Donegal Daily sports columnist Paddy Walsh is wondering this week. Wondering why Barry McGuigan is suddenly form the North, wondering why swimmer Anne Marie Ward isn’t getting more recognition and wondering why he had a Christmas party when Ronnie Whelan could have been serving him wine! He loves a good whine our Walshy!
AND THE NOMINEES ARE…
No less than two Donegal men in the running for the R.T.E. Sports Star of the Year awards. And running is what they’re both pretty decent at though in completely different disciplines.
There’s been many a sighting of Seamus Coleman galloping up the right flank for both Everton and the Republic of Ireland but, of course, a lot more viewings of Mark English showing how it can be done with even more effect on the tracks of some of the world’s best athletics arenas. Not least as far as the Letterkenny man is concerned on the track at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich which earned him a coveted bronze medal in the European Championships 800 metres in the summer.
Both Coleman and English have been nominated for the awards which are to be broadcast ‘live’ on R.T.E. on Sunday December 21st. Don’t be surprised if one of them emerges with the trophy.
And I, for one, (one of many I’d suggest) will be mightily surprised if Geraldine McLaughlin doesn’t get placing the Irish Sportswoman of the Year trophy on her mantelpiece after the ace forward was nominated for said award by the woman’s website HER.IE
It’s true that she’s up against Katie Taylor, Stephanie Roche and jockey Nina Carberry but surely even that prestigious trio would have to bow to the Termon player after the year she’s had.
Get your votes in now to www.her.ie and ensure another well deserved trophy comes to Donegal. And specifically to Termon.
Didn’t see the highlights package at the weekend but apparently Conrad Logan was the man of the match for Rochdale in their F.A. Cup tie at Aldershot.
His shot stopping exploits earned his team a goal-less draw and a chance for a third round meeting at home to Nottingham Forest. That might have raised the prospect of two Donegalmen coming up against each other in England’s premier cup competition had former Finn Harps player, Stephen McLaughlin, not gone on an emergency loan to Forest’s local rivals, Notts County.
Anyway, the ‘Dale’s manager, Keith Hill, was almost full of praise for his Ramelton born goalkeeper following that game at Aldershot. “Super goalkeeping, he kept them out,” he maintained. Before adding: “But that’s his job.”
Still, it’s a job he’s doing well so no harm in his boss passing him a bit of credit when it’s due.
ANOTHER SIGNING, ANOTHER FORUM
Good to see Damian McNulty adding his name to the dotted line as Finn Harps continue to prepare for the 2015 season. I always thought the Derry born full-back was last year’s stand-out performer in a team that reached the F.A.I. Cup Final but fell into inconsistency in the league.
Now Ollie Horgan has a decent mixture of experience and youth in the players he has already signed for the forthcoming campaign with Kevin McHugh, Mickey Funston, Keith Cowan, Brian McGroary, Gareth Harkin, Thomas McMonagle, Tony McNamee, and the returning Ciaran Gallagher on the books.
Hopefully the likes of Ciaran Coll and Packie Mailey – two other key men in the defence – can be persuaded to re-sign while two or three more new additions would be welcome as Harps look to climb out of a First Division they’ve occupied for too long and too often.
Meanwhile, Harps supporters get the opportunity to lend their voice and advice when the club hosts a Fan Forum in Ballybofey’s Villa Rose Hotel on Sunday next (kick-off 7.pm.).
Get along and make yourself heard if you want to be a part of something – potentially – special next season.
JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT WE’D GOT OVER IT….
How can you reproach Thierry Henry for his handball against Ireland? Not my words but those of Emmanuel Petit last week when he voiced strong criticism of those – particularly in France – who had lambasted Henry for THAT infamous incident which put paid to the Republic’s hopes of qualification for the 2010
World Cup Finals.
“It helped us qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. He’s done nothing wrong,” Petit said of his former Arsenal and French team-mate.
True, you have to agree with him. It did help France qualify for the Finals.
Ah yes, I can remember it well. An Irish team close to being unrecognisable from some of the previous qualifying matches that year dominating France in their own back garden. And taking the lead with a neatly worked goal. And going on to look rather comfortable against their more illustrious hosts.
And then Henry bursting to the by-line before crossing over and the ball falling to William Gallas and it’s in the net and it’s 1-1 and Irish ambitions are hanging by le thread after looking so promising for most of the game up to that.
