first_imgRAINING IN THE REALITY AS DUBS RECLAIM SAMWhat a relief that All-Ireland Final must have been for the rest of the nation’s county set-ups. There we were being told by all the experts that (a) this was the dream Final and (b) this was the way it was going to be for the foreseeable future, Dublin and Kerry fighting it out for the honour of accommodating Sam Maguire for a year.Declan with some of the Dublin team and ‘Sam’Dream Final? Only if you fancy dreaming of squibs as damp as the day that was in it (and, yes, the conditions did play some part but only some. This is Ireland for God’s sake, we should be used to trying to perform in every manner of weather). And was Rory Gallagher and his backroom staff – and every other footballing management structure in the county – shaking with serious anxiety at the prospect of meeting these two giants of the G.A.A. world next year or any other year after it? Don’t think so. Not on these performances.Yes, the Dubs did produce some purple passages of play and thoroughly merited reclaiming Mr. Maguire (no relation to the Mr. Maguire of this parish to whom, I suppose, it’s only right and fitting that this column extends heartiest congratulations given that he managed to get back to work on Monday morning after watching his beloved Blues rain down on the Kerry parade).But this was an error-strewn contest with countless passes going astray and the football fumbled on too many occasions to make for enjoyable watching (well done to Stephen Cluxton for managing to keep a grip on Sam at the end). Again the conditions can be partly blamed with Michael Lyster & Co. on R.T.E. at pains to repeat at every available opportunity in defence of the seventy-minute slog we were viewing that if the downpour looked bad on T.V., it was much worse in close-up reality.Hardly a Final that will live long in the memory except for The Hill occupiers and fellow travellers and one that even our own Mark McHugh could hardly, even in a moment of lording it over other codes, label as the best game in the world. It will, of course, be entirely different in Donegal this weekend when the Senior Championship semi-finals take place.MacCumhaill Park will, I soundly predict, host at least one classic and you can take your pick from the battle of the Saints on Saturday evening, Eunan’s and Michael’s, and the subsequent meeting on Sunday afternoon of Naomh Conaill and Kilcar.I’ve a sneaky feeling that St. Michael’s will win through to the Final and a less sneaky one that Kilcar will join them there.But then I thought the All-Ireland Final was going to be a decent game.MINOR MATTERS If it’s true that you can’t serve two masters, then it probably also holds good for suggesting that G.A.A. players must inevitably find it difficult when they’re involved in both football and hurling particularly when they may find themselves in the latter stages of inter-county competition.The respective managers of the Tipperary and Kerry Minor teams differed in their reactions to the fact that the Premier County had players involved in both codes but ironically it was Charlie McGeever who insisted they wouldn’t be making excuses after their heavy loss to the Kingdom in Sunday’s Final “and certainly not the fact so many of them were involved in the minor hurling final too.” His counterpart in the Kerry camp, the legendary Jack O’Connor, did, however, throw in that fact as an excuse pointing that his team’s preparations showed while Tipp’s had been disrupted by the hurling. “They only had two weeks, we had four,” he declared.It certainly showed on the field. While McGeever’s men could only dig out six points over the hour, their opponents ran rampant from the start, knocking in, and over, respectively four goals and fourteen points. Come on, Charlie, while it’s honourable of you not to cite the hurling involvement as a likely reason for this complete collapse, it surely played a big part in the failure of your team to match the occasion, or Kerry, in any way.Particularly after so many of your lads had already tasted All-Ireland Final defeat in the Minor Hurling showdown a couple of weeks previously.See you on home soil one of these days, Charlie, and we can argue about it over a pint.COBH HONOURS SONIA AS HARPS KEEP ON RUNNINGOn the weekend when Cobh unveiled a statue honouring the great Sonia O’Sullivan, Finn Harps were in town looking to remain firmly in the running for promotion. It may not yet be written in stone but the lone goal victory – courtesy of one of the contenders for player of the season, Tony McNamee – at St. Colman’s Park has certainly brought them within touching distance of the play-off tape. The fact that they travelled without the regular central defensive pairing of Keith Cowan and Thomas McMonagle and came away without conceding a goal says a lot though when you have Packie Mailey and Matt Crossan to call on as replacements it helps.That old term ‘mathematically’ continues to crop up when it comes to claiming the First Division title and automatic promotion but even my maths couldn’t place Harps in that rosy picture. It’s been Wexford Youths title for some time now particularly after completing the double over U.C.D. over the past couple of weekends.The students come to Finn Park this Friday night seeking to close the points gap to two between the sides but whatever the outcome it looks close to a certainty that Harps and U.C.D. will meet in the first of those play-offs. And that will still be the case should Harps win all their remaining three matches and U.C.D. lose all theirs which, as I said here recently, doesn’t make any kind of sense and dismisses the whole concept of finishing above your rivals as a – though not literally – pointless exercise.Despite currently going through a shaky spell, the Dubliners will still provide the sternest of tests for Ollie Horgan’s men as indeed will be the side one or other of them meet in the promotion/relegation play-off. As things stand, it can be any team from Limerick, Sligo Rovers, Drogheda United, Galway United, Derry City or Longford Town with six points separating the bottom half dozen in the Premier Division. At present, Sligo occupy the second from basement spot but that could well change – will definitely change – after this weekend’s fixtures.A HOLE LOT OF CELEBRATION FOR PADDYDateline: 21st September, 2014. Location: Letterkenny Golf Club or, more precisely, the 8th hole. And Paddy O’Gorman lines up his tee shot (164 yards from the white tee) using a seven iron. Hole-in-one! Celebrations all round and Paddy dancing a jig. Forward on to September 16th, 2015. Same location. Same hole. Same player. Same outcome! Some achievement.The only difference is that Paddy was teeing off from the blue tee and the distance on this occasion was 180 yards. And he used a six iron.Next September, he’s planning to