A fan gets some early practice for Euro 2016

A fan gets some early practice for Euro 2016

“There’s less than a minute to go. Christian Mouritsen, the Faroes workhorse lone attacker – just one of many heroes tonight – brings the ball into the corner to eat up a few more precious seconds. He shields the ball from Philipp Lahm. Frustrated, the German captain kicks out at his opponent and the assistant flags for a free kick. Surely this will be the last kick of the game? IN FACT THEY WONT EVEN GET TIME TO TAKE IT!! THE FAROE ISLANDS ARE GOING TO EURO 2016 AT THE EXPENSE OF THREE TIME WORLD CHAMPIONS GERMANY!!”

In the category of ‘Sports Commentary We’re Most Likely To Hear in 2015’ the above would probably nestle somewhere alongside, “….8,9,10 and Mayweather is out for the count! And who would have thought it would be octogenarian funnyman Ronnie Corbett who’d bring Floyd’s unbeaten run to an end?!”

So unlikely is either scenario that the average bookmaker would probably offer similar odds on both. But leaving a discussion on the pugilistic merits of cardigan-wearing diminutive comedians to another day, let’s just deal with the first of the far-fetched hypothetical upsets. Read the rest of this entry »

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A typical DART, ie stationary

A typical DART, ie stationary

 

Whilst there is no doubt the leaves of Autumn lend a simple rustic beauty to our pre-Winter landscape, for many they represent little more than an annual three month headache, coming as they do with all their inherent nuisance qualities. From farmers to gardeners, from road-sweepers to home owners, the half-ounce menace that is the leaf wreaks its havoc far and wide. However, there can be no group more acutely or adversely affected from leaf fall as the Irish public transport user.

For the hundreds of thousands who rely on public transport to get to and from their place of work every day in this country, the sight of early Autumn leaf fall is met with the same sense of dread as the dark mornings and the drop in temperatures. Read the rest of this entry »

"Go on, just one impertinent question. I dare you!"

“Go on, just one impertinent question. I dare you!”

Football journalists up and down the country can be forgiven for thinking they’re living in a parallel universe over the next few weeks as their erstwhile bully-in-chief, Sir Alex Ferguson, dusts off his charm and happily sits through interview after interview, as he attempts to shift a few extra units of his much-anticipated follow-up autobiography.

For twenty long, gruelling – not to mention humiliating – years, the football media fraternity was on the receiving end of one Ferguson shoeing after another. From the weekly ‘hair drier’ treatment to outright threats of violence; from being banned from Manchester United Land and effectively starved of a living to being routinely dismissed as ‘a bunch of fuckin idiots’, it’s fair to say that were the UK football media a dog and Ferguson its owner, the former United boss would have served at least a stint or two at her Majesties pleasure for cruelty to animals. Read the rest of this entry »

Liverpool's fame is far greater than the current team merits

Liverpool’s fame is far greater than the current team merits

 

Liverpool’s recent pre-season tour of South-East Asia and Australia perfectly demonstrated the paradox in which the Merseysiders currently exist. For whilst the lucrative four-match tour may have provided the club with a welcome reminder of the enormous global popularity they retain, with fans snapping up every available ticket to cheer on their beloved team from the stands, down on the pitch the body language of their want-away star forward Luis Suarez spoke volumes of just how far the team’s on-field stock has fallen in recent times. The club as a brand can rightly claim to reside among the game’s elite but the same cannot be said of the team, where a succession of mid table finishes have firmly established the Anfield side among the distant second tier of the Premier League. Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to a Ground Near You?

Coming to a Ground Near You?

A world without war; Sky Sports News free of hyperbole; a corrupt-free FIFA – next season’s Premiership promises to trump all of the above in terms of the unimaginable: a Premier league campaign with no Alex Ferguson.

So large has Ferguson’s shadow loomed over the landscape of English football that the great Scot’s departure from the Manchester United hotseat has ensured next season promises to be the most open title race for years. Ferguson’s retirement, it can be argued, will affect the hopes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal just as much as United themselves.

