Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Shamrock Rovers brave journey in the Europa is fast-turning into something of a nightmare.
They were out-gunned 4-1 by Russian side Rubin Kazan at the Tsentralnyi Stadium in sub-zero conditions this evening.

The home side got off to the perfect start when Valdes scored in the tenth minute.
However, Rovers replied immediately with a goal from a Billy Dennehy free kick which Ken Oman headed home, to make it 1-1 after only 12 minutes.

Michael O'Neill's team were giving a good account of themselves in midfield and Chris Turner had a shot which went over the bar.
Mata then had a shot saved by Ryan Thompson.
Billy Dennehy had a run and his shot on goal was well saved by Ryzhikov.
Dan Murray then had to block a shot on his own goal line as the quality of the Russian team's forwards began to tell.
Kazan took the lead again on 36 mins when Natcho fired a shot past the despairing dive of Ryan Thompson, this was the Israeli's 9th goal in Europe this season.
Karl Sheppard had a shot just over on 42 minutes.

Coming out for the 2nd half, Shamrock Rovers were very much still in this game until another Valdes goal undid them, despite the suspicion of it being offside, the goal stood.
The dangerous Valdes had another shot minutes later but Thompson did well to save it.
Rovers defence was now their weakest link and Obafemi Martins made it 4-1 on 62 mins even though the ball looked to have gone out of play in the build-up to the goal, the 5th official didn't do his job right.

There was time for Rovers to try and get back into the match and Karl Sheppard saw his fine shot strike the crossbar with time running out.
Billy Dennehy had a free-kick in  a good position in added time but he blazed it high and wide, he is better than that.

So, its a long journey home for the Rovers but they do have the visit of Tottenham Hotspur to look forward to in their last game of their season.

 Shamrock Rovers: Thompson, Sullivan, Oman, Murray, Stevens, Rice, Dennehy, Finn, Turner, Paterson, Sheppard.

Rubin Kazan: Ryzhikov, Kaleshin, Navas, Sharonov, Boccetti, Ryazantsev, Natcho, Noboa, Karadeniz, Martins, Valdez.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Giovanni Trapattoni is expected to renew his contract with the FAI this week.
Ireland's manager has confirmed that all the details of the new deal, believed to be €5 million for his management team over two years, have been agreed. "We have agreed in principle and everything is going forward but it is not signed," Trapattoni revealed.

He is expected to arrive in Dublin on Wednesday to complete the deal which will extend his contract until 2014 at a slightly reduced salary.

The FAI established last week that Denis O' Brien's support would continue and once they received that assurance, there was no difficulty in negotiating a package, especially as they weren't looking to reduce significantly the salaries of Trapattoni, Marco Tardelli and fitness coach Fausto Rossi.

Ireland's successful International Manager will be in Poland for the Euro 2012 Finals draw on Friday evening and all of Ireland will be anxiously awaiting the outcome of the pairings for the finals.

Good to see The Ireland Manager Trapattoni given the chance he deserves to continue at the helm for a further two years.

FAI supremo John Delany has stated today that Ireland will be given 6,000 tickets per game and that priority will be given to the fans who own Corporate boxes at the Aviva and the loyal fans who went to our away games in Armenia, Andorra and Russia will also be given priority, fair policy.

RIP  Gary Speed



Centre Danny Barnes, 22, crossed for his fourth try in this season's RaboDirect PRO12 and 21-year-old wing duo Simon Zebo and Luke O'Dea also touched down.

Edinburgh could not survive after having props Jack Gilding and Kyle Traynor sin-binned in the second half, conceding a penalty try as Munster went on to claim a deserved bonus point.


With seven minutes left before half-time, Webb blitzed past Brett Wilkinson and up into the Connacht 22, offloading for Morgan to brilliantly dance around Gavin Duffy and race in behind the posts.

He comfortably converted his own try and although Nikora replied shortly afterwards, Hibbard fumbled a pass out wide when the Ospreys looked set to add a second try late on.

The visitors' scrum was growing in influence with prop Duncan Jones, celebrating his 150th appearance for the region, putting Rodney Ah You under a good deal of pressure.

