Quotes of the Year

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad." -- Brian O'Driscoll when asked about playing with and against England coach Martin Johnson.

"If (Declan) Kidney had gone for religion instead of teaching, he would have been Pope." -- George Hook.

"Kilkenny hurlers? We'll see your four and raise you one." -- All-- Ireland-winning Cork ladies football captain Mary O'Connor in her five-in-a-row acceptance speech.

"We seemed to be like startled earwigs in the first 15 minutes." -- Dublin boss Pat Gilroy on their collapse to Kerry.

"I would probably have to apologise to her... and hope she uses a driver next time instead of a three-iron."-- Jesper Parnevik on introducing Elin Nordregen to her husband Tiger Woods.

"Crouch, touch, (nervous pause), ENGAGED!" -- A tabloid headline announces Brian O'Driscoll's engagement to Amy Hubermann.

"To some of these fans, Christy Ring is a roundabout on the outer ring road." -- Former Cork hurler Tony Connolly.

"I knew what I was doing, always! I just couldn't stop." -- Padraig Harrington on his relentless pursuit to perfect his swing.

"I'm not a guy that is going to lose the run of himself. I'm nearly 16 stone so I am not going to go floating anywhere." -- Tipperary football manager John Evans after their first NFL title in 38 years.

"When did you manage?" -- Graham Souness getting tetchy with Eamon Dunphy during the Chelsea-Barcelona Champions League second leg.

"I didn't manage anywhere. I managed to stay alive 63 and a half years, baby." -- Dunphy's reply.

"If I wasn't up for challenges I'd be out walking my dogs today. I think my dogs need a break." -- Roy Keane on taking over at Ipswich.

"They're the All-Ireland final specialists... they've been in the last six, people tell me!" Cork boss Conor Counihan clearly sick of references to Kerry's record.

"There was a lot of loose marking and stuff like that in the years before. When Paidi was finished he made sure that lads were nearly down another man's pants" -- Westmeath's Denis Glennon reveals the intimate man-marking techniques encouraged by former manager Paidi O'Se.


"When I trained Robbie (Keane) in Inter Milan, maybe I was very young and he was very young , but now, he's very good tactically, he helps the younger players so ... good woman!" -- Marco Tardelli has a little trouble with the English linguine, sorry language.

"Ball striking-wise, at 19 he's probably better than Tiger was at that age. His technique is better, I think, and there's no reason why he can't win quite a few tournaments and a lot of Major championships. He's got it." -- Mark O'Meara after playing with Rory McIlroy in Dubai, back when it was actually a compliment to be compared to Woods.

"For him to lose out (the captaincy) last year

and get the hounding that he did, and come back and do what he did this year and keep his composure and discipline, is just massive. He's grown as a man as well as a footballer." -- Jack O'Connor on the reformed Paul Galvin, later crowned GAA's Footballer of the Year.

"I actually wanted to be a rally driver more than anything else and thought seriously about that as a youngster. I was in the motor trade and was going to go rally driving and the next thing I was picked for Kerry and that was the end of the rally driving." -- that little-known boy racer Mick O'Dwyer reveals his secret passion.

"He's the greatest horse I've ever ridden. Two miles, three miles, now two Gold Cups. He's magic, he's a wonder horse. I planned to follow Christian (Williams) over the second-last, but he pinged four out, pinged three out and two out as well. I love him anyway." -- Ruby Walsh after riding Kauto Star to an historic second Cheltenham Gold Cup and his own record seventh win of the meeting.

"Ever since I've had Eimear I've been a little bit calmer. She's in pre-school three days a week now which makes life easier but it (motherhood) keeps you focused and you don't dilly-dally about." -- World silver medallist and Supermum Olive Loughnane.

"What we've been trying to do is difficult. You know it's difficult to win one, to win two. Madness to win three. But to try and come back to win it again should be impossible really." -- Brian Cody after Kilkenny's historic four-in-a-row.

"I've been ticking over, running about 40 minutes a day. What was all that 100 miles a week about? I'm enjoying it so much. I want to get out of the door and run!" -- British veteran Hayley Yelling (35) on winning the European Cross-Country title in Santry, just one month after coming out of retirement.

"I leave with a huge sense of gratitude to all the great horses I have ridden, all the great trainers whose genius developed those champions and everybody else in racing, from the stable lads to the owners, who have made me deeply thankful for my involvement in the game." -- Mick Kinane proving he's as classy on two legs as he always was on four.


"Donal Og, the abuse you're going to get about this, I thought it was hard defending you from fellas giving out about your short puck-outs, but f**k it, this one...?" -- Donal Og Cusack's father grappling with his son's revelation that he is gay.

"The drink culture has been highlighted in recent years but it's not something new to Limerick hurling. It probably goes back to the early part of the 20th century when a swig from a bottle during a game was commonplace." -- former county boss Tom Ryan.

"It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn't it? It wasn't to be. And yes, it's a great disappointment. It tears at your gut, as it always has torn at my gut. It's not easy to take." -- Veteran Tom Watson (60) after losing the Open play-off to Stewart Cink.

