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Posts Tagged ‘ Kildare ’

Premier League Stars Who Began Careers As Fledgling GAA Players

With the Irish GAA League and the English Premier League having just finished up and players, fans and commentators already looking forward to the summer’s Championship, Irish News Review takes a look at footballers who might have made it big in GAA were it not for their love of the beautiful game.

5 – Stephen Hunt

Stephen Hunt currently plays in left midfield for Premier League side, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and for Ireland’s international team. Born in Laois he spent most of his childhood in Clonea-Power, County Waterford and grew up around hurling and Gaelic football. The two local villages were GAA centres, one football and the other hurling and he recalls his first image as that of a hurley in his grandmother’s house. “It was more hurling, hurling, hurling, to be honest, when I was little.” He built for himself the reputation of a quick corner forward and had he kept going, may have challenged further stars in that position years later – Dan Shanahan or John Mullane. Evidently the young Hunt had some measure of talent; he represented Waterford at both under-16 level and at the Tony Forristal Cup. His father joked that he committed a mortal sin in GAA circles by selecting soccer over hurling. Hunt began playing at Waterford County where he met future Manchester United star John O’Shea and soon moved across the water as a trainee with Crystal Palace. Following four years at Brentford FC he left Griffin Park to ply his trade at Reading and Hull before transferring to Premier League side Wolves in 2010, where he still plays today, still known for the speed and work rate playing as a teenager for Clonea-Power GAA.

4 – Niall Quinn

Niall Quinn, noted for his ability as a striker both in the air and on the ground, is often considered as one of the best soccer players the country has produced. Some, however, may not know that it was in Gaelic games he got his first sporting start, and still continues to shine. The young Quinn excelled in both sports, playing his football for Robert Emmets in Dublin, and underage hurling and football for the Dublin inter country team, playing in the All Ireland Minor Hurling Championship Final in 1983. He turned down a potentially lucrative offer to play Australian Rules football before settling on soccer as his sport of choice. After an unsuccessful trial at Fulham he joined North London giants, Arsenal, signing a professional contract at just seventeen years of age. March 1990 saw his transfer to Manchester City where he became a huge favourite of the Citizens. A bad injury ended his City career and he finished his football life at Sunderland, returning soon after his retirement with an investment consortium, eventually securing their survival in the Premier League. But his love of Sunderland was matched by that of the Gaelic games and following his retirement from football, Quinn returned to the Gaelic arena, winning a Junior C county title with Kildare club side Eadestown.

3 – Denis Irwin

Denis Irwin, born in County Cork, was one of the most consistent players to ever play under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson, part of the treble winning team of 1999, and chosen by Bobby Charlton was one of the best players the club has ever seen. In his younger days, however, Irwin’s future was supposed to be played out on not on the pitch at Old Trafford but those of Croke Park and Páirc Uí Chaoimh and he was mentored by John Allen, whose own future would see him manage the Cork senior hurling team to an All-Ireland Championship in 2005, not to mention back to back Munster titles. Irwin himself saw his sporting career elsewhere and he began with Leeds United, then playing in the old football Division Two and was given a free transfer to Oldham Athletic. In perhaps one of the bargains of the century, Alex Ferguson signed Irwin for £625,000 in 1990 and the rest, as they say, is history.

2 – Shane Long

Born in Gortnahoe, County Tipperary, Shane Long was born into a county with a rich hurling pedigree. A talented athlete, it was perhaps no surprise that he played both Gaelic football and hurling for local club Gortnahoe-Glencoole GAA before graduating to the Tipperary minor team under Babs Keating. He playing in Croke Park in the All-Ireland Minor Semi-Finals in 2003 and 2004 as a forward with some pace, unaware he would be back again in the not too distant future, this time in the green shirt of the Irish football team. Long had also played youth soccer with St. Kevin’s in Two Mile Borris before moving on to St. Michael’s in 2002 and then Cork City two years later. Reading coach Eamonn Dolan, whose brother Pat managed Cork City, saw promise in Long and fellow Cork player, Kevin Doyle and Long signed for the English club in 2005. Despite an excellent final season for the club he signed for West Midlands side West Bromwich Albion in August 2011, marking his debut with a goal against Manchester United. Long was reputed as a fast paced hurler with a potential for goals and during his Premier League career thus far has done little to change that reputation.

