30 June, 2011

Beach volleyball starting next week in Cork city:

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CORK CITY BEACH VOLLEYBALL: just like the Copacabana
Subject to numbers;  my friend, Richard O'Riordan is starting a Beach Volleyball group in Cork city.   We will practice/play at Musgrave Park in the city.  We intend to cater for all skill levels; from novice to advanced.
We plan to start from next Monday;   4th July.
We intend to play on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7p.m. until dark.  Cost will vary from €2-€5  per person per night as we have to rent the pitch.  We will bring portable nets and all equipment required. Musgrave Park will supply sand  (it is beach volleyball after all!)
For anyone interested or who has more questions; please leave a Comment at the end of this article, or, alternatively, check out the Facebook page:
Novices will most likely play 4v4 or 6v6;  though we will certainly cater for more advanced players; who will compete on a 2v2 court.

If numbers are sufficient we will look to getting extra court(s). The atmosphere should be very relaxed. I am only playing for some fun, but the more advanced players might give us some tips from time to time. So no skill level is required and the only thing which is desired is that you turn up with a smile on your face and leave with a bigger one :D
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28 June, 2011

Dublin Super Cup MIGHT help Irish football:

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2011 DUBLIN SUPER CUP:   opportunity to showcase the Airtricity League
This isn't a time to turn one's nose up at the Dublin Super Cup.  Instead, it should be embraced by fans of the Airtricity League (of Ireland) who crave a much-needed injection of recognition and investment in the domestic game.  Next month's tournament will see Inter Milan, Manchester City and Glasgow Celtic arrive at the AVIVA Stadium with Damien Richardson's carefully selected legion of Ireland based players fighting for a share of the global spotlight.
Damien Richardson will hope his charges can be competitive
Set to be beamed around the world, in 3D, no less - it is a showcase that allows the Republic of Ireland's top league to reach an audience it normally would never get near, the Sky Sports, bar stool generation that is.  I was going to type the  "Republic of Ireland's top professional league," in that last sentence, however; over the last two years and due to the deepening recession in Ireland; the top level of football is semi-professional at best; shamateaur at worst.
STAR ATTRACTION:2010 Champions League winners Inter Milan
This tournament puts Irish clubs not alone in the same shop as Europe's elite; but on the same shelf as three of Europe's top level brands that are usually gobbled up by football enthusiasts; fans who know more about Manchester United's reserve team 'keeper than who is top scorer in the Airtricity League.  A moment of magic from Dundalk winger Daniel Kearns or yet another special from league champions' Karl Sheppard could go some way to changing that though.  The quality of football in this league is massively overlooked and by making the most of this tournament, neutral fans will see that it is not that bad at all.
Selling the league to those fans flocking to see the opposing teams is key.  And the best way to do that is by offering concessions to upcoming league games and pointing them in the right direction of the next Kevin Doyle or Seamus Coleman.

Once in, fickle as these fans are, there is a chance that they just might stick around.
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"PONY EXCESS:" a dynasty lost in sudden death; with special thanks to Toponlinecolleges.com

I received an email today from  Toponlinecolleges.com  telling me of an article that I might be interested in.  They (Jennifer Lynch from Toponlinecolleges.com to be precise)  were correct; the article was fantastic.
The article (titled the  “10 Most Crooked College Programs in NCAA History”)  was also a boost to my ego.   This is the email Jennifer Lynch sent to me today:

"Hi James,

My name is Jennifer and I write for Toponlinecolleges.com. After publishing our most recent post, “10 Most Crooked College Programs in NCAA History” I thought of you and your readers because it tackles the same kind of issues you often discuss on your blog. If you’d like to share it on your site, we’d love to keep the discussion going.

Jennifer Lynch"    
- clearly; my articles are being read....who would have thought, eh?!  I was going to condense the article into a Top 3 or a Top 5;   but there is just too many interesting stories in there, so thanks again to Jennifer Lynch from Toponlinecolleges.com  for informing me about it.

"It's a question of obey the rules, or be more subtle if you don't.  The NCAA are a bunch of gangsters.  As long as money is there, the incentive will be there to cheat." 

