30 April, 2011

O'Driscoll comes up trumps again to see Leinster into second Heineken Cup Final:

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GAME DEFINING SCORE:   Brian O'Driscoll sees Leinster home once again
Brian O'Driscoll came up with a crucial try 18 minutes into the second half as Leinster overcame Toulouse in a bruising Heineken Cup semi-final at a sold-out AVIVA Stadium. 
The defending champions from the south of France were favourites to return to this year's showpiece in Cardiff, but Leinster summoned every ounce of desire and determination to hold them at bay.
The Irish side also played a fair bit of rugby and crossed for tries from Jamie Heaslip and Brian O'Driscoll, on their way to a deserved victory in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 at the Aviva Stadium.
Leinster also recovered from almost the worst possible start, as they conceded a freakish try inside four minutes.
Sexton's (eight out of eight) kicking helped see Leinster over the line
They looked to have escaped unscathed when David Skrela's penalty attempt glanced off the side of a post, but the ball took a wicked bounce back towards the field of play and Florian Fritz seized on it to score, with Skrela happy to take two points instead of three. 
The forwards battered away at the Toulouse line and eventually the relentless pressure produced a gap out wide. Sexton's slip looked to have wasted the chance but he managed to get the ball out to Heaslip who did well to squeeze the ball down between defenders, the video referee confirming the score. 
Leinster managed to go in leading 16-13 at the break, though the French champions came roaring back at them in the second half.
PARTY TIME:  Leinster celebrate the game clinching try
The intensity by this stage was of Test - match propor - tions and when Cencus Johnson was penalised for popping up at a scrum, tempers briefly boiled over. But Sexton kept his cool to nudge Leinster ahead once more.
Just before the hour mark they came up with the crucial try which pushed the difference between the sides beyond seven points for the first time. After relentless pressure on the Toulouse line, the ball was moved out to O'Driscoll and the Ireland skipper stepped inside two defenders and dived over. Sexton converted and the gap was nine points.
MAN of the MATCH Jamie Heaslip puts in the hard yards
Inevitably Toulouse responded but the outstanding Heaslip came up with a crucial turnover at a ruck and Toulouse had to settle for a long-range penalty from replacement Nicolas Bezy.
Toulose still needed a try though and they coughed up their final attacking chance two minutes from time when Yanick Jauzion passed the ball forward.
Johnny Sexton had the final say, landing a 10metre penalty as time expired and Leinster already celebrating a second Heineken Cup Final in three seasons. 

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28 April, 2011

Celtic long for Long: I feel the boy can play at a higher level than the Scottish Premier League:

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IN FORM:   Shane Long
According to reports in the Daily Mail, Celtic are hot on the trail of in form Reading Striker Shane Long. Long, who has also been linked with a move to Liverpool.  He has apparently been valued at £5 million by his club side according to the report, after a fantastic season for club and country.

Long has scored 23 goals in 46 appearances this season in the Championship and his form has alerted a host of English top-flight clubs with Everton, Newcastle, Sunderland and Birmingham all rumoured to be interested.

Anthony Stokes
Long himself has side tracked the attention claiming: ‘It’s always nice to hear good things but I try not to take too much notice of it. I just concentrate on scoring goals for Reading.’

Celtic already have Irish internationals Anthony Stokes and Daryl Murphy on their books.
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27 April, 2011

Seán Óg Ó hAilpín to receive Freedom of Cork City:

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Former Cork GAA star Seán Óg Ó hAilpín is to be offered the freedom of Cork city.
At the fortnightly Cork City Council meeting at City Hall on Tuesday night, Lord Mayor of Cork Michael O’Connell proposed that the three-time All-Ireland senior hurling medal-winner be given the accolade.
Cllr O’Connell said that he was proposing Ó hAilpín for his services to Cork both as a hurler and footballer and also for his services to his club Na Piarsiagh, with whom he won a county senior hurling title in 2004.
May 27 has been pencilled in as the date for the ceremony to take place for the three-time All-Star winner, who was dropped from the Rebels’ panel by manager Denis Walsh last October.


