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‘I don’t know why you’d want to play that sport because it’s dreadful to watch’: The sports quotes of the year

From guff-spouting pundits to a party-loving Ronan O’Gara, here are the quips, bloopers and characters who marked the sporting feats of 2022


“Happy new year! Wishing you all health, love and joy ... today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!” – Novak Djokovic before setting off for the Australian Open, his 2022 not getting going at all after a period of detention, a court hearing and deportation because he wasn’t vaccinated against Covid.

“It’s a wonderful win for London. I’m sure it’ll take a bit of the pressure off Boris Johnson who’s had a bad week. He’ll be delighted with that.” – Colm O’Rourke reckoning they’d be partying in Downing Street after London beat Carlow in the first round of their division four football league campaign.

“We need to find ways to include the whole world to give hope to Africans so that they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find maybe a better life but, more probably, death in the sea.” – Fifa president Gianni Infantino explaining why his plans for a World Cup every second year could save African migrants from death. To which everyone replied: ‘What?’


“It’s a bit surreal. This is 17 years in the making and you kind of wonder if it’s ever going to happen. It’s been a long road.” – Leona Maguire on becoming the first Irish woman to win on the LPGA Tour after her triumph at the Drive On Championship in Florida.


“They’re scary motherf*****s to get involved with. We know they killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.” – The start of an exceedingly iffy year for Phil Mickelson, this extract from a chat with writer Alan Shipnuck kick-starting his 2022.

“You can guess which body part was a little bit frozen when I finished.” Finnish cross-country skier Remi Lindholm after needing a heat pack to defrost a certain part of his anatomy following his race at the winter Olympics in Beijing. No, not his nose.


“I don’t go that far for my holidays.” – Sky Sport’s Andrew Coltart after Brooks Koepka’s humongous 443-yard drive at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas.

“I went to the coffee shop yesterday and the girl says, ‘that Irish team must be good ... all the ex-England players think they’re going to win the game. How you feeling?’ I said, ‘just give me the coffee please’.” – Eddie Jones bigging up Ireland before their Six Nations meeting with England at Twickenham. Which Ireland won 32-15. No flies on the coffee shop girl.

“The fact that you can’t buy a Chelsea match programme must mean that Putin is sh***ing himself.” – Former Chelsea owner Ken Bates a touch unimpressed by the UK government’s Ukraine-war-related restrictions on the club’s day-to-day business because it was owned by Russian Roman Abramovich.


“I wasn’t sure if anything could reach my Olympic gold-medal moment, but tonight was absolutely the best moment of my career.” – Katie Taylor on her victory over Amanda Serrano in a fight for the ages, in front of a crowd of 20,000 at Madison Square Garden.

“Great players define their sport, like Tiger Woods in golf or Michael Jordan in basketball ….. this man is redefining the way Gaelic football is played. I felt a bit sorry for Padraig O’Hora today. He was like a man trying to pick up mercury with a fork.” – Colm O’Rourke after David Clifford’s masterclass for Kerry in their 15-point win over Mayo in the Division One league final.

“He goes to the stands, he causes s**t in the stands. He goes to the sideline, he causes s**t on the sideline. He is insufferable.” – Bordeaux-Bègles coach Christophe Urios after a rowdy touchline brush with Ronan O’Gara, his La Rochelle counterpart.


“I don’t know why you’d want to play that sport because it’s dreadful stuff to watch. I can’t understand it. There’s no skill at all.” – Meath manager Eamonn Murray at a loss to comprehend why anyone would want to play Aussie Rules, not least two of his players, Vikki Wall and Orlagh Lally.

“Twelve months ago we went to Racing and got beaten 49-0. There was fighting and it was carnage, but it will be carnage in the port of La Rochelle for the next few days after this.” – A jubilant Ronan O’Gara after La Rochelle’s epic 24-21 win over Leinster in the Champions Cup final.

“A day only God can explain.” – Spanish paper Marca’s take on a comeback for the ages, when Real Madrid beat Manchester City 6-5 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-finals, having trailed 5-3 going in to injury time.


Reporter: “Are you here for the experience or are you going to go all the way?”

Venus Williams: “Are you going to write a good article or a halfway decent one?”

Reporter: “I’m going to do what I usually do.”

Venus Williams: “Us too.”

– The reporter was, then, sorry he ever asked Venus how she and Jamie Murray would fare in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon.

“I’ve always quite liked the idea of rugby league. My long-standing memory is that 2003 drop goal. I think we were drinking Bloody Marys at the time. It was 11 o’clock in the morning, but wow, what a moment that was!” – Nadine Dorries, the then UK secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, at a launch for the Rugby League World Cup, unaware that Jonny Wilkinson played an entirely different rugby code.

