Pro 12 – No Change At The Top

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Two weeks to go and one would think we are already looking at the final top 4 order in the 2015 Guinness Pro 12. Aside from Munster the table toppers showed nearly all their worth over the weekend too and the knock outs are shaping up to be some absolutely mouth watering games.

On Friday night Leinster and Ulster locked horns in an absolutely crucial fixture for the Blues. Out of Europe, sitting outside the top 4 and in direct competition with Ospreys for that coveted spot, kicking off their three game run with a win was more than necessary. It looked like they were more than aware of that fact too as they raced into a 10 nil lead in the first ten minutes. Coming away from their agonisingly close finish against Toulon last week, many expected Leinster to carry over some authority from France but as it happened it turned into business as usual in the worst way possible. Continue reading

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Hibs Move One Point Clear Of Rangers In Championship

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Hibs moved one point clear of Rangers  in second place in the Championship with an emphatic 4-1 win over Alloa Athletic at Easter Road this afternoon.

Alan Stubbs made three changes to the starting XI that beat Livingston on Wednesday with Liam Craig, Scott Allan and Dominique Malonga replacing the injured Fraser Fyvie and Dylan McGeouch whilst Farid El Alagui had to be content with a place on the bench.
The Hibs’ players all wore black arm bands and a minute’s applause was held before kick off in memory of former player Tommy Preston.

Hibs started brightly and should have taken the lead after a period of sustained pressure when Scott Allan sent an inch perfect cross to Malonga who was unmarked inside the six yard box but the striker mistimed his header and the ball flew past the post.

Hibs then had two penalty claims rejected in quick succession, firstly when Jason Cummings was manhandled then when the ball appeared to strike an Alloa defender’s hand during a scramble in the area.

Hibs dominated possession and took a deserved lead in the 30th minute when a superb through ball from Allan found Martin Boyle and the on-loan winger calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

Just before the break, Allan took a quick free kick and Craig fired in an unstoppable shot from an acute angle with the Alloa defenders waiting on a cross.

Craig almost added a third five minutes after the break but his 25 yard strike came back off the inside of the post.

Hibs wrapped the game up on the hour mark when another slide rule pass from Allan found Malonga who unselfishly passed to Cummings who scored with a tap in.

Two minutes later, Easter Road erupted with the news that Falkirk had taken the lead against Rangers and that appeared to distract the Hibs’ players. A long cross into the box was misjudged by Liam Fontaine and Iain Flannigan nipped in to score.

With 20 minutes remaining, Hibs restored their three goal advantage when Allan’s cross to the back post was met by Fontaine who headed the ball into the path of Malonga and the big striker made no mistake from close range.

Nine minutes later Danny Handling had the ball in the net but Malonga was judged to be offside during the build up.

In the closing stages Hibs were denied a third penalty when Boyle was wrestled to the ground inside the area but again referee John McKendrick waved away the appeals.

Hibs: Oxley, Forster, Hanlon, Fontaine,Stevenson, Robertson, Allan, Craig, Boyle, Malonga, Cummings. Subs: Cerny, Stanton, El Alagui, Dunsmore, Dje Djedje, Martin, Handling.

Alloa Athletic: Gibson, Docherty, Doyle, Benedictus, Gordon, McCord, Holmes, Flannigan, Cawley, Buchanan, Ferguson. Subs: Couser, Rutherford, Chopra, Spence, Tiffoney, Layne, Hetherington.

Attendance: 8328

LOI: Cork Seek To Knock Dundalk Off Top

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Cork City –v- Dundalk    7:35

The top two sides in the division face off here as Cork City host Dundalk at Turner’s Cross.

Goals from Garry Buckley and Colin Healy gave Cork City a 2-0 win over Longford Town on Monday. That result keeps them within two points of Dundalk at the top of the table. A win here sees Cork go top, a difficult proposition, but if John Caulfield and his side have any intention of being crowned champions, this is a must win game. Continue reading

Hibs move to within one point of Rangers in race for second place

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Hibs moved to within one point of Rangers in the Championship with a comfortable 3-1 win over Livingston at the Energy Assets Arena tonight.

Head Coach Alan Stubbs made one change to the starting XI that lost to Falkirk in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Saturday with Martin Boyle replacing the suspended Scott Allan.

Former Hibs’ defender Brad Donaldson started for Livingston. Continue reading

Dwyer Handed Life Sentence For O’Hara Murder

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Graham Dwyer has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Elaine O’Hara, who was found dead at Kilakee Mountain in Dublin on 22 August 2012.

Delivering the sentence, Mr Justice Hunt told a packed courtroom he was thankful that 42 year old Dubliner Dwyer is no longer a threat to society.

Mr Dwyer, 42, has been in custody since his arrest in October 2013, as Gardaí believed he could kill again, having found various hidden secrets including a Buck Special Hunting Knife that Dwyer had hid at work.

The judge revealed Dwyer expressed no remorse of any kind for this premeditated murder of a woman too weak to resist.  He added Ms O’Hara was abused by father of two Dwyer from the time they first met until today’s verdict was reached.