"For a guy who was born in Fiji, spent his formative years in Sydney and didn't touch a hurley 'til he was 11 to go on to win 3 All-Irelands.  Well;  'unique'  just doesn't sum up the story"

After that date, Ó hAilpín will become an Honorary Burgess of the city, joining other prominent Leeside sportspeople like Sonia O’Sullivan and fellow hurlers Con Murphy, a former president of the GAA, and Taoiseach Jack Lynch.

"For a guy who was born in Fiji, spent his formative years in Sydney and didn't touch a hurley 'til he was 11 to go on to win 3 All-Irelands.  Well;  'unique'  just doesn't sum up the story," Cork's 2005 All-Ireland winning hurling manager: John Allen.
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24 April, 2011

Cork complete comeback of comebacks to retain National Football League Crown:

Cork have now won last 3 National Titles
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Cork laid down a real marker for the upcoming Championship campaign by completing an incredible comback to overcome a Dublin side that had led by eight points early in the second half.  Cork have now won the last three National titles and must now be favourites to retain the All-Ireland Crown.  

This Dublin side always look likely to nick a goal (or two) and today was no different.  They raised the green flag on seven minutes and went in at the break with a 1-10 to 0-10 lead.
Dublin looked to have the game wrapped up four minutes into the second half when Bernard Brogan slammed a shot to the back of the Cork net after some fine approach play to send Dublin into a 2-11 to 0-10 lead.  Dublin seemed out of sight when Diarmuid Connolly scored a 40th minute point to send the Dubs into an eight point lead. 

Dublin lose another National Final
A big moment came on 50 minutes when Dublin talisman Bernard Brogan pulled his hamstring and was called ashore.   
In the final 20 minutes; nine points were scored; eight of them by Cork, who had done enough to complete an unlikely one point win.  It may 'only' be the League but Cork are looking the 'Real Deal' again this year; though don't rule out Dublin being there or thereabouts at the business end of Championship 2011.
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21 April, 2011

The Dan Plan: Putting the 10,000 hour Theory to the test:

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For Dan McLaughlin it's the sincerity of the endeavour that counts
There is a well known sports phrase stating that it takes "10,000 hours of practice" to reach an elite level of sport.  In recent years; this theory has been applied to fields other than sports.  Dan
McLaughlin read about the 10,000 hour theory in Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" and decided to apply it to himself.  He plans to practice playing golf for six hours a day, six days a week, for six years in order to have a shot at making the PGA Tour. He's already a year in. 
Here's how they have Dan trying to learn golf: He couldn't putt from 3 feet until he was good enough at putting from 1 foot. He couldn't putt from 5 feet until he was good enough putting from 3 feet. He's working away from the hole. He didn't get off the green for five months. A putter was the only club in his bag. 
Everybody asks him what he shoots for a round. He has no idea. His next drive will be his first.
In his month in Florida, he worked as far as 50 yards away from the hole. He might - might - have a full set of clubs a year from now.
You can follow Dan's progress on Twitter:  @choire
For Dan McLaughlin it's not the making it that counts; it's the sincerity of the endeavour.
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O'Gara to receive Cork City Civic Reception:

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PROUD:   Ronan O'Gara
 Ireland & Munster Rugby out-half Ronan O'Gara is to receive a Civic Reception in his hometown of Cork City on Wednesday, May 4th next.   The event will take place from 4p.m. on Wednesday week at Cork's City Hall.  Despite being born in San Diego, California, the all-time leading Six Nations points scorer is very much the quintessential Irish/Cork man.
"I am immensely proud and honoured to be a Cork man," - said O'Gara at the announcement of the event.
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20 April, 2011

Lennon threats condemned:

