SAINTS GO MARCHING ON
While the vast majority of seats in the stand at O’Donnell Park were occupied last Sunday afternoon, very few fans, if indeed any, would have been sitting on the edge of them.
For this Ulster Club quarter-final was as straightforward as it possibly could get for a St. Eunan’s side who, right from the throw-in, were the dominant force, eliminating any element of excitement or thrills that might have been expected at this stage of the competition.
Not that you can point the toe of blame at the Letterkenny outfit for this as Roslea started off like a team meaning business – that is, the business of somehow seeming almost oblivious to the occasion and the importance of it.
As Maxi Curran’s men stuck to the task of attempting to find gaps behind the defensive cover of the Fermanagh champions, the visitors, though enjoying, if that’s the word, a reasonable amount of possession may as well have ventured next door to the Motor Show at the Aura complex for that opening half where they would at least have found a gear change.
The half-time of score of 1-5 to zero points told its own story and while the green machine did outscore Eunan’s in the second they still didn’t look capable enough of catching their hosts who had already done enough – again thanks to the marksmanship of Conall Dunne – to book their place for next Sunday’s semi-final.
And that’s where they will be really up against it – facing Omagh St. Enda’s who have disposed of ten times Ulster Champions and six times, All-Ireland club victors, Crossmaglen.
We can be sure Eunan’s won’t be going in at half-time as comfortably as they did last Sunday and their opponents won’t be sitting with a big blank nought on the scoreboard either. This will be a much stiffer proposition to be sure and, yet, there’s a confidence about the Letterkenny men that suggests this could be their year after their previous disappointments in Ulster.
I’m no betting man but….
GOD SAVE THE INGRACIOUS McQUEEN
Somebody should take Gordon McQueen by the nose – forcibly if necessary – and lead him through Donegal’s past and particularly that part of it that forever links this county with his native Scotland.
Take him on the Cairnryan to Larne ferry route and then on to Ireland’s North-West and down to The Rosses and through Gweedore – stopping in Letterkenny on route so some of us can provide him with a “horrible reception” – and all points besides.
Indeed, he probably wouldn’t even have to leave the city of Glasgow to discover why it doesn’t necessarily follow that if you’re born in Scotland you cannot play for somebody else as he put it.
The former Leeds and Manchester United defender can’t, of course, ask the late Paddy Coyle, born and reared in The Rosses – and grandfather of Ireland midfielder, James McCarthy – who was forced onto the emigration trail to Scotland like so many of his fellow country men and women.
Or, indeed, the maternal grandparents of Aidan McGeady who themselves left Gweedore to take the boat and train to Glasgow in the hope of a better life.
Or the father of former Republic ace, Ray Houghton – the latter recently revealing in a newspaper interview in ‘The Sunday Times’ that following the 1-0 win against the Scots at Hampden Park in February, 1987, that helped propelled Ireland to their first major Championships, a proud Seamus Houghton had many months later accompanied his son back to Donegal.
“I took him back to Buncrana, the place he was born….He didn’t last much longer after that unfortunately. That was August, 1989 and he passed away in the December.”
But this son of Donegal soil had lived to see his son’s heroics in the 1988 European Championships and while the younger Houghton might indeed have throw in his lot with Scotland had he been asked in time, he had thoroughly enjoyed his career in the green shirt.
James McCarthy might not, as it happens, get the opportunity to lap up that “horrible reception” as urged by McQueen given that he is reportedly carrying a hamstring injury but McGeady will certainly be subjected to some Scottish bile raining down from the Celtic Park stands during Friday night’s qualifier.
“I’ve got no time for these players,” McQueen insisted during the week.
Just as Scotland had no time for them before the Republic came knocking on their doors and offered them a green shirt and a chance to represent the country of their grandparents.
McQueen did refer to the likes of Bob Wilson and Bruce Rioch who, although birth natives of England, had represented Scotland and had always wanted to (in Wilson’s case it might have had something to do with the existence of Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence at the time).
