31 March, 2011

Top Irish sports stars to back Darbyshire charity cycle:

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PAUL DARBYSHIRE: forced to retire due to Motor Neurone Disease
Ruby Walsh will join Seán Kelly, the Munster rugby squad and other Irish sports stars and well - known celebrities in Cork on June 19th to see off riders in the Munster Rugby Cycle in aid of Paul Darbyshire and Motor Neurone Disease Ireland. 
Rick Sergent, Andy Pearson, Steve Scott and Robbie Donal will be setting off on a 300-mile cycle starting in Cork and finishing in Warrington, England. 
Datbyshire, aged 41, played for 14 years with Warrington Wolves and will step down as Head of conditioning and fitness at Munster at the end of the season after being diagnosed with the disease.
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Trapattoni states desire to manage in Brazil 2014 whilst questioning corruption in football:

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NOT HAPPY:   Giovanni Trapattoni
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapatoni has stated his desire to stay on as manager of the Republic of Ireland until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I personally am skeptical as to the level of interest of a manager who lives 11 months of the year in Milan; almost never attends club matches to look at his players and cannot so much as text a vastly experienced player like Kevin Kilbane to tell him he is dropped. Instead, he let the wholehearted veteran know through the media. 
Giovanni Trapattoni has voiced his darkest fears about corruption in international football as he suggested that he would like to stay on as the Republic of Ireland 's manager until the Brazil World Cup in 2014 to settle old scores. The 72-year-old Italian's priority is to take Ireland to the Euor 2012 Final's and, at the halfway point of the qualifying campaign, he has the team joint top of Group B with Russia and Slovakia. He is optimistic that, if his players can stay fit, they will advance as group winners.
CONTROVERSY: Trap's Italy depart World Cup 2002 in seedy circumstances
Trap's €1.7m-a-year contract (£1.5m) will expire after the current campaign but the lure of Brazil and another tilt at the World Cup may prove impossible to resist, particularly as he feels that the tournament owes him something.
He was the Italy manager at the 2002 finals, when the team were controversially eliminated in the last 16 by the co-hosts South Korea. The referee in that game, Ecuador's Byron Moreno, achieved infamy for his decision to send off Francesco Totti for an alleged dive and to oversee the disallowing for offside of a seemingly legitimate Italy goal by Damiano Tommasi. Italy had a total of five goals contentiously ruled out over the course of the tournament.
Trapattoni was again undermined by forces beyond his control when France beat his Ireland team in the play-off for the 2010 World Cup, courtesy of Thierry Henry's infamous "Hand of Gaul" assist. Trapattoni can come across as the conspiracy theorist and he noted, pointedly, that France, at the time, were sponsored by Adidas.
CONTROVERSY II: Trap's Ireland lose to Henry handball
"Adidas is French," he said. "These competitions are very, very important for business. I know there is a lot of interest in this tournament [the World Cup], whether it is from the media, whether it is sponsors, whether it is business, whether it is money … there are other interests. There is too much interest. A colleague said to me after the Henry handball, 'Giovanni, you know football.'
"When I was the Italian manager in Korea … it was not France but it was similar. If you want, I can show you the DVD of the Korean match at the World Cup. The referee from the Italy-Korea game was in prison, was he not?" Moreno was arrested last September for allegedly attempting to smuggle six kilograms of heroin into the United States.
"I achieved good results at club level with strong teams," Trapattoni said, "but also with UEFA and FIFA … I have paid my dues and I am due something back. I am waiting for something back because of the experiences I have had."
Trapattoni wants to manage until next World Cup because its in Brasil
The draw for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers is in July and Trap would relish leading Ireland in Brazil. "Obviously, I would be proud to continue because the next World Cup is in Brazil," he said. "Brazil is Pelé and, psychologically, it is a feeling you have about the game there. I know Pelé from years ago and I had good experiences against Brazil as a player and manager.
"Stay on in the job? Sure, why not? Why not? I am available. I don't have to start again because now we have many options on the pitch. I think we have improved the team with the young players."
Trapattoni's next challenge is to plot a way past Macedonia in Skopje on 4 June, having beaten them 2-1 in Dublin on Saturday. It seems certain that he will revert to his tried and trusted players, despite the striker Shane Long, for example, pressing his case for inclusion in the 3-2 friendly defeat against Uruguay on Tuesday.
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30 March, 2011