Connacht were the aggressors when the second half got under way, a series of penalties getting them into try-scoring range before Ian Gough was yellow carded after infringing at a maul.

But Eric Elwood's men had nothing to show for their period of dominance and Morgan failed with a long range penalty as the Ospreys finally got out of their own half.


Fergus McFadden claimed a 15-point haul as Leinster beat Treviso 30-20 in a hard-fought clash at the Stadio Monigo.

Wing McFadden kicked three penalties and three conversions as the reigning Heineken Cup champions gained revenge for last year's shock defeat in Italy.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Ulster suffered defeat at the hands of Glasgow Warriors in Edinborough in the RaboDirect Pro 12 League.

A poor game played in poor weather conditions made for a dull game.The game was scrappy viewing with very little attacking play by either side.

It was reduced to a kicking contest between Ulster's Ian Humphries and Glasgow's Duncan Weir who landed nine points apiece from place-kicks in the first-half.

The turning point in the game came from a break in midfield by Glasgow's Duncan Weir who showed some good inter-play with Troy Nathan, formaly of Connacht,  who touched down for the deciding try and Duncan Weir sealed the win for the Scottish outfit with a drop goal in the dying minutes to deny Ulster a bonus point.

Man of the Match: Duncan Weir

Thursday, November 24, 2011


After Ireland's qualification for the 2012 Euro's this month in which they beat Estonia 5-1 on aggregate,
Trapattoni's Ireland have moved up to 21st in the FIFA world rankings.
No mean achievement by Ireland, maybe if we had also beaten Estonia at home we would be higher up the World Team Table.
Nonetheless, its a further vindication of Irish Manager Giovanni Trapottini's approach to his team.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Robbie Keane secured another medal to add to his collection following LA Galaxy's win against Houston, Texas in the MLS Cup last weekend.

Robbie played a key part in the victory, firstly he had a great goal wrongly ruled out for offside before he set up Landon Donovan for the only goal of the game with a great slide rule pass into the stricker's feet.
Keane admitted that traveling to Estonia and Dublin for Euro 2012 playoffs took it out of him, but was pleased to add another medal to his collection. “It was a tiring week, to be honest,” Keane said after the match. “The travelling got to me a little bit towards the end. Six games in two weeks, it’s a bit tough, but we won and that’s the main thing.

“I wasn’t quite sure whether I was offside for my goal and I had another shot and should have hit the target, but I set Landon up for the goal that won the championship and that’s the most important thing. They made it hard for us. We dominated the game to be honest with you but we just didn’t get through. I just dropped off and I saw Landon running through. It was sort of a reverse pass to him and Landon did the rest, it was a great finish. From then on, we knew we were going to win.”

English superstar David Beckham looks set to leave the MLS Cup winners after his contract expires, and has been heavily linked with a move to Paris St Germain. Keane admitted that he would like the winger to stay, but that it’s unlikely that the Galaxy will keep hold of their marquee signing. “I’ve loved playing with David Beckham and hopefully we will continue to play together,” Keane said. “I’ve played against David over the years and I got a taste of how good he is when he trained with Spurs last winter. But it has been a pleasure to play with him for the Galaxy.”

Well done Robbie see you at the Euros.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Leinster 38-13 Glasgow

Leinster showed glimpses of their ruthless best as they dealt Glasgow Warriors a 38-13 Heineken Cup defeat at the RDS.

Cruising to their first Pool Three win, the defending champions notched two tries while Devin Toner was in the sin-bin, with Eoin O'Malley, Brian O'Driscoll's deputy in the number 13 jersey, scoring both.
Rob Kearney and Gordon D'Arcy also touched down as the bonus point was secured by the 40th minute, the Warriors' cause not being helped by a high error count.
Duncan Weir kicked two first-half penalties for the visitors, who had snatched a shock win here in the RaboDirect PRO12 in September.

Man-of-the-match Jamie Heaslip led Leinster's command of the collisions and they continued to be efficient in all facets after the break, weathering an early storm from the Scots.
Glasgow gained some consolation with a late try from replacement scrum half Henry Pyrgos, but Isaac Boss had the final say for Leinster in injury-time.