Nothing wrong at all, Monsieiur Petit. Well, apart from that handball – illegal in soccer in this neck of the woods – by your good friend. Oh, and that second handball before he delivered the ball into the six yard box.
And our own Shay Given racing towards the referee furiously indicating such but getting nowhere. As was ultimately the case for this Irish team in that qualifying tournament.
Yeah, I know, get over it, it’s five years on and we’re at a different time, different place. And I almost was until Mons.Petit handed it back into the boiling pot again and told us that Mons. Henry had done nothing wrong.
As they say in Offaly….Birrrrrrrrr! But spare a hot water bottle or twenty for Dunfanaghy’s own super woman, Anne Marie Ward, who, not alone ventured out into the chill in her swim wear but dipped a toe and the rest of her besides into the freezing waters of the Baltics to claim two gold medals in the Open International Winter Swimming Championships.
Nothing new there for the popular H.S.E. employee who has put herself into equally deep water where temperatures are concerned in the past and come out with that typical smile on her face and, more often than not, a successful outing.
Why would you do it to yourself, you have to ask? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind – that particularly bracing wind called endurance and how man, and in this case woman, has a need of conquering the most savage of conditions and obstacles.
But like I say, that chill factor must be something else. Enough to freeze the Baltics off a brass monkey.
The Belfast Telegraph (or North-West as it’s called in these here parts) is currently featuring Northern Ireland’s top twenty sports stars.
And here it is in no particular order except the one the Telegraph has laid it out in: George Best (football); Peter Canavan (G.A.A.); Darren Clarke (golf); Peter Doherty (football); Joey Dunlop (motorcycling); Carl Frampton (boxing); Mike Gibson (rugby); David Healy (football); Alex Higgins (snooker); Paddy Hopkirk (rallying); Pat Jennings (football); Jack Kyle (rugby); Dave McAuley (boxing); Willie John McBride (rugby); Tony McCoy (horse racing); Graeme McDowell (golf); Barry McGuigan (boxing); Rory McIlroy (golf); Sean O’Neill (G.A.A.); and Mary Peters (athletics).
Yeah, did you too raise an eyebrow or two when you came upon one particular name? And checked the old map to see where precisely the town of Clones actually is located? For someone who once earned a six in a Geography examination, even I know where Clones is and where Barry McGuigan was born and reared. But here he is featuring among ‘Northern Ireland’s’ top twenty sports stars!
And while I’m being picky where was the name of one of Northern Ireland’s greatest ever goalscorers, that of Big Brendan Bradley, Derry born, and still the top net finder in League of Ireland history?
FOCUS ON STEPHANIE
Stephanie Roche is still looking for your vote and you’d have to say she might get a sizeable chunk more following the showing of that incredible goal on the B.B.C.’s lunchtime Football Focus programme at the weekend (I like to get up early on a Saturday to watch it).
One of three contenders for the ‘Goal of the Year award’, the gem scored for Peamount United against Wexford Youths was shown on the programme and brought this response from presenter, Dan Walker, as he highlighted the voting system: “Come on, Stephanie.”
Come on, indeed.
STARS IN WAITING
Sadly, I missed the Danny O’Carroll Charity night in Letterkenny last Saturday – somebody thought it a good idea to organise a Christmas party at this time of the year and I had to go – but I hear it was a top drawer occasion. And certainly a hugely important one for the Lurgybrack National School Autism Unit and the Letterkenny General Hospital Paediatric Unit, both of which had their coffers boosted with the division of the spoils of the €20,000 raised on the evening.
Sporting personalities were, of course, in abundance with boxer Bernard Dunne, former Irish rugby international, Shane ‘Mullet’ Byrne, and equally former Republic of Ireland stars, Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton, not quite on the guest list but there to serve the tables at the gala dinner in the Mount Errigal Hotel along with other well known figures.
The two R.T.E. pundits were in good form but wouldn’t it have been great to have had their colleague, Eamon Dunphy, waiting with the spuds and veg.
“THAT’S SHOCKING SERVICE, THAT IS, ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING. IT’S THE WORST I’VE EVER ENCOUNTERED. YOU WOULDN’T GET THAT IN THE LEAGUE OF IRELAND,” I could have imagined myself complaining to him before flinging my fork across the dining room.
Ah well, always next year and I’m led to believe there is going to be a next one.