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Proud international; but thugs forced Lennon to quit Norn Iron
Glasgow Celtic have vowed to remain  "strong in the face of intimidation"  after two live parcel bombs had been sent to manager Neil Lennon.
Lennon was forced to quit the Northern Ireland international set-up in 2002 after receiving death threats and was attacked by two men (who later received six month jail sentences) in Glasgow last year.  He has been the subject of considerable other sectarian abuse which has nothing whatsoever to do with football.
Two high-profile Celtic fans were also targets of similar parcel bombs.  Strathclyde Police revealed the packages were   "designed to cause real harm to the person who opened them,"  but all four were intercepted beforehand.
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell appealed to supporters to stay calm and only respond through support for Lennon, who has been the subject of tight security measures since another item, initially thought to have been a hoax, was intercepted by Royal Mail staff on 4th March.
Lennon last week admitted the off-field issues, which have required him to be put under 24-hour surveillance, had put a "slight strain" on his home life but his love for his job meant he would not give up and Lawwell promised to continue providing support to the Northern Irishman.
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19 April, 2011

Golf: G Mc hails mature McIlroy's resilience:

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Graeme McDowell has tipped Rory McIlroy to become a stronger golfer and to win multiple Majors after his Masters meltdown 10 days ago.
McIlroy put the disappointment of Augusta behind him to finish third in the Maybank Malaysian Open, although he once again let a final-round lead slip leading to further question about is ability to putt under pressure.
McDowell, however, is in no doubt that the 21-year-old will recover and stands by his prediction that his compatriot will win numerous majors before the end of his career. 
"I think he is an unbelievably talented kid and at the minute he is just learning how to win," McDowell told Irish Golf Desk.
BEST BUDDIES:  McIroy and McDowell
"If he keeps putting himself up there, he will win. We've all seen Tiger Woods but this Rory McIlroy kid is one of the best players I have ever seen.
"It is all a learning experience and it will stand him in great stead for the future. All the greats say you have got to throw a few away before you learn how to win one. I said at the start of Masters week that Augusta is absolutely tailor made for him and I stand by that.
HIGH PRAISE: US Open Champion McDowell reckons Rory'll go all the way
"He will not just win one Masters, he will win multiple Masters. And I will say that right now."
Despite his failure to win in Kuala Lumpur, McDowell believes the young golfer showed brilliant resilience to bounce back and he is confident the disappointments will stand to him in the future.
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17 April, 2011

Chaos reigns as doctor 'stops' McCloskey v Khan:

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FARCE:  Doctor (right) stops McCloskey because of 'cut'
Events at the MEN Arena last night ended in farce as Amir Khan's fourth defence of his WBA World Light-Welter weight title against Northern Ireland's Paul McCloskey was stopped by referee Luis Pabón in the sixth round.  The fact that Khan celebrated as if he had landed a knockout, did leave a rather unsavoury taste in the mouth.  
Khan was declared the unanimous 60-54 winner, which was a fair reflection of the action. But Pabón was about to face the fury of Barry Hearn, the owner of Matchroom, McCloskey's promoter.  After clambering into the ring Hearn shouted at the Puerto Rican official: "You're a fucking disgrace, a fucking disgrace." Later he said:  "If I was Khan I'd be ashamed. The referee showed enormous ineptitude."  Hearn, who has promoted fights since the 1980's refused to pull any punches and continued by stating:   "This was a world-title fight. If you see the cut you'd be amazed. It's a nick. It's the worse stoppage I've ever seen."
NOT HAPPY:   Hearn (with glasses & centre of pic)
Khan's Coach Fred Roache has stated that there would be  "no point"  in offering McCloskey a rematch; whilst Khan himself stated immediately afterwards:  "McCloskey is a good fighter, a European class fighter.  I am a world class fighter though.  I am ranked second in the world and now I want to fight the number one in the world.  There would be no reason for me to give McCloskey a rematch."
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15 April, 2011

