Saturday, October 29, 2011


Ireland took a huge step towards regaining the Cormac McAnallen Cup with a comprehensive 44-point victory over Australia in the 2011 International Rules Series first Test in Melbourne.

Goals from Michael Murphy, Eamonn Callaghan, Leighton Glynn and Steven McDonnell helped the Irish to an almost unassailable lead ahead of next week's second Test.

Aussie-based trio Tadhg Kennelly, Tommy Walsh and Zac Tuohy controlled the game from the start and the young and inexperienced home side had no answer, with captain Brad Green scoring the only goal for Rodney Eade's team.

Having chased the series from the beginning last year, Ireland got off to a flying start in the first-quarter and Sydney Swan Walsh didn't need to be asked twice when presented with a 40-metre shot in front of the posts after three minutes.

Leighton Glynn doubled the lead just a minute later with another over from 20 metres. It was clear that the Irish had brought their shooting boots and the Aussies hadn't as they notched up three bad wides in the opening quarter in addition to Zac Smith dropping a handy free into Stephen Cluxton's arms.

Michael Murphy then added another over after marking Kennelly's cross before the home side opened their scoring through Mark Nicoski's behind. But that only fired the Irish up more and Kennelly shot over on the run and Murphy ran unhindered through the middle to lash the ball past Matthew Suckling in the Aussie goal.

Stephen Milne got Australia's first over with three minutes left in the quarter, but Steven McDonnell had the last say with a magnificent kick from the sideline that sailed between the posts to give Ireland a 22-4 lead.

Ireland were far more composed in possession than in previous years, showing great judgment in marking and moving when appropriate. They also had the upper hand in contact with the AFL trio of Walsh, Tuohy and Kennelly tackling hard, much to the surprise of the home players in the covered Etihad Stadium.

The second quarter offered little respite for the Aussies. Kevin McKernan added an over either side of one-pointers from Tuohy and Donaghy. Eamonn Callaghan scored Ireland's second goal midway through the second quarter, lobbing the ball into an empty net after Suckling had come off his line.

Robin Nahas did manage an over off a mark but McDonnell and Walsh did the same down the other end. Needing to stop the flow of scores, Mitch Robinson landed an over and captain Brad Green slid in for a goal after an uncharacteristic, risky pass from Cluxton.

But it was left to McDonnell to finish the first half with an over from a free-kick that gave Anthony Tohill's side a 24-point lead.

Australia looked to reduce the margin after the break with Green and Gray adding overs but, after Emmet Bolton was stretchered off and a minor melee, Donaghy, Glynn and McKeever all scored three-pointers before Gray slotted over to finish the quarter. Ireland still led by 33 points.

St Kilda's Milne got the first score of the last period but after that the Aussies seemed to lose all interest and Glynn was left alone to smash home a goal from 20 yards. Donaghy added an over and McDonnell got Ireland's fourth six-pointer from an acute angle with ten minutes to play.

Green and Angus Monfries reduced the margin with overs but McDonnell and Aidan Walsh were also on target to put the series beyond doubt ahead of the second Test in Queensland next week.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Shamrock Rovers set the seal on a title-winning Season when they beat Galway United 4-0 at Tallaght Stadium tonight.

Chris Turner opened the scoring for the Hoops on 31minutes with a good shot from twenty yards out.
Six minutes later, a Billy Dennehy free-kick eluded everyone, including the Galway goal-keeper Colin Wynne to make it 2-0 going into the break.

Former Galway United native, Karl Shepperd got booked for diving in the box on 60 mins, however Rovers soon got a penalty six minutes later when Rory Gartlan was sent-off for a foul on the Rover's man.
Shepperd slotted home the penalty for his 17th goal of the Season.

With Galway down to ten men it was a rear-guard approach by them to see out the match, care-taker boss John Brennan must have been disappointed to see Shamrock Rovers score again when Ronan Finn scored from just inside the box to make it 100 goals at the Tallaght Stadium for Michael O'Neill's men in two seasons at the new venue.

