DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA, HARPS TO TEACH STUDENTS A LESSON – IT’S WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY

first_imgNAOMH CONAILL WRITE THEIR OWN CHAPTER:Rory Kavanagh launches his eagerly awaited book ‘Winning’ tomorrow night in Letterkenny but he won’t be adding a hastily conceived extra chapter to it on this year’s County Final. Naomh Conaill may only have won by a solitary point but they did so with fourteen men on the field for a twenty minute spell following the sending-off of young substitute Eoghan McGettigan who hardly had time to take in his surroundings before – harshly? – having to make his way off again. But after an inspirational performance from Leo McLoone  who, as captain, led by example from the start, this was a deserving title for the Glenties team. And yet when Lee McMonagle curled over the opening salvo for St. Eunan’s and later on was involved in the move of the game that saw eight players provide the passes from deep inside their own half that ended with Eamonn Doherty smashing the ball against the bar, it looked like the Letterkenny boys were on their way.Not against this hugely committed Naomh Conaill side, they weren’t. Had a goal gone in at that stage in the first half, things might have turned out differently. I say might because Martin Regan hasn’t just assembled a finely tuned team he has made determination their password and they showed it right to the end.They were unfortunate not to have registered a goal themselves when Leo McLoone thundered the ball past J.P. Clarke only for referee, Andrew Mullin, to fail to award an advantage having signalled a free to the blue and whites.Clarke was to keep his side in front with an outstanding save shortly after McGettigan’s dismissal but this was to be Naomh Conaill’s day. After some nip and tuck between the sides, they finally opened up that two point gap with those vital scores from Johnny McLoone and one of the four Thompson brothers on the pitch, Aaron.Rory Carr, another impressive performer in the Eunan’s colours, sent over a late, late point to close the scoreline to the bare minimum but they weren’t about to wrestle victory from the men from the parish of Iniskeel.Not quite the classic final many would have been anticipating with some wayward passing and far from clinical finishing putting it more among the mundane than the magnificent.But down Glenties way they’re not complaining and probably not finishing celebrating either. I just knew they wouldn’t take kindly to Letterkenny putting one over them in the Tidy Towns competition.IT’S THAT PLAY-OFF TIME AGAIN Off to University again for Harps for another stern test as they look to secure a positive result in the opening leg of the First Division play-off on Friday night.The last two home games produced seven goals against the champions, Wexford Youths last weekend (4-1) and the third placed U.C.D. (3-0). Impressive performances in both even if the Youths may not have arrived in Ballybofey with the fullest of intent. But Harps still showed their class with some sparkling football and two goals from young B.J. Banda – recruited from the under-19’s – who was making his first start and showed he’s one for the future and, if it’s never too soon, for the present.It’s unlikely he’ll start at Belfield but Ollie Horgan will be encouraged to have someone of his positional sense and nose for a goal on his bench. Kieran McDaid was another to impress against Wexford but, again, he’ll probably have to be content with watching proceedings, some of them at any rate, from a sitting position. Play-offs haven’t exactly been good to Harps over the years – out of seven such scenarios they have only come out on top once and that was back in the 2007 season when they overcame Dundalk and Waterford United to win promotion.Should they get past U.C.D. – and that’s a big should – it’s still not clear who they could confront from the Premier League strugglers though the fates might yet have Sligo Rovers waiting in the wings.But that’s a bit far ahead. Harps were comfortable winners over U.C.D. at Finn Park in their recent league game but the visitors were without their key man, Robbie Benson, who will be back for this Friday’s first-leg. And at home they give very little away – warning signals aplenty as Horgan’s men found out in a 1-0 defeat at the venue at the end of July.A repeat of the 2-2 draw at the Bowl earlier in the season would, however, be that positive result Harps require to set up a set leg that would surely pack out Finn Park on Friday week.WORLDS APARTOkay, did you really think we were going to go on and win the World Cup? I mean, really believe it? Certainly not twenty minutes into Ireland’s game with Argentina, you didn’t. But even before that? Naw, me neither.Hopes had been built that the third ranked best team in the world pre-tournament could achieve the remarkable and become the only Northern Hemisphere side since England to claim the coveted trophy. But while the French match propelled us forward into the quarter-finals and knocked us backways all in the same game with the loss through injury of Paul O’Connell, Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony and the stupid red card – note: the red card wasn’t stupid but his offence was – to Sean O’Brien, we surely still can’t have been believing that we were going all the way.There was something of an omen about the huge banner being shown by a group of Irish supporters at the game which depicted Ian Madigan’s tearful features at the end of the match with France, and bore the legend: ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”. Indeed.A battling fightback from 17-0 down did left us with some measure of hope that we could at least achieve something we hadn’t on previous occasions, reach a World Cup semi-final, but the opening and last quarter proved our undoing and this blistering Argentinian side – the shadow of Graham Henry’s influence so obviously hanging over them – showed that they had made the right decision to avoid linking up with the Six Nations Championship (they were invited to base themselves in Spain if such had been the case) and instead join the newly hatched Rugby Championship comprising of New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.Without a doubt this has aided the Pumas’ preparations and sharpened them up for the World Cup.And Ireland? We were probably doomed once Gareth Brooks lent his support to our cause (though at least the Irish team turned up).Joe Schmidt has extended his contract and if anything positive is to emerge that is one along with the emergence of Robbie Henshaw and Iain Henderson and other young bloods.But it’s those players who won’t be back for Japan 2019 – the likes of O’Connell and our other warrior, Rory Best, who will feel the pain most from last Sunday’s exit even if the big Munsterman had already endured that and other pain in the week prior to the battle