This article (the “10 Most Crooked College Programs in NCAA History”)  gets me onto the  "ESPN 30 for 30";  a countdown of the Top 30 films since the foundation of ESPN (30 years ago).  Many of these films are worth watching;  in particular;  "Once Brothers,"  "Without Bias," and of course  "Pony Excess;"  which tells the story of the aforementioned Southern Methodist University practices of corruption;  #1 on the list of Toponlinecolleges.com  “10 Most Crooked College Programs in NCAA History.”
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27 June, 2011

Referee knocked unconsciousnes after match:

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Referee being stretchered from pitch after being knocked out
GAA administrators in Tyrone have ordered an inquiry after a referee and a senior county official were knocked unconscious when violence flared at the end of a women's football final.

Simon Brady, 43, was attacked by a spectator as he checked his score card after St Macartan's of Augher defeated Carrickmore by scoring a winning point in the final stages of the match in Beragh.

Tyrone ladies football chairman Martin Conway was also stretchered off the pitch after he was hit when he tried to intervene on Friday night.

Father-of-two Mr Brady was treated at the Erne Hospital, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh for bruising and swelling to his face. He was struck once by a spectator after awarding St Macartan's a free kick just seconds from the end of the game.

Just after blowing the final whistle he was punched.

An official who came to assist the stricken ref was also knocked out
He said: "I was checking my score card to make sure every - thing was in order. I got a tap on the shoulder from one of the managers wanting to shake my hand and that is the last thing I remember."

Mr Brady told the Irish News: "Apparently I was hit. My understanding is that it was a spectator. I woke up maybe five minutes later. I was frightened. I didn't know what had happened. All I knew was I was lying on the ground and it was wet and cold.

"I wasn't even aware Martin Conway had been hit by another individual when he came to help me."
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Tell your friends: New league starting in Cork:

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There is a new six-a-side soccer league starting in Carrigtwohill near Cork city from early July (dates subject to change).  The league will take place at Millenium Park, which is a third generation synthetic pitch.  The pitch is FAI and FIFA approved and is used by Cork City FC and Cobh Ramblers for training purposes.
Top prizes are offered but more teams are needed.   
Please see the advertisement on this article for more details and contact information.   Alternatively, you can contact me on 0863541404 and I will tell you whatever information you need.
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26 June, 2011

Rangers raiders are now a fresh threat to the GAA:

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Ricky Nixon (left) with some GAA - Aussie Rules converts
GAA coaches around Ireland have long viewed Ricky Nixon, the Australian talent scout with the plane tickets to Sydney and the fat chequebook, as the biggest threat to their development work.  They hadn't considered a predator much closer to home however.
Rangers FC, it is alleged, have established a powerful scouting network within the GAA community in Ireland, with numerous former Gaelic footballers now on their books as full-time youth players.  If there is something refreshing about the Glasgow giants, who refused to sign Catholic players until the late 1980's, taking such an open stance, it might concern Croke Park that the Protestant institution have begun to 'cherrypick' GAA talent with such specific determination.
Aaron McGregor(l): another convert from GAA to a pro football code
Their new direction was highlighted by Michael McGregor, the father of new Rangers signing, Aaron, 17, who has left Limavady Wolfhounds GAA club behind to chase the professional pound in Scotland.  His comments are sure to raise eyebrows.
"Rangers is full of lads who have played Gaelic football: there are five in the squad that Aaron's joining and four of the Ranger's scouts have Celtic tatoos.  At this level, it's all about professionalism."
Aaron, his son has said he'll  "miss the Gaelic," but admitted:  "I've always wanted to be a professional footballer."
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Brian bashes soccer no shows:

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"For me, it is the ultimate to put on your green jersey and I truly love it as you are representing the whole country, not just a certain section,"