“It’s like a f***ing morgue! And they are set on podiums. What are they going to do? A party political broadcast? It’s more boring than the news now.” – Apart from that, Joe Brolly is quite enjoying the Joe Brolly-less Sunday Game.


“Who do you think you are? You’re a s**t Richie McCaw, pal.” – Peter O’Mahony putting New Zealand captain Sam Cane in his place during the second test in Dunedin.

“Social media is where it’s at now and the crowd making all the money are the influencers. They tell me to become an influencer you don’t have to have any expertise, no qualifications and no knowledge – just plenty of neck and a load of confidence. I have that.” – Pat Spillane searching for new career opportunities after announcing his retirement from The Sunday Game after 30 years.

“It’s never been done before – to win here, to get a series win. It probably wasn’t something you thought about as a young fella. But now, there will be young fellas at home who will be dreaming of playing for Ireland and winning over here. It will have been done before.” – O’Mahony again, this time after Ireland made history with their series win in New Zealand.


“I know this fight was being broadcast in the Ukraine ... will they be having a big party there tonight?” – Seemingly unaware that Ukraine was in no position to party back in August, Sky’s post-fight interviewer left Ukrainian heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk a bit speechless after his win over Anthony Joshua in Jeddah.

“I thought going up the home straight, ‘maybe this would be my day’. I fell a little short of gold but I can’t be disappointed, I laid it all bare on the track. My time will come. I sure as hell tried.” – Ciara Mageean after the race of her life, when she won silver medal in the 1,500m at the European Championships.

“All of a sudden, a new pizza shop opens up, right? And then that original pizza house goes, ‘if you go over there, we’re banning you from ever coming back to our pizza shop’.” – Bryson DeChambeau serves up quite the analogy after leaving the PGA for a slice of the LIV Tour action.


“Oh, it’s fine yeah.” – Paul O’Donovan losing the run of himself on being asked how it felt to win his fifth World Championship medal, he and Fintan McCarthy striking gold in the Czech Republic.

“I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible. To the game of tennis: I love you and I will never leave you.” – The very great Roger Federer announcing his retirement.

“Like hugging a hedgehog…”. – Roy Keane on being shown an old clip of Alex Ferguson embracing him after a game. Still quite a prickly relationship, then.


“This is the best day of my life in terms of what we’ve done for football. But when you put it in to perspective, we don’t scratch the surface of what happened over there on Friday. I’m dedicating this to those 10 beautiful souls who perished ... to all their families. Because I know they touched their lives. They certainly touched ours. This is for Creeslough. This is for Donegal.” – Amber Barrett movingly dedicating the goal she scored in Glasgow, that earned Ireland qualification for the World Cup for the first time, to the people of Creeslough after the tragedy that cost 10 lives the week before.

“We’re the best team in the world and he’s our Lionel Messi. He has footwork like Michael Flatley, he has hands like Mary Berry – he is different gravy.” – How much does Donncha O’Callaghan love Tadhg Furlong? Tons.

“Messi is one of a kind – but Haaland is unique.” – BT Sports pundit Owen Hargreaves on the one and only Lionel – and Erling.


“Spuds. Gravy. The mother’s Sunday roast.” – Tadhg Furlong on being asked what he dreamt of as a young fella – no, not captaining Ireland, as he did against Fiji.

“Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel [like] a migrant worker ... I know what it means to be discriminated [against] ... as a child I was bullied – because I had red hair and freckles.” – Fifa president Gianni Infantino going off on one again. It was for moments like this that the face-in-hands emoji was created.

“We had some clues. He was walking on his hands and somersaulting off the sofa – they were the red flags. We put him in a gym because it was much safer than doing those things in the livingroom.” – Rhys McClenaghan’s mother Tracy on his hazardous start to his gymnastics career. It’s turning out well, though, as November’s World Championship gold medal in the pommel horse proved.


“I can’t believe what I’m watching – I’ve never seen so much dancing, it’s like watching Strictly. I don’t mind the first kind of jig, it’s the one after that, and then the manager getting involved!” – It’ll be a long time before Roy Keane is invited to do the Samba at the Rio Carnival after he offended all of Brazil by criticising their all-dancing celebrations.

“The hardest thing is knowing when to stop. It’s about beating the clock – and Frankie is going out at the top. He’s racing’s Lionel Messi – you can’t teach a kid to ride like Frankie Dettori.” – AP McCoy paying tribute to the 52-year-old Italian after he announced that next year would be the last of his professional career.

“When you watch Rocky Balboa, you want to support him because of his heart and commitment – I think we’re the Rocky of this World Cup.” – Manager Walid Regragui on Morocco’s very marvellous World Cup run, the team not suffering a knock-out until the semi-finals against France.