The 2011 RTE Irish Sports Personality of the Year Awards take place this Sunday night. Golfers look set to dominate the evening once again, with both Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke leading the list of contenders.
Golf has produced a number of winners of this award in recent years, with Graeme McDowell taking last year’s title, and Padraig Harrington successful in 2007 and 2008. The latter was claiming his third title, having also won the award in 2002. It is perhaps a measure of the success of this country’s golfers that they have managed to be so dominant in the RTE sponsored series.
Rory McIlroy tops the betting market as odds on favourite, following his impressive victory in the US Open in June. The Northern Irish player showed tremendous courage to recover from a meltdown in the Masters earlier in the season and he was willed over the line by the public.
Fellow golfer Darren Clarke is the bookmakers second choice to lift the crown. The 2011 Open Championship winner is a very popular figure in Irish sport and has fought back with great bravery following the tragic loss of his wife, Heather. In any other year he would be a fitting winner, but 2011 seems like McIlroy’s, and it is difficult to envisage any other outcome.
Despite Dublin’s heroic All Ireland Final victory, Alan Brogan trails the field in the layers lists. The Blues centre forward is 4/1 on Betfair and has been on the drift. GAA stars struggle in this competition and Brogan is unlikely to break the recent trends.
Multiple world champion Katie Taylor is perhaps the outsider that could cause an upset if there is to be one. The Bray woman has been a star of women’s boxing over the last few years and deserves the ultimate honour. She may have to wait another twelve months however, when an Olympic gold in London would see her crowned SPOTY.
Robbie Keane, John Joe Nevin,Michael Fennelly, Sean and Kevin O’Brien complete the list of nominees. All stars in their own right and each deserving of the accolade. However, in 2011 they may all have to play second fiddle to Rory McIlroy.