But he neglected to mention the handful of current members of the Scottish squad where were born outside the country including Shaun Maloney who arrived into this world in Malaysia.
A bitter man our Gordon would appear to be – perhaps something to do with the fact that he lost his place in the Manchester United team to one Paul McGrath back in 1985.
If he’s at Friday night’s match, no doubt he’ll be joining in the inevitable chorus that will specifically greet one or two members of the Irish team. Or maybe he’ll be watching it in his home in North Yorkshire in a different country from the one he was born in.
Something I keep noticing whenever I’m watching top level international or club rugby. Something you never, ever see at a Gaelic match or a soccer game. Something that would be frowned on if you did and, not just frowned on, but drawing the wrath of a large section of the population and the public pulpits groaning under the weight of condemnation of the authorities involved in these particular sports for allowing this to happen.
How come, I keep asking myself, rugby supporters are allowed to swig down copious amounts of lager during matches while those following their Donegals or Finn Harps or Glasgow Celtics or Chelseas must wait until after – okay, often before – they indulge?
It appears a completely different set of rules apply to the rugger fraternity where the consumption of alcohol is concerned and where you can freely (although I imagine it wouldn’t be close to free if you were purchasing it at the Aviva Stadium) swivel your plastic glasses – I know, terrible isn’t it, they’re not allowed to use the actual glass ones – and hoist them into the air whenever a try is scored or the T.V. cameras catch sight of you on the big screen.
You’d still have to raise a glass or two to the Irish rugby team following their performance against South Africa, the second best team in the world. And had Ireland not conceded that late try they would have been elevated to the third slot in this elite table but let’s not quibble here.
Nobody in the R.T.E. panel, least of all George Hook, and indeed nobody who knows anything about rugby would have given Joe Schmidt’s charges the remotest of hopes of springing a surprise in this one (not quite correct as, apparently, Alan Quinlan predicted a win for the Irish earlier in the week).
One of the English publications even suggested that Ireland was now the best placed of the European teams to do the business at next year’s World Cup.
Ah now, hold on there, isn’t it tradition that following such a performance we go and struggle against the likes of Georgia, this weekend’s opponents, and then Hook & Co. get back to what they know best, tearing shreds out of the green tops?
League of Ireland and Leeds United fans of a certain vintage will undoubtedly remember former goalkeeper, Eddie van Boxtel – indeed he once saved an Eric Cantona penalty – but, sadly, he’ll now be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
The 41 year old recently appeared before Kildare Circuit Court after being charged in connection with a 3.4 million euro cannabis seizure.
The Dutch born custodian , who helped Dundalk to their last league title win in 1995 prior to this year’s success, had pleaded not guilty.
Though when I say, sadly, I mean on behalf of all those families and individuals in this country who have been savaged and ravaged as a result of the drugs trade. Perhaps, even van Boxtel among them.
And here it is – our own Packie Bonner’s all-time World XI which I came across in a comprehensive listing of international footballers’ best ever teams:
Pat Jennings; Danny McGrain; Bobby Moore; Paul McGrath; Paolo Maldini; Diego Maradona; Roy Keane; Johan Cruyff; Lionel Messi; Pele; and George Best.
A handful of Irish in there as you’d expect and certainly a team whose attack would be as enticing as its defence.
Though how Robbie Savage didn’t get in there is beyond me.
Commentating quote of the year from R.T.E.’s Ryle Nugent during Saturday’s live coverage of Ireland and South Africa at the Aviva Stadium after Peter O’Mahony went down with an injury:
“If he didn’t have medical attention during a game, you’d think there was something wrong with him.”
DUNNE IT IN ONE!
Well, it has taken him precisely 78 years to do it but Michael Dunne has finally achieved the ambition of all golfers, amateur or professional – a hole-in-one.
His historic achievement came on the tricky second at Dunfanaghy Golf Club last Saturday where he was partnered with fellow Letterkenny men, Don Sheridan and Pat Bonner.
Of course, he might just have been keen to get the round over with as quickly as possible seeing as it was THEM he was paired with…!
Either way, well Dunne Mick.Tags: