What our experts got right and wrong in sporting predictions for 2023

Based on past experience, we IT sportswriters should probably offer advance apologies to all those we have predicted to have a mighty 2024

There was something quite offensive about how last year’s crystal-ball-gazing piece was headlined in this newspaper by a rogue subeditor: “Our writers and experts make their sporting predictions for 2023”.

Note the use of ‘and’ there. Like employees of The Irish Times’ sports department and experts are two distinct things.

In an effort, then, to prove that there’s no need at all to put these two species in to separate categories, we took a look back at those 2023 predictions, hell-bent on proving that the levels of prowess in said IT sports department know no limits.

We were, to be honest about it, sorry we started.


A few of the questions put to six IT authorities on sport were more about their hopes than expectations, most of them, for example, confident that Leona Maguire and Rory McIlroy would win Majors during the year (zero between them), while those youngsters they tipped to set the world alight had, certainly, useful years, without actually igniting the planet, the weight of being tipped for the top by the IT aficionados ensuring that their ambitions would remain blunted.

So, we’ll focus on the ones where the IT folk were asked to nail their colours to the nearest mast.

First, the Rugby World Cup.

How many predicted that South Africa would retain their crown?


Zero, like.

Five went for France and one eejit, drunk on mulled wine and optimism, chose Ireland.

Which player was most likely to make the biggest impression on the tournament?

Four went for Antoine Dupont and, while he was his usual half-decent self when he played, he missed two of France’s games after sustaining a decidedly nasty facial fracture after a brush with Namibia’s Johan Deysel, returning just in time for the hosts’ quarter-final defeat by South Africa. So, that went well.

One went for Robbie Henshaw, who was restricted to two appearances due to a hamstring injury, and another chose Josh van der Flier, who did grand but not as fabulously as expected. There was a trend developing here.

Next, the women’s football World Cup.

How far would Ireland go in to the tournament?

Three said Ireland would get out of their group, which they didn’t. Hats off. Two more flip-flopped on the question and weren’t brave enough to commit themselves to a solid forecast, opting for heart over head in a patriotic chest-beating sort of way. Only one feared the worst. A shambles, then.

Who would win the World Cup? Four chose the United States, while Germany and Brazil got one vote each.

How did that go?

Well, the United States, the defending champions, were knocked out on penalties by Sweden in the round of 16, their earliest exit from the tournament ever. Germany failed to progress from their group for . . . the first time ever. And Brazil didn’t get out of their group either. So, forecast-wise: Armageddon. Who saw Spain’s victory coming?

Moving swiftly along.

Next, who would win the four senior All-Ireland titles?

This section was significantly less mortifying, all six tipping Limerick to complete a hurling four-in-a-row – although, come on now, that was hardly brave. It was akin to suggesting that it might rain some time in 2023.

Five correctly forecast that Dublin would win the women’s football and the same number got Cork’s camogie triumph right. But. Only two saw the Dublin lads’ renaissance coming. And just one accurately predicted all four All-Ireland champions. Who? The boss. Has he been modest about it? What do you think?

We should, then, probably offer advance apologies to all those we have predicted to have a mighty 2024, like our Olympians, our rugby-playing persons, our All-Ireland-seeking counties, England’s football team, our golfers, and our rising stars.

They are all, you’d fear, destined to underperform.

Painful as it is to concede, but perhaps that ‘and’ placed between IT writers and experts was well placed after all. Morto.

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Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times