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Conservative Trap Names Predictable Euro 2012 Squad

“It has not been easy choosing 23 players because we have many other very good players who deserve to be here.”  The words used by the wily tactician that is Giovanni Trapattoni as he announced his squad for the 2012 European Championships. Despite the Ireland manager’s quotes to the context, it would have been a difficult decision to decide the vast majority of the players who are now in the squad.

At half three yesterday the Italian announced his squad for Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign. The squad featured: 

Shay Given, Keiren Westwood, David Forde, Richard Dunne, John O’Shea, Sean St. Ledger, Darren O’Dea, Stephen Ward, Stephen Kelly, Kevin Foley, Glenn Whelan, Darren Gibson, Keith Andrews, Keith Fahey, Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady, Stephen Hunt, James McClean, Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle, Simon Cox, Shane Long, Jonathan Walters.

Standby: Darren Randolph, Paul McShane, Paul Green, Seamus Coleman, Andy Keogh.

The phrase “as expected” comes to mind when describing the squad, which is far from a bad thing. Continuity is a necessity at international level, something Trapattoni and his team have done right over his tenure as Republic of Ireland manager.

The first 11 picks itself, Given, O’Shea, Dunne, St.Ledger, Ward, Duff, Andrews, Whealan, McGeady, Keane, Doyle. The squad members are there to be used but only if necessary. The likes of James McClean, Stephen Hunt, Jonathan Walters, Shane Long and Simon Cox will have a good chance of getting on the pitch in Poland with the latter trio more then likely to replace Kevin Doyle after he runs himself into the ground. But aside from that, injuries not withstanding there will be very little change in the team.

James McCarthy will be one player who will not be on the plane to Poland after announcing his decision to withdraw from consideration after his father was diagnosed with cancer. “I have made the very difficult decision to withdraw my name from selection from the Euro 2012 squad following the diagnosis of my father with cancer and an ongoing requirement for treatment” he stated.

“I have discussed this with the manager. He was very understanding and I thank him sincerely for that.”I take this opportunity to re-affirm my complete commitment to playing for the Republic of Ireland, It is a huge honour and source of great pride for me and my family.”

He went on to wish his teammates luck stating “despite not being present, I would like to wish the manager and my team-mates every success at the tournament and hope that Irish fans can understand the reason for my decision at this difficult time.”

Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign starts on Sunday June 10th in Poznan when the Republic of Ireland takes on Croatia. Four days later on June 14th they take on world and European Champions Spain in Gdansk. The final fixture takes place on Monday June 18th when the boys in green take on Italy.

Has Trapattoni got his squad right? Will the team be good enough to compete with Spain, Italy and Croatia? Can the team advance beyond the group stage? All interesting questions all will be answered next month.

Airtricity League Preview-Draw Specialists Seek Three Points After Last Ditch Penalty Drama

Derry City –v- St Patrick’s Athletic      7:05 p.m

Draw specialists St Patrick’s Athletic will look to bounce back to winning ways but face a tricky test against a confident Derry City side at the Brandywell.

Liam Buckley and his side will be contemplating what could have been last week after Christy Fagan missed a 90th minute penalty which would secured a 2-1 victory over Sligo Rovers and established Pats as the only unbeaten side in the Airtricity league. Buckley will however be proud of the way his side fought back after going a goal down to at least get a point but will be expecting more from his side when the face Derry City.

The Candystripes were also involved in a fight back last week securing a 1-1 draw against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium, David McDaid getting a 77th minute equaliser to move Derry up to 5th.  Derry will be confident that they can secure some form of a result at home against a Pats team that look genuine title contenders.

Prediction: Score Draw

 Bray Wanderers –v- Bohemian FC        7:45 p.m 

The confidence boosting 1-0 victory over relegation rivals Monaghan United will see Bray Wanderers hopeful of jumping above Bohemians in the league table, but Bohs having secured a well deserved away win at Dundalk will be looking to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone.

Even this early in the season the clash last week between Monaghan and Bray was a must win and thanks to an 86th minute winner from veteran striker Jason Byrne, Bray Wanderers came out on top. Bray face a more difficult test on Friday when the play host to Bohemians at the Carlisle Grounds. A win will see Bray leapfrog Bohs in the table, a fact manager Pat Devlin will have emphasised to his players.

Bohs despite their lack of strength compared to recent years bounced back after their home defeat at the hands of Monaghan with a comfortable and well deserved 2-0 victory over Dundalk thanks to goals from Ryan McEvoy and Peter McMahon. Bohs will fancy their chances against Bray with manager Aaron Callaghan hoping for a win and a result that will ensure his side show more consistency than they have thus far.