So for Galway its the relegation play-offs while Shamrock Rovers host PAOK in Tallaght in the Europa League next Thursday evening.

Man of the Match: Chris Turner

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Shamrock Rovers scored a late injury-time winner against UCD to dramaticaly win the Airtricity League at Belfield tonight, 2-1.

A dull first-half was quickly forgotten and the game only sprang into life when rovers defender, Gary Sives was sent off for a 2nd yellow card on 60 minutes.
Michael O'Neill's side then upped the tempo and substitute Ken Oman headed home a Rover's corner to give the Champion's-elect a vital lead.

However, the lead was only to last two minutes as UCD scored from a corner of their own with Robbie Benson heading in to level the game again 1-1.

The Hoops kept pushing forward and when Darren Meenan was sent off for the Students, the sides were both down to ten men.
With time ticking away, the game seemed to be heading for a draw, but Rovers had other ideas and Dean Kelly swept the ball home for a goal deep into injury-time to win Rovers the game and the League Championship for the second year in a row and 17 titles in total.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Irish women's boxing heroine Katie Taylor claimed Gold again on Saturday night after she claimed her fifth European senior title in a row with her fifth win in six days in Rotterdam.

A 10-5 decision over Russia's two-time World champion Sofya Ochigava secured a 12th major international gold medal for the Bray woman, who is also the reigning World and EU lightweight champion.

Saturday's verdict was sweet revenge for the 25-year-old, who was controversially adjudged to have lost to the Russian southpaw at the Usti nad Labem Grand Prix in the Czech Republic in March 2010

"Sofya is one of the best opponents I have ever met and I'm absolutely thrilled with the win. I can't believe it really.

"Obviously, we are rivals inside the ring, but we really get on very well outside the ring. She's a lovely person as well as fantastic boxer.

"It's always a great feeling to win. In fact, it gets better every time. There was a lot of pressure on me going into this tournament and that pressure was there all week.

Lets hope that she continues her consistent brilliance into next year's Olympics in London.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The Pan-Thessalonian Athletic Club of Constantinopolitans or PAOK for short, just about did enough to beat a competent Shamrock Rovers side in Salonika 2-1.

Michael O' Neill's side got off to a bad start when Lazar scored with a shot from 12 yards that Ryan Thompson couldn't keep out.

However, Rovers grew into the game and were a match for PAOK , a James Patterson cross into the box on 32 mins evaded everybody, then Karl Sheppard had a shot well saved on 46 mins.

Early in the second-half, Rovers equalised when Billy Dennehy floated in a free-kick for Karl Sheppard to head home 4 minutes into the half.

The Rovers continued to match their opponents on the field and were playing quite well until they were undone by a goal out of the blue.
A Vierinha shot flew past Thompson in goal on 64 mins and the home side were in front again.

Shamrock Rovers tried to chase the game after that but failed to find a way past the Greek's defence.

However, it was a courageous display by the League of Ireland leaders and they did themselves and the League proud.

Man of the match: Karl Sheppard

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It is high-time for Wales coach to stop critisising the decision by respected Irish referee, Alain Rolland to send Simon Warburton off for his 'spear-tackle' on Frances' Vincent Clerc.
Yes, it did alter the course of the game and Wales lost by a single point to France 9-8, but the offence was a serious one and constitutes an automatic sending off in any game for any player.

There can be no softening of the rule which was amended after Ireland's Captain, Brian O'Driscoll's Lions tour was cruelly ended by a Spear- tackle against New Zealand a few years ago.
It is a highly dangerous tackle that could potentially paralyse a rugby player.

In any case, Wales missed many kicks on goal to have won the match regardless of the sending-off and the Warburton himself has admitted he was guilty of a dangerous tackle.

Hard luck to Wales in losing the semi-final to France, but get over it Warren.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Liverpool legend, Ronnie Whelan has brought out his autobiography: "Walk On: My Life in Red".

Its a very good piece of work, from his humble beginnings in Dublin to having a glittering career with the Reds from 1979-1994.
During that time he won six League Titles, one European Cup, three League Cups and two FA Cups.

