Posts Tagged ‘ Georgia ’

The Goggle Box – Better Call Saul Continues Strong

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Full spoilers for Better Call Saul and The Walking Dead below.

Better Call Saul S01E03 – “Nacho”

In only 3 episodes Better Call Saul has completely set itself out on its own while simultaneously containing the same highly intelligent writing and humour that made Breaking Bad such a great show. It is telling that after this week I may even be ready to stop referencing BB within the first paragraph of these reviews, such is the strength of BCS on its own.

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Guinness Series – Lessons Learned Late For Ireland

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With such an experimental selection of was always going to be a little hodge podge from Ireland against Georgia. The scoreboard reflects a comprehensive victory, and other results mean they now sit at 3rd in the world rankings, but this was by no means a demolition of Tier 2 opposition and that’s not a bad thing. Here’s why.
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Guinness Series – Too Soon To Be Cocky?

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Yes we beat the second best team in the world, after they just beat the best. Yes the hype and hysteria was completely justified. Yes – all talk of winning the World Cup has ramped up massively. Maybe that isn’t quite so justified. Either way questions of whether or not Georgia can cause an upset here should be gone now. Without wanting to sound too cocky, the question is how much Ireland will win by.

Seven years ago Ireland nearly suffered a fate worse than death – elimination from the World Cup at the hands of Georgia. They were only squaring off in the second game of the pool, but suffice to say had Ireland fallen in that game none of the residual hope would have spilled into the games against France and Argentina. But the times have changed, as last week showed, and the chances of limping home by four points this time are nil. Continue reading

NFL: Football Returns As Packers Seek To Topple Seahawks

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It’s back. That other kind of football. The American one, where they throw the ball, wear all those big pads and make tackles with the velocity of lorries in fourth gear. The NFL never really goes away, because the draft has developed into a huge event with build-up starting the morning after the Super Bowl, and then pre-season training starts months in advance of the regular season. It is remarkable how the NFL has managed to be a year-round sport even though they only play for four months of the year. Maybe that’s why it is such a relief to have regular competition back now.

Thursday night will see the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks, kick the year off with a home game against the Green Bay Packers. No team has won successive Super Bowl’s since the Patriots in 2004/05, but the Seahawks were clearly the dominant side in the NFL last season. Although they have lost some talented guys, they look well positioned to reign once more. Continue reading

Could Irish Eyes Smile At Augusta?

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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

The Globalisation Of The NBA

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Brooklyn Nets kicked off the first global game of 2014 with a resounding 127-110 win over the Atlanta Hawks at London’s 02 Arena last Thursday.

Over the past 35 years the NBA have played 147 games globally, visiting 20 different countries including China, Germany, Italy and Russia amongst others.

Yet the globalisation of the NBA has extended far beyond bringing the game cross continent.  Continue reading

NFL Playoffs: Runners And Riders

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With only two games left to play in the regular season, it seems time for a comprehensive overview of the runners and riders for the playoff berths that are still to be decided. We already have three teams who have secured some kind of playoff game for themselves in January, but this is one of the most interesting periods in the NFL season, with everyone who is still mathematically in with a shout trying to claw their way forward for a shot at the Superbowl. Continue reading

Major Boost For Celtic Nations Euro 2020 Bid

On May 15th, as time was drawing to a close, the Celtic nations – composed of Ireland, Scotland and Wales – made it known to UEFA that they were interested in entering the race to host the 2020 European Championship. “We can confirm that we have had initial discussions on the principle of a joint bid with both Wales and the Republic of Ireland and have declared our interest to UEFA in order that we can fully explore the opportunity in more detail,” said the Scottish FA in a statement released to the press. A statement of interest is all that this is; the official bids won’t be made for another 18 months or so.

This isn’t the first time the Celtic countries have formed an alliance in an attempt to secure the European Championship. Some may remember with shame the fiasco that was Ireland and Scotland’s attempt at hosting Euro 2008. Despite being proclaimed as one of the best choices, Irish and Scottish football officials were shocked and dismayed to learn that not only did they fail to secure the competition, but their joint bid was never really a serious contender. Several reasons were behind this revelation, and perhaps reasons behind the addition of Wales in the current bid. Firstly, the issue of which Dublin stadiums were to be used was unresolved. The GAA refused to allow the use of Croke Park to host a foreign game, while the IRFU wanted a new stadium built-in exchange for the use of rugby’s Lansdowne Road. Fears were also raised by UEFA regarding the concentration of too many stadiums in one city – Glasgow held three of the required arenas and should several matches be scheduled there for the same day, security and control could have been a major issue. Further problems surrounding financial and political stability in Ireland gave organisers little choice but to move on to more suitable candidates.

Ten years after that failed attempt, things are looking better. The exclusion of the use of Croke Park was a stumbling block in 2002 yet the proceeding years have seen the playing of several international football games at the home of the GAA, and the temporary relaxation of Rule 42 (prohibiting foreign sports utilising GAA grounds) so as to allow Irish rugby a temporary home during the construction of their new stadium. Considering the potential advantages for the Gaelic organisation, one would think that a second relaxation of their ban might not be a difficult thing to negotiate.

In addition, the bid is made possible by issues surrounding their opponents. As of the May 15th deadline, only two other countries had put forward their name for contention – Turkey and Georgia. Turkish football is currently under intense scrutiny by Uefa following the match fixing scandal that rocked the federation. Fenerbache had been excluded from the Champions League this season, while their club chairman currently resides in jail, awaiting a verdict. Also affecting the Turks is the soaring chance of Istanbul being chosen to host the 2020 summer Olympics. Uefa’s President, Michel Platini, has warned that if Istanbul were to be awarded the Olympics, he wouldn’t vote for them. However, he needn’t worry. The International Olympic Committee had itself reminded the country of its rules – an Olympic host nation cannot hold another major sporting event in the same year. Speaking to the Press Association, a senior Uefa official commented on both situations, saying “this could be good news for Scotland, Wales and Ireland if they were to proceed with a bid.”