"I probably didn't settle on it enough. My mind probably wasn't clear and I did the classic amateur thing and lifted my head." -- Padraig Harrington on the disastrous eight on the par-3 eighth hole at the USPGA Championship.

"I'm almost tempted to apologise to the Galway hurling public, the people who paid their €15 today because that is not acceptable, it's not good enough. We were shocking." -- Galway hurling manager John McIntyre on a 0-12 to 1-20 NHL loss to Kilkenny.

"Gooch will be fine. I think he's bright, buzzing around." -- Jack O'Connor on his star forward after another undistinguished outing in their dramatic defeat of Sligo. Within a week he had dropped him for drowning his sorrows.

"Everyone gets sucked in; like your man in Willy Wonka, getting sucked into the machine." -- Darragh O Se on the voracious appetite of Kerry fans... not for chocolate but for rumours about their footballers.

"An absolute disgrace. For reasons I cannot understand, the media has turned on Tommy (Walsh) and taken to portraying him as a dirty player. Some analysts, with a strong sense of their own importance, have succeeded in creating a perception of him as some sort of hit man." -- Brian Cody defends the eventual Hurler of the Year.

"The managers come on TV and they'll gurn and they'll cry. Every manager is in the business of getting results. They don't care about anything else, let's not fool ourselves. All I'm interested is how my team gets on. If that means I can intimidate or knock somebody else's side to my advantage, I'll do it." -- Derry football manager Damien Cassidy tells it like it is.

"I admit I have made a mistake and a big one. I gave an interview to the Australian ghost writer Scotty Gallon just a couple of days after the All-Ireland. I didn't read it over as I should have and the first account I saw of the (Nicholas Murphy) incident was on last Sunday morning." -- Tadhg Kennelly desperately back-pedalling about his autobiography.

"You look at Tyrone coming after us and they've won three (All-Irelands) since. Kerry have won three since. Are those teams really much better than us? I keep coming up with the same answer; I don't think they were." -- Steven McDonnell on Armagh's unfulfilled decade.

"Newmarket has the highest rate (of drug use) for its population in any town in England. I don't mean in the weighing room, I mean outside. I know there is (a drug problem in racing). I don't know what can be done. I've done something and I'm all right" -- Kieren Fallon on his return to racing.

"You say to me that there is more to life than hurling but if you want to carry on like a fella who is not an inter-county hurler, well then there will be more to life than hurling. Lots more. But there won't be hurling. That's the reality of it." -- Brian Cody. Nuff said.


"I speak many times about Stephen Ireland, that he is shy like a hedgehog." -- Giovanni Trapattoni delivers one of many verdicts on the international exile.

"When I met Trapattoni for a chat last season, I felt there was a lot of arrogance going on. We were in the middle of chatting and he kept leaving the room to answer one of the four phones he had on him." -- Ireland's response.

"Liam, just give us a big grin to the camera. No, no, let's see your teeth. He hasn't got the best teeth in the world, but you can afford to go and get them done now if you like!" -- Clare Balding to jockey Liam Treadwell after he rode Mon Mome to Grand National victory. Balding and the BBC later apologised.

"Here were two people very much alike -- high-profile and narcissistic -- and that would make a relationship difficult." -- Laura Andrassy, first wife of Greg Norman, on the Shark's marriage to US tennis icon Chris Evert, which broke up in October after just 15 months.

"Perhaps in future I should take a leaf out of Declan Kidney's book. That's probably the way to go in future... and then you get cliches and nothing." -- Unapologetic Wales coach Warren Gatland throws fuel on the fire ahead of that Grand Slam decider.

"Where do they get their kicks from, do you know what I mean? Especially Dunphy, he should know better by now. He's skinny rat, a skinny little rat!" -- Stephen Hunt takes unkindly to the RTE pundits.

"When you are the guy he is, the world's best athlete , you should think more before you do stuff and maybe not 'just do it' like Nike says." -- Jesper Parnevik on Tiger Woods', erm, transgressions .

"There's a lot of satisfaction because there were times we were really written off. Fellas like (Pat) Spillane there now, were almost taking pity on us. He was thinking there wasn't even one dying kick in us!" -- Kerry boss Jack O'Connor.

"I think being humble is a big Irish thing. A lot of stuff that went on in the media from Warren Gatland's side this week... I mean you wouldn't see an Irish coach doing that. I think you wouldn't see an Irish person doing it. Jose Mourinho used do a lot of it with Chelsea and you need a big ego to do that, which he (Gatland) seems to have from his recent success as a coach." -- Paul O'Connell after that historic 17-15 win in Cardiff.

"We've no notion of playing in Division Two next year. We won't be playing meaningless matches. I think other counties can change the rules as they go along to suit themselves, so we'll probably change the rules as well. If the league stays the same, we'll get in touch with our friends in other counties, the Galways and the Tipps, and play them in proper matches." -- Then Clare hurling boss Mike McNamara, after NHL relegation, appears to disprove O'Connell's Theory of Irish Humility.

