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Leinster still belongs to Dublin

The Delaney Cup will stay in the capital but only just, after a late rally from Meath made Dublin sweat for their latest piece of silverware. The final scoreline would suggest this contest was a close affair throughout however there were periods in this Leinster final where it looked like Dublin were going to retain their title without fuss.

Just on the stroke of half time Dublin rattled the onion bag twice in the space of a minute to open up an eight point gap and leave Meath stunned going in at the break trailing on a scoreline of 2-07 to 0-05. This allowed Dublin to open up a gap that Meath never really recovered from.

Meath’s talisman from play, Graham Reilly, opened up the scoring in the third minute after but Dublin responded immediately however with a Bernard Brogan free. Dublin’s tactics became clear from the offset. Michael Dara Macaluley, starting at full forward, as expected made his way out to the middle of the pitch and left Kevin McManamon and Bernard Brogan inside.

Meath were beginning to struggle with the penetrating runs Dublin were making with Macauley in particular breaking from deep and distributing the ball to create opportunities for the Dublin forwards which they duly took, taking a 0-06 to -01 point lead within the first fifteen minutes.

Despite Dublin’s apparent dominance, Donal Keoghan and Kevin Reilly were still proving why they are considered to be two of the meanest defenders in the current game. Keoghan, impressive all year since breaking into the team and a strong contender for man of the match, was managing to frustrate McManamon and Reilly was proving to be a thorn in Bernard Brogans side.

The magnitude of Reilly’s early departure from the pitch only became apparent in his absence when Brogan managed to raise the green flag once and the white flag seven times in total. Reilly, who was displaying no signs of his achilles injury which has plagued him in the last few weeks, eventually succumbed to a reoccurrence of the same injury in the 25th minute.

Bryan Menton who has been solid for the Royal County all season struggled when he deputised for Reilly at full back. Eoghan Harrington came into the fray and tried to shackle Macauley but was unable to deal with his athleticism and endless running. Meath did manage to gain a foot hold on the game in the interim and claw back Dublin’s lead to two points, with Brian Farrell coming into his own and beginning to trouble the All Ireland champion’s defence. After soaring high to magnificently field a Brian Meade delivery, Farrell then converted the free he had just won to leave it 0-07 to 0-05 to Dublin.

Then came the killer blow with two Dublin goals in first half injury time. Bernard Brogan, beginning to make his mark, fired low to the back of the net after a mistake by Conor Gillespie granted Dublin and Brogan the first goal of the game. Without blinking Denis Bastick had added a second to Brogans within a minute.

Dublin suddenly found themselves in a very comfortable half time lead even though they had lost one of their main attackers in Alan Brogan and had let Meath back into it. Eoghan Ó Gara, a replacement for Alan Brogan, had a major impact on the game in the end, scoring 0-02 and setting up several other opportunities.

Within fifteen seconds of the restart Meath pulled back a point from the boot of the impressive Brian Farrell. Meath, who had replaced Alan Forde with Cian Ward during the first half and Damien Carroll with Peadar Byrne at half time, seemed like they were looking to the old guard to restore parity to the game.

Dublin quickly responded with a Bernard Brogan point. Meath, with renewed optimism, started to cause Dublin trouble however and Brian Farrell made Stephen Cluxton produce a fantastic save in front of Hill 16 at the expense of a ’45. Joe Sheridan coolly converted the resultant opportunity for his only score of the game.

One of Meath’s biggest problems all day was their inability to deal with Dublin’s direct style of play. Dublin consistently had men running off the shoulder and Meath never seemed to get to grips with the runners.

This was most evident when Macauley burst through the Meath defence with purpose and pace and received Bryan Cullen’s perfectly timed hand pass to convert what looked like Dublin’s third goal only for his shot to rebound off the post.

The biggest talking point of the game came in the 52nd minute when Eoghan Ó Garas shot was judged to be wide after a period of uncertainty between referee Marty Duffy and his umpire. However Marty Duffy reversed this decision after consulting his linesman Maurice Deegan and awarded the point. The fact is the point was legitimate, however, we will never know if Maurice Deegan changed his mind after looking at the replay on the big screen and seeing a mistake had been made. Under current rules, officials cannot refer to any video replays to help them in their final decision.

Soon after, James Mcarthy put Dublin into a ten point lead and Meath’s misery looked to be confounded with Dublin looking reassured and certain for the win. However Meath slowly but surely started to convert chances.

In an unexpected move Joe Sheridan found himself in the middle of the field. With Dublin beginning to show signs of tiredness Meath began to get on top with Sheridan causing some problems for the Dublin midfield. Meath began to close the gap and when Jamie Queeney, a second half substitute, pounced in the square to beat Cluxton at his near post, suddenly the margin was down to three.