 1 – Seamus Coleman

Rising Everton star, Seamus Coleman, recently went on record to state how his early background in Gaelic football helped establish himself as a Premier League footballer. “Gaelic was always my number one,” he told The Guardian. “I played bits and pieces of soccer but I didn’t have a serious commitment to it.” As a young lad in Donegal, Coleman regularly played for the underage teams and he believes this gave him a tougher edge over his opponents and a distinct disliking for play acting indulged in by bigger names, something which would be ignored by a Gaelic referee and laughed at by the supporters. Though he felt Gaelic football was his calling, an opportunity in soccer came a-knocking when Sligo Rovers offered him €150 a week to join their side. Following a recommendation from former Rover’s player/manager Willie McStay he was signed by Premier League side, Everton where he has managed to break into the first team on the right side of the park and was nominated for a PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2011. Gaelic football remains an important part of the Donegal man’s life and he still keeps up with the fortunes of his old club, Killybegs.

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No Limit Wrestling Brings Bank Holiday Beatdown To Naas

Why The Moat?

by Jamie Colman – No Limit Wrestling promoter

I often get asked, “why do you always promote your main shows in the Moat Theatre in Naas?” Usually Dublin fans ask because they wonder why the shows aren’t in the Capital. Well, The Moat Theatre has become the ‘NLW Arena’ in a lot of ways.

The first No Limit Wrestling show in the Moat was way back in September 2006. Since then, we have returned there several times a year. We have a fan base there and new fans come all the time. It’s a theatre, so the production values we can offer are far superior to what we could offer in a GAA hall for example. The theatre is not over-sized. It offers an intimate setting, which makes the experience far better for both fan and performer.

Note to Dublin fans: Naas is only a short distance away from the ‘Big Smoke’. The N7 brings you directly into Naas in less than half an hour, and with more and more bus services nowadays, there’s no excuses.

Coming up on Monday 7th May, we present ‘Bank Holiday Beatdown’ from The Moat Theatre in Naas. This will be the second visit this year to the theatre. At the last show titled ‘New Year Bash’ in January, “Suicide Machine” Paddy Morrow became the NLW Champion. It haunted Morrow for years not becoming Champion. He missed every opportunity he had and people told him he didn’t “look” like a Heavyweight Champion and that while in the ring, his talent was probably the best in the country, chances are he could never become NLW Champion. He proved the critics wrong on January 22nd 2012 when he pinned Dunkan Disorderly for the Championship and the loyal fans in the Moat Theatre almost blew the roof off the place with applause. Morrow must defend the title on May 7th, and prove he isn’t just a fluke champion. With challengers lining up however, Paddy’s title reign could be short lived.

If you feel like checking out our Bank Holiday Beatdown show on Monday May 7th, call the Moat Box Office to book tickets (seating is reserved so early booking is advised to choose best seats) on 045-883030. Tickets are €12 and showtime is 3.00pm on the day.

For a feel of what our shows are like inside the Moat Theatre check out the highlights of our 5th Anniversary show last September.

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

Dark Past Re-emerging in Tallaght As Turf War Erupts

It was once the place often at the end of many jokes, a not so picturesque suburb of Dublin and a place ripe with unemployment.

Times had changed in Tallaght. Crime was on the downturn and a regeneration seemed to be working well for all. Parts of the community changed for the better with high rise buildings, hotels and businesses all setting up shop in South Dublin.

Then of course there was the return of Shamrock Rovers to its spiritual home with its impressive new stadium. The success of the club further boosted the local economy as they went on to win back to back league titles and became the first Irish side ever to enter the Europa League group stages. High profile clashes against giants like Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur seemed inconceivable at one date yet they came to fruition much to the benefit of the local community.

The culture of life in Tallaght had become so immersed that TV3 even went as far as commissioning a reality TV show entitled Tallafornia. The concept which is based on that of MTV`s hit shows Jersey Shore and Geordie Shore depicts a typical lifestyle for seven party hard individuals. While the show has been condemned by many for its antics it has nonetheless proved a ratings winner for TV3.

But just as Tallaght seemed to have taken a turn for the better things radically changed that brought everything back into perspective.

Crime was minimal in the area until the shocking murder of innocent 16 year old Melanie McCarthy McNamara who was gunned down as she sat in a car with her boyfriend and two others on February 7th last.   Her killing has been blamed on an indiscriminate attack linked to a feud involving local groups with links to the Travelling community and disputes over drugs. It is widely believed that her boyfriend Christopher Moran was the intended target.