Prediction: Away Win

 Cork City –v- Dundalk                           7:45 p.m 

A late goal from Tadhg Purcell last week secured a 2-1 victory over Shelbourne to give Cork City their second win of the season a result they will hope to duplicate when they host a struggling Dundalk side who are coming off the back of a disappointing defeat at home to Bohemians.

It has been a difficult start to the season for recently promoted Cork City. Two wins, two draws and five defeats is not the kind of return manager Tommy Dunne would have wished for. But coming off the back of 2-1 away win will perhaps give Cork the momentum to shoot up the table.

After losing 2-0 at home at the hands of Bohemians, Dundalk will hope to bounce back quickly, a difficult prospect giving they have the worst strike rate in the league, only managing 4 goals, two of those coming from Shane O’Neill. Sean McCaffrey faces a tough job in getting his side to score more and concede less and will be hoping it starts on Friday at Turners Cross.

Prediction: Home win

 Drogheda United –v- Sligo Rovers         7:45 p.m 

After a 1-1 draw with UCD in their last outing Drogheda United will be looking to get back to winning ways, but face their toughest test of the season when they host undefeated league leaders Sligo Rovers at Hunky Dory’s Park.

An 83rd minute equaliser from Alan McNally was enough to see Drogheda continue their fine run of form at the Belfield bowl. Mick Cooke’s side have now lost only once this season, going unbeaten since their opening day defeat  to Shamrock Rovers. The Drogs after a number of years fighting relegation are now enjoying life in the Airtricity League and will have nothing to fear against Sligo Rovers.

Sligo will consider themselves fortunate that they got a point from last week’s clash with Pats after the Inchicore men spurned a late  penalty that would have inflicted the first defeat of the season on Ian Baraclough’s men. Sligo will also be looking to get back to winning ways in season that they hope will bring the first league championship to the Showground’s since 1977.

Prediction: Away win

 Shamrock Rovers –v- UCD                     8:00 p.m 

Shamrock Rovers will be looking to stay in touch with league leaders Sligo Rovers when the face UCD at the Tallaght Stadium. Both sides recorded 1-1 draws last week and both need a win for entirely different reasons.

After conceding a late equaliser to Derry City last week and suffering a reprieve after Sligo were incapable of taking advantage of that result Shamrock Rovers will know a win is needed to stay close to the league leaders. Gary Twigg scored once again last week and Rovers will be reliant on the Airtricity League’s top scorer this season to find the net again.

UCD have had a poor start to the season, one of three teams with eight points and Martin Russell will be hoping his side will be able to pull off an upset that will push the students up the table which will allow them to surpass their 8th place finish last season. They face a very tough tie and will need to be solid at the back to contain the league’s top scorers.

Prediction: Home win

 Shelbourne –v- Monaghan United           8:00 p.m 

After coming off defeats last week to Bray and Cork, Shelbourne and Monaghan United will face off with three crucial points at  stake at Tolka Park.

Recently promoted Shelbourne suffered their third defeat of the season in a home loss to Cork City. Alan Matthews will expect his men to reply with three points when they host bottom of the table Monaghan United, hoping Phillip Hughes can add to the five goals he has scored already this season.

Monaghan United, bottom of the table and coming off the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Bray Wanderers know three points are crucial even this early in the season so as to avoid an even bigger gap opening up at the bottom. Roddy Collins will need all of his experience to get his side out of the position there in and will hope it starts at Tolka Park.

Prediction: Home Win

Airtricity League Preview-Sligo Look To Keep Ahead Of Chasing Pack

Bohemian FC –vs. – Monaghan United 7:45

After a slow start to the Airtricity League, Bohemians have now won two games in row having survived a late scare to narrowly defeat UCD 2-1 at the Belfield Bowl last Friday night thanks to goals from Keith Ward and Dinny Corcoran. The win brings Bohs up to eight and eases the early season pressure on manager Aaron Callaghan.

Bohemians will fancy their chances against bottom side Monaghan United who succumbed to a heavy 6-0 defeat at the hands of Cork City at Turners Cross. Monaghan remain  without a win this season having lost five and drawn two. Roddy Collins and his side know that they face a tough prospect of going to Dalymount Park and facing a rejuvenated Bohemians side.

Prediction: Bohs to win comfortably

Bray Wanderers –vs. – Shamrock Rovers 7:45

Second from top against second from bottom. After the heavy defeat to St. Patrick’s Athletic, Shamrock Rovers came back with style, inflicting a heavy 6 nil rout upon Dundalk thanks to goals from Chris Turner, Billy Dennehy, Daryl Kavanagh and a hat-trick from main man Gary Twigg.

