Author Archive

Extra Time Needed If Replays Not Being Covered

gaa

It’s a travesty to say that the G.A.A. have turned down the opportunity to show the Leinster semi-final replay between Kilkenny and Galway. The drawn game last Sunday was an advertisement for what is possible in sport. For Galway to recover from what seemed to be an unassailable Kilkenny lead just shows what this sport is all about. Fat ladies and all that may have been mentioned with ten minutes to the final whistle but no one in their right mind could imagine that she wouldn’t get to sing a note. It’s difficult to work out the reasons for not showing this game live. Do the G.A.A. seriously believe that players will be working the morning of a championship match? That’s one of the reasons John Horan, Chairman of the Leinster Council gave as not to play the game at 2.30, it would be unfair on the players to give up a full Saturday. The fact that Tullamore is a busy town on a Saturday was also taken into consideration for not having the early start. 12,000 plus people attending a match, a negative for a town? Seriously? This year’s Munster championship replay between Cork and Waterford was streamed live on RTE Player instead of television and the resulting coverage was far from ideal, it was a poor effort to say the least. In last years Leinster championship, the semi-final replay between Kilkenny and Dublin was also reduced to internet viewing. The message coming down from the top to grass roots level is to promote the game, promote the game, promote the game and yet when they get a chance themselves, they fail miserably. Continue reading

Review: Breaking Dad

breakingdad

I was lucky enough to be one of the audience members for the opening night of Paul Howard’s latest play ‘Breaking Dad’. The Gaiety Theatre was filled with a buzz of expectation before the curtains went up and the stars of Irish film and theatre gathered to witness the funniest play that I have ever seen. It was laugh a minute stuff from the off and it really is a testament to the writing ability of Howard. This is the third play following, ‘The last days of the Celtic Tiger’ and ‘Between Foxrock and a hard place’. The story is set in the year 2022, Ireland is on the verge of another economic boom and Charles O’Carroll Kelly has somehow managed to orchestrate the greatest political comeback of all times with Bertie Ahern being on the brink of becoming Taoiseach again at the age of seventy one. Ross, now in his forties hasn’t changed a bit, his son Ronan is now a professional soccer player with Celtic, his daughter Honor is still a pain and his wife Sorcha is still trying to save the world. Don’t worry if you haven’t read any of the fourteen best selling novels or Howard’s column in The Irish Times as this play is a very capable stand alone story. My wife attended the play with me and is somewhat of a Ross virgin, I know those two words don’t sit easy together, and there was no need for any background explanations. A combination of great writing and comic timing from the cast provide a tight production that had the audience laughing from start to finish. When it finished and I finally had a chance to take a much needed breath, the standing ovation that followed was much deserved. Continue reading

Paul Howard Reveals Ross O’Carroll Kelly Legacy To Live On

breakingdad

“The year is 2022. Ireland is in the midst of an unexpected economic boom. The country’s debts have been repaid in full, the people are once again selling houses to each other for five times what they’re worth and Bertie Ahern is set to become Taoiseach again at the age of 71. Ross O’Carroll-Kelly is entering his middle years without a care in the world. He’s got a son who’s a professional footballer, a career-minded wife who’s about to land the job of her dreams – and, like good Cognac, his looks just keep improving with age. For Ireland’s most eligible married man, life is good. Until his teenage daughter arrives home from Wesley one night with the captain of the Blackrock College rugby team – and Ross is forced to face up to the lesson that you must reap what you have sown”. Continue reading

Could Irish Eyes Smile At Augusta?