Duncan Weir, Glasgow's man-of-the-match in last weekend's win over Bath, banged over a long-range penalty in the third minute to nudge them ahead.

But right from the restart, Leinster capitalised on an error from the visitors to put Kearney over in the right corner. Showing great vision, Sexton hung up a cross-field kick for Isa Nacewa and he drew the tackle before feeding Kearney for the score.
The conversion was expertly added from wide out by Sexton, whose half-back partner Eoin Reddan was to the forefront of a bright opening spell.

Stuart Hogg rampaged downfield to bring the Warriors into the hosts' 22 but the home defence held firm and Nacewa's kick chase on the right led to Sexton hammering over a penalty, having earlier missed one from the other side.

Glasgow replied through the boot of Weir, who split the posts after Leinster's Toner was sin-binned for pulling down a player at a lineout.

However, Leinster were beginning to find their rhythm in attack and they went for the jugular when Sexton took a quick tap. Having been pulled to the left and right, Glasgow were caught out by their posts as Heaslip powered into contact and O'Malley snuck over from the ruck.
Six minutes later, Heaslip broke from a scrum in the Scots' 22 and when play was swept back into midfield, D'Arcy's superb short pass sent O'Malley darting through for his second seven-pointer.
Glasgow's share of possession dwindled as half-time approached and some neat interplay between Sean O'Brien and Nacewa sent D'Arcy over to the right of the posts.
Sexton tagged on his fourth successful conversion, giving Glasgow a mountain to climb at 31-6 down. They pressed early in the second half, with Ryan Wilson being brought down just inches short of the try-line.
Al Kellock and Richie Gray were prominent as Sean Lineen's side raised the tempo, with winger Tommy Seymour unfortunate to knock on in plenty of space.

Glasgow were the aggressors for much of the closing half hour, Leinster seemingly content to empty their bench and trust their defence.

They were caught out when Troy Nathan thundered straight through a 74th-minute ruck and passed for fellow replacement Pyrgos to touch down, with Weir converting.

But Leinster finished the game on the attack, a half-break from Ian Madigan, new deputy for Jonny Sexton and Shane Jennings' deft one-handed flick creating the opening for Boss to round off a satisfying Sunday afternoon for the province who like like Championship contenders again, despite the loss of Captain Brian O'Driscoll for six months.

Saturday, November 19, 2011



Connacht 10-36 Toulouse:
The men from the West were hoping to earn a victory in their first home game at the re-vamped Galway Showgrounds.
With a neat new stand and a capacity crowd of over 9,000 including new President Michael D. Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny from Castlebar, the scene was set for another famous night for Connacht rugby.

Sadly, it didn't go to plan as French powerhouses, Toulouse raced to an early lead with a try by Bouilhou and 3 penalties by Beauxis forced Connacht onto the backfoot in the first-half.
The referree awarded Toulouse a controversial  penalty-try when a scrum on the ten-metre line was wheeled by Connacht, which usually means a penalty to the home team.
However, the ref gave an inexplicable penalty-try to Toulouse.

Despite this, Connacht were second-best in the half, poor in the scrum, turning over ball at the breakdown and conceeding alot of territory.

Eric Elwood must have had some choice words to say at half-time as Connacht came out all fired up, first to the breakdown, on the front foot, excellent at line-outs and it all resulted in a penalty-try of their own to make it a more even and exciting match.

However, Toulouse, experienced warriors in this competion, came back with a try close in by Nyangya with time almost up.

So Connacht on a steep learning-curve in the Heineken Cup, but they will make their mark on the competition.

Castres 24-27 Munster

The Irish province had trailed for most of the game but battled back with tries by Doug Howlett, Peter O'Mahony and replacement winger Will Chambers.

Castres started strongly and grabbed first-half tries by hooker Brice Mach and winger Pierre-Gilles Lakafia.

The match was tied at 24-24, with the clock in red numbers, when the Munster pack set up O'Gara's winning kick.

It leaves Munster second in Pool One, the Scarlets leading by one thanks to their bonus point against Northampton on Friday night.

Castres, playing on the ground of their great rivals Toulouse, may feel unlucky to have taken just a bonus point from the closely-fought encounter.

However, Munster's experience proved decisive yet again as the two-time winners secured a valuable victory in the south of France.
It was Castres who started brightest, with Bernard's long-range penalty from the left putting them 3-0 ahead in the third minute.

The fly-half then quickly landed another wind-assisted penalty from inside his own half.
The French side got their first try in the 13th minute when captain Chris Masoe burst his way into the Munster 22. The ball was quickly moved from left to right, for Mach - on for the injured Marc Andreu - to get over in the right corner for 11-0.
Munster's forwards gradually started to make an impression and they were finally rewarded after 23 minutes.
When the strong-running Wian du Preez was held up in front of the posts, some good handling by scrum-half Conor Murray and number eight James Coughlan allowed 33-year-old former All Black Howlett to score on the right.
The Heineken Cup's record points scorer O'Gara nailed the conversion from the right corner of the 22.
But Castres scored another try three minutes before half-time after Paul O'Connell surrendered possession deep in his own half.
Castres took full advantage, sweeping the ball swiftly across the 22 and Lakafia stepped inside the exposed Howlett to touch down in the right corner.
Bernard added the extras and Castres led 18-7, before O'Gara scored a penalty with the last kick of the half after a succession of five-metre scrums.
The Irish side drew to within one point five minutes into the second half when O'Mahony burst through a huge gap in the home defence for a try which O'Gara converted.
Bernard responded with a penalty to stretch Castres' advantage to 21-17 but the hosts handed Munster a try just moments later.
As replacement Remi Tales tried to clear on his own line, O'Gara charged his kick down and Denis Leamy fed fellow replacement Chambers for an easy score.
O'Gara converted as Munster found themselves in front for the first time but Bernard levelled things with 10 minutes left, setting up a thrilling climax.
Munster battered Castres for the final few minutes, and Tomas O'Leary's pinpoint pass gave O'Gara just enough time to rifle over the match-winning drop goal from the 10-metre line.

Leicester 20-9 Ulster

 Matt Smith scored the only try late on as Leicester beat Ulster 20-9 to top Pool 4 of the Heineken Cup.
Leicester's Toby Flood and Ulster's Ian Humphreys dominated most of the game with their kicking but the Tigers eventually pulled away to win.
For most of the game the Irish province looked more than capable of causing an upset and will be disappointed not to have come away with at least a deserved bonus point.
Ulster took a second-minute lead when Humphreys kicked a 55-metre penalty as the Tigers were penalised for offside following a poor up and under from Geordan Murphy, who, sadly is now past his best.
The visitors continued to have the better of the opening exchanges but when Chris Henry was penalised for not releasing, Flood levelled the scores with a 50 metre penalty.
Within minutes Ulster were back ahead with another penalty from Humphreys and remained so as Flood missed with his next attempt.
However, this setback was the forerunner for Leicester to produce the first sustained period of pressure.
The Ulster defence was softened up by some good driving runs from Thomas Waldrom and Marcos Ayerza resulting in a Leicester penalty which Flood converted.
Neither side was able to produce any continuity to their play with constant disruption due to penalty awards.
Humphreys made it 9-6 after 20 minutes with another sweetly struck kick but once again Flood tied the scores after the Irish were penalised at a scrum.
There continued to be very little between the teams and Ulster were showing no signs of being overawed.
Their pack were meeting the Tigers head on with halfbacks Paul Marshall and Humphreys kicking astutely to pin back the hosts.
Roman Poite's whistle continued to be the dominant feature of a desperately poor first half which was briefly enlivened by one powerful run from Alesana Tuilagi, who was the first to threaten the try line.
The wing was hauled down by the combined efforts of Andrew Trimble and Simon Danielli and when Flood booted the ball into touch the half-time whistle was met with a chorus of boos.
The boo's continued into the second half when early on Nevin Spence was penalised for taking Murphy as he was airborne.
There was little in it but a penalty was awarded which secured a platform for the Tigers.
Flood's penalty put his side ahead for the first time in the match and it should have been 12-12 but surprisingly Humphreys missed with by far his easiest kick.
An excellent kick and chase from the lively Marshall was the prelude for Ulster's best period of the match and a couple of strong runs from Darren Cave put the Tigers' line under threat.
The home defence held firm and a penalty for not releasing relieved the pressure.
Ben Youngs was introduced in an attempt to put some spark into the Tigers' game but the visitors looked the more likely try scorers as the game entered the final quarter.
Leicester raised their game to score the crucial try with 12 minutes to go.
From a ruck inside the Ulster 22, Flood gained possession to put in a clever grubber kick and Smith won the race for the touchdown.
Then with the final kick of the match the fly-half was successful with his fifth penalty.