Meath who outscored Dublin in the last fifteen minutes by 1-06 to 0-02, suddenly found themselves in a position to snatch a draw. In a flurry of last minute activity Brian Farrell attempted to beat Cluxton from a free but Dublin held on to claim their 51st Leinster title and emerge deserved winners.

Meath should take comfort and positives from their strong finish when they head to Tullamore next week for round four of the qualifiers. They may have to reshuffle their pack with Kevin Reilly a doubt for the clash against Laois. Meath will be attempting to do what no other team has done in the qualifiers and win after a six day turn around. Dublin on the other hand will probably have more questions to answer than Meath and if they are to retain their All Ireland title they will have to improve on this performance.

Dublin – S Cluxton; P McMahon, R O’Carroll, M Fitzsimons; J McCarthy (0-1), K Nolan, C O’Sullivan; E Fennell, D Bastick (1-0); P Flynn, B Brogan (1-7), B Cullen; M D Macauley, A Brogan (0-2), K McManamon (0-1). Subs: E O’Gara (0-2) for A Brogan, P Andrews for K McManamon, B Cahill for E Fennell, C Dias for P Flynn, P Brogan for B Cullen.

Meath – D Gallagher; D Keogan, K Reilly, B Menton; M Burke, S McAnarney, D Tobin (0-1); G Reilly (0-3), C Gillespie; B Meade, D Carroll, A Forde; J Sheridan (0-1), B Farrell (0-7), S Bray (0-1). Subs: E Harrington for K Reilly, C Ward for A Forde, P Byrne for D Carroll, J Queeney (1-0) for B Meade, M Collins for S Bray.

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Leinster Final Preview: Meath v Dublin

It is hard to recall when there has been more than a kick of a ball between the steely resolve of the men from the Royal County and the swagger of the men from the capital.

Murmurings within Meath have suggested that this year’s campaign has many similarities to the one of 1996. That year Seán Boylan unleashed his young guns in Croke Park and Meath caught Dublin on the hop in the Leinster final.

They went on to win the All Ireland final, resulting in Dublin relinquishing their All Ireland crown. Combining that with their last encounter where Meath surprised Dublin with a clinical display beating them 5-09 to 0-13 points, there can be no doubt Dublin will be wary of their opponents.

A Meath/Dublin affair is a war of attrition and when the Delaney Cup and the bragging rights in Leinster are on offer, it adds a certain element of spice to the occasion.

Dublin have blown hot and cold this summer with a comprehensive dismantling of a poor Louth outfit and a display against Wexford that left many questions about their resolve. Come Sunday, any kind of form from both sides this year will go out the window.

Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney has endured in the face of adversity within Meath to assemble a team capable of pulling off a shock against any team, based on their performance against Kildare in the last round. After a shaky start to the championship against Wicklow and a dubious draw against Carlow the Meath team has started to take shape.

Injuries have however plagued Banty’s squad, with regular players such as Mark Ward, Shane O Rourke, Gary O Brien and Seamus Kenny long term absentees. Stephen Bray, a former All Star, Paddy Gilsenan and Kevin Reilly have also struggled with their fitness this year.

However, this has given opportunities for players on the fringes of the squad to stake a claim for a regular place and they have taken that chance with both hands.

Donal Keoghan has come into the team at corner back and showed tenacity and doggedness beyond his years, shackling the vastly experienced and highly dangerous John Doyle against the Lily Whites in their last outing in Croke Park.

Keoghan will have to call on every ounce of concentration and experience to contain the threat of Bernard Brogan this Sunday, the dynamic corner forward and arguably best player in the country when on form.

Donnacha Tobin has proven to be somewhat of a utility man for Meath this year but he seems to be at home in the half back line. Tobin, Shane McAnarney and Mickey Burke are tasked with the job of stopping one of the hardest working half forward lines in the country.

Bryan Cullen will typically roam the pitch picking up breaking ball and distributing it down the open channels and Mickey Burke will more than likely be the man to shadow him. McAnarney on the other hand will be faced with the constant attacking threat of Alan Brogan and if Meath want to win this game these are the players that will need to be contained.

Alan Forde and Damien Carroll have added a new dimension of pace and vision into the Meath half forward line and their youthful exuberance caused Carlow and Kildare countless problems. Throwing the form of Brian Farrell and Graham Reilly into the mix who are both in scoring form, Stephen Bray  on the bench, Peadar Byrne who has developed an eye for goal and the return of Kevin Reilly from injury at full back, Meath will go to Croke Park quietly confident of causing an upset.