irishgolfers

With Tiger Woods withdrawing from next week’s Masters at Augusta, Irish golf fans will be tingling with anticipation. If history is anything to go by, then one of the Irish players will be the first from this country to don the famous green jacket. The last four majors that Tiger didn’t tee it up in were all won by Irishmen. The 2008 British Open was won by our very own Padraig Harrington, he followed this by claiming the PGA title later in the same year. In 2011 Rory McIlroy decimated a tiger-less U.S. Open field and in the same year Darren Clarke ended his major drought with a win at the British Open. With Clarke and McIlroy already in the field for the trip down Magnolia Lane, they both will try and fine tune their games for this years first major by competing in Houston this week. Harrington will be joining them in Texas but knows that only a win will allow him to extend his unbroken run of majors to thirty four, his exemption from his two major wins in 2008 now expired. The other Irishman in the Masters field are Graeme McDowell who is taking a break this from action this week after his exploits representing Europe in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week. As the highest ranked of the Irish, Rory McIlroy may have the best chance and he has gained much experience since his Masters back nine collapse in 2011 but McDowell too may have a say. Continue reading

Funniest Sports Quotes

sportsquotes

We have heard them all over the years but I must say that I did get a laugh from revisiting some of these classics. Some are just comments that haven’t been thought through, others are from sports people that probably still can’t see the funny side and others are just from those that are plain thick and yes Kevin Keegan does appear in the list more than once. Brian O’Driscoll once said that, ‘knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad’. Now that’s a good quote, see what you think of these and feel free to contribute any that you think would merit a mention.

Continue reading

Golf: Every Dog Has His Day

every

Matt Every finished off a 2 under par 70 to claim his first PGA tour win at the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational yesterday. The 30 year old started the day four shots behind current Masters champion Adam Scott who was playing just behind him with another major winner Keegan Bradley.

The day belonged to Every obviously but the real news story is Scott’s collapse at the end of a week that he had looked infallible. Scott opened his scoring on Thursday with a course record equalling 62 and by the time play finished on Friday evening, the Australian had managed to open up a seven shot lead over the field, the eventual winner Matt Every was a full nine shots behind the leader at the half way point. Going into the final round, Scott had a three shot lead over his playing partner Keegan Bradley and a four shot lead over Every. Scott although a major champion after winning last year’s Masters at Augusta has shown a major chink in his armour. Continue reading

Early Action Indicates Exciting Hurling Season Ahead

Hurling-GAA

Nowlan Park played host to the clash of Kilkenny and Tipperary last weekend. Unlike the international Six Nations game between Wales and France, the organisers in Kilkenny opted to play with the roof open. The storm hit frame of the old stand was all that was left and it’s skeletal remains proved to be an eerie backdrop to what turned out to be an enthralling battle between these closest of rivals. Ireland may have lost narrowly to the ‘auld enemy’ in London at the weekend and for much of this game, it looked like Kilkenny were going to follow suit.

An exhibition of goal taking from both sides kept the crowd involved until the very last minutes. If this were a sixty minute game, well then Tipperary would have just about done enough but it wasn’t and those last ten minutes proved more than fruitful for the home team. It looked from early on that Kilkenny would be put to the sword by a more accurate Tipperary. The storm that had done so much damage in Kilkenny the week previous was only playing second fiddle to the damage that Tipperary forward Seamus Callanan and his team mates were inflicting on the Kilkenny defence. After just fourteen minutes on the clock, Tipperary had amassed 3-3 on the scoreboard. It must be said that Tipperary were playing with a strong breeze behind their backs for the first half but their goals came from some very poor Kilkenny defending. Tipperary will be kicking themselves this morning that they managed to let a ten point lead disappear in front of their very eyes. The same two teams competed in the League Final in Nowlan Park last year, with the same winners emerging. They also played in the All Ireland qualifiers at the same venue in 2013 and so the Tipperary supporters and players will not want to return anytime soon. Continue reading

Irish Rugby: Clouds And Silver Linings

rugby

Close but no cigar.