1990 World Cup Legend PACKIE BONNER at Turners Cross, Cork tonight:

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A MOMENT FOR A GENERATION:  Bonner saves Ireland: 1990 FIFA World Cup
Packie shows 'em whose boss
Packie Bonner will attend tonight’s Cork City FC v Finn Harps game at Turners Cross as a special guest of the club.  The word  "legend"  is oft over-used in society; but that is the only moniker which aptly describes the 'wee man' from Donegal.
The former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper is in Cork as the special guest for Crosshaven AFC’s Annual Dinner Dance which is taking place on Saturday 16th April at the Carrigaline Court Hotel, and was delighted to learn that his local League of Ireland team Finn Harps would be in Cork at the same time.
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14 April, 2011

Cork leading the way in underage set-up:

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Rebel Óg launched by GAA President: Cork's Christy Cooney
Cork may well be reigning All-Ireland football champions but local GAA
officials have been hard at work planning a new underage structure for
the county in recent months. Around 80,000 children are involved in
Gaelic games from the age of six up to minor level in Cork, making it
the biggest underage system in Ireland, and Rebel Óg has been created
to ensure a new emphasis on player development while encouraging
participants to remain on with the Association in the longer term. 
One board, Coiste na nÓg Chorcaí, will now oversee fixture programming
for 220 schools, 169 clubs and all the various camps and will be
helped by four regional boards – Central (for the city and outlying
urban areas), north, west and east – in place of the 16 boards that
existed previously.
A ‘Go Games’ initiative will focus on getting younger players to enjoy
being involved - taking away the competitive element of matches -
while Schools of Excellence and Development Squads will allow the best
players from each age grade to improve their skills further. The
ultimate aim of the new structure will be to have players ‘Play & Stay
with the GAA’.
“A strategic review has been taking place in Cork over the past 18
months and a report into the findings was announced last September,”
Coiste na nÓg PRO Cian O’Brien explained:  "“In 2010 we
had 16 boards arranging matches for everyone from 18 down to six. Now,
we’ll have one parent board with four regional boards, involving the
schools, putting together a master fixtures list for our 12,000 games
a year.
“What we want to ensure is that a boy in 6th class playing Sciath na
Scoil with his school isn’t playing a club match the same day. It will
allow kids to know when they are playing, when they have training and
will prevent player burnout. For certain age groups, it’s a feast or a
famine - they might have nothing for six months and then four matches
over three weeks. The aim is to have them playing regularly throughout
the year.”
For more information log onto rebelog.ie
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Dalglish believes new evidence will bring "Justice for the 96:"

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Dalglish looks on helpless and hapless at Hillsborough
Kenny Dalglish believes that the families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hills - borough are close to obtaining the answers and justice for which they have campaigned since 1989.
is the 22nd anniversary of the disaster, at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, for which no one in authority has been held accountable, despite Lord Justice Taylor ruling that South Yorkshire police, Sheffield city council and Sheffield Wednesday football club were culpable.
An independent panel is examining documents relating to Hillsborough and this week James Jones, the bishop of Liverpool who is chairing the panel, told the Guardian it intended to reveal "the full truth" having obtained previously unreleased information.
Justice for the 96
Dalglish, who was Liverpool manager in 1989 and who is their manager now, said: "I think it's getting closer to some positive news for the families, but it has taken a long time to get to this point as well. Two years ago Andy Burnham [then secretary of state for culture, media and sport] came up to the memorial service and promised that he would do the best he could to get access to some papers that were not due to be released for another three or four years and to the man's great credit he has done that. They have got access now to some papers that they've never had before and have now got to file through them and that's why I'm saying it's getting a bit more positive for the families."
People try to rescue those trapped in Leppings Lane
 "I don't think what happened there will ever be removed from anybody. I think nobody should ever forget it."

The Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath  were a contributory factor to Dalglish stepping down as Liverpool manager in 1991 and on Friday he and the entire Liverpool squad will attend the annual memorial service at Anfield."I don't think what happened there will ever be removed from anybody and neither should it," said Dalglish. "I don't think anybody should ever forget it."
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