HARPS LEAVE THEIR SIX SHOOTERS AT HOME
Disaster. Absolute disaster. Jim McGuinness goes and announces that he’s quitting the Donegal job just as Finn Harps were preparing to give St. Pat’s the push from this year’s F.A.I. Cup and thus stealing all the media limelight from Ollie Horgan’s boys.
by Paddy Walsh
There might have been some of us a bit peeved had Harps actually done the impossible on Sunday and the McGuinness story dominated the weekend coverage. Poor timing, Jim, but as it happens, not much harm done given the end result from Richmond Park.
Apart from a fifteen or twenty minute period – most of those minutes coming immediately after Packie Mailey rose into the Inchicore sky to head Harps level – there was no doubt who was going to come out on top. Some of the football by the home side was as polished as the trophy they were playing towards and there was little the Donegal side could do to stem the tide apart from surrendering possession so easily at times.
And making a series of errors and misjudgements to hand Pat’s their 6-1 pathway to the Cup Final where, after last night’s replay, our old sparring partners, Derry City, await them.
There were several nervy individual displays in the blue camp – the occasion and the live television coverage no doubt contributing to the below par performances.
But I thought there were a few over-the-top claims regarding Harps supposedly physical approach to the game. St Pat’s midfielder, Conan Byrne and ‘Irish Independent’ reporter, Jamie Moore, were both insisting that Horgan’s team had been “very physical” throughout.
But while Sean McCarron’s dreadful lunge near the end would have merited the red card it didn’t get, the only other incident of note involved Gareth Harkin – probably Harps best performer on the day – receiving a red card he shouldn’t have for a challenge on the edge of the Pat’s area on James Chambers.
And there was little mention in most of the post match coverage of the punishing tackle by home defender Kenny Browne that floored Pat McCann inside the penalty area when neither a spot-kick or a card was awarded. A goal then would have put Harps 2-1 up but you’d have to be the ultimate optimist to believe that they would have gone on to win it even then.
So not the finest moments on the field of play but, off it, there was much to be proud of – particularly concerning those blue and white clad supporters to the rear of one of the goals who sang from start to finish and showed what true support means.
While the victim of McCarron’s x-rated tackle was being treated with time almost up, I watched Packie Mailey stand looking at those singing fans with quiet amazement and probably wondering like the rest of us in the visiting stand, how they would have been reacting were Harps actually leading at that stage.
ANOTHER JIM ON THE WAY?
Immediately after the McGuinness announcement, I thought of one potential candidate away from the Declan Bonners, Rory Gallaghers and Martin McHughs that have been spoken about. And I see that former Mayo manager, James Horan is now apparently in the frame.
There may, however, be too many questions demanding if he’s the finished article given that he never quite managed reaching the Holy Grail despite going so close in recent times.
All this speculation, however, is still being overshadowed by the surprise (shock?) decision of the Glenties man to down tools and walk away from another construction job with the Donegal team. Was his demanding role with Glasgow Celtic the sole reason for his departure or was there something more? His family will no doubt be delighted to see more of him now that the commitments to managing the county team have been scribbled away into the history books (and what a book that would be if he ever gets around to penning it).
But there’s surely another chapter in the sporting career of the remarkable Jim McGuinness waiting around some future corner.
Meanwhile, here’s another name to throw into the ring. A Kilcar man with the G.A.A. inscribed in his heart.
Only problem is someone will have to appoint John McNulty to the board of the Croke Park Museum before he can be even considered…
Nice tribute to Dunfanaghy Golf Club and some of its better known names in the ‘North-West Telegraph’ last week.
The paper’s columnist, Claire Harrison, recalled 1989 when a young man named McGinley was being talked about as a serious star of the future after taking the honours in the Irish Amateur Close Championships. She had, back then, been doing practice rounds on the course with a bunch of fellow youngsters who were all dreaming of emulating the man in question.
“After this first big title, it wasn’t long before a framed picture of McGinley, holding his impressive new silverware, was hung prominently in the clubhouse where he and his family have been members for many years. “ The immense pride in that achievement was followed by many more in the subsequent twenty-seven years – a pride, the writer said, that only intensified when Paul went on to a top-flight career as a professional including a key role in many Ryder Cup victories.