In an honest and open manner, he describes what it was like as a player during both the Heysel Stadium and the Hillsborough tragedies.
He states that the players were so traumatised by Hillsborough, that, to this day, they are unable to mention it or talk about it in any way.

Ronnie played 362 times for Liverpool, scoring 46 goals along the way.
He was voted the thirtieth best player in the club's illustrious history on the Official Liverpool website.

He also had a sucessful International career with Ireland from 1981 to 1995.
He played in Euro 88, scoring a spectacular diving volley against Russia.
He also featured in Italia 90, but his International career was dogged with injuries and a lack of playing time under then manager Jack Charlton.
Ronnie Whelan's book is a revealing insight into life at Anfield in the Eighties and early Nineties.

A must-read for all Ireland and Liverpool fans.


Ireland Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has threatened to walk-away from the Ireland set-up even if we beat Estonia in the Euro play-offs, next month.

It is believed that the spritely 72 year-old manager of the Republic's team is not happy with the FAI's reluctance to offer him a new contract despite the fact that Ireland have now got a great chance of gettting through the play-offs by beating Estonia next month:
"Yes, I could go without a new contract...We can either go to the finals and say our job is done."
What does that mean, is it that Trap is annoyed with the FAI and John Delaney in particuler in not awarding Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli new contracts.

Despite the dire football, I really hope that the impish Italian is kept on for two more years at least, he is a winner.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


With Ireland through to another play-off under Italian Manager Giovanni Trapattoni, it is worthwhile in taking a look at his record in nearly four years in charge of our National Team.
He has a good CV and that has continued with Ireland:


That is our Manager's record since he took over in 2008.
It is worth pointing out that off the 8 defeats we have suffered in his time as Manager, only 2 of those have been in a qualifier game in two campaigns, that was the 3-2 defeat at home to Russia this term and the1-0 defeat to France at Croke Park in the 2010 play-off for the World Cup.
End of season friendlies with only a few first-team players on show inevitably lead to some defeats, like the 1-0 loss to Argentina in August of last year or the 3-1 defeat by Uruguay in March this year, no disgrace, they are the current Copa America Champions.

Fact is, under Trapattoni, we have lost only two competitive games in two qualifying campaigns.
We actually won the play-off in France in normal time, 1-0 thanks to a fine Robbie Keane goal, it was the extra-time Gallas equaliser from Henry's handball that levelled the game.

Although, we are not always good to watch, we get results, so John Delaney, give him a new contract asap before he goes elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Ireland qualified for the play-offs by beating plucky Armenia at the Aviva Stadium 2-1 this evening.
Needing only a draw to secure 2nd place in Group B,
 Ireland were handed a piece of good fortune when Armenia's goalkeeper Berezovsky was sent off after 25 minutes when he handled a Simon Cox shot outside his box. 
The free-kick came to nothing but Armenia were forced to bring off Malaqyan from midfield and bring on a young keeper in Armanek Petrosyan.

Ireland peppered Armenia's defence with a shot by Simon Cox saved and a McGeady shot just wide, then a Damian Duff cross was flicked on by Kevin Doyle in the six yard box only for Aleksanyan to poke the ball into his own net, 1-0 to Ireland.

With ten-man Armenia now needing two goals to go through, the expected improvement in their game never materialised with a shot by Movisyan their only attempt on target in the first-half, while Cox had another shot saved  before the whistle blew for half-time.
Ireland were in control without really making their man advantage count.

Giovanni Trapattoni's team began the second-half in much better fashion, pressing high up the pitch and playing some neat, intricate football, another shot for the impressive Simon Cox was blocked before an Aidan McGeady cross was touched in by Richard Dunne to give Ireland a 2-0 lead and gave Armenia a mountain to climb, the 45,300 crowd at the Aviva Stadium were in raptures.

However, Ireland were guilty of an unusual lapse in concentration at the back to allow Mikrtcharyan to beat Shay Given three minutes later.
McGeady was replaced by Stephen Hunt on 68 mins, while a minute later Kevin Doyle got sent off for an elbow on an Armenian defender, he will now miss at least one of the play-off matches.

