From Rachael Blackmore to Steve Bruce: The best soundbites of 2021

Some words of wisdom – and some not so wise – from the world of sport

National Treasure: "I can't believe I am Rachael Blackmore. I still feel like that little kid. I can't believe I'm me . . . keep your dreams big, I suppose."

On being told that her Grand National win would result in many a youngster wanting to grow up to be Rachael Blackmore.

Bottoms Up: "It simply boils down to the fact that they have as many bones in their arse as we have . . . they're only human."

Eddie O’Sullivan’s “be not afraid” message to the Irish team before they took on the All Blacks in November. It worked a treat – they won 29-20.


Gold Standard: "Hakuna Matata! No worries for the rest of your days!"

When they remake The Lion King, Kellie Harrington should be queen of the jungle.

Royal Party: "We need to forget about the bad days, those bad days are gone, thank God. These are heroes and will be heroes for life if they never kick another ball. They'll go down in history now."

Meath manager Eamonn Murray after his team rose from the ashes to beat Dublin in the ladies All-Ireland final.

Low Expectations: "I didn't expect to be here at all. I mean, my flights were booked at the end of qualifying."

Emma Raducanu on having to change her flight plans after reaching the final of the US Open – and winning it.

Crossed Lines: "People hoping to get their long-awaited Covid vaccines at the stadium were stunned to discover they were actually queueing to buy the club's season tickets.

The Daily Mirror's report back in May on the confusion at Plymouth Argyle's Home Park stadium, which doubled as a vaccination centre. Those hoping for a jab ended up being threatened with having to watch all the club's home games in 2021-22.

Presidential Salute: "If our soccer team, headed by a radical group of leftist maniacs, wasn't woke they would have won the gold medal instead of the bronze . . . the woman with the purple hair [Megan Rapinoe] played terribly and spends too much time thinking about Radical Left politics and not doing her job!"

Donald Trump's moving tribute the United States' football team after they won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, the final contested by Commie Canada and Socialist Sweden.

Most Tenuous Link: "I watched the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral and for the first time in a long time I was really proud to be British – and this morning that's just gone away."

Ian Holloway, most likely the only man on earth to link the death of Prince Philip with the attempt to launch the Super League.

Oh Ye of Little Faith: "They said that we wouldn't, they said that we couldn't – I tell you what, we did!"

Man of the Match Kieran McGeary with a message for the doubters after Tyrone beat Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Mistaken Identity: "We met over Zoom and he seemed incredibly engaged, compassionate and charming."

British education secretary Gavin Williamson on being asked if he had ever met Marcus Rashford. Except it was England rugby player Maro Itoje who he had met on Zoom, his and Rashford's paths never crossing.

No Words: "Amazing that every member of the Italian team sang its national anthem whereas every single member of the Spanish team remained totally silent. Not one sang the Spanish anthem!"

John Taylor, aka Lord John Kilclooney, the last man on earth not to know the Spanish anthem is lyric-less.

Gaffer's Goodbye: "It has been very, very tough – to never be wanted, to feel that people wanted me to fail, saying I was useless, a fat waste of space, a tactically inept cabbage head."

Apart from that Steve Bruce enjoyed his time as manager at Newcastle.

Sound Advice: "Go faster."

Caleb Shepherd, cox for the New Zealand women's rowing eight team, which won silver in the Olympics, on being asked what instructions he roared at the crew in the closing stages of the race. (Shepherd made history in Tokyo by becoming the first man to win an Olympic women's medal).

Name and Shame: "Yes, it's a burdensome surname, but the only thing that matters is whether he deserves to play. Nothing else."

Mauro Bianchessi, manager of Lazio's youth team, on the signing of 18-year-old Romano Benito Floriani Mussolini, great-grandson of, well, you know.

Gender Neutral: "I don't feel male or female right now. I don't even feel human. This is just unbelievable!"

Rachael Blackmore on being asked how it felt to be the first woman to win the Aintree Grand National.

Loveliest Exchange: Dr Jens Kleinefeld: "Well, are you back with us?"

Christian Eriksen: "Yes, I am back with you. For **** sake, I'm only 29 years old!"

The first words between Kleinefeld and Eriksen after the doctor restarted Eriksen's heart following his collapse during Denmark's Euro 2020 game against Finland.