Nobody, said Harrison who apparently watched the recent European triumph at Dunfanaghy Golf Club, was “surprised to see McGinley pull off a captainship that set the blueprint for all future Ryder Cup captains to follow.”
A regular visitor to the resort, he had brought home the 2002 trophy to his home club after his ten foot putt had clinched the Cup. “And everyone’s certain he’ll be home again soon to show it off once more.”
Added the Telegraph columnist: “The golfer’s parents, Mick and Julia, are very active members of the club, and nifty golfers themselves. They’ve both been very helpful to me at various times since I was a dreaming young golfer. Mick bent over backwards to help me with an article I wrote about McGinley after he won the Welsh Open in 2001 (not to mention making my dad’s day by giving him a golf jumper brought back from the Ryder Cup at Medinah) and I always came away with a gem of advice when I played with Julia in competitions.”
Paul McGinley himself wasn’t just a great golfer but a “thoroughly decent man and leader.” A sentiment I can certainly vouch for after having interviewed him of couple of years ago at Letterkenny Golf Club.
KEANE AND KERRLESS
Headed into Tesco in Letterkenny yesterday to get hold of Keano’s autobiography but they must have sold out.
You’ll be reading and hearing a lot more about it over the coming days and it’ll all make for some juicy footballing tales told in Roy’s – or Roddy Doyle’s – inimitable style (as in there’ll be a lot of expletives bandied about to make his point).
Confessing to head-butting the Great Dane, Peter Schmeichel, and elaborating on his well documented fall-out with his former boss at Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson, and being strongly critical of the latter’s own face-off with J.P.McManus and John Magnier in a legal wrangle over the stud rights for The Rock of Gibraltar’ – just a couple of the revelations raised.
Not having delved through it yet, I can’t say if it’s worth the buying – how many autobiographies do sports people think they can get away with in one lifetime? – but there was one particular point Keane made that I fully endorsed when he voiced criticism of the F.A.I. for sacking former manager, Brian Kerr, nine years ago.
I never believed the Dubliner was given enough time in the job and I’m also convinced that John Delaney and Co. responded meekly then to the harsh verbals lashed on Kerr by the likes of the terrible twins, Dunphy and Giles, who appeared to harbour some snobbish attitude to the fact that the former St Patrick’s Athletic (oops, didn’t mean to mention them again here) boss was only of League of Ireland standard and therefore not suitable for the role.
ROCK ON IRELAND
And while on the subject of Gibraltar, they’re coming to the Aviva this Saturday but unless they’re bring The Rock with them expect a potential record breaking Irish win.
Seamus Coleman, unfortunately, won’t be available for this or, it seems, the subsequent fixture against the Germans on Tuesday night, while the other Donegalman in the squad, Shay Given, also looks likely to miss out. A great servant to his country over the years but I’m not sure if he was right in returning to the fold. And surely, David Forde has done more than enough to keep his place.
Meanwhile, if the Boys in Green can finish up with four points from these two qualifiers it will have been a job well executed.
Bit windy down our neck of the woods the other night but the Gaels are blowing to the delight of their supporters. Blowing into Division Three after completing their season by defeating rivals, St Mary’s of Convoy, it has been a long, long road (and you can add another few longs to that) for the Letterkenny side who finally clinched the Division Four title to claim the coveted trophy and the climb into upper ranks.
They had already achieved it prior to the match against the Convoy men but the celebrations could only begin officially after the final whistle. And I hear they’re still going on.
KEN YOU HEAR THE LIVERPOOL SING?
Ken Dodd. Remember him? Big Liverpool F.C. fan though I’m not suggesting for one second that you have to be a comedian to follow them though it probably helps this season.
Only reason I mention it is because of a piece I read in a paper a few days ago. Doddy was being interviewed on Granada Television some years back after appearing in the London Palladium when the programme presenter, Bob Greaves, asked him if he had been apprehensive about his reception in the English capital.
“Yes, a little. I mean, you can tell a joke in Liverpool that’s guaranteed to get a laugh, but they wouldn’t laugh at it in London.”
“And why do you think that is,” asked Greaves.
Replied Dodd: “Well, they can’t hear it.”