So thats a roundup of Ireland's involvment in this weekend's Heineken Cup.

Friday, November 18, 2011


With qualification for the Euro's secured, Trapattoni's Ireland have announced their fixture schedule for the World Cup to be held in Brazil in 2014.

Ireland begin their campaign against lowly Kazakhstan in far-flung Eastern-Europe in September, followed by a home-game against Group favourites, Germany in October.

Ireland Manager Giovanni Trapattoni said: "This is a good fixture schedule for us with a good balance to the matches."

Realistically, Germany start as favourites to win Group C with Ireland, Sweden and Austria fighting it out over second-place.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


UEFA today announced the seedings for Euro 2012.
As expected, Spain & Holland top the seedings with Spain the current European and World Cup winners.
Holland are also there as losing World Cup finalists last year to Spain.
Co-hosts: Poland and the Ukraine also join the first-ranked teams.

England have to be content with being second seeds along with Germany, Italy and Russia.

Meanwhile, Ireland are in Group four having failed up until now to qualify for a major Finals event since the 2002 World Cup in South Korea & Japan.


All eyes are now being focused on Friday, Dec 2nd when the groups will be announced.

Lets hope Ireland avoid Spain, Portugal, Croatia and Germany, its going to be a tough tournament but its great to be there again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The Republic of Ireland have qualified for their first major tournament in ten years by drawing with Estonia 1-1 at a sell-out Aviva Stadium to go through 5-1 on aggregate.
It wasn't a brilliant performance by Trapattoni's team, indeed it felt like a bit of an anti-climax after Friday's heroics in Tallinn in defeating Estonia 4-0.

All Ireland had to do, like the supporters, was to show up.
Ireland began the brighter and sharper and they did with both Robbie Keane and Damian Duff had several shots blocked in the first five minutes.

It was left to Steven Ward to score after a Londak save from a corner for the Wolves full-back to score his 2nd goal for Ireland in nine starts on 31 minutes.

Ireland played some nice football in the first-half with some good passing and movement, obviously under instruction from Manager Giovanni Trapatton pass the ball to feet, instead of the usual long-ball approach evident during his reign to date.
While it was certainly more attractive to watch, it was less effective to behold.
Ireland had ten shots on target in the game yet only scored one goal.

As half- time approached, the capacity-crowd of 51,151 engaged in the Mexican-Wave which must have proved distracting for the players.

Tarmo Ruuti's Estonia sensing a result went at Ireland in the 2nd-half and despite alot of wayward shooting, eventually got a goal they scarcely deserved when Vasselijev beat Shay Given with a dipping shot on 57mins to make it 1-1 on the night and 5-1 over two legs for Ireland.

Ireland had several shots saved from Richard Dunne from a corner and a McGeady cross was well gathered by Londak, Kevin Doyle headed  a Fahey free-kick wide in injury-time.

But it was all immaterial as Ireland coasted through to Euro 2012 next Summer.

The players did a lap of honour after the game as this is the first time an Irish team had qualified for a major final on home soil.

Well done to Trapattoni and the players on this significent achievement.

The actual draw for the finals takes place on the 2nd of December, we qualify as fourth seeds in the draw, so we are in for a tough group, still, its great to be there again.