Lost in Translation: "Die Engländer".

When Germany’s Twitter account announced the England team for their Euro 2020 meeting, under the heading “Die Engländer”, some folk were very upset. Eg “Wow this is outrageous, have some class” and “It’s just a football match mate, there’s no need to kill people.”

No Regrets: "It's definitely not how I wanted to end things, but I've been so lucky with an amazing career. I've got to stand on podiums and got to go to three Games. There's lots of rainbows."

Natalya Coyle after her medal hopes ended in the equestrian section of the modern pentathlon in Tokyo thanks to a less than co-operative horse.

Back To Normal: "I'm looking forward to a normal life. I'm proud of myself for managing to make it to three, but I can't see myself going for another Olympics. I'm pretty happy I don't have to live off salad anymore."

Annalise Murphy looking to the future after competing in her third Olympics.

Making A Stand: "It wasn't about me versus Robbie Dunne, or about girls having to back girls, or trainers having to back trainers. It was about human beings – there has to be a line you can't cross. I just want to enjoy my riding, I want to move forward – I just want to be me."

Bryony Frost after her fellow jockey Dunne was given an 18-month ban for his bullying and harassing of her.

Moved To Tears: "To those who've said I'm the calmest gold medal winner they've ever seen, I'm currently sitting in the food hall by myself having a little cry. It's finally sinking in. Some dreams do come true."

Ellen Keane after winning gold in the 100m breaststroke final at the Paralympics.

Homecoming Queen: "I went through my local town in a gold convertible, and my 94-year-old grandmother was in the front waving to everybody. It has been a quiet two years for her …. for her to see a lot of people she hadn't seen in a while, and everybody congratulating her, was probably one of the most special things for me."

Leona Maguire on her Cavan homecoming after starring at the Solheim Cup.

Strewth: "It is what it is."

Montenegro's Danka Kovinic after losing her first round match at the Australian Open 6-0, 6-0 in 44 minutes, having spent 14 days in quarantine in a Melbourne hotel before the tournament.

Double Dutch: "If you put pants on that are too big a size they will go down to your ankles."

Republic of Ireland football manager Vera Pauw trying to keep feet on the ground after her team's World Cup qualifying win away to Finland – luckily, she translated the Dutch expression: "If we act bigger than we are, then we'll have a problem coping with that."

Super Dad: "They understand it's Daddy, they understand that Daddy always wins."

Elise Smyth, wife of Jason, after Evie (5) and Lottie (3) watched their Dad on television winning his sixth Paralympic gold medal.

Cursed: "I'm not too sure if Samuel Beckett was a GAA man or whether he ever kicked a ball. But his words sum up Mayo: 'Try again, fail again. Fail better. I can't go on, I will go on.' That's Mayo."

Pat Spillane after Tyrone left Mayo hearts in smithereens in September.

Drained: "I'm happy this shit is only every four years because it's ****ing stressful."

Unfortunately for Olympic cross-country mountain bike gold winner Tom Pidcock, Paris 2024 is only three years away.

The Longest Road: "I've jumped 9,090 metres, which is over the height of Mount Everest. I've lifted a combined weight of 212,000 kilos, which is six Boeing aircraft. I am going to give myself a bit of props for once, even though it didn't go my way."

High jumper Jordan Lee on the efforts he had put in to get to the Tokyo Paralympics, just 3½ years after taking up the sport.

Positive Thoughts: "He's a very infectious character."

Stephen Kenny on Callum Robinson after the player got in to a bit of bother when he revealed that he had chosen not to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Back Down To Earth: "I wouldn't think it's that big of a deal winning the Olympics. People get too excited about it, in my opinion. I'm not going to be going around Skibbereen thinking I'm better than anybody else. Okay, I probably will for a while, but they'll knock me back handy enough if I do get carried away."

The one and only Paul O’Donovan.

Overkill: "It reminds me a little bit of when EastEnders went from two episodes a week to three back in the nineties – absolutely killed it."

Kenny Cunningham with a world class analogy to describe how he feels about the prospects of a World Cup every two years.

Rising Starr: "We used to go on camping holidays to France when we were younger, and The Beatles would be on the CD player in the car. I grew up listening to them."

Rachael Blackmore on receiving a congratulatory tweet after the Grand National from – of all people – Ringo Starr.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times