Dublin, who usually don’t have too many surprises up their sleeve, have named Michael Dara Macauley, the All Star midfielder, at full forward in place of the suspended Diarmuid Connolly.

This tactic could be employed to drag Kevin Reilly out of position but also neutralise the attacking threat of Graham Reilly around the middle who has excelled this year as a third midfielder.

Don’t be surprised to see Kevin McManamon and Bernard Brogan operating in a two man full forward line on Sunday.

Macauley, a former Irish basketball underage star, views Meath as a serious threat to their Leinster crown, “I’m looking forward to the Meath game, there’s always a great atmosphere when the two sides meet. It’s hard to believe we haven’t met in a Leinster final for 11 years, so it should be a big day. Meath are flying at the moment with a lot of youth in the team breaking through which are showing huge potential. They dismantled a strong Kildare team so it’s going to be a huge ask for us come Sunday but we’re looking forward to it”.

The feeling is that Dublin are a team that haven’t quite hit top gear and may be priming themselves for the latter stages of the championship. They have dominated Leinster since the turn of the century and are aiming for their sixth Leinster title in seven years.

Pat Gilroy has made some positional and tactical changes this year, with Eamon Fennell becoming a mainstay at midfield and Macauley being given licence to roam. Their league campaign was indifferent but that may have been a literal and figurative hangover from the return of the Sam to the capital.

In recent years Dublin have kept quiet in the build up to championship football and Gilroy seems to have instilled a sense of “us against the world” in the Dublin footballers with a sense of unity evident in this team that cements their position as leaders in the game.

With Meath on form coming into this game and Dublin about to hit stride, what is expected to be a capacity crowd in Croke Park will witness two of the biggest rivals in GAA history battle it out for the right to call themselves the Kings of Leinster.

Just like a Munster hurling final there is always a sense of drama to these affairs and this encounter should be no different. The oft quoted former supremo of Meath football, Sean Boylan, this week described Meath football as possessing a certain element of madness, the question remains will the reigning All Ireland champions and current standard bearers in the game rule supreme or will the madness of Meath football overcome their neighbours dominance of Leinster? It promises to be an intriguing affair.

John Fagan

AFL Great Jim Stynes Passes Away

It has been said “he who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires and fears is more than a king” and this can only be applied to the true legend and hero that was the late Jim Stynes. Words such as hero and legend can be used and misconstrued with blatant abandonment in some instances but they are words that could only begin to describe the true extent of the Irish born former Australian Rules maestro.

Tributes and grief alike have flooded the airwaves, papers, Television sets and the media throughout Australia and Ireland respectively since Stynes, 45, succumbed to his battle with cancer last night at his home in Melbourne. He was surrounded by his family at the time of his death. Diagnosed in 2009 with melanoma cancer, Stynes treated his battle with cancer like he did any other challenge in his life, with respect, dignity, grit and ferocity. He saw it as just another challenge in his life and he set out to conquer it just like he did with his Australian Rules football career.

A native of Rathfarnham, Dublin and a Ballyboden St. Enda’s club man, Stynes as a young unassuming 18-year-old embarked on an adventure that was to define his life and career and shape who he was after winning an All Ireland minor medal with Dublin in 1984. He was one of the first members of ‘The Irish Experiment’ to ply his trade in Australian Rules football.

He answered an application to go for trials with Melbourne Demons in 1984 and set the wheels in motion for what would be a celebrated and illustrious career. After making his senior debut with Melbourne in 1987, he would go on to achieve the astounding record of completing 244 consecutive games for the club between 1987 until his retirement in 1998, a record which still stands today.

He reached the pinnacle of his career when he won the Brownlow medal in 1991, the highest individual accolade a player can receive in the sport. He did not rest on his laurels however, winning the Melbourne Football Club Best and Fairest award a record equalling four times, he was picked on the Melbourne Football Club Team of the Century and was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2003.

He was described as Australia’s most successful sporting experiment and he succeeded and thrived where many Irish men have failed to succeed in Australia with the notable exception of Tadhg Kennelly. The Kerry man maintains he would not have had a career in the AFL if it was not for the support he received from Jim Stynes on his arrival in Sydney.

Dublin midfielder Michael Dara Mcauley,a fellow clubman at Ballyboden St. Enda’s expressed his sadness at the death of Stynes, “As fellow clubmen, county men and neighbours Jim and Brian Stynes were always idols for me growing up. I know the family well, my last contact with them was after the All Ireland when they text me to say congratulations and that they all sat down and watched the match together. Jim brought the same bravery he showed on the football pitch to his battle with cancer. He’s an inspiration to anyone playing sports or battling illness. My thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Despite his list of achievements on the field he was also noted for his achievements and humanitarian work off the field as well.

