It's that time of year when the wise old men of sports journalism and the grumpy ones swap places with the psychics and attempt to predict the future. Newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic have been jam packed with various crystal ball gazing for the year ahead, so here's my sporting wishes for 2009: IRELAND'S SOCCER TEAM A simple one to begin with - World Cup qualification. Giovanni Trapattoni is still unbeaten in competitive football as Irish boss, and there were worrying signs in the friendly defeat to Poland in November, but let's face it, we all want Ireland to go to South Africa next year. The likelihood is that Team Trap will have to qualify via the playoffs, and even that will be some achievement, but the game here at home needs a team at the 2010 finals. ANDY REID A return to the Ireland team, never mind the Ireland squad. Trapattoni's assertion that Reid is not up to the pace required at international level is belied by the DVD of Ireland's game in Prague in 2007 when the Sunderland man ran the midfield from start to finish. Trap has to bury the hatchet with Reid - and soon. STEPHEN IRELAND The one and only thing that we need in the whole "Stephen Ireland for Ireland" saga is closure. The word on the street right now suggests that the Manchester City midfielder could be back in time for the Georgia game in February, and that could only be a positive for all concerned. The Corkonian is the best Irish player in the Premier League on current form and could only add something to Ireland's World Cup bid. ROY KEANE A return to management. Keane's swift withdrawal from the managerial merry go round at Sunderland before Christmas was not a fair reflection on the job he did at the Stadium of Light. The former Ireland captain has confided to friends that he will try his hand at life in the dugout again, and the Republic job would be perfect for him. MICK McCARTHY Promotion to the Premier League is all Mick asked for at Christmas, and promotion is what he will get with Wolves despite last weekend's hiccup at home to Preston. The challenge for Mick will be to keep Wanderers in the top flight, but at least they're more likely to provide him with the sort of funds that were never available when he took Sunderland up. PAUL HESSION A medal in the 200 meter final at the world championships in Berlin later this year would be the perfect reward for Ireland's fastest man ever. Hession was desperately unlucky not to make it to the Olympic final in Beijing last August, and 12 months down the road is sure to be all the better for the experience. RONAN O'GARA The match-winning drop goal for Ireland against Wales in Cardiff at the end of March to seal the Grand Slam for Declan Kidney's side at his first time of asking. A big Six Nations from O'Gara and he can start to pack his bags for the Lions tour to South Africa in the summer, with a realistic chance of starting in the test team. BRIAN O'DRISCOLL The Heineken Cup final is scheduled for Edinburgh in May, and what Leinster fans wouldn't give to see their star player inspire the Blues to a first ever European title. O'Driscoll career has been phenomenal, but he has missed out on the really big medals. This would be the perfect season to start putting that right with Leinster and Ireland. It will take a massive effort from Dricco, however - starting against Wasps at Twickenham on Saturday. ROBBIE KEANE Ireland's Captain Fantastic was again an unused sub as Liverpool drew with Stoke City on Saturday night, but Keane is a better player than his current Merseyside experience suggests. He deserves the chance to prove it between now and the end of the season. A few World Cup goals for his country would be good as well. SHAY GIVEN A move to Manchester City and an end to his Newcastle hell. Given has been linked with big spending City for weeks now, and went on the record about his Tyneside frustrations only recently. He owes Newcastle nothing - the least they owe him is the freedom to move to a big club that can finally match his medal ambitions. THE CORK HURLERS A return to normal service would be a good start down on Leeside. The striking Cork hurlers are a laughing stock at this stage, and they really should just swallow their pride and get back to work with Gerald McCarthy, the manager they seem to love to hate - before it's too late. THE MEATH FOOTBALLERS The Leinster senior football championship is crying out for someone to put Dublin under pressure, and Meath fans are crying out for a return to the glory days. Victory over Dublin in Croker next June would be the perfect start for new boss Eamonn O'Brien, and a real shot in the arm for the game in Leinster. BERNARD DUNNE The world title he craves. Dunne has been rebuilding his career slowly and surely ever since that knockout punch at the hands of Kiko Martinez almost 18 months ago, and he deserves the world title shot that is likely to come his way at the new look O2 Arena in Dublin in March. PADRAIG HARRINGTON A green jacket at Augusta in April would be a wonderful addition to the Harrington Major collection. The Dubliner will really fancy his chances of a third successive British Open in July, but the one Irish fans really want to see him land is the Masters. After three Majors in two seasons he is definitely good enough.
Food & Drink
An Irish recipe repertoire essential - simple delicious colcannon