Airtricity League: former Cork boss Collins issues astonishing attack on top man Tommy Dunne:

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Roddy Collins has launched an astonishing verbal attack on Cork City manager Tommy Dunne, labelling the City boss "a boy doing a man’s job." The outburst comes ahead of Friday evening’s Airtricity League First Division fixture at Turner’s Cross, as Collins brings his Monaghan United side to Leeside. “Cork are a good unit. They have a great set-up, fantastic training facilities, a big catchment area and a fine squad,” said Collins. “But unfortunately they have a boy doing a man’s job as their manager. The job is too big for him and that will prove itself. He was only an understudy to me. It’s a pity, because it’s a massive club. It’s a Premier Division club, they shouldn’t be down in the First Division.” Collins took over as City manager early in 2010, but lost his job after the club’s holding company was wound up. The manager’s job was given to Tommy Dunne, a decision Collins appears to resent.  
Someone won't be happy with Collins' comments
“I have no reason to expect a hostile reception from the Cork supporters on Friday. I worked hard when I was down in Cork, trying to put a club together.”
Collins added that he still harbours ambitions of managing Cork City.
“I would absolutely love to manage that club. I was made for that job. If the lads from FORAS had given me the opportunity last year I would have gotten them promoted.”

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Sign of economic times as FAI scrap ticket bundling policy:

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Ireland's key clash with Macedonia was characterised by (20,000) empty seats
Following poor ticket sales for the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifying game against Macedonia and the friendly with Uruguay, the FAI is to scrap the policy of selling tickets in bundles for multiple games.
In a statement released today, the governing body revealed that "following a review, it will sell (tickets for) all of its upcoming home matches (Northern Ireland, Scotland, Slovakia and Armenia) on a single basis."
A disappointing attendance of 30,000 turned out for the crucial qualification game with Macedonia and that appears to have forced the organisation's hand.
FAI have been forced to reduce ticket prices
Tickets for that game could only be bought as a part of a package that included a ticket for the Republic's friendly encounter with World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay, or as standalone 'premium' tickets.
Tickets for friendly internationals will continue to cost €30 and €45, while tickets for Euro 2012 qualification games will be priced at €60 and €45.
The statement added: "the association will continue to offer 1,350 seats for €10 each through its schoolboy/girl affiliates as well as continuing to operate its family section consisting of 2,000 seats in which four tickets can be purchased for €80 through selected media partners."
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29 March, 2011

Ireland v FYR Macedonia Photostream; Apologies for tardy posting:

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Please click on the "Newer" button to progress through the photos.

28 March, 2011

In Duff we trust as injuries mount ahead of key end of season Skopje tie:

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BIG LOSS: Doyle (on ground) is a key player for club & country
The fall-out from Saturday night's (overly) physical encounter with FYR Macedonia as the Republic of Ireland medical staff count the walking wounded. Damien Duff, Robbie Keane, Richard Dunne, Kevin Kilbane and, most seriously, Kevin Doyle have been returned to their clubs. Doyle's manager; former Ireland manager and captain: Mick McCarthy has stated that Doyle could miss the next four to eight weeks with a Medial Cruciate Knee Ligament injury. There had been fears that Doyle would miss the rest of the season after falling heavily on Saturday night. Wolves' medical staff are, however hopeful that Doyler will return to help the club stay in the English Premier League. The Wexford man is the ultimate competitor however and I expect him to return to top flight action inside the scheduled four week lay-off.
Glen Whelan has also been sent home hurt, despite training with the Ireland squad in Malahide today.
IN DUFF WE TRUST: The number 11 is Ireland's key man
"I pray to God to look after Damien Duff. I believe we have a great squad now, a squad which has matured, and that is why I am confident,"
 - Giovanni Trapatoni

Meanwhile, Fulham full-back Stephen Kelly will captain the Irish side for the friendly clash with 2010 World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay at the AVIVA Stadium tomorrow night. The Irish side will be sorely lack in experience with many seasoned Irish campaigners miss from the side. I expect the Albiceleste to win comfortably. They are using the game with Ireland as preparation and will start tomorrow night's match with eight of the side that played in last summer's World Cup semi.
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26 March, 2011