Man of the Match: Glenn Whelan
Ireland: Shay Given, John O'Shea, Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger, Stephen Ward, Stephen Hunt, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan, Damien Duff, Kevin Doyle, Robbie Keane (captain).

Estonia: Londak, Jaager, Rahn, Klavan, Kruglov, Saag, Teniste, Vassiljev, Vunk, Lindpere, Voskoboinikov.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Ireland Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has made the minimum of changes to his team to face Estonia at the Aviva Stadium this evening.

Kevin Doyle returns from suspension to win his 46th cap for Ireland during which time he has scored 10 goals for his country.
The 28 year old replaces unlucky Jonathon Walters of Stoke who scored a goal and was a major presence in the Irish victory last Friday.

Stephen Kelly has been ruled out at right-back due to a groin strain, so his place goes to Sunderland's John O'Shea who returns from a hamstring problem.

The one optional change that Trap has made is introducing the all-action Stephen Hunt in place of Aidan McGeady on the wing, a choice I entirely agree with.

It appears that LA Galaxy wanted Ireland Captain to rejoin them ahead of the 2nd leg in Dublin but that Robbie Keane refused along with the FAI to release oue Captain ahead of our final match of the campaign.

Lets hope for a 2-0 win at the Aviva this evening and as Richard Dunne said today; "..give the Manager a new contract for the World Cup".

Team: Shay Given, John O'Shea, Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger, Stephen Ward, Stephen Hunt, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan, Damien Duff, Kevin Doyle, Robbie Keane (captain).


After Ireland's historic away victory in Estonia by 4-0 and with Euro qualification seemingly, all but assured for the finals next Summer, how will Giovanni Trapattoni approach Tuesday's second-leg against Estonia?

With qualifaction in sight, will the Ireland Manager opt to experiment with squad players such as Keith Fahey, Seamus Coleman or Andy Keogh.

I suggest that the Italian will stick to his tried and trusted methods that have got us this far by picking much the same team that trounced Estonia in Tallinn so convincingly.

The only issue is that of Kevin Doyle who is returning from suspension who has a major battle on his hands to take Jonathon Walters place in the starting team.
It will be interesting to see who wins that particular duel.

Steven Kelly at right back has injured his groin while John O'Shea has been declared fit for the match on Tuesday evening, so he will, most likely start at right-back against the hapless Estonians.

Lets hope for a full house at the Aviva with fireworks, a win and a good performance and a long-overdue new contract for Trapattoni.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Pool 1: Munster 23-21 Northampton

Munster - Tries: Varley (4), Howlett (40) Con: O'Gara (5, 40, 42) Pen: O'Gara (39) Drop goal: O'Gara (80+3)
Northampton - Tries: Ashton (9), Downey (57) Con: Lamb (10) Pen: Lamb (13, 21, 45)

Pool 3: Montpellier 16-16 Leinster,
Monpelier - Try: Ouedraogo (22) Con: Paillaugue (23) Pens: Paillaugue (2, 27), Trinh-Duc (56)
Leinster - Try: Cronin (66) Con: Sexton (67) Pens: Sexton (5,17, 80)

Pool 4 Ulster 16-11 Clermont Auvergne
Ulster - Try: Humphreys (70) Con: Humphreys (71) Pens: Humphreys (13, 40, 51)
CA - Try: Nakaitaci (7) Pens: Skrela (13, 39)

Pool 6: Harlequins 25-17 Connacht

Estonia v Republic of Ireland Goals Video

Estonia v Republic of Ireland Goals Video
Sorry bout the commentary.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Ireland surely booked their place in next year's Euro 2012 finals with this trouncing of Estonia in Talinn.

Goals from Keith Andrews, Jon Walters and Robbie Keane twice all-but ensured qualification for a major Final for the first time since 2002.

Ireland took the lead on 13 mins when Aidan McGeady crossed for Keith Andrews to head home.
The teams were evenly matched on the pitch until Stepanov was sent off for a tackle on 35 minutes.
Thereafter, Ireland began to dominate play, although they persisted with the use of the long-ball when playing it on the ground would have been much the better option.
Jon Walters, winning his third cap for Ireland, had three shots on goal in the first-half.
Estonia's danger-man Vassiljev was a thorn throughout and he struck a shot just wide midway through the half.

