Paddy Walsh has written more about sport than Eamon Dunphy has slated the Irish soccer team. The well-known Letterkenny man has written extensively for national and local newspapers as an analyst, a pundit but always as a fan. Today he writes his first column for Donegal Daily. We hope Walshy on Wednesday brightens up the middle of your week.
BRIGHT SKY (WITH SOME CLOUDS)
It was while yawning my way through the Republic of Ireland’s opening European Championship qualifier that I realised maybe SKY television’s venture into the G.A.A. will have some benefits after all.
Two All-Ireland semi-finals (three if you count – and you have to – the replayed Kerry/Mayo clash) of outstanding quality and thrills and a Hurling Final the like of which we can only hope will be repeated when Kilkenny and Tipperary meet again next Saturday week and each of them, I believe, featured on SKY Sports for an audience, many of whom, will have tuned in out of curiosity value. There’s a firm guarantee that they’ll be tuning in once more if they get the chance.
I’ve always argued that we shouldn’t be selfishly hanging on to these games ourselves but, instead, be sharing them with other, many of whom believe the world starts and ends with the likes of soccer and the English Premiership.
It’s doubtful if any game in this or any other season of recent vintage in England or elsewhere (even the World Cup) could have matched the Gaelic variety for skill and ability. Not to mention all-out commitment from a bunch of amateur players.
I was jolted into wakefulness on Sunday when Aidan McGeady (we can now officially claim him as a Donegalman) notched those two goals, the second of which is already in the running for score of the tournament, to give Martin O’Neill’s men the start they needed in Georgia but didn’t look like getting until that magical intervention by the Everton man.
I stayed awake for Tony O’Donoghue’s post match interview with O’Neill and the latter’s jibe at the R.T.E. presenter for negative questioning sparked a bit of a pop in the studio back in Dublin where Eamon Dunphy in particular took serious issue with the Irish boss and insisted that they were fully entitled to focus on the adverse aspects of the performance and the manager would have to deal with it. There was no ‘or else’ but you had a feeling that this won’t be the end of it and after helping to get rid of previous managers in the Ireland hot seat, out panellists are not prepared to be criticised themselves in any shape or form even if it is by a true footballing man.
Sorry, I’m on O’Neill’s side on this one. Surely if they’re able to launch brickbats – and players such as McGeady have been the victims of many of them – he’s entitled to return one or two particularly when his, admittedly below par, team, contrived to actually win the match, his first competitive outing in charge?
Anyway, it all makes for good television even if the match itself didn’t.
Fortunately, R.T.E. still have Gaelic Games to enthral us though, at the very least, 16,088 of us won’t be sitting in front of the T.V. for the privilege of watching Donegal’s pending clash with the Kingdom.
Donegal Daily revealed yesterday that said number of tickets had now arrived in the county (though, of course, there’ll be a lot more than 16,000 Donegal fans in attendance) and the scramble begins.
Me? I’m just going to ask the Dub in the office for the tickets he had intended to use….
After a series of reasonably encouraging results, Finn Harps have now lost respective games against the team second from bottom in the First Division and the team at the very basement. 0-1 defeats in both encounters but defeats all the same and an end to any hopes they had of clambering into a play-off spot.
In both matches Ollie Horgan’s men had chances to take a point or three but that has been the story of the season to date – squandered opportunities and lack of creativity.
It has been a particularly disappointing campaign for Kevin McHugh who has only netted twice – for a striker of his long proven ability that falls far short of previous campaigns when you could rely on him to sit comfortably in the teens or twenties with his goals tally.
In total, Harps have scored on twenty-three occasions and that lack of fire power – how Ruairi Keating has been missed since his loan spell expired – has lost them games and drawn too many (eleven to date).
It’s been a struggle for Horgan to find any cohesive unit in midfield to aid the strike force and a rash of sendings-off haven’t helped the cause even if some of them have been bordering on the fringes of match officials deciding that the tesm’s reputation this season merits a red at any available opportunity. The latest example of that came in the Cup win in Wexford when Damian McNulty received a second yellow for supposedly time wasting over a throw-in.
Ah, the Cup. Now there is a chance for redemption and one to give us all a good send-off into the close season.
Harps must travel once again to the deep south this weekend to take on Munster Senior League outfit, Avondale United. The Cork team overcame St. Michael’s in the previous round but even if the latter had gone through it was still going to prove another lengthy trip for the Finn Parkers (it’s a long, long way to Tipperary and all that).
The home league match against Shamrock Rovers B (that’s ‘B’ for blundering by the league authorities in allowing the reserve team of a Premier Division team entry into the First Division) represented Harps sole fixture in Ballybofey sandwiched in between SIX away games, the Cup clashes included.
High time for the setting up of the Finn Harps Training Fund though it’s unlikely that the very same sporting population that is more than willing to put hands into pockets and purses to back the Donegal G.A.A. team would do likewise for a financially pressed Harps who, it never seems to be taken into account, also feature a selection of Donegalmen in their ranks.
Meanwhile, the Munster men will provide the sternest of tests for the visitors this weekend and a draw would be a decent result for the Horganites and provide another gate-sharing dividend from the replay to boot. That’s not to say a win, and a place in the semi-finals, would be turned away.
One of the bright spot of Harps campaign this year has been an impressive defence and that will hopefully be instrumental in getting them through this tricky tie.
It’s twenty minutes past four in the morning and a kilted man is running through Temple Bar – backwards. Perhaps, not that unusual in Dublin’s cultural quarters at this or any time of the night but this particular individual is, in fact, a world champion at what is called Retro Running and he can trace his steps all the way back to Carndonagh.
Didn’t know too much about Garrett Doherty before I spotted a reference to him in a lengthy article in a recent edition of the ‘Irish Times’ where reporter, Patrick Freyne, embarked on a 24 hour blitz in our capital city’s so-called bohemian area and came in contact with a wide variety of people ranging from stag parties to Swiss honeymooners. And the odd Retro runner.
Doherty and his friend, Ashlynn, were returning from the nightclub Mother (the mammy of all such venues, apparently) when they encountered the I.T. man along the way or, rather, he took a keen interest because Garrett was running in reverse. In a kilt.
The Donegalman, now based in Dublin, unzipped his jacket and showed the reporter his world championship medal. “You know why they didn’t want you writing with your left hand in the old days? They didn’t want you thinking for yourself. Retro Running is about thinking for yourself,” Garrett relates. “It makes you a better dancer, makes you type faster, makes you talk faster,” he tells Freyne.
A couple of solid reasons there for someone like your sports columnist to take it up.
Anyway, I Googled our, it seems, little known World champion from Carndonagh and find that he has been promoting Retro Running as a potential discipline in the 2016 Olympic Games.
I’m behind him all the way on that one. There’s surely room for a sporting challenge in the Olympics that requires true stamina and strength and a good sense of direction (and, possibly, a rear view mirror).
Particularly when you consider the Olympic Committee has itself taken a few backward steps in its time. Beach volleyball anyone…?
RYDER TO THE STORM
And just don’t get me started on the Ryder Cup.
Listen, I know our almost very own Paul McGinley (and let’s face it, the man with Dunfanaghy blood flowing through his veins WAS supporting the Dubs in that little matter of the All-Ireland Semi-Final) is the European team captain and good luck to him (met him once and you couldn’t find a more civil being anywhere) but does anyone else believe that this is the most over-hyped competition in world sport?
Two teams and not even a qualifying round. And basically the same two teams every time except when it was once upon a time the U.S.A. versus Great Britain and Ireland.
Too late, you got me started and I’ll probably return to it once the thing swings into “action” at the end of the month.