But could the defeat on Monday at the hands of Derry City in the Setanta Cup damage their confidence or give them another point to prove? Bray can consider themselves unfortunate that they didn’t get anything out of the 2 – 1 defeat to Shelbourne, Jason Byrne getting the solitary goal for the Seagulls on the night. Bray, second from bottom on four points and one win so far this season, need another and given the fact that they beat Rover 1 – 0 in this fixture last year, Bray will feel they could cause problems for the reigning champions.

Prediction: Shamrock Rovers win

Cork City –vs. – Sligo Rovers 7:45

Cork City recorded their first three points of the season, an emphatic 6 – 0 win against Monaghan United last Friday, with goals coming from Daryl Horgan, Vincent Sullivan, Tadgh Purcell and a hat-trick from Davin O’Neill. But even with the home advantage, they face an uphill battle against undefeated league leaders Sligo Rovers.

Sligo only drew at home to Derry City last week, Danny North getting their only goal. But with five wins in seven Ian Baraclough and his men will be expecting to make it six out of eight. Cork’s confidence is high and they will make sure that the early league leaders face a tough game at Turners Cross.

Prediction: Sligo to grind out a win

Drogheda United –vs. – Shelbourne 7:45

After a hard fought 0 – 0 with St. Patrick’s Athletic at Hunky Dory’s Park, Drogheda United face a potentially tricky tie with Shelbourne. Mick Cooke’s men have started the season brightly winning four, drawing two and suffering only one defeat, a huge improvement of their form in previous years, which usually left them, hovering at the bottom of the table.

Shelbourne have adapted well on their return to the top flight. Three wins, three draws and one defeat is a good return for the recently promoted side with the Tolka Park faithful enjoying life in the Airtricity League. A 2 -1 victory over Bray Wanderers left manager Alan Matthews pleased but aware improvement is needed “ We played well in the last half hour of the game and got the win but on another night it could have been different.” The result however, see’s Shels in form going into what could be a hard fought game.

Prediction: Hard Fought Draw

Derry City –vs. – Dundalk 7:45

After a hard fought draw with league leaders Sligo Rovers and a 3 – 0 victory over Shamrock Rovers in the Setanta Cup semi-final first leg, The Candystripes host Dundalk at the Brandywell. A David McDaid penalty was enough to secure a point at the Showgrounds last week and given that Dundalk are susceptible in defence and Derry recorded a 2 – 0 over their opponents last season, Declan Devine will organise his team to attack from the start.

Dundalk suffered an emphatic 6 – 0 defeat last week courtesy of Shamrock Rovers at the Tallaght Stadium. Sean McCaffrey will expect a big reaction from his side Friday night conscious of the fact that another defeat could end up leaving them in the relegation zone.

Prediction: Derry overcome Dundalk in a very hard fought victory

St. Patrick’s Athletic –vs. – UCD 7:45

After an emphatic 5 – 1 victory over current Champions Shamrock Rover’s, St. Patricks Athletic failed to capitalize on that victory, having to settle for a 0 – 0 draw with a much improved Drogheda United. Pats have started well this season only one of two sides still undefeated, winning three and drawing four. Pats have been here before, starting the season well but suffering towards the tail end. Manager Liam Buckley faces a tough task ahead of him in order the change that consistency. But Pat’s and skipper Connor Kenna are confident of getting a positive result “While UCD will be tough opponents, we’re looking to bounce back with three points. We kept another clean sheet against Drogheda, so if we can push on, hopefully we’ll get the win.”

Coming off a 2 – 1 home defeat to Bohemians last week, UCD will have a point to prove heading in Richmond Park. The Students currently sit in mid-table after winning two, drawing one and losing four of their first seven fixtures. Manager Martin Russell will hope to improve on their eight place finish last week and history shows the games with Pats are always tight edgy affairs that in recent years UCD have managed to come out the victors.

Prediction: Score Draw

How can RTE aid the League of Ireland?

League of Ireland football has never been at the forefront of the minds of the powers that be at RTE, but will the 2012 Airtricity League season be the start of a change in that mentality?

“We are committed to bringing Irish soccer to the fans and are proud to be increasing our live coverage of games again this year to a record level.” These are the words of RTE head of Sport Ryle Nugent after releasing details that RTE will show 24 live Airtricity League and FAI Cup games in the 2012 season up from the 19 it showed the previous year.

This would suggest a step in the right direction by RTE in its coverage of Irish domestic football, something it ignored during the Celtic Tiger. Given our close proximity to Britain, England in particular it was always going to be an uphill task to achieve  a respectable proportion of the kind of coverage that is dedicated daily to The English Premiership.

On March 10th 2008 Monday Night Soccer began airing on RTE 2. The programme dedicated to covering Irish domestic football was pivotal for the League of Ireland, whose attendances were falling and many of its clubs in financial peril. In the four subsequent years it has shown steady coverage of League of Ireland football and has attained a respectable amount of viewers much larger than Eircom League Weekly a similar show which was shown at 11:30 on Monday nights on TV3 from 2002 to 2007.