Macedonia goalkeeper resurrects Ireland's European qualification hopes:

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PIVOTAL MOMENT: second Ireland goal hits the back of the net
There's an old saying in football that "goal - keepers can't win you games, but they can certainly lose you games." That was the case at the AVIVA stadium tonight as Macedonia's (reserve) Number One cost his side two goals and ended their hopes of challenging for the top two positions in a Group that is poised on a knife-edge with Russia drawing away to Armenia earlier in the day.
Talented Trichkovski (number 7): almost earned Macedonia a point
The Republic of Ireland have gone joint top of their qualifying Group having over - come a resolute FYR Macedonia side who can consider themselves unlucky not to have gotten something from the game. Ireland went ahead after 65 seconds when (man-of-the-match) Aiden McGeady's speculative 20 yard effort bounced over the goalkeeper's fingertips and into the far corner of the net.
The home side went 2-0 up on 20 minutes thanks to another goalkeeping error. Back-up 'keeper Nuredinoski spilled a Darren Gibson free-kick straight into the path of Robbie Keane and Robbie doesn't miss a gaping goal from eight yards out. As has so often been the story with sides managed by Giovanni Trapatoni; Ireland went on the back foot there after and adopted a "What we have, we hold," mentalilty; when Macedonia really appeared to be the proverbial wounded deer who only needed to be devoured.
Vital late Westwood save ensured three points were Ireland's
The visitors got back into the game thanks to a very smart turn and finish from striker Ivan Trickovski. The youngster received the ball 20 yards from goal, before losing his man and finishing cooly past Kieran Westwood on the stroke of half-time.  
RELIEVED MAN:  Ireland Manager Giovanni Trapattoni at the final whistle
The second - half petered out somewhat as star man Goran Pandev was kept at close quarters by veteran centre - half Richard Dunne, who has seen it all in the coal face that is the centre of defence. Dunne's yellow card mid-way through the second half rules him out of the return tie in Skopje and his experience will be sorely missed at the back.
SO NEAR AND YET....dejected Macedonia Manager talks candidly post match
Ireland were almost made to pay for their caution late on, as Westwood had to come quickly off his line 15 minutes from time to make a fine save from the ever dangerous Trichkovski. At the final whistle; Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni looked a relieved man whilst Macedonia Head Coach Mirsad Jonuz stated; "With one kick, we lost two goals"....while this statement was not strictly true, the assembled press corps understood what he meant. Tonight's result ends Macedonia's realistic possibilities of getting out of the Group, but Skopje in the dead heat of June will certainly not be an easy tie for the Boys in Green.
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European Championship: Irish captain and manager have their say:

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Ireland manager contemplative during press conference
When asked by media men as to whether he'd let his full-backs push forward more (a direct reference to the manager's ultar-conservative style of football), when considering that the opposition is not as strong as some Ireland will face, manager Giovani Trapatoni countered: "I have never forbidden my full-backs from getting forward. I have never told my full-backs to stay in position. Against Bulgaria, I told my defenders; go (forward), look for crosses." He further elaborated on this point, however, this observer remains rather unconvinced and I firmly believe that any team managed by Giovani Trapatoni will always be playing for a 1-0 win; (or a 0-0 draw against top seeded sides). Trapatoni would not be drawn on the question of it being a must-win game for Ireland, however, he stated that if the game was level in the second half, he would consider introducing young attacking star James McCarthy, even only for "two minutes!"
Trapatoni then moved on to state how he dealt with Stephen Ireland similarly in recent years, which prompted a hack to retort "Get over it," - to much amusement in the press room!
Robbie Keane stated the (obvious) importance of getting the home crowd on your side early on in a game and how the Aviva rugby crowd have really galvanised the national team.
"Not here to make up numbers" - Macedonia Manager Mirsad Jonuz
Meanwhile; at their eve of match press conference; Macedonia Head Coach Mirsad Jonuz stated that "We are not just a one man team. (Goran) Pandev is not playing on his own. He has other good players (playing) around him. This is a strong group except for Andorra and teams can take points off each other. We have come here to win. We must not lose this game if we are to stay in contention."
STAR MAN: Pandev being put throug his paces
Jonuz also stated that they will not use previous games with Ireland to motivate his team. He said that the use of the phrase "I had a Macedonia" by Irish players (in reaction to Ireland's 3-2 defeat to the former Yugoslav state back in 1997), would not be interpretted offensively by the Macedonia players or people. "I expect Irish and Macedonians to interact cordially," said the Head Coach at Friday's eve of match press conference, which was attended by half a dozen Macedonian journalists.
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24 March, 2011

(Irish) International Football: "Macedonia. Discuss"......."Disgusted!"........