Even as a young man in Ireland, Stynes displayed his selflessness when he first was given the opportunity to play the professional sport. One of the main reasons he left for Australia so young was because of the opportunities he was being given both sporting and educational. However, he realised at the same time if he took this opportunity to be trained and educated in Australia at no expense, he could afford more opportunities to his younger siblings by no longer being a burden at home. After his retirement he could have went into coaching, media or stayed in the sport in some capacity but he chose to immerse himself in community work.

Stynes, in the only way he knew best dedicated his life to helping children when he set up the Reach Foundation in 1994 with close friend and film director Paul Currie. A non-profit foundation it was set up to help children between the ages of eight to eighteen to help them realise their full potential and express themselves in an open and encouraging environment. He wanted these young people to realise their dreams and discover their true worth and value in life.

In 2004 he established Pelican and Penguin childcare. He saw a unique opportunity to address the problems he saw in the larger childcare chains and their quality of care. Taking matters into his own hands he developed his childcare facility and developed steadily from there.

For his work in these areas Stynes received several community awards including Melbournian of the year in 2010, Order of Australia and Churchill Fellowship in 2007 and Victorian of the year in 2001 and 2003. These awards added to the trophy case from his playing career but they really paid testament to the true man that Jim Stynes was and his worth as a person.

Having being diagnosed with melanoma cancer in July 2009, the year after being appointed Melbourne Football Club president, he was initially given nine months to live. He underwent brain surgery six times and had twenty tumours removed over the course of the last three years. There were tumours repeatedly appearing both new and old throughout his battle.

In the face of adversity he thrived and even went as far as accrediting his battle with the cancer as something which made him a better person. A catalyst that made him realise what was dearest to him, “I was losing touch with the family…probably just with life. I needed to live a better life and getting cancer has led me to a much better life”, he said in an interview with an Australian newspaper a couple of years back.

He saw the cancer as an opportunity to get back to who he was or should be and re-connect with life. He never once viewed it as a negative thing and applied the same attitude to the battle as he did to his playing career. He looked on it as a challenge and one that he would, not could, overcome eventually. He was prepared to embrace any type of alternative ways of defeating the disease, illustrated in the documentary ‘Every Heart Beats True: The Jim Styne’s Story’ in 2010.

A heartbreaking, engrossing account of his voyage into the unknown, Stynes could be seen combining his conventional treatment with alternative methods. He drank his own urine citing its qualities as a multi-vitamin, he tried raw diets and a coffee enema.

It was clear that he was a man not prepared to accept that this disease could beat him. He was a man that needed to survive for his wife Sam, and two children, Matisse and Tiernan. It seemed he was a man that cherished life and it was those closest to him that were the essence of life. He saw people, regardless of creed, colour, race or anything else as the entity and key to fulfilling life. He survived for three more years because of this passion for his family, work and life.

Right up until his final days he was full of vitality. He attended the Melbourne game against the Hawthorn’s and celebrated his sons seventh birthday with him. He handled himself with dignity and displayed extreme courage in the face of adversity and will forever be remembered as a legend both on and off the pitch. He was a teacher, a philanthropist, a businessman, a youth worker and most importantly a father to his two children. He has left behind a legacy for his family and  even in the throes of his illness he showed true heroism and is an example to all. He will be afforded a state funeral, a ceremony usually only granted to dignitaries and the elite in society, a true and fitting testament to who Jim Styne’s was. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Contenders Set To Battle It Out For The Choice Music Prize

Tonight, the Olympia, one of Ireland’s oldest and renowned theatres will play host to some of Ireland’s newest and rawest talent from the thriving Irish music industry. Independent Irish music is riding on the crest of a wave at the moment with live music echoing throughout the villages,towns and cities of Ireland. If you visit any bustling town or city in Ireland at the moment you will see a vibrant live music scene not only above ground but also underground. There is dubstep, indie, pop, dance, metal, electronica, hip hop, trip hop, grime and even some good old rock n’ roll to be found no matter where you go. You name it, the chances are it will be in a club pub or venue near you or coming soon. Whatever it is about desperate times, it seems to produce far from desperate music. The Irish music scene is in an extremely healthy state.