Trap also brought on Keith Fahey for Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters for Simon Cox on 79 mins,
Walters also looked very lively when he came on, the Stoke City player held the ball up very well every time and had a couple of shots saved by Petrosyan.

So the four minutes of injury time ticked down and as the referee blew the whistle, the Stadium erupted and the players embraced each other for finishing second in the group on 21 points and on reaching the play-offs.

The Republic may be seeded in the top-tier of the draw on Thursday following France's draw with Bosnia, lets hope so, well done Ireland.

Man of the Match: Simon Cox

GROUP BPlayedWonDrawnLostForAgainstGoal DiffPoints

Monday, October 10, 2011


As expected, Robbie Keane will miss Ireland's make-or-break match against Armenia on Tuesday evening.
The Irish Captain and record goal-scorer (51) has a groin injury that will take up to a month to heal.

Perhaps, surprisingly, Simon Cox has been preferred ahead of his West Brom team-mate Shane Long to partner Kevin Doyle upfront.
Richard Dunne returns in defence after suspension, replacing Darren O'Dea who has a very promising career ahead of him.
John O'Shea goes to left back as cover for Steven Ward who is banned for this match.
With Ireland ahead of Armenia by a point in  Group B, a draw will be enough to book a place in the play-offs in November.
However, Trapattoni added a note of caution at the press conference: 
"Our fans are very important, but we must not think about 'Go, go, go!' to score a goal.

"In the past we have tried to score a goal, not scored a goal and conceded on the counter-attack.
"This is a test of or maturity. With maturity, we will look to win, but we have to think always about not conceding a goal.
"When I came here, I saw a DVD of the Irish team which was leading and attacked with eight players.
"It was the same when I was at Benfica, the people shouting 'Go, go, go!' and there were 18 players in the final 30 metres of the pitch.
"That means 80 metres of the ground is free, and that is very, very dangerous.
"We must do what we want to do, that's maturity. For our team, for our players, this is a good test to show that with this maturity, we can achieve the result we want.
"All that matters is the result."
Expect a typically conservative approach by Trapottoni then.

Armenia have made a late charge in the group scoring goals aplenty.
They scored four goals against both Macedonia and Slovakia and 3 against Andorra to leave them currently in 3rd place in the group on 17 points.

While Ireland boast a mean defence having kept 8 clean sheets in a row against Italy and Russia among others.
It is a potential banana-skin for the Republic of Ireland, but I am going for a 1-1 draw, hopefully.

Team: Given(capt), Kelly, Dunne, St. Ledger, O'Shea, McGeady, Andrews, Whelan, Duff, Cox, Doyle.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Irishman Brendan Dolan's fairytale finally came to an end this evening when he was beaten 6 sets to three by World number one, Phil Taylor.
Playing to a packed audience with vocal Irish support at the CityWest Hotel in Dublin 24, it was Phil 'The Power' Taylor who got off to the best possible start winning the first two sets.
Indeed nerves seemed to affect Brendan Dolan, especially in the 3rd leg when he was white-washed by Taylor, as Dolan failed to get off the mark with a double to lose the leg by 501.

Dolan found his feet in the 3rd set which he won 3-1.
Taylor won the fourth set 3 legs to 2, but Dolan struck back again to make it 3-2 in sets.
The atmosphere at the venue seemed to be affecting both players as neither of them really played to their potential, Dolan in particular, was wayward with his doubles and trebles, but he did earn the distinction of having ten 180's in the match.

Phil Taylor raced to a 5-2 lead however and the game seemed to be nearly up for Dolan, but he did put up a fight to win another set before Taylor finally won the match by six sets to three.

So, although he did not play to the high standards he set all week, Fermanagh's Brendan Dolan can be proud of his achievements in this Tournament which earns him £45,000 as a finalist and £5,000 for the infamous nine-dart finish against James Wade.

Well done Brendan Dolan.


