Now that he’s come off the terraces of Finn Park, Paddy Walsh is back on the sofa with his remote control set on the sports channels. This week he talks up Martin Harley, the Convoy Centre of Excellence as well as taking a quick detour down Jeremy Clarkson’s territory to discuss the new Ford and some old van!
CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE?
Having passed it by on a number of occasions, I finally got the chance to have a first hand look at the much publicised Donegal Centre of Excellence in Convoy a couple of weekends ago.
Well, I saw the Centre but, apart from the action on the pitches in the girls under-13 county championship quarter-finals, the excellence was, frankly, missing.
Nicely laid pitches indeed but there was little else to mark this out as a so-called Centre of Excellence.
A row of portacabins serving as dressing-rooms and no spectator cover or, more importantly, no shelter for substitutes or officials on the sidelines leaving many of the unused players open to all the elements that can be throw at them (and a heavy shower on the day I was there left them saturated to the skin).
The 26 acre site was acquired back in 2008 – 1.3 million euro at the last count – and was mooted as the standard bearer for the G.A.A. in the county.
But while development has been ongoing to be fair to those behind it with the laying out of additional playing surfaces and the erection of floodlighting, we’re still basically looking at a ‘much ado about nothing’ scenario.
And while it would be foolish to believe that this was going to be an overnight progression, you’d still expect a fair bit of excellence to have crept in eight years on.
CAN WE HAVE OUR BUILD-UP BACK PLEASE?
They’ll be hoping for excellence and thrills in the County Final come Sunday when St. Eunan’s pair up with Glenswilly.
A two point win for Gary McDaid’s side in their semi-final against Naomh Conaill, the key scores coming in injury time, saw them through to meet their fierce local rivals who were knife-edge winners over St. Michael’s in a thriller at MacCumhaill Park (once again dismantling the Joe Brolly/Colm Parkinson twin arguments that the tactics deployed by Jim McGuinness had resulted in a dour defensive game in domestic Donegal football).
As far as County deciders, this weekend’s Finalists have been effectively carrying the ball for the past few years in that respect and fans in attendance can expect a full-blooded encounter that promises to be as close as their respective semi-finals.
But I’m just wondering, like many another, why they couldn’t have been afforded an extra week at least to prepare for the big game? I know the All-Ireland has contributed in pushing club football to the back end of the calendar but surely the local game deserves better. Surely the fixture deciders can see that, part and parcel of a Final, is the build-up and you don’t get much time for that squeezed as it is into seven days?
Come Sunday evening one of either Glenswilly or Eunan’s won’t give a three penny bit about that but it would be nice to think we could have some kind of a change when next year’s Championship ambles around.
As for who is going to win, I’m feeling the splinters in the nether regions, probably to do with this fence I’m neatly perched on. Safe to say, however, that there’ll be full-scale celebrations in or around Letterkenny after it’s all over.
DUNGLOE COMES TO DUNDALK’S AID
Disappointment for Ballybofey in the League of Ireland Premier title decider but plenty of cheer in Dungloe.
While Johnny Dunleavy missed out on the opportunity to hoist the league trophy along with his Cork City team-mates, there was a remarkable turnabout in fortunes for one of the men who lifted it into the night sky at Oriel Park on behalf of new champions, Dundalk.
A double cruciate ligament injury picked up in April last during a match against Shamrock Rovers, looked to have ruled out Stephen O’Donnell for the rest of the season and potentially ended his footballing career.
There had been little hint that the son of Dungloe native, P.J. O’Donnell, and nephew of Jimmy ‘Nappy’ O’Donnell, would play any part in the match against Cork last Friday night. But there he was in the starting line-up and half the Rosses – the other half didn’t know he was playing – urging him on.
And after squandering a couple of openings, he struck after the break with deadly precision even if City might have had valid reason to dispute the score after Richie Towell appeared to have handled before the ball fell into the striker’s path.
A second goal from Brian Gartland late on sealed the match, the points, and the title for the Louth team and joint skipper O’Donnell – named man of the match – held the trophy aloft sparking celebrations much further afield than Oriel Park.
The Dungloe G.A.A. club were quick to post a congratulatory note on their Facebook page. “Uncle Jimmy will be a proud man but don’t expect any special treatment when you’re down in the Chapel Road again!,” was the message.
And Pat the Cope Gallagher, who watched the match in Spain, declared: “Very proud of Stephen’s achievements.”
Any hope of him forsaking Europe next season – that’s Stephen, not Pat the Cope (he’s already forsaken it) – and lining out with the Harps for a stint in the First Division?
Nope, didn’t think so.
LETTERKENNY WIN AT LONGCHAMP
Yet another impressive showing by Letterkenny jockey, Martin Harley, this time taking the Group One honours in the Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp at the weekend.
On board Tac De Boistron – trained by the acclaimed Marco Botti – his horse galloped past Tres Rock Danon on the home straight to win by five lengths.
Not being anything like a betting man, I didn’t have any money on it though that was also to do with the small matter of not knowing the event was on. Must start reading the racing pages again.
Anyway, party time in Rathdonnell, so I hear, and I missed that too.
Anyone out there who doesn’t believe David Forde deserves his place between the posts for the Republic of Ireland – and there surely can’t be too many of you – should take a look on U-Tube and relive the Galway native’s astonishing double save for Millwall against Cardiff City last Saturday,
First, City’s Craig Noone looked certain to score only for Fordey (as the Millwall faithful have christened him) to pull off a remarkable stop. And not finished there he somehow managed to prevent Adam Le Fondre from netting with the follow-up.
I watched it on ‘The Football League Show’ on the B.B.C. and while the commentator gave due credit to the goalkeeper, there wasn’t a mention of it from any of the trio of studio based presenters and analysts.
Probably needed to be Joe Hart doing the double-saving for the likes of that to happen.
Meanwhile, former Finn Harps midfielder, Shaun Williams, was the man who delivered the corner-kick that resulted in Danny Shittu heading in the only goal of the game for Millwall in that encounter.
And another, ex-League of Ireland player, James McClean, current Republic winger and once Brandywell favourite, scored twice in the closing stages to earn his side, Wigan Athletic, a 2-1 win at Derby.
Ah now, come on. I know you might get the odd Kerry footballer – i.e. Paul Galvin – entering the fashion world and writing weekly columns on the subject but surely not a self-respecting rugby player? Not men who get involved in mauls and scrums and, God knows what else, on the field of play?
But there it was on the front page of the North-West edition of the Belfast Telegraph on Saturday – a picture of Ireland and Ulster flanker, Tommy Bowe, who, readers are informed, has turned fashion designer and model. And as the article inside related, was pictured showing off his XV Kings collection.
Apparently, Bowe is about to launch his second range of casual menswear to complement his existing footwear collection.
Checked the old wardrobe to see if I could locate any of the first range but, no, there was the duffle coat and the corduroy trousers and the Aran sweater and, in fact, the only range I can see is the one that is drying up the old bell bottoms which got caught in a thunder shower.
Still, I’ll never be able to watch Bowe in the green jersey again without thinking was he reluctant to pull it on in the first place because it was so out of season.
And here we are 94 minutes into the column and there’s a Van driving through the Chelsea defence…