Belfast is churning out successful acts like Led Zeppelin did records in the 70’s crossing all genres and Dublin is a whole other column. There is a burgeoning music scene in the capital and it had been bubbling under the surface for many years. International acts now see Dublin as an important stepping stone to building a reputable fan base. Ticket prices are still a little too expensive but that’s another days work. Unfortunately the reason Dublin is a whole other columns work is because if you want to establish yourself in Ireland, that is where you need to be 9 times out of 10. You may be able to build up a minimal fan base touring the country but the crowds you yearn for and dream of as a performer, musician, singer are in Dublin. Trends are made and broken in the city by the Liffey. That is why most of the acts that will take to the stage in the Olympia tonight are based in Dublin. Tonight will see the 7th annual Choice Music prize take place at its new home. It has moved from Vicar St. down the road.

The Choice Music prize was set up by Irish Times music impresario Jim Carroll along with Dave Reid in 2005. Initially set up as an alternative to the Meteor Music awards it is now ironically sponsored by the very same Meteor. Put it this way, it is Ireland’s Mercury Prize or the closest you will get to that. Celebrating and championing the cause of Irish music and using it as a platform to showcase the finest Irish albums of each year for the last seven years, it has enjoyed relative success as the alternative music lover’s chance to celebrate the best albums of the year and can be considered the antidote to the mainstream drivel we hear on most radio stations every day.

This years judging panel will see the co-founder Jim Carroll handing over the reins to his colleagues and will watch with intrepid anxiety tonight as an album will be plucked from obscurity and hopefully propelled into the stratosphere. The judging panel for the 2011 awards is a veritable mix of DJ’s, journalists, producers and all manner of media professionals. There is 11 on the judging panel. Over the last number of years there have been a few surprises with perhaps the most surprising being Super Extra Bonus Party in 2007. There have been a notable number of acts whose profile was immeasurably enhanced by the prize which I forgot to mention is €10,000. Past winners include Julie Feeney, The Divine Comedy, Jape, Adrian Crowley and Two Door Cinema Club. The nominees this year include:

And So I Watch You From Afar (ASIWYFA)- Arguably one of the hardest working bands in Irish music right now, the Belfast band have experienced many line-up changes over the years but maintained their gritty alt-rock sound without fail and this is their first Choice nomination but second album called Gangs.

Bell X1- Almost the paternal group among the rest of the relative newcomers Bell X1 are stewards of the Irish music scene and are the most successful out of all the nominees, This isn’t their first nomination but they will be hoping their Bloodless Coup album will be  the winning nomination. This is their fifth studio album.

Cashier No. 9- More natives of Belfast, these guys are considered among the favourites to go home with the accolade for their supremely laid back effort To The Death of Fun. Swirling, chilled out, pop tunes intertwined with a rustic feel and groove these guys have certainly given themselves a chance to cash in!

Lisa Hannigan- No longer referred to as Damien Rice’s sidekick, Hannigan has carved out a career of her own cementing herself as a singer songwriter of stature and note with profound ability to wrap charm around a note of sweet effervescent ear tingling lyrics. Her sweet, soulful voice could land her the prize for Passenger, a strong follow-up to 2009’s Sea Sew, a Choice contender itself in 2009. One of the favourites.

The Japanese Popstars: Their debut effort Control Your Allegiance could fit seamlessly into their back catalogue in years to come as  an album that belied its years and with samples and contributions from Robert Smith, Lisa Hannigan and James Vincent McMorrow it feels and sounds like an album that was produced from a much more experienced outfit. Oh and it’s electronic/dance beats. An unusual nominee for the Choice prize given previous ones, however with the re-emergence of dance, not surprising. Another group from up North serving to underline the vibrant and healthy scene surrounding Belfast and neighbouring counties.

Jape: A previous winner it is unlikely his Ocean of Frequency will win but don’t be shocked if it does. Electro infused eclectic music is the staple sound of Richie Egan and don’t be surprised if the extremely talented musician is back in the future with another offering for the Choice Music Prize.

Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands: An artist I am not overly familiar with and a genre I am not overly enthused about, synth driven 80’s weird drum machine hair-raising bleh, all signs and talk point to the outsiders tag for this album. Considered one of the more ‘alternative acts’ in a list of alternative acts could work for or against Kelleher but with an open-minded panel any one of these acts is in with a chance.

Pugwash: When I first listened to Pugwash, Supergrass popped into my head but I don’t know why because they are not very similar to Supergrass at all. They do however have their own brand of timeless pop that would make you whistle, hum and smile when you hear it because it is quite quirky. These guys have been around a while and not necessarily working together during that time-span but they are veterans compared to most of the field and perhaps for this alone they may deserve an award just for seemingly being fun. Everybody likes fun people right?