with Argentina.It was for them that I really felt sorry come Sunday evening.BOXING ON THE ROPESIrish boxing took a standing count this week and is much the worse for wear for after it. After months of meetings and discussions, none of which resolved it to his satisfaction, Billy Walsh resigned from his position of head coach and is now destined to add his expertise and knowledge of the sport to the United States federation.He’ll be in the U.S. corner when the 2016 Olympic Games come around and what an irony that will be should they face an Irish representative along the way.Walsh – no relation in case you’re thinking I’m pushing a family boat here – has been the kingpin behind boxing in this country for many years and his influence and coaching techniques have been behind most of our amateur successes in the sport not least Michael Conlan’s recent World Championship gold medal.And how have the Irish Amateur Boxing Association awarded him? Well, they haven’t and as the former Irish coach and others have been quick to point out, this wasn’t an issue over money or financial contracts but mainly centred on organisational matters and conditions.I’m not sure what conditions they are but I did hear Mick Dowling on the Joe Duffy radio show on Monday refer to the “blazers” who were keen to retain some of the power that such bodies demand. If Billy Walsh did not return to the fold, Irish boxing would be set back twenty-five years, Dowling insisted.Probably a bit of an exaggeration but it told us what he believes where the sport stands now that the Wexford man is seemingly departing for his new post over the Atlantic.The Irish Olympian and European bronze medallist from past days was joined on the Duffy discussion by fellow pundits, Michael Carruth and Bernard Dunne, both of whom also regretted the exit of Walsh but appeared to suggest there may have been no alternative with Dunne deploying the word “autonomy” and pointing out that boxing should be run without “one guy having dictatorship”.Was he accusing our departing head coach of being a dictator? Though I am a complete novice when it comes to knowledge of the workings of the IABA and the boxing world, we all only need to look at the success of the past few years to see that we have punched well above our weight and much of that is due to one man.Were those “blazers” a tad put out by just how much power Walsh held and did they consequently decide that they weren’t for moving on any of the issues that have dominated those meetings since last February?“For the avoidance of any doubt, the IABA has done its utmost to retain Billy Walsh as Head Coach,” a statement from the organisation insisted yesterday. Not quite its utmost, it would appear.Meanwhile, John Treacy, the Irish Sports Council’s Chief Executive, has promised to find out just what the “non-financial” reasons were for Walsh’s departure while R.T.E. sporting legend, Jimmy Magee, phoned in to the Joe Duffy show to offer his services as an independent chairman for any further discussions between our most successful coach and the IABA.Sadly, both these interventions, welcome as they would have been, are too late and the sport here has lost that standing count and the country’s inspiration behind ten years of boxing success at international level.REFEREE DOESN’T GET OFF SCOT FREEOf course, if only Scotland had managed to open up a bigger gap than a solitary point as their World Cup quarter-final game edged into its dying stages, referee Craig Joubert might still have been able to book a city break in Edinburgh at Christmas.As it is, the match official, who raced off the Twickenham pitch at the end of Sunday’s controversial tie (having just awarded Australia a penalty that, apparently, wasn’t), avoiding the wrath of the Scottish players and, it seems, a bottle flying in his general direction, has probably by now boarded a flight for home. Home in his case being South Africa.Ah, South Africa? Of the Southern Hemisphere nations. You know, the ones that continue to dominate the sport of Rugby Union and will do so again as the semi-final pairings for the pending weekend will confirm for us.Was there a small part of international parochialism playing on his mind when he awarded the Wallabies that last minute penalty, coolly converted by Bernard Foley to put the Aussies through to a last four berth?World Rugby has confirmed the error made by Joubert and in a statement said that Jon Welsh should have been ruled onside as the ball had been touched by Australia’s Nick Phipps beforehand and therefore a scrum to the Aussies, as opposed to a penalty, should have been awarded.None of us will ever know if Australia would have scored from that scrum but you could perfectly understand the Scots’ collective anger though there has to be a certain amount of sympathy for the match official who was not permitted, in these circumstances, to look for guidance from the T.M.O. And there has been sympathy and a few blasts at World Rugby for not backing up the referee they themselves had appointed in the first place.But in any case, what on earth were Scotland doing there in the first place? The one side from the Six Nations who would have been fancied to exit the tournament earlier even than England. TEAM OF THE YEARDamian McNulty is a well-deserved inclusion in the League of Ireland PFAI First Division Team of the Year chosen by the players themselves.His outstanding performances in the right full-back department – and someone who can transgress to the central defensive position if need be – have been pivotal in Finn Harps progression into the promotion play-offs.But I wonder how Harps only managed one player in the team when surely the likes of Ciaran Coll and Tony McNamee – two of the very best in their respective positions – should have been included given their contributions this season? HANDSOME WIN FOR GUNNERSWhat a brilliant game of football in last night’s Champions League tie at the Emirates. And a crucial, and deserved, win for the Gunners over one of the tournament favourites, Bayern Munich.And Olivier Giroud? On the field for a matter of three minutes and nets that vital opening goal. You have to hand it to the man….FROM BOOT TO BOOKI’ll end this week where we started. Rory Kavanagh’s book launch which should draw a decent attendance to the Mount Errigal Hotel on Thursday night (throw-in 7.30.p.m.).No better man to put a book together entitled ‘Winning’ given that he has done just that with Donegal and St. Eunan’s over the years.Best of luck with it, Rory, and with the subsequent sales. And the Christmas market just around the corner.Like many of your on-field deliveries, perfect timing!DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA, HARPS TO TEACH STUDENTS A LESSON – IT’S WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY was last modified: October 21st, 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

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