Donegal’s favourite sports columnist Paddy Walsh puts down the remote control to give his view on Termon ladies (the footballers!), early morning boxers (Katie Taylor), bookie shops (the late night ones) and hairy moaners (that’ll be Roy Keane again.)
FINAL COUNTDOWN FOR TERMON
All things being equal, Termon’s senior ladies would have been contesting their All-Ireland Final this Sunday at the headquarters of all things G.A.A.
But some things are more equal than others and the venue for the Donegal team’s battle against Mourneabbey has been pencilled in for Tuam Stadium with a 2.p.m. throw-in.
Meanwhile, the respective Intermediate and Junior Finals will take place on Saturday in Corrifin, County Clare, and Ballinasloe.
Representatives from all six of the competing teams were indeed at Croke Park this week for the promotional launch – every little helps – of the TESCO Homegrown All-Ireland Club Finals – Geraldine McLaughlin donning the maroon and white for the picture parade.
Had all three games being staged at H.Q. on the same afternoon could their supporters have gone close to filling the stadium? Maybe not, given the ‘poor relations’ element “enjoyed” by the women’s game here.
Other factors may have been taken into account but, as it stands, the coaches and cars will be pulling out of Termon and surrounding areas this weekend with Tuam on the sat-navs.
This is fresh territory for both Termon and their opponents – an All-Ireland Final and a chance to claim the big one. And the spirit in the camp suggests that those vehicles may be returning with horns blaring and celebratory songs being chanted from within.
As the inspirational Grainne McDaid indicated this week in an interview with Tom Comack in the ‘Donegal People’s Press’, Termon will concern themselves with their approach and not that of their opponents.
“Beating Donaghmoyne was a huge morale boost for the squad after losing to them over the last two years. The focus going into the Ulster Final was on our own game rather than Donaghmoyne’s. It will be the same for Sunday’s game,” she insisted.
But having lifted their first Cork and Munster titles this year, Mourneabbey will be going into this weekend’s game with the confidence that such achievements can only bring.
For those not making the trek to Galway, deferred coverage will be provided on TG4 – our most under-rated television station when it comes to coverage of sport as I found out when I sat in front of it for most of the weekend – but there’s nothing like being present for such occasions and it’s certain Termon will attract a huge following to the Tuam venue.
It may not be Croke Park but it will feel like it if they’re being presented with the trophy come the final whistle.
TAYLOR MADE FOR WORLD DOMINATION
What with it being Monday morning – as in very, very early Monday morning – and dark in the great outdoors, (not forgetting the lazy sod bit), I didn’t get up for Katie Taylor – a left, or indeed right, jab from her would, of course, have had the same result – and the live coverage of her world championship bout on TG4.
But what another power house performance in the boxing ring from the Bray woman. A fifth consecutive world title – equalling the record held by Indian fighter, Mary Kom – truly places her on the legend’s podium where Irish and international sport is concerned. And, no, if you’re not familiar with women’s boxing, don’t dance away with the impression that it’s all handbags and hairnets – there is a considerable array of female boxers who could put some of their male counterparts on the canvas such is the growing strength of their discipline.
Indeed, when Taylor achieved her first world success, it was a tight competition back then and now much more so given the continuing emergence of class act fighters in each of the weight divisions.
Her opponent in Monday’s lightweight Final, Yana Allekseevana from Azerbaijan, was an impressive competitor, so much so that one of the three judges awarded the opening round to her. But you always felt – the highlights package on TG4 at tea-time allowing some of us to just about make it out of the scratcher to watch it – that the Irishwoman had it in her armoury to take the gold. And she won – wouldn’t quite say comfortably but close – each of the subsequent three rounds to do just that.
It’s now seventeen major titles for the Wicklow Wonder Woman and still counting. Her ambition, as she declared afterwards, is to rest up for Christmas and then get back to preparing for a sixth world title bid and, of course, the 2016 Olympic Games.
If both those achievements are attained, then all arguments are over as to who can claim to be Ireland’s greatest ever sporting athlete though, naturally, this being Ireland it won’t stop them.
From a competition that looked like it was about to head through the doorway marked oblivion, it appears the International Rules series has been rescued after a late intervention by Australia.
A couple of heavy Irish wins in the recent past had everybody demanding that the Rules be broken and the respective countries confine their sporting rivalry to the rugby field. But, here we are, almost celebrating the Aussie win in the one-off in Perth at the weekend that proved they weren’t quite the dead kangaroos we thought they were when it came to facing Ireland.
True, we might have been fearing a revenge repeat of the trouncing we handed Australia in the previous series after the opening two quarters on Saturday but some measure of consolation can be taken from the clawback in the second half which closed the gap to ten points at the finish.