Tieranniesaur: A wife and husband duo who recorded this album at home I would consider these guys to be very strong outsiders but that may be because I love this album. She is the sister of Mick Pyro of Republic of Loose fame so is no stranger to the music business. They seamlessly fuse indie and funk together and seperate it again from track to track and for sheer creativeness, ingenuity and the enjoyment factor I am going to make this my tip for the Choice Music Prize.

We Cut Corners: Take two teachers. Put them in a blender. Pulse for 10 years or so and you get We Cut Corners. Probably my second favourite album of the year, these two teachers (still teaching) took a long time to realise they were musicians and musicians capable of coming up with an award-winning album. Albeit it is a very short album but there is no need to make it any longer with such panache and honed sounds attached to it with confident and loud lyrics to fuse the whole project together, Today I Realised I Could Go Home backwards is probably right alongside Cashier No. 9 as the favourite.

Just as a little bit on the side, I am going to be bold and daring and predict that at least some of the following bands will be on the Choice Music Prize list in the next year or two. Little Green Cars whose music I cannot get enough of recently, check out their Bandcamp page, Funeral Suits, Le Galaxie, The Minutes, James Vincent McMorrow (baffling that he isn’t already a winner), MMOTHS, The Cast of Cheers, Squarehead and Girl Band. Keep your eyes peeled and ears open. Good luck to all the acts competing for the prize, you are all winners in your parents and fans eyes.

Rampart

In homage to perhaps Bad Lieutenant, Training Day and even Dirty Harry, Rampart addresses that almost iconic enduring image of the dirty cop that harks back to the days of the Rampart scandal that almost swallowed and enveloped the LAPD in a swathe of investigations that eventually led to the convictions of 58 police officers who were involved in corruption, bribery, drug dealing and even murder in the late 1990’s.

Rampart sees James Ellroy, the word smith behind L.A. Confidential and Oren Moverman the man in charge of the camera for L.A. Confidential re-unite in a gripping tale of drama, suspense, misanthropy, racism, family struggles and heartbreak. Dave Brown, played by Woody Harrelson, is a police officer in Los Angeles at the turn of the century, a turbulent time in the LAPD. Brown can only be described as a man who fears no law and is even a law unto himself.

We see glimpses of his hardened, cold manner in the opening scenes where he bullies a new female officer seemingly for the sake of it when he forces her to finish her lunch time fries when she offers him the remainder. It then cuts to him advising her on a patrol and in the same fell swoop he demonstrates how to intimidate groups of Latino’s by driving straight at them, sirens blaring.

We initially see him cruise the streets of L.A. on patrol,aviators on, almost acting as a type of barrier to the world that he so evidently hates. We are witnessing the demise of a police officer who is a throwback to the old school cop who took names and asked questions later. We later learn his father was a LAPD officer which evidently has an influence on his controversial policing tactics.

Brown outside of work is no stranger to controversy either. He has fathered two children with two women who happen to be sisters and the family unit immediately becomes a distorted arena of potential chaos. The eldest daughter, Helen, is an individual who demonstrates her mistrust of her father several times throughout and also demonstrates an unyielding melancholic attitude towards life. She is played by Brie Larson of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World fame and can only expect attention in the future after a commanding performance.

The sisters and mothers of his children, played by Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon, ironically both lesbians in the screenplay that is life, have obviously witnessed Browns propensity to create situations for himself that do not necessarily make life easy, being victims themselves of course. Which brings us to the issue at hand. Why is Brown so controversial? His daughter Helen repeatedly refers to Brown as “Date Rape” throughout, a moniker afforded to him after he allegedly murdered a serial date rapist. This establishes his dalliances with trouble.

With the LAPD embroiled in scandal after scandal, Brown while driving is careered by another car and he proceeds to chase down the culprit and use excessive force thus only serving to enhance the LAPD’s tarnished reputation. This happens to be caught on camera and aired on news channels. In an age void of YouTube, Flickr and Tumblrs this inevitably leads to Browns suspicions that this may have been set up by the Mayor and the LAPD to deflect attention from their offices. Displaying an eloquent understanding of the law throughout, alluding to his past failures at the Bar, Brown when questioned on the matter at hand promises to make life difficult when he is approached to make amends for his actions by the Mayor and his superiors. Sigourney Weaver is at best featured intermittently as his superior and Steve Buscemi has a standard bit part as Mayor.

Clearly able to handle himself, Brown when asked has he considered retirement wonderfully executes the script while threatening to use his Vietnam past, legal nous and the chance that he could have a show on Fox within a week to squirm out of the topic. At one stage he even offers to return to the Bar and qualify if forced to leave the LAPD and come back to work for them as their “token fascist”. Legal fees are building and he is fast running out of cash and only sees one way out of it.

Without giving away too much of the plot we see how this potentially likeable character is flawed beyond repair. His actions lead to his ultimate deterioration and character suicide which leads to a DA investigation. Ice Cube attempts to bring the DA agent to life but he fails to ignite any soul in the character and is not convincing and as an actor sadly will never be.

Engaging in illicit behaviour has become a token of this characters framework and his relationship with a DA lawyer, played by Robin Wright is no different to any other aspect of his life. Messy, tainted, controversial, ambiguous and fundamentally flawed. Another cast member who is integral as the homeless man who poses a threat to the livelihood of Brown through being in the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time, whichever way you see it, is Ben Foster.

At the climax of the film we see Brown eventually succumb to his true characteristics but we also see the broken and lost soul within the character itself. The only flaw for me in the film was the ending which may leave audiences a bit frustrated.

Interestingly Overman, Harrelson and Foster all collaborated on the much lauded The Messenger, which somewhat seemed to pass under the radar this side of the Atlantic and Overman obviously places trust in these masters of their craft. Overman who directed Harrelson in The Messenger also, in which Harreslon was nominated for an Academy Award for his turn as a Casualty Notification officer, has obviously learned how to tap into the dark side of Harrelson and eke out a performance in him that truly portrays that of a tortured and troubled soul. Overman captures the essence of this beautifully and the camera work lends itself to the style of Michael Mann’s Collateral however the director has his own unique touch and must be applauded for managing to wrap cinematic chaos in a blanket of eloquence.

Could The Actions Of The Revenue Hamper The GAA?

Time to give the revenue the red card?

In the past week we have seen the issue of tax payments come to the fore within the GAA. The issue of managerial payments was highlighted once again with Tommy Lyons, the former Dublin manager, claiming Mayo approached him asking him to name his price to take over the senior team in 2010. He asserts that he was asked to name his price, put it in an envelope and hand it over. James Waldron, the then Mayo County Board chairman vehemently denies the allegation.

23 months ago the Director General of the GAA, Paraic Duffy expressed his concern at the emerging culture of under the counter payments to GAA managers in particular inter- county mangers. Christy Cooney more recently described the culture of payments as a cancer in the association. In recent weeks the Revenue Commissioners have hinted they are ready to investigate county boards and clubs with regard to under the counter payments to managers and personnel. They did not realise what they were up against when they decided the officials involved in the GAA were to come under scrutiny.

The referees of Longford and Wexford exercised the power they have when they decided to take action at the news of a cut in their expenses at the behest of the cold hand of the Revenue Commissioner. Up until last year referees were officiating for a flat rate of €40 for a senior fixture and €25 for an under-age fixture on average however there is no uniformity among counties with some counties opting to pay managers immediately after a game and others deciding to pay on receipt of expenses. Payments can also vary.

However referee’s were informed this week that their rates were to be cut to a meal expense of €13.71 and a price of 50c per mile for travel expenses. Monday two weeks ago, Longford’s officials voted to take action and strike against the proposed flat rate. 24 hours previously Wexford’s referee’s had threatened to withdraw their services only to back down after being told they would continue to receive the original flat rate of €50 for a senior game and €30 for an under-age game. Waterford’s officials were also told there would be no cut in expenses.

The ball has now returned to the Revenue’s court and it is up to them to clarify the controversy among referee’s with regard to their expenses which National Referee’s Association chairman Mick Curley admits is an issue of major concern. The burning issue is whether the official’s will be subject to tax liabilities at the end of the year if the Revenue do decide to alter referee’s expenses. Croke Park will continue to engage with the Revenue in relation to how expenses can be claimed.

The power at the officials disposal was one notable aspect of this stand-off. Their value is far greater than any monetary gains that may be made. Players, managers, the public and the media don’t quite realise the importance of the referee. For the GAA this could potentially be a more contentious issue than that of payments to managers. The games will continue to be played whether a manager is paid or not and there is always another willing to manage. It could far outweigh any controversy over players expenses. There is always another player ready to step into the breach if the first choice is not available. However without the referee the game cannot be played and this is the tool at their disposal. That is why the GAA sought time to allow for further discussion surrounding this issue. It is interesting to note how the matter of payments to managers could also become of secondary importance if the expenses row with referee’s is not clarified and cleared up soon. The GAA has found itself caught between the Revenue and a body within the GAA that is of seminal importance and cannot be done without.

