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Brendan Crossan - a sporting wish-list for 2019

Josh Warrington (right) and Carl Frampton embrace after the World Featherweight Championship last month. Hopefully there is one last rage against the dying light for Frampton
Brendan Crossan - The Boot Room

As 2019 gets under way, Brendan Crossan has a few New Year requests...

One last rage against the dying light…

THE hope is that there is one more big fight left in Carl Frampton. The Tiger’s Bay native was comprehensively beaten by the freakishly fit Josh Warrington just before Christmas.

It had all the hallmarks of a last dance. The 31-year-old says he will only fight again if he gets a re-match with Warrington or a third mega-bout with Leo Santa Cruz.

If the popular Belfast man can’t land either of these targets, then retirement would be the right decision. If we have seen the last of ‘The Jackal’ in the ring, he leaves behind a rich legacy and memories that will never dim with time.

Time to leave Twitter…

ONE of the first things Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should do is ban Paul Pogba from posting silly videos on social media. The French World Cup winner’s behaviour during the latter stages of Jose Mourinho’s time in charge at Manchester United was reprehensible and despite his excellent performances and goals since Solskjaer assumed the reins, the midfielder still has some way to go to winning over the Old Trafford faithful.

Tap out, why don't you…

ANOTHER wish of 2019 is for Conor McGregor to tap out a few more times in the Octagon before taking his cheap swagger into the sunset.

Revenge is sweet…

IN the eyes of most boxing fans, Gennady Glovokin has defeated Canelo Alvarez twice – and yet the records say their first encounter was a draw and that Canelo won their second world title bout, back in September.

The Mexican was suspended for failing a drugs test that put the rematch on the back burner but when they did lace up their gloves, Canelo claimed a very controversial majority decision over the hard-hitting Kazakhstani. If Glovokin has the appetite for a third bout in 2019 and manages to take Canelo out of Vegas, the hope is that justice will be served.

Reviving the Green Army…

WATCHING the Republic of Ireland in 2018 was utterly joyless. With Martin O’Neill’s side failing to score in their last four games and attendances falling, it was inevitable the former Celtic manager would have to be replaced. Mick McCarthy takes the reins – before handing the job over to Stephen Kenny in two years’ time – and with no warm-up games the Republic are straight into Euro 2020 qualification action in March against Gibraltar and Georgia. When McCarthy was last in charge, the Irish played an expansive brand of football. The hope is it will be fun again to follow the Republic of Ireland on the international stage.

 

Republic of Ireland assistant coach Terry Connor (left), manager Mick McCarthy (second left), Football Association of Ireland CEO John Delaney, (second right) and assistant coach Robbie Keane following the Euro 2020 European qualifier draw at the Convention Centre, Dublin. McCarthy hopes to have Declan Rice on board for the start of the Qualifiers in March

 

Hard work, dedication…

THAT Romelu Lukaku lays off the pastie baps and gets fit in 2019.

Possession, possession, possession…

PADDY McLaughlin is building something special at Irish Premier League club Institute. Asked did he have to tweak the team’s playing philosophy since joining the senior ranks, McLaughlin’s answer was refreshing.

“We actually worked on playing more football, [gaining] more possession because we’re playing on better surfaces, the former Derry City player explained.

“You probably get a bit more time in the Premier but you’re playing against higher class opposition… If we’d just gone long we would never survive, so we tried to change our philosophy and add a bit more football to us.”

Hopefully more local coaches will take a leaf out of McLaughlin’s book and preach the value of keeping possession to win football matches.

Gaelic football’s three hand pass rule gets dropped…

THE GAA’s Standing Committee on Playing Rules [SCPR] missed an opportunity of properly tackling Gaelic football’s ills. While the attacking ‘mark’ and sin bin have merit and are likely to be retained for the start of the National Football League, the three consecutive hand-pass rule is seriously flawed.

One of its many negative consequences is that it has made defending easier and scoring goals more difficult. Sadly, the SCPR prescribed Gaelic football with the wrong antibiotic.

It’s hard to see the new hand pass rule surviving beyond this month.

Disband the Ballon d’Or…

THE fact that Lionel Messi was voted the fifth best player in 2018 threw the Ballon d’Or into disrepute. After this shambles who will actually take the ‘Best Player’ title seriously in 2019?

Turning the first sod…

WITH new Antrim chairman Ciaran McCavana insisting that the rebuilding of Casement Park will happen under his watch was refreshing to hear.

Antrim GAA has suffered immeasurably since the old west Belfast ground’s gates closed in 2013. The hope is the GAA can overcome any remaining planning hurdles in 2019 and see the diggers roll in to start work.

 

An artist's impression of the proposed new Casement Park stadium

 

Reaching the Holy Grail…

THAT St Enda’s Glengormley overcome Connacht champions An Spidéal on January 20 to reach the All-Ireland Intermediate final at Croke Park.

Putting manners on Broner…

ANOTHER wish is for ageing boxing champion Manny Pacquiao defeats Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner in their welterweight bout in Vegas later this month, arguably one of the most arrogant fighters on the planet.

Transfer request, please…

PHIL Jones lodges a transfer request in 2019 and leaves Manchester United.

Getting your act together…

THAT Sky Sports and BT Sport see the error of their ways and re-negotiate a deal to get Spanish La Liga and Serie A back on our screens in 2019. With Eleven Sports struggling for subscribers, it’s a crying shame the last few years of Lionel Messi career could be buried on an internet channel.

Remembering what you’re good at…

THAT Brazil star Neymar stops falling around in 2019 and remembers not to take his God-given talent for granted.

 

Floyd Mayweather lands with a jarring left hand against Conor McGregor

Just retire…

FLOYD Mayweather’s last two bouts – against MMA star Conor McGregor and Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa – have sullied his boxing legacy. A boxing great, Mayweather is in danger of becoming a freak show.

Dear hurling people...

THAT hurling managers and players, particularly in the south, stop using the word 'savage' in post-match press conferences.

TV coverage...

THAT the GAA successfully lobbies for one of their broadcasting partners to show action from hurling's Joe McDonagh Cup - one of the association's best kept secrets.

Getting back to Croke...

THAT the hurlers of Cushendall and St Gall's make an appearance at Jones's Road this year.

Keep a clean sheet…

CLIFTONVILLE manage to end 90 minutes without conceding a goal. The Reds have shipped 17 goals in their last four league fixtures.

 

Paul Heatley was unstoppable for Crusaders as he grabbed a hat-trick against Cliftonville

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