Brian O'Driscoll checks into Ireland's pre World Cup trainig camp today with a word of warning for his rugby team-mates and a stinging rebuke for the Irish soccer players who shunned Giovanni Trapatoni's end of season games.
Returning to Ireland's failed 2007 World Cup campaign in France, the Six Nations all-time leading try scorer said that the team had been 'guilty of talking ourselves up way too much,' and he claimed that the soccer players who snubbed Trapatoni last month were 'not giving the jersey the respect [that it deserves].'
The Leinster star shot the breeze on a number of sporting issues in an informal but informative setting on the eve of commencement of Ireland's final pre-World Cup training camp with his own code and soccer high on the agenda.
 "We talked ourselves up way too much in the last World Cup and that has resulted in a more level headed approach going forward," - the skipper told www.irishcentral.com.
"Instead of having the attitude of: 'Yeah, we'll win it,' we're thinking: 'Let's get out of the Pool and then look to the quarter-final and take it from there.  We are far more consistent now and I think there is now real strenth-in-depth here as well."
TALKING CANDIDLY:  Ireland rugby icon Brian O'Driscoll
Ireland head-coach Declan Kidney welcomes a fully fit squad to Carton House in Co. Kildare, in direct contrast to the Ireland soccer squad, a number of whom shunned the opportunity to play in end-of-season European Champinship fixtures, something which O'Driscoll says disrespects the jersey.
"The guys who are turning down international call-ups are not giving the jersey the respect it deserves.  I don't think they should be considered for selection when the so-called more interesting games are there to be played and there to be won.
"For me, it is the ultimate to put on your green jersey and I truly love it as you are representing the whole country, not just a certain section.  Respect is a given for me when you are selected for your country.  It is such a huge honour.
"I have always paid into the belief that you are only ever borrowing the jersey.  You never own the jersey.  Someone has gone before you and someone will come after you, so it is a case of giving the jersey maximum respect"
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23 June, 2011

Olympic medalists set for 2011 Cork City Sports:

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Natasha Hastings on her way to Olympic Gold
Two Olympic medalists have been confirmed for the 60th Cork City Sports which take place at the CIT Athletics Stadium on Saturday week.   Natasha Hastings won gold for the USA at the 2008 Beijing Games as part of the phenomenal 4x400m relay team.  She also collected gold medals at the 2007 and 2009 World Athletics Championships.
Hastings intends using Cork as her Eurpopean base for the coming weeks ahead of this year's World Championships.  Hastings will be a big attraction and Irish international Marian Heffernan from Togher will look forward to competing against the World's best on her home track.  
Mark Willis celebrates Olympic medal
2008 Olympic 1,500m silver medalist Nick Willis will also run in Cork and will use the event as a preparation for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea at the end of August.   The New Zealander stands out as one of the few non-African likely to be in the medals this year and possibly next year in London.
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Ireland's Hughton will soon be back in the big time with Birmingham:

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Chris Hughton: soon to be back in the (Premier League) big time
Former Republic of Ireland international Chris Hughton is set to be named as the new manager of Birmingham City today.   All football lovers will be pleased to see Chris back in football.  The man loves the game and on a training pitch is where he belongs.  
There were many, this observer included, who were appauled at the way  Chris was treated by his previous employers, Newcastle United.   
Ireland's first black international: Chris Hughton
Chris had done a terrific job at Newcastle.  Having achieved promotion in his first full season in charge, Chris had led Newcastle to 11th place in the Premier League at Christmas of their first season in the division.  For some reason though, he didn't  "fit" into (Newcastle owner) Mike Ashley's plans and was uncerimoniously sacked.  He has since been linked with several Premier League and Championship clubs.  The only surprise is that it has taken so long for him to find employment after leaving Newcastle.
At the press conference announcing the appointment, Chris Hughton stated:  "The only aim for the coming season is promotion.  After relegation  (from the Premier League) last season, we will sell players to balance the books though." 

Chris Hughton is one of the best young managers in the football business and I wish him all the best for the future.
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19 June, 2011

"Hollywood star can break Tiger & JACK's record"

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"For someone so young to have such a public meltdown as Rory did at the Masters; you wonder if it'd leave a scar on him.  
But he's come back to play some of the best golf I've ever seen,"
- Butch Harmon

GLORY FOR RORY:  2011 U.S. Open Champion
Breaking a number of records; Rory McIlroy tonight became the youngest winner of the US Open since 1923 with a (comfortably) record score of 16 under par at Congressional Golf Course in Washington tonight.
The Hollywood (Co. Down) native has recovered in the best possible way from his Masters meltdown at Augusta precisely 10 weeks ago.  The 22 year-old led by four strokes going into the final round, but showed his age by collapsing under the pressure on the back nine on Sunday at Augusta.
Whilst he has a long way to go;  McIlroy has the potential to beat the record of Tiger Woods' (14 Major Championships) or maybe even Jack Nicklaus (18 Majors).  These are not my words; but rather Pádraig Harrigton's, who himself knows a thing or two about what it takes at the highest level of golf, having won three Majors himself.
NOT HAPPY: Is Rory McIlroy the heir to Tiger's golfing throne?
A few years ago, there would have been arguments that a Major golf tournament won without Tiger Woods' in the field  "doesn't count"  as a Major Title win.  However, with the way Rory McIroy has won the US Open, there can be little doubt that not even Tiger in his pomp would have gotten anywhere near him.  Fitting that Rory won this Major with a record low score of 16 under par and that the previous record holder was one Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods.  Baton being passed perhaps?  Perhaps or perhaps not.  What is almost certain however is that this will not be the last Major Rory holds aloft.  Or the last golfing record that he breaks.
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18 June, 2011