use his putter to see how that goes.SPRINGBOKS FAIL IN OVERTURNING JAPANESEGood to get Canada out of the way in such emphatic fashion. There has been too many occasions in Ireland’s rugby past that they have been expected to comfortably overturn one of the game’s minnows and it’s rarely turned out the way it should.But that was the soundest of starts for Joe Schmidt’s men to the 2015 World Cup and we can expect similar when Romania attempt to upset the odds on Sunday.Not that many of us are talking too much about it with all focus still on that stunning victory by Japan over the Springbok. Truly one of the great sporting moments and, some might say, the greatest given the fact that the Japanese had only recorded one win in previous World Cups and were up against the two time World Champions. Awarded a couple of late penalties well within range and just three points behind at that stage they could have looked to secure what would have been an incredible draw. But, no, on they went until they got over the line to send South African rugby into the doldrums.The Japanese haven’t had much time to recover from their heroics as they face Scotland today. Sorry, Scotland, but for once – well, actually more than once – we won’t be cheering for you on this occasion.Meanwhile, I sincerely hope that one Christopher Rogers from Donegal has been reunited with his wallet which he lost in Cardiff on the day of the Ireland/Canada clash. A Facebook user kindly put social media to good use by revealing that they had found said wallet complete with credit card, driving licence and return ticket to London and wanted to return it to its owner.At least you have a genuine hope of getting it back into your possession, Christopher – South Africa can’t ever reclaim the points they lost on Saturday and don’t have much credit from it either.INSPIRATION FROM THE PASTSport never ceases to surprise or to throw up the incredible. And it’s not just Japan’s remarkable win in the rugby World Cup that had me repeating this mantra over the weekend.My significant other half pointed me in the direction of the story of American athlete, Elizabeth Robinson, who, perhaps, has already been the subject of a film and, if not, should be.It was her high school’s assistant track coach who initially spotted her athletic talent when he saw her running to catch a train in her home town of Riverdale of Illinois. He subsequently persuaded the young Elizabeth to run a fifty metre dash at school. She did it in record time and a star was born.After taking part in just three competitive races in her young career, she qualified for both the 4×400 and the 100 metre events at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam at the age of sixteen.Consequently she was part of the American team that travelled by boat – a nine day crossing which involved the athletes practicing on a quarter mile linoleum track on board – before arriving in the Dutch capital. Elizabeth reached the final of the 100 metres and lined up with five other athletes for the medal decider. Two of the finalists were disqualified after jumping the gun and Robinson prepared with the remaining three to wait for the official start. She was up against Canadian, Fanny Rosenfield, who had beaten her in a previous event. In the final few yards of her first ever Olympic Games, Robinson pulled away from the field to claim gold in a time of 12.2 seconds. She had only been involved in the running game for four months and to this day remains the youngest women ever to win the 100 metres at the Olympics.But it looked certain that her running days were over when, in the middle of preparations for the next Olympic Games, she was involved in a plane crash in her home State in June, 1931. She escaped death but suffered a broken leg, a crushed arm, and a cracked hip with a pin inserted in the leg to hold the bone together, resulting in one of her limbs being slightly shorter than the other. Her doctors told her: “You will never race again.”Three years of physical therapy followed and when she attempted to run again after that, Robinson discovered, not surprisingly, that her speed had lapsed somewhat. Still, she considered she could still make the American team for the 1936 Olympics and after months of a hard training regime, she had done enough to qualify for the 4×400 relays.The U.S. reached the Olympic Final and took home the gold medal with Elizabeth Robinson among the quartet.She retired from active participation after this but continued to inspire young athletes of the time right up until her death at the age of 87.But surely still provides an inspiration to this day.PAT’S WIN, WINN LOSES, AND GRAPHIC TEAM GOES MISSINGTruly it’s the simple things that can irritate. Such as R.T.E.’s highlights package of the EA Sports Cup Final which paired St. Patrick’s Athletics and Galway United at the weekend.Former Finn Harps netminder, Conor Winn, was between the sticks for the Galwegians but it wasn’t his presence that irritated (though, if truth be told, it did on the last occasion he was facing St. Pat’s in a Cup tie – that 6-1 trouncing Harps suffered in the F.A.I. Cup semi-final last season in which he played a less than starring role).To be fair he pulled off a couple of decent stops in this one including, brilliantly, from one of the spot-kicks in the penalty shoot-out.But while R.T.E. showed each and every one of the penalties in Monday night’s ‘Soccer Republic’ show, somehow they couldn’t come up with any on-screen graphics to provide viewers with an up to date penalty count. That’s laziness in any language.Not that it was an excuse for the Pat’s players who, seemingly, didn’t realise they had won the shoot-out at the finish after their ‘keeper, Conor O’Malley, had saved the decisive spot-kick and had to be informed by match referee, Paul McLaughlin, who, naturally being an Inishowen man and a Garda, was able to put them right.CORKING START BY THE HAMMERSSlaven Bilic’s reaction to his West Ham United team achieving three away wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City this season? “It is like when you come to a pub and it is full of girls! You will like it!,” the craggy faced Croatian declared.Well, yes, but only if the hen party behaves itself.Not sure what odds you would have got on the Hammers taking nine points from those venues at the start of the season but even the most optimistic punter would hardly have slapped anything on such an outcome.Must have something to do with the fact that the Londoners had a two day pre-season training camp in Cork where the spirit of Roy Keane obviously still resides.HE’S TURNING JAPANESE AND FINN HARPS ARE STILL WINNING WITH EASE – IT’S WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY was last modified: September 23rd, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Home-page Sportnewslast_img