The atmosphere in the stadium matched the play on the field and would surely have resulted in some high-fives from those keen to keep the competition alive. To be honest, I, for one of many, believed it’s la had tiocfaidhed and it was time to let it slip away peacefully. But you’d have to say that it does look now to have a future though I often wonder – well, only when I’m at a very loose end – why places like the United States or Great Britain couldn’t conjure up an International Rules team of their own to add to the international element. As it stands, it’s a bit too much like the Ryder Cup for me though obviously with a lot more action involved.
Meanwhile, our two Donegal representatives on the Irish squad didn’t let themselves down even if Michael Murphy missed a couple of great opportunities it has to be said.
I mean there he was right in front of the cameras both at pitch side and in the dressing-room area after the final whistle and he didn’t even get a promotional plug-in for his recently opened sports shop in Letterkenny. Come on, big man, you need to take those chances.
….BUT NOT IN THIS ONE
Up until late Saturday morning, I was still arguing the toss on whether or not to travel to Dublin for the last of the November internationals. What swayed me in the end was the lack of a ticket though I daresay one or two of them would have been available outside the Aviva.
Had I actually decided to go, I would have been heading straight to the television match official’s cubicle at half-time to give him the run-down on the rules of rugby (or at least one particular aspect of them as I’m a bit weak myself on the rest of them). How he couldn’t manage, after seven or eight viewings from respective angles, not to have spotted the blatantly forward pass that led to Bernard Foley going over for Australia’s second try after they had trailed 17-0 was as far beyond belief as the Aviva is from my own front door.
Had Foley being a bit more accurate with his kicking boots, it might have proved costly but what a game and – mostly – what a performance by Ireland, not least, that crunching Paul O’Connell tackle on the visiting number eight, Ben McCalman that almost drove the latter out of the ground. A crucial tackle coming as it did in the closing stages as Australia threatened to do an All Blacks on the Irish.
Joe Schmidt has obviously regenerated this Ireland squad and the pity of it was that he couldn’t be a part of the post match celebrations seeing as he was recovering in St. Vincent’s Hospital where he was taken to get his appendix removed.
Or, as the T.M.O. confirmed after several viewings, a tooth out.
So there you are enjoying your retirement from athletics in Rhode Island, U.S.A., when word comes through that you’ve won a medal and could you come and collect it.
It was six years ago when Roisin McGettigan – Wicklow is, naturally claiming her but the grandparent rule gives those of us in Donegal a hold too – came home in fourth position in the 1,500 metres Final at the European Indoors in Turin. A tight finish but just outside the medals.
Or so she believed. For now it transpires that the winner of that particular race, the Russian Anna Alminova, has failed a doping test and has been stripped of her gold. Hence, up steps our Roisin into third spot and a subsequent bronze medal.
I say ‘our’ because the grandfather of this particular McGettigan, Neil, was born in Meenreagh, Kilmacrenan, four days after the Titanic sank in April, 1912.
And she has a selection of cousinly connections in the Letterkenny and Carrigart areas to boot. Though I wouldn’t go around booting them seeing as they’re linked to a European Indoor Medalist.
Apparently, betting shops are going to be permitted to remain open late all year round. At the moment, your local turf accountant can keep its doors open up to 6.30.p.m. between the months of September and March.
Closing time will now revert to 10.p.m. in efforts to prevent the seasonal lay-off of 500 staff.
But, according to reports, the move is also designed to help betting shops compete with the betting websites.
Not being a betting man, this has absolutely no affect on me but for those caught up in the game (sic) and spiralling into debt as a result it represents the best of all news – a few more hours to squeeze the finances even tighter.
Sport, of course, commands a great slice of the action in this respect and you can now even place a stake on, say, a football match while it’s still in progress. Simply, go on-line and respond to those T.V. advertisements reminding you how to win friends (the bet shop boys) but, potentially, lose everything else.
And now we have late opening to stretch the purse even further.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing for the complete closure of betting shops and the employment they provide – everything in moderation as they say – but surely the Government should be putting its money where its mouth is and putting some measure of curtailment on what, as far as I can see, is a growing problem in this country, not helped by issues such as online gambling.
During his reign as chief bottle washer at Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson (remember him?) had some adverse comments to make about the location of the visiting dug-outs at the Emirates Stadium.
But surely HE wouldn’t have been complaining, as the current United bench warmers were doing after Saturday’s title non-decider, if some Gunners’ fan had taken the time to fling red wine in his direction. Just as long as it was a vintage Bordeaux or a smooth Piemonte…
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