Ireland were knocked out of the World Cup yesterday by Wales 22-10.
On the day Wales just proved too strong and a couple of Irish defensive lapses in the second half allowed Warren Gatland's men break into a match-winning lead.

Ireland lacked composure at times and lost a number of battles in key areas of the pitch, although they did well to recover from the concession of Shane Williams' early converted try.

Sean O'Brien was held up over the try-line and Wales survived a furious Irish onslaught in their 22 before Ronan O'Gara opened Ireland's account with a 23rd minute penalty.

With Sam Warburton helping Wales slow up Irish ruck ball, the men in red were able to keep ahead on the scoreboard and a long range penalty from Leigh Halfpenny made it 10-3 for the interval.

This fired-up Irish side got on the front foot early in the second half, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe doing supremely well to set up Keith Earls for his fifth try of the tournament.
Earls did brilliantly to go in low at the left corner past Mike Phillips' despairing tackle and television match official Giulio De Santis confirmed the grounding. O'Gara followed up with an excellent conversion and suddenly the sides were level.

Wales' young guns were not to be denied though, Jamie Roberts carrying with great intent in midfield and their forwards maintaining a high work-rate.

Gordon D'Arcy and Tommy Bowe were outmanoeuvred by man-of-the-match Phillips close to the left touchline as the wily scrum half broke down the short side of a ruck and squeezed over for a try in the corner.
Rhys Priestland, who impressed once again at out-half, missed the conversion and struck a post with a 58th minute penalty as the scoreline stuck at 15-10.
Ireland were still very much in contention with Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell leading by example, but increasingly the Irish attacks were coming from deep and Wales were beginning to dominate territory.

Priestland helped to pin Ireland back and new half-backs Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan did not have the platform to get their side up to full throttle again.

The game was effectively put beyond Ireland's reach in the 64th minute when bustling centre Jonathan Davies exposed some poor defending on a powerful run to the try-line. Priestland this time nailed the conversion for a 22-10 buffer.

Back came Ireland, hunting desperately for a chink of light. But Wales kept their line intact and frustrated O'Driscoll and company, who were also let down by handling errors and poor decision-making.

Priestland missed a chance to put Wales more than two converted tries clear, striking a 74th minute penalty off a post, however the points were not needed as Ireland could not break down the red wall.

There is very little between these sides - the margins in recent matches prove this - and on another day, Ireland may well have got the verdict. Tonight was all about Wales though, and they deservedly qualified for only their second ever World Cup semi-final.
Very sad way for Ireland to exit this World Cup having beaten Australia and Italy so well only to come up far short against the Welsh, the dream is over, for now.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


In an amazing performance, Brendan Dolan from Fermanagh, beat World number three, James Wade in the semi-final of The World Grand Prix by 5 sets to 2.

On the way to a famous victory for Ireland, the Ulster man had an historic nine -dart finish, the first every by anybody in this form of the game where you must start with a double.

That gave Dolan a two sets to one lead and it spurred him on to quickly race into a 3-1, then a 4-1 advantage to leave him needing only one more set for a win.
James Wade came roaring back to claim the sixth set: 3-0 in legs.
But Brendan Dolan was not to be denied and he won the next set: 3-2 for a famous 5-2 win at the CityWest Hotel, Dublin.
"Every game this week, I have been the underdog", said the winner, "Now I am in the final, I am still the underdog."
Well done Brendan Dolan, you have done Ireland proud.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Early goals by Kevin Doyle and Aiden McGeady in the first 20mins gave Ireland an easy victory against European minnows Andorra in the Principality.

Trapattoni's team looked lively from the off and Kevin Doyle turned in a John O' Shea header on 6 mins to get Ireland off to the perfect start.
Ireland continued to attack and scored the second on 20 minutes when Aiden McGeady fired in a fierce low drive to beat the keeper for his second goal for Ireland.
With Ireland having a 2-0 lead, they began to ease off a little and the first half ended with Ireland ahead.