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Ireland goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly has unhappy Macedonia memories
......such was the reaction of the only surviving member of the last time that Ireland played Saturday's rivals: Alan Kelly; now goal - keeping coach for the Republic of Ireland. Every team has a "bogey team," a team who you should beat comfortably and yet always struggle to do so. Ireland have played Macedonia four times in previous qualifiers and their record is won one, drew two lost one. This is hardly a stellar record against a nation with a population of less than 1/5th that of Ireland's who only have a handful of full-time professional footballers. Such has been Ireland's lack of success against the former Yugoslav Republic that any time an Irish player had a bad training session; they were handed a bib to wear with "I had a Macedonia written on it."
Damien Duff: back to top form
In more relevant news to today's Irish set-up; Séamus Coleman will miss Saturday's tie, which really looks like a must-win if Ireland are to have hopes of reaching Euro 2012. Damien Duff looks set to lead the line on Saturday night and, after a quite few seasons, Duffer looks close to his form of 2002 and was really flying in training at Malahide's Gannon Park this morning.
The team that trained today saw Kieran Westwood in goal and a back four of Kevin Foley, Richard Dunne, Darren O'Dea and Kevin Kilbane.
Macedonia celebrate shock win over Ireland in a 1998 World Cup qualifier
Glenn Whelan and Darron Gibson played in central midfield, flanked by Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady, with Kevin Doyle and Robbie Keane in attack.
This is likely to be the starting line-up on Saturday night.

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23 March, 2011

Liam Lawrence (an Irish player born and raised in England) criticises players who chop and change between nationalities:

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English born and bred but proud to play for Ireland
Liam Lawrence has hit out at players who turn to the Republic of Ireland after failing to win England recognition.
Stoke midfielder Jermaine Pennant and Jamie O'Hara, currently on loan at Wolves, have both suggested they could declare for Ireland, but Lawrence admits their comments have not gone down particularly well with the Irish camp.
Lawrence, who was born in Nottingham but always intended to play for Ireland, said: 'The only thing I know upsets us is when people are trying to juggle between England and Ireland.
'That's the only issue, really, and it's not just me saying that. It doesn't look good, does it?
PLASTIC 'PADDY': Pennant in England U-21 kit
'We don't dislike these people, it is just some of the comments they come out with when they are saying they are juggling between Ireland and England - you just don't want it, do you?'
Lawrence was speaking in advance of Ireland's clash with FYR Macedonia on Satruday night, a side who have proven to be a real bogey team for the Boys in Green during three previous qualifying campaigns. Lawrence expects Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifying group to go right down to the wire and views the Macedonia game as a "must win" for his nation.
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GAA: "It's time to pay coaches," - says former Cork All-Ireland winner Larry Tompkins:

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The issue of illegal payments being made to senior inter-county team managers has long been in the thorn in the GAA's side. Larry Tompkins, who managed Cork from 1997 to 2003, said: "I definitely inter-county managers should be rewarded financially, because what they're getting at the moment in terms of expenses is very small. Managing a team at that level is a huge commitment and it takes over your life. The manager has the most important and demanding role in any team. I've been on both sides of it. As a player, you just pick up your bag in the evening and go training. But a manager is kept busy with it every minute of the day, between phone-calls, planning training sessions and various other things."
Larry does not want full-time GAA professionalism
When asked if employing inter-county managers on a full-time basis would be a realistic option in the future, Tompkins said: "I think it would be, but it could be an awkward situation because there are so many people putting hard work in to the GAA at all levels and they could argue that they deserve to be paid as well. But I'm certainly not arguing in favour of any kind of professional status in the GAA. What would happen then is that the top counties would get even stronger.  The three or four best players in Carlow, for example, would just go away and play for Cork or Kerry because they'd make more money from it. That cannot happen."
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