So with this newfound coverage and its 24 live games being shown, can RTE aid in a revival of fortunes to League of Ireland football? The Celtic Tiger is long gone and with it are the regular trips to various Premier League grounds by the now recession hit Irish Football fans. Because of that and the increased coverage of League of Ireland Football will attendances rise? So far that has not been the case.

There is still the mighty Premier League to contend with as well as coverage of Spanish, German and Italian football. These factors as well as Euro 2012 will be first in the minds of Irish football fans at least for this season. Because of Irelands in involvement in Euro 2012 its first international tournament in 10 years the League of Ireland will suffer.

It is important the RTE continue to look to the future starting with the 2013 season. Equally important is that they don’t lower the number of matches they show next season but rather increase them particularly its coverage during the summer months when the majority of Leagues are in their off-season.

Increased coverage this season is a big step to a sport that’s been neglected in favour of its big cousin across the Irish Sea. The dream scenario here would be increased coverage that then turns into increased attendance which in turn will allow clubs to attain a more financially stable position. That’s not the case right now but given the impracticality of that concept four years ago as opposed to now, it is, if nothing else a very encouraging thought.

Which Film Will Reign as the Biggest of 2012?

2012 has the potential to be a big year for film. Perhaps film studios believe in the Mayan prophecy and this is their last year to make a big pay day, perhaps The Sopranos were right when they said the only business’ unaffected by the recession are The Mafia and the Film Industry or maybe after a lacklustre 2011 they owe us. Big time.

Of all the films to be released this year which could potentially be the biggest, both critically and commercially? The Hunger Games has done big business already earning $531,070,000 worldwide. Of course when labelled with the tag “The New Twilight” it’s always going to attract attention, much more surprising is the critical success it has gotten, something its predecessor has never received.

On May 8th The Avengers (or Marvel Avengers Assemble to give its official title, used so as to avoid confusion with the 1960’s TV show of the same name) is released and given the fact that five films Iron Man 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: First Avenger have all been building to this and have grossed a whopping $2,290,443,467 at the box office big things are expected financially.

But what about critically? Given its cast (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson) as well as it writer/director Joss Whedon and his knack for working well with ensemble casts, The Avengers could be a huge hit.

Speaking of ensemble casts The Expendables 2 is released worldwide on August 17th. The first film was a hit earning $274, 470, 394 worldwide, which is impressive given its R rating in the States. The Expendables was released to Mixed reviews which could hinder its box office receipts, but given its cast (Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis) and the fact that there has been 80’s movie revival as of late, expect The Expendables 2 to at the very least equal its predecessors box office.

Two major films will be released towards the end of the year. Skyfall the new instalment in the James Bond Franchise which is now entering its 50th year will be released on October 26th and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey the first part in a two part film will be released on December 14th.

Two however will battle it out for the biggest film of the year. Prometheus starring our own Michael Fassbender and The Dark Knight Rises. In development for a number of years Prometheus originally started out as a direct prequel to Alien. Over the course of its development its link to Alien seems to have diminished, now only being described as “sharing the same DNA” as its predecessor. One direct link however is its director Ridley Scott, directing his first Sci-Fi movie since 1982’s Blade Runner which is reason enough to get the fanboy’s into the cinema.

Since the first image of Prometheus was shown last year its marketing campaign has been steadily building towards its June 8th release date. A number of trailers have been released heightening the anticipation. The first 13 minutes were shown last week in London to rave reviews. The Hype for Prometheus has been steadily climbing, but can it live up to it?

The main deciding factor for this could come down to its rating. When discussing its rating last week Ridley Scott said “I want certification for this film that allows me to make as large a box office as possible”. That statement would suggest that Prometheus will hope to attain a PG-13/12A rating which would then put the film in a position to attain a higher box office then the first 4 Alien films which were rated R.

Prometheus’ main rival is The Dark Knight Rises the third film in the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise. Its predecessor The Dark Knight was released in 2008 to critical and commercial claim grossing $1,001,921,825 worldwide and it is expected that the Dark Knight Rises will at least match that figure and considering Christopher Nolan’s track record as well as the fact that it has already received a PG13 rating it would not be surprising to see The Dark Knight Rises improve on that figure.

Its marketing campaign has been quiet the last two months and there having a number of criticisms regarding the muffled voice the principle villain Bane, but despite this and taking into consideration the success of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight expectations are still sky high.

General Consensus dictates that in recent years that the majority of the “Big Movies” haven’t been good enough, so with a line-up of movies, led by Prometheus and the Dark Knight Rises could 2012 be one of those years where the paying audience gets something worth paying for?