Gardaì have since recovered the murder weapon and two men from Athy in County Kildare are currently been held in relation to the murder which has brought back elements of fear and panic to this sprawling community.

Following the murder there has been a huge presence of armed Gardaì on the streets of Tallaght yet in recent nights there have been numerous shootings not too far away from the murder scene.

On Tuesday evening Gardaì were called to a scene at Bawnlea Avenue in the Old Bawn area of Tallaght where there had been reports of shots been fired. Two cars which were believed to have been involved in the incident have been recovered a long with a small number of shotgun cartridges. No arrests have been made.

Last night Gardaì where then called to another disturbance in Bawnlea where a number of shots were fired at a car which was unoccupied at the time. Local councillors and TD`s have been quick to admonish those involved citing that the local community is now living in fear of been caught up in this apparent turf war that has erupted.

The history of Tallaght is such that it has always been somewhat hostile yet that element of life seemed to have disappeared in previous years. However this recent spate of attacks including the gruesome murder of Melanie have shown that crime is never too far from the surface.

Gardaì and the local community must dramatically increase their efforts if they are to prevent any such atrocities occurring again. In this case though there is no short term solution to what has been a long term problem.

Mayor of Naas will not offer help to Black Africans

Councillor Darren Scully, the mayor of Naas, Co Kildare, has stated that he will no longer be offering any assistance to the African residents of his community.
He made this decision, he says, after receiving a lot of aggression from representatives of the coloured community and has decided that he will no longer work with them. Scully was eager to stress that this view is his alone and does not reflect the views of Naas County Council as a whole. Any black African who came to him, he has stated, will be referred to another colleague.

Darren Scully with Enda Kenny

In an interview with radio station KFM, Mr Scully said the following;

“I have been met with aggressiveness and bad manners…I have also been met with the race card, (they say) ‘Oh yeah, you will help white people, but you don’t help black people’.

“So after a while I made a decision that I was just not going to take on representations from black Africans, that I would be very courteous to them and I would pass on their query to other public representatives.

“Everything I do as a councillor is for the general good…It saddens me that people would call me a racist, because I’m not.”

Irish Footballtennis Team to Take Centre Stage in Cyprus

The Irish squad will be heading off to the European Championships a lot sooner than you think. With Euro 2012 over six months away, get behind the other boys in green who are representing Ireland in the European Footballtennis Championships this week. The Irish footballtennis team – Jamie Mulrooney (captain), Steven Conway, Emmet Ó Mordha and Liam Hynes – have just landed in Cyprus to compete against nine other teams in what promises to be an exciting tournament of an ever-growing sport.

Footballtennis or ‘Futnet’ is a football-based game played on a court with similar dimensions to that of a tennis court. Despite its links with soccer and tennis, the sport holds its own identity and unique style of play. It originated in central Europe in the 1930s and remains most popular there. However, it is gradually becoming more popular in countries such as Ireland. Footballtennis has three basic disciplines – singles, doubles and triples – and is played competitively by men (over 18) , women (over 18), juniors (16 – 18), youngsters (13 – 15), children (12 and under) and veterans. The Irish team play in all three disciplines. Flexibility is imperative in the sport, especially in the groin, hamstring and the legs as the net used in the game is a meter in height. The whole body receives a workout as players utilise somewhat dormant muscles and also engage their backs, arms, hips, gluts, calves and ankles as they block and spike the ball over the net.

The Irish squad received a baptism of fire as their first competitive foray into the sport just so happened to be last year’s World Championships in Instanbul. However, team member Steven Conway acknowledges that the European Championships will be a tougher tournament as the sport’s best teams hail from eastern and central Europe. He says, “We are expecting a tough competition but we are looking forward to seeing how far we have actually come in the last year!”

The team split their training between Maynooth in Co Kildare and Ballina in Co Mayo, playing up to four times a week.