In truth Ferguson’s departure couldn’t have come at a worse time for the great soap opera that is the Premier League. With more and more of the games top stars choosing to ply their trade in Spain, Italy and nouveau riche France and Russia, the last thing the English game needed was to lose it’s JR Ewing. Whether one regarded Ferguson as the greatest manager in the history of the game or a manipulative bully, constantly found out in Europe, there’s no denying the Scot was compelling viewing. Read the rest of this entry »

Pheonix From the Baize?

Pheonix From the Baize?

What a difference a year makes. Only twelve short months ago Irish snooker enthusiasts were bemoaning what seemed an incurable apathy towards their sport, as they struggled to convince the counties youth to swap their games consoles for a cue and the green baize.

Senior figures outlined the struggle to unearth the games next generation, with Jim Leacy, then Chairman of the Irish Snooker and Billiards Association observing, “these days we aren’t just competing with other sports, we’re competing with iPads, Box Sets and all the rest.” With less and less snooker halls nationwide to sate the tiny appetite of an indifferent public, many were questioning the long term viability of the game. Read the rest of this entry »

"I Know, I can't believe it either!"

“I Know, I can’t believe it either!”

Anyone looking to measure the contribution made by foreign managers to the Premier League would do well to avoid the LMA (League Managers Association) roll of honours- a list with as much of a cosmopolitan feel as your average BNP rally. Since its inauguration in 1994 only one manager from outside the British Isles has been acknowledged by his peers as that season’s highest achiever, with Arsene Wenger winning in 2002 and again in 2004.

By contrast the annual bauble has been collected by an Englishman on a record seven occasions, with Danny Wilson, Peter Reid, George Burley, Roy Hodgson, Frank Clarke, Alan Pardew and Steve Coppell all receiving higher recognition from their peers than the likes of Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Benitez – all of whom won either domestic or European trophies during their time in England. It’s an extraordinary statistic when one considers that none of the aforementioned Englishmen have so much as a league cup between them. Read the rest of this entry »

A Toffee Once Again....?

A Toffee Once Again….?

So, the enigmatic, talismanic figurehead is no more. The faithful have lost their guiding light, their man of the people. What will the future hold now? If, indeed, there is a future…..

So voluminous and earnest have been this week’s obituaries for Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United career, one could be forgiven for drawing parallels with a South American country that’s lost the most charismatic and beloved President in their history. But unlike former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’ heartbeat, the Rooney Saga goes on and on….

When tasked with producing Rooney-related tattle, the media rarely feel overly taxed, such is the bounty of scurrilous rumours and hearsay upon which they can draw to post copy every week. Whether the gossip is football themed or of the more personal nature, (Rooney and his fashion designer wife Coleen seem to enjoy permanent residence inside the pages of the glossy mags), Brand Rooney never appear far from the public’s minds eye. Read the rest of this entry »

The Muzzle Comes Free....

The Muzzle Comes Free….

Perhaps had Luis Suarez slept with his sister-in-law, urinated on a homeless man, cheated on his pregnant wife with a prostitute or intentionally set out to end a fellow players career, the incessant din of the moralising media blowhards would have been less migraine-inducing. But then again maybe it wouldn’t because as the Uruguayan himself recently observed, the name Suarez sells.

Whilst undoubtedly an insanely stupid act, Suarez’ bite on Branislav Ivanovic doesn’t begin to compare with the aforementioned misdemeanours of certain figures in the English game and, if anything, merely hovers somewhere between certifiable and hilarious. Among the more hysterical over-reactions have been calls for Liverpool to tear up Suarez’ contract and thereby relieve the club of its one remaining asset of significant value. It’s an idiotic suggestion if for no other reason than the precedent of sacking misbehaving players would lead to most match day line-ups consisting of an assortment of physios and tea ladies. Read the rest of this entry »

Between a rock and a hard place

Between a rock and a hard place

There can be no doubt that as a society we are obsessed with crime, from our favourite TV cop shows to the sensationalist glorification of any two-bit hood adorning the front pages of the Sunday red tops. Nothing sets the collective pulse racing like a daring heist or a whodunit murder. Yep, crime sells and the more gory the better.

However, last week’s media coverage shifted the spotlight onto murder’s considerably less-loved cousin, burglary. From Rté’s fascinating interview with Padraig Nally to the rolling coverage of the Oscar Pistorius saga in South Africa, burglary at last seemed to receive a share of media coverage commensurate with its meteoric rise in the latest crime statistics. Read the rest of this entry »