"It's a bit like Michael Collins being shot by his own people in 1922." -- Former All-- Ireland-winning Down manager Peter McGrath on being ignored for the county's latest senior management vacancy.


"Will he ever just miss? He already has the half-million." -- Shane Lowry during his Irish Open play-off with Robert Rock.

"I signed a contract last year for three years, and four weeks later it's not worth the paper it's written on. I was due six weeks' wages on Thursday and the lads got 40pc of a month's wages but I only got 20pc. What loyalty is that to show to me? They can f*** off as far as I'm concerned and you can put that in the paper because I'm well p***** off at the moment." -- Unhappy Cork City midfielder Joe Gamble with an all too familiar League of Ireland refrain in 2009.

"Garry Cook has come in and he doesn't really understand football. All he wants is big-money players. He doesn't understand the core, the loyalty of the club and where it begins. For him, I was probably a bit of a nuisance." -- Richard Dunne blames the executive chairman for his departure from Man City.

"I know, people are losing 10pc of their wages and being cut to a four-day week but if you're an athlete there's a constant recession. I lost 100pc of my financial sponsors, which left me with €40,000. Then, in March, I lost €20,000 of that. So from being paid relatively well, you're now close to the minimum wage in the space of a few months." -- Derval O'Rourke prior to her heroic fourth place at the World Championships.


"There was just a great feeling among the team, a real will to get off the ground after you'd made your hit. We've a saying: 'No logs lying on the ground!' You could hear fellas shouting that all day." -- Donncha O'Callaghan after Ireland opened their Six Nations campaign with a 30-21 defeat of France at Croke Park.

"Nothing's changed for us!" -- Brian O'Driscoll after Ireland beat England 14-13 at Croke Park to make it three wins from three.

"I just felt the game lacked a little excitement." -- Paddy Wallace after condeding a last-minute penalty in Cardiff.

"A bit of man love. It doesn't hurt, does it?" -- Irish defence coach Les Kiss describing the emotional aftermath.

"I asked her for a pint of Harp and a packet of crisps" -- Stephen Ferris on meeting the Queen.

"If the IRFU or the FAI come back to us in a particular circumstance, it's advisable to be able to make a quick decision through Central Council." -- GAA director general Paraic Duffy hints that Croke Park will remain open for rugby and soccer business even after Lansdowne Road is finished.

"There's nothing we can do about it, we are actually going to win this match. It's written." -- What Jonny Sexton said to Malcolm O'Kelly early in the Heineken Cup final.


"Henry said it just hit his hand but I can't believe that for one minute. In the replay, you see his eyes looking at the ball, and you see his hand move." -- Sean St Ledger.

"They are all probably clapping hands, (Michel) Platini sitting up there on the phone to Sepp Blatter, probably texting each other, delighted with the result." -- Robbie Keane spitting fire.

"It was scandalous. You could see Henry's face, the smirk. He knew what he had done. There is a lot of anger. We've had the better chances. We should have gone through. The first leg was a deflection, the second was a handball." -- Liam Lawrence.

"Adidas sponsor the World Cup, they sponsor France. Michel Platini has a lot of influence as well. Maybe we'd have had a better chance of going to the World Cup if it was sponsored by Umbro." -- Damien Duff demonstrates his impressive grasp of sporting economics.

"They're a big nation and us, as a small nation, have been cheated out of going there; first with the seedings issue and again last night. I don't know if Henry has tarnished his reputation but he has got them to the World Cup and it's cheating." -- Shay Given.


"It's surreal. I'm probably the most famous person in world of football at the moment." -- Paul McShane on the French controversy. Er, no Paul, that would be Thierry Henry.

"I am hopeful about a replay but I don't believe this situation will happen" -- Giovanni Trapattoni.

"Thierry Henry is their captain and a wonderful footballer but does he want to be remembered like Maradona, where his legacy is a handball? This is not just one football match. This is the whole world looking. There is a team that should be in the World Cup and that's us. It's a travesty, it's an injustice." -- FAI boss John Delaney, apparently forgetting that the game wasn't over at the time.

"Naturally I feel embarrassed at the way that we won and feel extremely sorry for the Irish who definitely deserve to be in South Africa. Of course the fairest solution would be to replay the game." -- Thierry Henry.

"They (the FAI) have asked, very humbly, can't we be team No 33 at the World Cup? They have asked for that... really!" -- Sepp Blatter.

"The man is a loose cannon and I think he's an embarrassment to FIFA. I'm afraid he is a law unto himself. He treated the fact that we'd lost out as some sort of a joke, and then the cronies around him laughing as well." -- Liam Brady on Blatter.

"They were afraid of that next step and were mentally not strong enough. They can complain all they want. That is not going to change anything. France are going to the World Cup -- get over it! They want sympathy as usual. It is the usual carry on and it is boring." -- Roy Keane, as usual, insists on having the last word.

Compiled by Cliona Foley
Irish Independent