Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Losers - Part Two

Take your mind off the excitement of transfer deadline day (will Stoke's Michael Duberry go to Reading? The thrills!) with more of sport's greatest losers....

Greg Norman
Back in the days when you could be the number one golfer in the world AND be a mere mortal, there were none more mortal than Greg Norman. Despite finishing top of the world rankings on no less than seven occasions (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996 and 1997) and twice winning the British Open, Norman will unfortunately be better remembered for his many and various last day misfortunes in the majors.

Nicknamed 'the Great White Shark', Norman more often possessed the predatory nature of drifting plankton when it came to major Sunday. In 1986 he created the 'Norman Slam', leading all four majors on the Saturday and only winning the Open. He's also only one of two players, along with Craig Wood, to have lost play-offs in all four majors.

He was twice denied by miraculous shots from rivals: in the 1986 PGA when Bob Tway holed from the bunker and in the 1987 Masters when Larry Mize famously chipped in on the second play-off hole.

However, the moment when the Great White really got the Roy Schneider treatment was at the 1996 Masters. Leading the tournament by six shots going into the final day, Norman shot a miserable 78 to allow Nick Faldo to romp to a five shot win. Still, Norman has assuaged the pain of his final day fumbles by running a multi-million dollar business empire, the ownership of several monstrous yachts and a Gulfstream V jet, and the courtship of one Chris Evert.

Dublin Gaelic Football 1984-94, 1996-Present
The twelve year spell that spanned the period between the last of Dublin's All-Ireland triumphs of the Kevin Heffernan era and their sole Sam Maguire win of the last 23 years can be broken into two spells.
Following 1983, much like Kerry after Mick O'Dwyer's departure, the Dubs endured something of a natural lull, which coincided with the great success of Sean Boylan's Meath team of the late 1980s. From 1991 onwards, however, Dublin's attempt to regain Sam became a national soap-opera.

In 1991 they lost the epic four-game Leinster Championship first round tie against Meath. Almost 240,000 spectators turned up over the course of that famous summer series, when it was felt that Dublin would at last recapture their rightful place as Leinster's top side.

Towards the end of the fourth match it appeared that they had at last shaken Meath off, leading as they were by three points. But a Kevin Foley goal and a David Beggy point gave the Royal county victory in one of the GAA's great encounters.

No matter, 1992 saw the Dubs in an All-Ireland final for the first time since 1985. And playing Donegal, themselves in their first ever final, and, being the home of Daniel O'Donnell, generally the subject of patronising remarks on their fondness for their Mammies. The Dubs therefore prepared for the final by modelling outfits for Arnotts.

However, the likes of Martin 'Rambo' Gavigan, Tony Boyle, Anthony Molloy and Brian Murray demonstrated none of the characteristics of overt maternal sentimentality in defeating Dublin 0-18 to 0-14, leaving the Metropolitans Sam-free for another year.

Incredibly, having outlived the expiration of the Meath and Cork domination of the late 80s, Dublin had been broadsided by the sudden explosion of Ulster football. In 1994 they were the victims of Joltin' Joe Brolly and Derry, losing 0-15 to 0-14 in the semi, before losing to Down in the 1994 decider.

Eventually, with a young Jason Sherlock educating the Hill about multi-culturalism, they managed to break the Ulster hoodoo by overcoming Tyrone in 1995, despite Peter Canavan's incredible haul of 11 points in the final.

The current, ongoing, drought went along similar lines: a quiet spell as a resurgent Meath took centre stage in Leinster, then a deluge of heartbreak. 2001 and Maurice Fitzgerald's long point for Kerry in the quarter final in Thurles, Ray Cosgrove hitting the post with a free in the defeat against Armagh in the 2002 semi-final, then last year's astonishing loss against Mayo.

Still, they've been made to suffer before. With question marks over Armagh and Tyrone, Kerry coping with new management and the loss of Seamus Moynihan, could the pain be ended this year?

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5 Comments:

Blogger pj said...

tom, i am surprised you have included dublin - haven't they won more All-Irelands' (22 if i am right) than any other team with the exception of kerry.
unless you are secretly a kerryman you cannot call dublin losers!

12:45 p.m.  
Blogger Tommy77 said...

Hi PJ

The record you mention is exactly why Dublin are included. By their high standards of success, the last quarter century has been pretty disappointing!

2:14 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the gavigans of new zealand salute the founding fathers of donegal and their spawn

6:57 a.m.  
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