But the good news for the Irish, Scottish and of course the Welsh too, doesn’t just end there. In relation to the Georgian bid, the threat doesn’t seem to be overly great. Though the original plan had been to pursue a joint bid with fellow ex-Soviet country, Azerbaijan, the latter elected to focus their attention on the 2020 Olympics, and soon after it was announced that Georgia was now attempting a solo bid. However, hosting such major competitions on their own is beyond most countries. Ten stadia with a minimum of 30,000 seats and rising are required; Georgia’s biggest stadium seats 55,000 and is the only one to cross the 30,000 threshold until the Bantumi Stadium opens next year. With low average income and GDP and 34 per cent of the country living below the poverty line, it’s hard to see eight more suitable stadiums being constructed, especially when they will see minimal use once the Euros are over. In recent days, news has come through regarding Azerbaijan’s failed Olympics bid, and their intention to rebid for the Euros alongside Georgia once more. But considering they have only one 30,000 seater stadium at present, and a 65,000 arena planned for 2015, they would fall far short of Uefa’s requirements. The Celtic nations have everything in place already, bar the possibility of having to construct one extra stadium, Georgia/Azerbaijan would face a bill for at least six arenas.

Between the three countries that have banded together, there are seven possible stadiums that do already meet the criteria or could with a little upgrade. What could make or break this bid, just like the last time, is whether or not the GAA decides to play ball. Across the 32 counties, they have eleven stadiums above the 30,000 mark alone, many of which are far greater in size than, several more whose capacity could be increased with the addition of a few thousand more seats. Now perhaps only a few, Páirc Úi Chaoimh or Semple Stadium, for example, might be actually usable. But France 2016 will be using ten stadiums, and with the GAA’s help, the three countries could easily match this.

But are three host countries too much, taking up 3 automatic slots? Three joint hosts aren’t exactly unheard of but usually one or two countries band together to shoulder the burden. And with all of these stories being thrown around about the ‘Celtic nations’, one little state in the middle of all this must be feeling left out and a little angry. Four host countries are far too much, two would nearly be better. So what about a joint bid with Northern Ireland? After all, our footballing world has been quite bound up with theirs in the last number of years. Northern footballers are entitled to play for the Republic, and have done so time and time again, and not to the best reception north of the border. Perhaps it is time to reconcile and offer the hand of peace. Through showing off their players in our jersey on the island as a whole. Joking aside though, there is a small possibility that it might work. Again, we would need the GAA’s help to succeed, as well as some stadium renovation north and south of the border. I won’t be as naïve to suggest that this could do something to heal the tension that still exists on both sides of the border once and for all. But surely a joint hosting of an event of such magnitude could do something good for relations between our two states? And perhaps a joint effort at hosting the summer championships in 2020 could bring both football associations back on more cordial terms since the FAI broke away to form their own organisation south of the border all those decades ago. At the very least, it’ll ensure they qualify for the event, not to mention ourselves, so on that basis they might go for it. And even more unlikely but still possible, such a venture, were it to go well, might allow for thoughts of a united Irish football team to begin to swirl back to the surface once more.

Considering there are 18 months left until concrete bids are submitted to Uefa, we might as well use the time to consider our plans as well as our alternatives. Discussion isn’t concrete and it doesn’t do any harm. What we do know is that the Euros are between a country that can’t really afford to host, one that seems quite preoccupied with the Olympics and then our own band of merry suitors. With the deck so stacked in our favour, God help us if we can’t manage to win this time around.

Superstars Return for Wrestlemania 27

Will Triple H be the man to end Undertaker`s streak?

WWE has pulled out all the stops ahead of this year`s Wrestlemania, bringing back many of their top stars to add excitement to the upcoming event.

In recent weeks The Rock has been announced as the special guest host of the event while Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels have also been plucked from retirement to enhance the event which will take place on April 3rd at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

This year`s showpiece event has echoes reminiscent of last year, with the biggest match not been for any title but for one of the greatest streaks in sports entertainment history.

Last year The Heart Break kid Shawn Michaels tried to do what no man had ever done before, beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Michaels put his career on the line and fell just short of ending the deadman`s streak in a pulsating bout.

This year it is the turn of Triple H, Michaels old D-generation X partner, to try and end Undertaker`s 18 match winning streak at the event. The eight time WWE Champion competed against the Phenom at Wrestlemania 10 years ago but will be hopeful of a different outcome this time around.

Elsewhere on the card at the showcase of the immortals, both the WWE and the World Heavyweight Titles will be defended. WWE Champ The Miz will defend his title against John Cena in an eagerly anticipated grudge match that has been building up steam for months.

World Heavyweight Champion Edge will be defending his title against the brash and arrogant newcomer that is Alberto Del Rio. The Mexican won the Royal Rumble back in January thus earning himself a title shot against the champion of his choice at Wrestlemania. Edge will be gunning to get his hands on Del Rio, who has been a constant thorn in his side since the rumble.

Elsewhere on the card two time WWE Champion Sheamus will tackle Daniel Bryan for his United States title. CM Punk will face Randy Orton in a fiery contest with the latter looking to end the career of the Nexus leader. Ring veteran Jerry “The King “ Lawler will step into the squared circle once again to tackle his former broadcast partner Michael Cole.

Irregardless of what happens in Atlanta, this year`s Wrestlemania has all the ingredients to eclipse the greatest wrestling pay per views of all time.