mountains, lakes, glaciers, stunning really. But playing rugby against them, for seven weeks, in the New Zealand winter, with all them All Black types out to get you? No thanks! Ok, so Napoleon marched on Moscow with a smaller army than Clive Woodward is bringing (I mean c'mon, Alistair Campbell, really!), but look what happened to him.
Frankly I don't see how the Lions can win; the English are too old, the Welsh are too fancy and the Irish are off the boil. But its still rugby's biggest and best carnival and should be tremendous entertainment.

2.Armagh v Kerry
If the draw goes according to plan (Kerry should win Munster easily again, Ulster will prove as much of a minefield as ever, particularly if Peter Canavan stays fit for Tyrone) these two will meet in the All-Ireland Final. Kerry's galvanisation under Jack O'Connor was largely in response to the upping of the ante by the Ulster powers (especially in terms of physicality and brawn) and it was one of the disappointments of last year that they never got to test themselves against Armagh or Tyrone. Both teams are blessed with superlative footballing talents: the likes of 'Gooch' Cooper, Declan O'Sullivan, Paul Galvin for Kerry, Stephen McDonnell, Ronan Clarke and Oisin McConville for Armagh. If they do meet, lets hope its the ball players who decide it.

3. The Ashes: England v Australia
This summer's first Ashes test at Lords is the most oversubscribed cricket test in the history of the venerable old ground. Basically, its the top two test nations (as per the ICC rankings) facing each other. But more than that, it is the litmus test of England's cricketing revival, one that they have been itching for since winning the last Ashes test in Sydney in 2003 and beating Australia over one-day in last years ICC Champions Trophy. Even more than that though, they will be using as ammunition the years of humiliation that the Aussies have rubbed in since 1986-87. And no-one rubs in humiliation quite like the Australians. They make the word "ordinary" sound like the grossest offence known to man.
Watch out for Andrew Flintoff attempt to recreate 1981 and all that.

4.Roger Federer v Anyone....?
How events unfold at Roland Garros and at Wimbledon can seem like two completely different sports. Roger Federer went out at the French Open last 32 stage to Gustavo Kuerten in 2004 then cakewalked Wimbledon. Young Spaniard Rafael Nadal could win the French, but even a combination of Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt together would struggle to rob the brilliant Swiss of another Wimbledon. Tim Henman will progress further in his metamorphosis into Jeremy Bates.

5. Cork v Kilkenny
Ok, our familiarity with this one is in danger of breeding contempt, but there is ample fascination in seeing how the kingpins match up this year, as well as some disappointment that only Waterford have an outside chance of disturbing either. Cork were awesome at the semi-final and final stage last year, and are crucially stronger than anyone in the half back line- O hAilpin, Curran and Gardiner complement each other so well- and in midfield, with the hard running of Kenny and Jerry O'Connor. Kilkenny too possess potential all time greats in Shefflin, JJ Delaney and Tommy Walsh, and if Brian Cody unleashes the latter in the forward areas he could make the difference.

6.Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees
I know, I know, Baltimore currently lead the American League East by two games from the Red Sox and the Yankees are a further two behind, but given that there is another 5000 games to go, I expect these two to, at some point, recreate last seasons epic battles in regular season and playoffs. Boston will want to start catching up on their rivals' vastly more ample honour roll, and the Yankees $200 million payroll insists that they stop them.

7.Woods v Els v Mickelson v Singh v Goosen
Its all about the Big Five in this year's British Open, joy of joys, at the Old Course in St Andrews. Woods has given warning that he may be about to reclaim the undisputed heavyweight belts, but I have a sneaky feeling the Big Easy won't be too far away after last year's disappointments.
Padraig Harrington could soon be heading for the Colin Montgomerie/Jimmy White award for gallant failure if he doesn't pick up a major soon.

8.Ricky Hatton v Kostya Tsyzu
Likely to be one of Sky's last big boxing nights, as Frank Warren appears to be riding Amir Khan's coattails back to ITV. Hatton has been a big draw locally for some time, but has struggled to gain international credibility through the cailber of his opponents. The Russian-born Australian is likely to be much too strong in this contest for the IBF and WBC light-welterweight titles.

9. Lance Armstrong v France
As in the country's terrain, for an unprecedented seventh Tour win, and also to see whether in his final Tour he can win the hearts and minds which have resolutely failed to accept his greatness.

10. Ireland v Israel
Yes I know, I know, but football just won't go away. Just as Brian Kerr appeared to be able to do no wrong after the draw in Paris, so the concession of a late equaliser in Israel raised again the question about the unity of purpose between team and management. The players frankly didn't look able or comfortable carrying out Kerr's conservative gameplan. This match would have provided a crucial dress rehearsal for what were expected to be the key home games later in the year, but now represents a banana skin on which Ireland are well capable of slipping, especially with the players' minds on the beach. Spare a thought for Ireland's Newcastle contingent, whose Intertoto Cup campaign begins on 2 July- hardly enough time to work up a nice base tan....


Blogger ian rush's moustache said...

No World Athletics Championships? No NBA finals? Couldn't care less about them? Me neither!

3:32 p.m.  
Blogger Tommy77 said...

Haven't got excited about athletics since Heike Dreschler retired. Always supported the Harlem Globetrotters in the basketball, they don't seem to be in it this year...

3:46 p.m.  
Blogger ian rush's moustache said...

Brings to mind one of my favorite simpsons moments when Homer bets against the Harlem Globetrotters: "He's using a ladder for crying out loud!".

5:10 p.m.  
Blogger ian rush's moustache said...

beg your pardon, it was krusty the clown who placed the bet during one of his rough gambling periods.

12:42 p.m.  

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