2012 – When Sport was King

Earlier this week we had the broadcast of When Ali Came to Ireland on RTE One and the entire production staff behind making the film were blown away by the positive feedback we received in person and online. All those nice things people said about it really do make the effort involved in making the film seem worthwhile. So thank you so much for that.

Last year was a little odd for me in that the 3 projects I had broadcast were all Sports documentaries, having never done any before (unless you count, the Naked Election, which was a sports doc hidden inside a political one) I ended up spending most of the year concentrating on different sports, I even ended up on the radio talking about Sports Docs. Not that I mind, in fact as a sports fan it’s something of a dream come true to be telling various sports stories. One of those documentaries, Rás Tailteann – Rothaí an tSaoil is repeated tonight on TG4 at 9:50. If you haven’t already seen it, you’re in for a treat, its an amazing hidden history of what was once one of Irelands premier sporting events and a competition that reflects the troubled history of this island. Its informative and highly entertaining even if I do say so myself.

Sport is by its very nature dramatic and you can be assured of it reaching some sort of conclusion, which is a great thing to have when you are crafting a story, finding an ending in other docs can be really difficult. Last year was an incredible year of sport and with so much going on it was only natural that there would be an abundance of sports doc made in this country. Its a testament to the documentary makers working in Ireland today that so many of them were of such a high standard. For next weeks IFTA nominations, the best sports documentary is going to be one of the most hotly contested categories, something that hasn’t been true in the past. I’d like to think that the ones I worked on would be in with a chance but there were a couple of other stand-outs this year.

Jumpboys -TG4 – Dir: Luke McManus

This TG4 documentary follows the intense challenges involved in attaining the highest accolade of the National Hunt horse racing year in Ireland 2012, the title of National Hunt Champion Jockey. The documentary tracks three of Ireland’s top Jockeys, Davy Russell, Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh. The jockeys have to overcome severe injuries, dehydration and savage competition from the other competitors. before the close of the jumps season. Airs on TG4 tonight at 21.30 28th November 2012

The West’s Awake – TG4 – Dir: Kieran Hartigan

The West’s Awake is an exclusive fly on the wall documentary which tells the story of Connacht Rugby’s inaugural Heineken Cup journey in the 2011/ 2012 season.
With unprecedented access to the squad and management this one-hour film brings the audience on an emotional and sporting rollercoaster. From the modest Sportsground in Galway to the mighty Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse via the Stoop of London and Kingsholm in Gloucester, experience the agony and ecstasy of manager Eric Elwood and the Connacht Squad as they strive to compete against the cream of European Rugby in the face of overwhelming odds.
Join the players; Captain Gavin Duffy, Michael Swift, Ronan Loughney, John Muldoon and Johnny O’Connor as they line out for game after punishing game, the indefatigable manager Eric Elwood as he leads his charges, the die hard fans never wavering in the face of adversity and the pundits as their stories interweave with highlights of the games to tell a story not only about rugby but about passion, culture, community and a sense of belonging.

It’s Not The Taking Part – Setanta – Dir: Andrew Gallimore

This series documents the trials and tribulations of six of Ireland’s Olympic hopefuls as they battle against rivals, injury, money problems, inadequate facilities, the clock, the selectors and overwhelming odds for the chance to compete on the ultimate stage.

Green Is The Colour – RTE

Over the last 130 years Irish football has transformed, developed, grown and prospered in line with our own national identity, from 19th century garrison game to 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
Presented by Darragh Maloney, this four-part documentary series looks back at some of the major events that shaped Irish football and the national soccer team, featuring the personal accounts of a rich host of footballers, managers, pundits, historians, and journalists. From the origins of the game through to qualification for Poland and Ukraine the series re-visits some of the most memorable moments in Irish soccer.

Paddy Don Patricio – TG4

This film deals with the life of Paddy O’Connell, former Belfast Celtic player, Manchester United Captain and manager of Barcelona FC during the Spanish Civil War.

Hill 16 – TG4 – Dir: Shane Tobin

Everyone knows what ‘Hill 16′ is, but how many know the rich history which dates back to World War 1 when its first name was “Hill 60” after a battle in World War 1? Or up to the 80s where barbed wire fenced in the fans from all counties but especially Dublin GAA fans who would make it their own over the years.

and the two other ones I worked on

Faster, Stronger, Higher – RTE – Dir: Ronan O’Donoghue

Sports science documentary Faster, Higher, Stronger sees journalist Ian O’Riordan examine how athletes are using science and technology to enhance their performance, asking whether or not we can ever again truly believe in the purity of sport.
The Olympic Games are meant to represent all that’s good and pure about sport – heroic acts of courage, fair play, and being all that you can be.

When Ali Came to Ireland – RTE – Dir : Ross Whitaker

The film centres on the 1972 fight, in Croke Park, between Ali and the American challenger Al “Blue” Lewis, an ex-convict who miraculously won parole from a life-sentence for murder in his native Detroit. They were brought together in Dublin by an ex-circus strongman from Kerry, a colourful bar-owner who billed himself as “The World’s Strongest Publican”.

heres a really interesting piece on what Setanta have brought to the table since they began commissioning hour long documetaries

There have been others this year that I’ve forgotten and some that I’ve heard about but not yet seen.