It was nothing short of heartbreak for the Irish rugby squad at Twickenham last Saturday. It was always going to be a bruising encounter but one felt that Ireland this year under the leadership of Joe Schmidt would just have too much for the young English pretenders. In hindsight, Ireland just didn’t show up, they seemed sluggish from the start and allowed England to dictate the game from the kick off. England however were guilty of leaving more scores out on the pitch than Ireland and going into the tunnel only three points down at half time must have been very encouraging to the Irish players.

Jonathan Sexton had a mediocre game, his kicking was not what it was in the Aviva against Wales but on the flip side of that, credit must be given to Stuart Lancaster and his coaches. They had their homework done as it was more the case that Sexton had little or no options when it came to kicking for field position. The English backs gave him nothing to aim at, both wingers hugged either line and the Racing Metro star was forced into little chips over their centres heads. This ploy failed as Mike Brown, who was in sensational form, continually made ground from loose kicks that ultimately just gave away possession. Ireland turned down chance after chance in the first half to use their most potent weapon, the maul. Maybe it was a tactical decision to suck in the English defence and go wide when they were almost certainly expecting Ireland to try and trundle down the middle. The decision in the second half to use it paid dividends as the English struggled to defend against it, maybe Ireland should have used it from the start. Continue reading

Ireland Set To Power Past England

irelandengland

Joe Schmidt may have set his stall out at the beginning of this Six Nations Championship as being happy with a top two finish but he and everyone else knows that there is so much more on offer for this Irish team. A win today is very much on the cards for a rejuvenated Ireland team. They have in their ranks the best positional kicker of a rugby ball, they have the better of the two packs and they have experience that money can’t buy. Leaders will be littered around the park in green jerseys. Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll and the latest leader by example Peter O’Mahony.

Ireland’s maul has been the weapon of choice for their first two games against Scotland and Wales and what a weapon it has proven to be. How England can stop this marching green machine without giving away penalties must be a severe head scratching exercise for their coaches. The simple answer is, they can’t, Irish body positions when they roll forward have been so close to perfection as to say that this maul is unstoppable. Will they get an opportunity to use it? With Devin Toner, O’Connell and O’Mahony in their line out, it’s difficult to see them not getting ample opportunity to break English hearts here. Ireland were slow off the mark against Scotland but impressively they didn’t panic. They bided their time and eventually broke down the opposition to win out comfortably. There was only ever one winner from the kick off against Wales. The better structure of the Irish game, the better decision making and the continued frustrating of the Welsh by pinning them back in their own half, time and time again reaped dividends. Continue reading

The Ever Changing Word Of Neil Francis

neilfrancis

Former Irish rugby international Neil Francis jumped head first into hot water this week. Speaking on Newstalk’s Off The Ball, Francis found himself discussing gay people in sport and generalised that, ‘gay people have little interest in sport’, and followed on by saying that’s ‘not a generalisation’. ‘What are their interests?’, he continued, ‘I mean, if you’ve ever sat down with, you know, homosexual people and asked them what their interests are, very often they have no interest in any kind of sport. That’s my experience from sitting down with them; I’ve done it on a regular basis’.

So Neil Francis regularly sits down and discusses issues with gay men. ‘I don’t have an interest in ballet’, he argued when pursued on the matter. Ah well, that’s ok then, why should gay people be allowed to play sport when Neil doesn’t be bothering them at the ballet? When it looked like it couldn’t get any worse, Francis then generalised even further. ‘You do a survey of the hair-dressing industry and find out how many heterosexuals work in that’. Ever heard of women Neil? There’s a few barbers around the country that are pulling their hair out listening to you also. And so it continued, ‘I’m here. I’m going to express an opinion’, he said. That’s fair enough but using phrases like the ‘rugby dressing room is a pretty homophobic environment’, is a bit of backward thinking. Rugby may be a game of passing backwards to go forward but it’s all backwards with Neil on this one. It is just this kind of thinking that prevents young people from expressing themselves and being who they really are. If you’re gay, you’re gay, if you’re heterosexual, you’re heterosexual, who cares anymore? Just get on with it. Continue reading