It’s fair to say the Irish footballtennis team had a somewhat unlikely but quite serendipitous start. Steven remembers how, in September of last year, he and a group of his college friends where heading home from the astro turf pitch in Maynooth, bemoaning the fact they missed out on their weekly game of football as the pitch was booked out. They happened to pass by a couple of empty tennis courts and started to knock the ball around there. Before long, a proper game was in progress. Steven recalls, “That evening back at the lads’ house we were talking about how we all used to play football on tennis courts when we were younger and we wondered if there was anything on the internet about it.” An online search led to the discovery of FIFTA – the international governing body of footballtennis. On the organisation’s website there was mention of a world championships coming up three months later in Istanbul. Better still, there was free accommodation and food for the participating teams, and, at the time, no Irish team to take part.

Steven says, “We laughed about entering a team and our friend Jamie [Mulrooney] sent a hopeful email explaining how we would love to compete in the tournament. A week or two later, to our surprise, the president of FIFTA replied to our email and explained that there were two wildcard places up for grabs. The cost of flights to Istanbul was €360, a bit steep for students, but this was an opportunity to represent our country at an international level – we didn’t care if we had to eat peanuts for the next few weeks to afford it, we were going!”

Nine weeks of intense training ensued in what was by far the coldest winter Ireland had seen in years. Not knowing what to expect when they landed in Instanbul, the team were happy enough to just win a few points per game. Twelve teams in total competed in the championship and Ireland were pitted against some of the best on their first day of professional playing. Despite a few heavy defeats, the team also won a game and pushed host nation Turkey to the very limit. Steven notes, “We had now found our feet and knew our place. The next day we were put into a play-off to see which teams would finish from 8th to 12th. This was between ourselves, Serbia, Georgia, and India. After a close game with the Serbs we managed to actually beat the Georgians and Indians to give Ireland its first international footballtennis victories and claim 10th spot in the World Championships!”

Having competed against some of the best football tennis teams in the world, the squad realised they had a responsibility to lay a foundation for the sport in Ireland. They spoke to some of the players, coaches and president of the sport in order to get some advice. The general consensus was to apply to the national sports council for funding and to continue promoting the sport in Ireland. The team compiled a 20,000 word funding application for the Irish Sports Council in which they outlined their constitution, aims and beliefs. They also documented the physical and psychological benefits of the sport and how they planned to utilise it as an integration tool for the sizable eastern European community in our country due to the sport’s popularity there.

In order to spread the footballtennis word, the team set up a website, uploaded a number of YouTube videos and kept in regular contact with the media. A documentary following the team’s story will be released online shortly.

 

In May of this year, Steven and Jamie attended the Footballtennis World Congress in Hungary. At this meeting the FIFTA president and existing members voted the Irish squad in as a full member of the organisation and so the Footballtennis Association of Ireland (FTAI) was now officially recognised. FIFTA went one further by offering Ireland the chance to host the next Footballtennis World Championships. As many of the team originally hail from the west of Ireland, it was hoped that the tournament could be held in Castlebar, Co  Mayo.

However, the Irish Sports Council have since informed the FTAI that they are not eligible for funding as they haven’t been an organisation for the necessary two years. The hosting of such a championship would have brought vital revenue to the country and further promoted this upcoming sport – a missed opportunity that will hopefully come to fruition at a future stage. Despite this disappointment, The ISC has put the FTAI in contact with the Football Association of Ireland whose grassroots development officer is exploring ways in which he can help develop the sport here. Steven says, “With the right financial backing we could host a World Championship in this country and have the first Irish women’s and junior footballtennis teams compete along side our men’s team. Bringing over 16 different countries in three disciplines would bring over 400 people from the teams alone. To support a national team as they host a world cup is an opportunity any business should be proud to be part of.”

Notwithstanding the setbacks incurred due to financial and emigration woes, the team are now thriving under the skilful watch of coach Juraj Holkovic – a former footballtennis player and coach from Slovakia (one of the top two footballtennis teams in the world). Juraj now lives in Longford and got in touch with the Irish squad after he heard about them in the media following their participation in last year’s world championships. Steven feels Juraj’s input now ensures the team are being trained to the very highest standard, saying their knowledge of the game has increased hugely.

The Irish team are now top of the recently established monthly Northern Ireland Footballtennis League in Belfast. They are also in regular contact with the new English footballtennis team so there is the possibility of a Tri Nations Cup sometime in the future. The FTAI also hope hoping to set up a club in Sligo in the new year in order to strengthen the foundations of the sport in this country so that footballtennis will remain a sport here for years to come.

For further information about footballtennis, check out the FIFTA and Futnet websites.

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