For most of us, this time of year is all about over-indulgence and enjoying too much of life’s good things.
Soon enough, a certain breakfast cereal ad will hit our screens, telling us that we too can look as fabulous as the toned models that, we’re led to believe, live on nothing but that fibrous product. It’s enough to make you raid the freezer.
While flicking through the remnants of tellyland’s festive scheduling, you happen upon the World Darts Championship and suddenly those pending nights of gym-based torture don’t seem so bad. It may well be a New Year, but some things never change.
For a sportsperson intent on making the most of what their athletic prowess provides them with, this time of year can’t be looked on as being radically different from any other.
If you’re Jamie Costin, the chances are you’ll have been out every day during the Christmas/New Year period, putting in the lonely miles demanded of a long distance practitioner.
Knowing Jamie, he’s probably been out twice some days while the rest of us question the virtues of another Willy Wonka screening while another tray of turkey sandwiches gets devoured.
If you’re Eoin Kelly, then the Waterford Crystal tournament, which gets underway this weekend, can’t come soon enough. Ditto for the entire panel and management on that particular sentiment, methinks.
Getting that All-Ireland final reversal out of the system is going to take some time, but the greatest remedy for defeat of any kind is to go out and win your next match.
A bruised and hurt group of hurlers can afford no time for self-pity. Life goes on and games must be played. And won.
If you’re a Waterford United player, uncertainty must have proven a thought that’s been difficult to shake off lately.
The long-awaited appointment of Gareth Cronin’s successor has been delivered, and the task facing Stephen Henderson is, from this vantage point, two fold.
Survival itself, given the problems that Drogheda United, Athlone Town and Cork City have experienced of late, surely represents the ultimate objective for 2009.
Promotion to the top flight would be welcome of course, but the shillings and shekels price one now pays for running a Premier Division club presents a host of other potential problems.
But that’s a problem that Sam White and his colleagues on the United board would willingly face should the Blues regain Premier Division status.
Across the water, John O’Shea will be aiming to add to his appearance tally for Manchester United as well as his medal tally.
The possibility of a League Cup final appearance beckons for O’Shea, while the hunt for further Premier League and European success continues. The Ferrybank man will surely be hoisting yet another trophy between now and season’s end.
Bolstered by Irish input, Reading are aiming to engineer an immediate return back to the top division in England.
And thanks to the efforts of both Stephen and Noel Hunt, there’s every chance that the men from the Madejski will be soon be rubbing shoulders with the Rooneys and Gerrards of this world once more.
Eddie Nolan has also enjoyed a fine start to life at Preston, though it remains to be seen if the change of management at Blackburn may yet determine some role in his future.
And with so many Waterford players featuring in Ireland squads of late, a successful World Cup campaign could see the Deise being amply represented in South Africa in 2010.
Another team hoping for better fortunes in 2009 is the senior XV of Waterpark RFC.
The Ballinakill’s club’s senior rugby status is once again looking decidedly precarious, having lost all seven games to date, without the consolation of even a single losing bonus point in the account.
Another nervous conclusion to the league season unfortunately appears guaranteed; meaning a scrum machine out the Dunmore Road should be in for quite a battering over the next few weeks.
A little like our hurlers, Park have seem serious pride restoration that needs facing up to in the second half of the season.
If you’re an IRFU official responsible for marketing the AIL, then your head should be hanging in shame. That AIL matches continue to clash with Heineken Cup matches in Thomond Park is bizarre beyond belief.
Club rugby has lost much of the lustre that it gained during the heavily media-exposed days of the early 1990s.
And while it can never realistically regain that profile, clubs like Waterpark deserve better than having their game against Rainey Old Boys kicking off just an hour before Munster’s dramatic clash with Clermont Auvergne last month.
The ‘blazers’ should note that the Munster phenomenon may not always be as strong as it currently is and that Thomond Park may not always be packed to the rafters. For it is clubs, after all, that form the base of any association worth its salt.
A New Year brings with it the promises of renewal and revival, the hope of better things to come and greater glories to be enjoyed. Shooting for the stars is the only aim worth embracing, and even if we don’t all get that far, half the fun is in the journey.
Leafing through ‘Time’ magazine last week, with Moneygall’s most famous descendant on its front cover, a quote from Theodore Roosevelt leapt from a page like Peter O’Connor over a sand pit.
He famously declared: “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again…who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.”
So to all who pull on jerseys, singlets, headgear, to all who saddle up or steed or bike, to all who lift, row, dribble and shoot, dare greatly in 2009. And who knows in whatever pursuit it is you pursue, you might just make it. Best of luck!