He said Dwyer had no regard for Ms O’Hara as a human being except for what he could get from her – the satisfaction of the perverse desires for which he maintained their stop start relationship.

Following the verdict, prosecuting counsel Sean Guerin read a victim impact statement to the Central Criminal Court on behalf of Elaine O’Hara’s father Frank.

Victim impact statement:

Words cannot adequately describe how we are feeling and we would never want any other family to go through what we have endured over the past two and a half years.

We have lost a daughter, a sister, a friend in the most brutal, traumatic and horrifying manner.

We also have many unanswered questions which we will have to carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Elaine was a very intelligent girl who never fully realised her potential due to her psychological difficulties.

She was prescribed a lot of medication and this did have an impact on her ability to be a regular teenager, particularly socially.

She was emotionally immature and very trusting of anyone who showed her kindness. In later years her medication was reduced, hospital stays became less common and she functioned more effectively.

However, she had missed out on those important, formative, teenage years.

She had a strong work ethic and loved working with children as she could relate to them better than to adults.

She was always there to help and assist others, giving lifts, covering shifts or collecting items for the Christmas fair.

She adored her niece who was also her god daughter.  She loved reading, painting and playing with her. For months after her disappearance, her goddaughter pointed out cars like Elaine’s and said there’s Elaine’s car.

We smiled and nodded. How could we explain something to a young child that we couldn’t understand ourselves. Since her death, she has had two more nieces who will never know their aunt.

Elaine’s ambition was to be a teacher and she was studying Montessori. In 2014, we collected a BA in montessori education which was awarded to her in St Nicholas Montessori School.

She would have been so happy and proud to stand up in her gown and hat to accept her degree herself after overcoming many obstacles to finally get the qualifications she longed for, but unfortunately, this was not to be.

When Elaine went missing in August 2012, we were devastated.

At that time she appeared to be progressing very well in life.  She had a new apartment, was studying and working in two jobs.

She had a setback in July 2012, and was voluntarily admitted to hospital. However, on weekend release, she was in very good form and was looking forward to the future.

The assumed suicide in August 2012 was a surprise to all the family, but lack of evidence pointing to any other cause for her disappearance meant we reluctantly needed to accept that she had most likely taken her own life in or around Shanganagh.

We spent many hours walking the shore from Blackrock to Bray searching for any sign of her.

A year after her disappearance we laid flowers in the sea at Shanganagh in her memory and in an effort to find some closure for us as a family

Our attempt at closure was premature as when in September 2013, Elaine’s remains were discovered, the Garda investigation changed from that of a missing person to murder.

There was further anguish for the family as we now faced the unimaginable horror of Elaine having been murdered.

This trial has been an incredibly difficult experience.

It was distressing to see Elaine’s private life laid bare before the nation, despite the fact that she was the victim.

Some of the reporting in the print media was insulting to Elaine and deeply upsetting for the family.

At times, Elaine’s life was relegated to a lurid headline in a newspaper.

It was heartbreaking for us to listen to the texts Elaine received from a depraved and diseased mind.

The manipulation of her vulnerability was apparent and when she tried to resist, she was reined back in. We can hear her voice in the texts, just wanting to be loved.

Hearing of the contents of videos will haunt us forever.

We were upset that the credibility of our evidence was questioned as throughout the two and a half years, all we wanted was the truth and justice for Elaine.

We will probably never know what happened in Kilakee on 22 August 2012, but there are questions that trouble us.

When did Elaine realise that it was not a game any more?

When did she realise that the intention was to kill her for real?

Did she try to run away?

Was she restrained?

Did she suffer much?

Could she and did she cry out?

Was she left on the mountain to die alone?

This is our life sentence, for us there is no parole.

Hibs’ Scottish Cup Hoodoo Continues With Falkirk Defeat

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Hibs’ hopes of a third Scottish Cup Final in four years were dashed at Hampden Park this afternoon thanks to a late ‘smash and grab’ goal from Falkirk’s Craig Sibbald.

Hibs dominated throughout, hit both the bar and the post and were denied a great chance when the linesman wrongly flagged Farid El Alagui offside when he was clean through with only the keeper to beat.

To make matters worse, two great chances were broken up when the ball struck referee John Beaton.

Alan Stubbs made one change to the starting XI that beat Hearts at Easter Road last Sunday with Scott Robertson returning from injury, replacing the cup tied Martin Boyle. Continue reading

European Rugby – Snowball’s Chance In Hell?

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To say that Leinster will define their season this Sunday is somewhat of an understatement. Pro 12 involvement on the line, consecutive defeats worse than anything in the last decade and a general air of division amongst their fans; this trip to Toulon didn’t need added importance but it has it now.

Matt O’Connor fielded 12 changes in the Pro 12 in an effort to distribute game time ahead of playing a team absolutely spoiled for choice. It wasn’t entirely illogical but what it means is that Leinster are essentially out of the league and this European Cup is all that remains to sign off in some style on a mixed 14/15 season. The obvious backlash here is that they’ve put more pressure on a game that really didn’t need anymore but for the sake of optimism let’s look at it from another angle – Leinster are head first throwing all of their weight into this weekend. Continue reading