The very spirit of one of the finest sporting associations on earth could be brought into question however if the revenue decide to start investigating every nook and cranny to line their coffers. The plight of many GAA clubs at the moment is they’re saddled with incoherent debt after over-indulging during the boom times. As a result of the “boom times” managers started to get paid but it is quite evident whether we like to admit it or not that a lot of these payments were not declared. And who can blame the personnel of clubs in particular not declaring a little extra cash in the fear that the tax man will take at least half? I know of one physiotherapist involved in a small junior club who for a minimal fee helps the club during weekends currently monitoring the situation with regard to the Revenues impending intrusion.They use this fee to cover their grocery shopping. The person in question is unlikely to return for another season if they are going to be taxed. It will simply not be worth their time and effort.

It will be the small “man” or club that suffers. Imagine a lost corner of rural Ireland, painted with the bright colours of its parish team and the pride invested by the local parishioners in the local footballers and hurlers. The GAA, for these small communities that the IMF or Troika or ECB can not even comprehend, provides a service. If the Revenue were to intrude in these lost corners of Ireland that run on a sense of community spirit who put away that extra euro or two to help the local club bring life into their communities, what might they be achieving or even dismantling? Will it be worth dedicating your time as a manager or referee or physio to the local club if the Revenue are going to tax you for the most part. Is it time for the GAA to be the voice for these lost corners of Ireland?

Keane Leads Kerry To Victory While Dublin Get Up And Running

Kerry disposed of their Northern counterparts Down quite comfortably on a bitterly cold day in Newry beating them on a score line of 0-14 to 0-08. Down, who have had the upper hand on Kerry in recent years when it comes to the championship, could not live with Kerry in the second half as they upped the tempo with Barry John Keane impressive for the southerners. Kerry now lie second in Division 1.

Donegal welcomed Cork to tip of the country and proceeded to drive them out to sea or at least that’s where they seemed to be for large chunks of this encounter. In a dismal game, Donegal led at half time thanks to an early Michael Murphy goal, who seems to have returned to full fitness after injury forced him out of the league until now. Donegal tagged on two more points after this, however Cork were only capable of four points in the first half to leave Donegal with a slender one point lead at half time. Donegal proceeded to outscore Cork by five points to two in the second half to gain the win and increase their chances of survival.

Saturday evening saw Mayo maintain their impressive league record over the years and come away with a win from the Morgan Athletic Grounds, something of a stronghold for Armagh, with an impressive six pint win which leaves them in pole position in Division 1 with only 2 games played. Dublin also got their first points on the board with an Eoghan Ó Gara inspired victory over Laois in Portlaoise. That leaves Laois languishing in the bottom two after three games.

The pace and intensity was almost similar to a championship game with Kildare overcoming Meath in Navan to gain their first points of the year and get their league campaign back on track in Division 2. They came away with the narrowest of victories after scoring an impressive 18 points to Meath’s 2-11. Kildare were evidently the fitter team and always seemed to have an extra player running off the man in possession. However Meath’s Stephen Bray and Paddy Gilsenan were impressive for the Royal’s and almost did enough to come away with a victory however Kildare edged it with a last minute Ollie Lyon’s point.

Westmeath came away with the spoils in Mullingar and with that pulled off the shock of the the round in Division 2. The Lake County were impressive in a windswept Cusack Park as the highly impressive John Heslin scored 7 points to help Westmeath come away with their first victory of the year. Paul Bannon was responsible for the winning score to send the Westmeath faithful home happy.

Derry and Tyrone also came away with wins as Derry defeated Monaghan by 6 points. Monaghan have had a dismal start to their league campaign and need to markedly improve if they are to survive in Division 2. Tyrone defeated their neighbours Louth by two goals, however the Wee County put up a fight and John Devine, the Tyrone goalkeeper, was responsible for keeping Tyrone in the game.

The Weekends League Results in Full

Division One:

Armagh 0-11 Mayo 1-14

Laois 1-09 Dublin 1-14

Donegal 1-07 Cork 0-06

Down 0-08 Kerry 0-14

Division Two:

Meath 2-11 Kildare 0-18

Derry 0-14 Monaghan 0-08

Westmeath 0-14 Galway 0-13

Louth -013 Tyrone 2-13

Division Three:

Antrim 2-14 Offaly 1-08

Cavan -014 Sligo 1-08

Longford 0-16 Roscommon 2-08

Wexford 2-20 Tipperary 1-08

Division Four:

Kilkenny 0-04 Fermanagh 9-23

London 0-04 Carlow 2-06

Clare 0-10 Limerick 0-09

Wicklow 1-12 Waterford 4-07

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