O'Gara: "Players feel Paul's plight:"

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Paul Darbyshire & Ronan O'Gara together: 2011 Magners League Final
In advance of this weekend's Munster Rugby Cycle for Paul Darbyshire and Motor Neuron Diseases (MND) Ireland;  Ronan O'Gara has talked about the profound effect that the Australian's illness has had on him and other Munster players.  
O'Gara was one of the first people the Munster fitness coach contacted when he was initially diagnosed with MND.
Darbyshire phoned him while still in hospital in the Bons Secours Cork.  
"When I reached the Bons, he was in floods of tears and basically said 'I'm goosed.'
"I'll never forget that moment," continued the record breaking fly half.
"I was telling him he was jumping the gun, that he had to be positive, but MND is only diagnosed after the specialist has ruled absolutely everything else out.  When something like that happens to a friend, you question a lot of things.  It has a massive impact on all of us who are close to him.   He's not just a coach, he's a close friend, a mate."
Paul Darbyshire as he will be remembered
The closeness of O'Gara and Darbyshire has its foundations in their living close to each other in Rochestown and spending a lot of time away from the training ground in each other's company.  And it's a friendship that was cemented when the 41 year-old asked O'Gara to become godfather to his two sons, Jack (seven years old) and Harry (10 months).
"It's a massive responsibility, and that responsibility goes to a whole new level when Paul passes away, which is going to happen soon."
Munster backroom staff celebrate 2011 Magners League win
"Being godfather is not something I take lightly and knowing what's coming, I know I will face a lot more responsibility in the near future.

Munster Rugby Cycle for Paul Darbyshire and Motor Neurone Disease Ireland starts tomorrow, Sunday 19th June from Musgrave Park in Cork.   See http://www.mycharity.ie/event/munster_rugby_charity_cycle/    for more details.
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17 June, 2011

Can Ireland's Rory hold on after Masters meltdown?

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CONGRESSIONAL GOLF CLUB: seven US Presidents have been members
Rory McIlroy has become the first golfer to reach 13 under par at the U.S. Open.  At the notoriously treachorous Congressional Golf & Country Club, the young Northern Ireland man has surged TEN strokes clear of the field and looks to be a dead cert to lift the Wannamaker Trophy come Sunday evening.  McIlroy has completed the biggest half way lead at a US Open and until Friday's final hole, had not dropped a stroke along the way.  McIlroy unfortunately hit a double bogey six on Friday's final hole but still finished on 11 under par with an eight stroke lead on the chasing pack.
Defending champion Graeme McDowell stated on Wednesday;  "We'll start the tournament on level par and anything near that will be very close to winning the tournament come Sunday evening."

NO REPEAT PLEASE: Rory during his US Masters meltdown
"Rory is a great lad and a great player.  After the Masters, he deserves to win this weekend," - former World #2 Sergio Garcia

The previous 36 hole lead at a US Open was six strokes; held by Tiger Woods when he went on to stroll to a 15 stroke lead at Pebble Beach in 2000 as the first leg of his  "Tiger Slam."

Rory McIlroy celebrates another birdie at Congressional
"For 35 holes; Rory was in a league of his own," - Butch Harmon

I don't usually write an article at this stage of a tournament, I prefer to either preview events, or summarise them afterwards.  However, McIlroy's story at this US Open is so amazing, that it merits comment; when one considers the 22 year-old's collapse at the US Masters only 10 weeks ago.  I for one, thought that the mental scars suffered from throwing away a final round four stroke lead would take at least 12 months, if not considerably longer to recover from and that it would be at least four or five Majors time before the Portrush native would be at the business end of a top golf tournament.  McIlroy has however proved this critic wrong and one wonders can he hold on until the 72nd hole this time?  When considering the magnanimity and graciousness the young man dealt with his Masters meltdown, this observer sincerely hopes that he does just that.

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