The second-half was a listless affair as Ireland decided to hold on to what they had, though they had some chances,
Darren O' Dea headed over the bar on 51 mins while Robbie Keane should have scored with a shot from ten yards out but his effort was well over the bar, John O'Shea then headed over on 74 mins.

Ireland Manager Giovanni Trapattoni rang the changes with a view to Tuesday's crunch match against Armenia,
Keith Fahey came on for Glen Whelan, who was on a yellow going into the game as was Kevin Doyle who made way for Shane Long on 70 mins, Steven Hunt also came on for Damien Duff in the latter stages.

It would have been nice for Ireland to have played better and score more goals but this game was all about collecting the win and the three points, sadly Steven Ward picked up a silly yellow for diving in the box which means he misses the Armenia game, otherwise, it was job done.

With Russia having beaten Slovakia 1-0 tonight, it means that the best Ireland can do is finish second in the group and qualify for the dreaded play-offs.

To do that, all we need is a draw at the Aviva against the free-scoring Armenians on Tuesday.

Man of the Match: Aiden Mc Geady

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Irishman Brendan Dolan caused a major shock tonight by beating John Part in the World Darts Championship.

The man from County Fermanagh beat 3 times former World Champion Part from Canada by 3 sets to 1, at the CityWest Hotel in Dublin.

It is a major achievement by the Ulster man, who played some great darts including three 160 openers in this pulsating match.

Roared on by the partisan Irish crowd at the venue, Dolan held his nerve and composure to send his superior opponent(rankings wise) out of the tournament.

Amid cries of "Ole,ole", Brendan Dolan is now through to the quarter-final where he will meet John Henderson from Scotland.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Captain Brian O'Driscoll believes Ireland showed great composure to ease into the quarter-finals with a 36-6 Pool C victory over Italy at Otago Stadium on Sunday.

Three-try Ireland blasted out of the blocks early in the second half after taking a slender 9-6 half-time lead to overwhelm the Azzurri and set up a last-eight clash with Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium next Saturday.

"We knew we were going to have to be patient as you do against any Test team these days. You have to grind them down," said O'Driscoll, who led the Irish to the top of Pool C ahead of Australia.
"We managed to do that but you have to be patient and I think we got our scores in on the opportunities we needed to."
Centre O'Driscoll crossed the Italy line first in the 47th minute and was soon followed by wing Keith Earls as Ireland overran their opponents.
With just over a minute remaining, wing Tommy Bowe came close to scoring, but failed to ground the ball in a chase with two Italian defenders.
However, Earls scored his second and Ireland's third try when sprinting into the left corner almost on full-time. Replacement Jonathan Sexton kicked the conversion for 36-6.
The Irish had held a three-point lead following a scrappy first half after Ronan O'Gara hit three penalties to Italian Mirco Bergamasco's two.
Nerves had appeared to get the better of both sides in this crucial match as there was little flow to the early play, but several handling errors and numerous penalties.
The closest to a try in the opening half came when Bowe crossed the Italian line, only for play to be taken back by the referee for a forward pass from man of the match Sean O'Brien.
The succession of penalties continued just two minutes into the second half as O'Gara made it 12-6 when Italy were penalised for not rolling away at a ruck.

O'Gara failed to extend Ireland's six-point lead a few minutes later when he missed a drop goal attempt from just outside the Italian 22m.

However, Bowe broke through a gap in the Italy defence on the 47th minute, offloaded to O'Driscoll and he sprinted over the line for the match's opening try. O'Gara kicked the conversion for a 19-6 lead.
Then it was happy 24th birthday for left wing Earls when he crossed in the corner five minutes later after Gordon D'Arcy sparked the attack. O'Gara added the extras for a 26-6 advantage.
Ireland were well on top now and came close to adding a third try through Rob Kearney, but the full back was held up by the Azzurri defence.
Sexton, who had come on for O'Gara in the 67th minute, then landed a penalty three minutes later to extend Ireland's lead to 29-6 after Italy did not release the ball in a ruck.
Earls crossed the line again right on time to complete the rout of Italy.

Source: Rugby World Cup 2011