Estonia started the second half needing to get back in the game, being the home team, and they put Trapattoni's Ireland under pressure at times with some neat passing and running.

However, it was Ireland who scored again when Robbie Keane collected the loose ball from a McGeady shot to loop the ball over to Jonathan Walters who headed the ball over the line for Ireland's 2nd goal.

Four minutes later Robbie Keane tapped in a fierce Keith Andrews shot which was palmed out by Sergei Parieko to the onrushing Keane on 71 mins.

Estonia then self-imploded when Piiroja was also sent off for a deliberate handball to reduce the home team to nine men.

To compound their miserable night, sub Steven Hunt was felled in the box to give Ireland a penalty and Captain, Robbie Keane scored his second on the night, his 53rd in 113 games,  to make it 4-0 to Ireland in the 88th minute.
Sub Simon Cox even managed a shot on goal in injury-time, the game ended with Ireland victorious and Estonia demoralised.

Dreamland for Trap's team and Ireland as we are surely almost through to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine next Summer.

Man of the Match: Robbie Keane

Rep of Ireland: Given, Kelly, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, Duff,

Whelan, Andrews, McGeady, Keane, Walters.
Subs: Westwood, Hunt, Keogh, Cox, Fahey, McShane, O'Dea.

Estonia: Pareiko, Jaager, Stepanov, Piiroja, Klavan, Dmitrijev, Vassiljev, Vunk, Kruglov, Kink, Ahjupera.

Subs: Londak, Rahn, Voskoboinikov, Lindpere, Purje, Saag, Teniste.

Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)


Ireland Manager, Giovanni Trapattoni has unusually named a ten-man team for the first-leg play-offs with Estonia.

With Kevin Doyle suspended and Shane Long injured, the major concern was who would play upfront.

Thankfully, Captain Robbie Keane has returned to form from injury with LA Galaxy to lead the side, the only question remains, who will start alongside him upfront.

Its a straight fight between West Brom's Simon Cox and Stoke's Jon Walters.

Both forwards are worth a starting place upfront but only one of them will get their name on the teamsheet.

Cox was Man of the Match against Armenia last month but it appears that Stoke's leading man Jonathon Walters is favourite with El Trapp due to his holding-up of the ball from defence to attack, his energy and physicality and prowess in front of goal, leading everyone to believe that he will today be handed a starting role against Estonia in Talinn at 7:45pm.

Trapattoni also suggested that Robbie Keane maybe withdrawn in the second-half due to his lack of match-sharpness in favour of Cox.

You have to say one thing about this Ireland Manager, he has provided options for this team in almost every position and the fact that we are favourites to win this play-off speaks volumns for the players & the Manager. 

Monday, November 7, 2011


Ireland's record try-scorer and talismatic Captain Brian O'Driscoll is to undergo surgery on his troublesome shoulder.

Sadly, this will mean he will be absent for the Six Nations, the Heineken Cup and the Rabodirect Pro-12 series of matches.

He will be fit in time for Ireland's Summer Test Series against World Cup winners New Zealand, that's ironic since it was down there in the British & Irish Lions in the 2005 tour that he was 'spear-tackled' early in the First Test where his shoulder was first badly damaged.

Its arguable that he has never been the same explosive player ever since and with Father Time not on his side I for one hope that he has a successful operation and is back playing and pain-free for the remainder of his playing days with Leinster and Ireland. 


Sligo Rovers did it the hard way to retain the FAI Cup at the Aviva Stadium against a spirited Shelbourne side.
With a crowd of over 21,000 at the revamped Lansdowne Road in glorious early-winter sunshine, newly-promoted Shelbourne, under Manager Alan Matthews took the lead in this frenetic Cup Final when Philly Hughes scored his 20th goal of the season to give the Dublin side the lead on the half-hour mark.

The pivotal moment of the came six minutes later when Shel's Barry Clancy was sent off for diving in the box by referee after having been previously booked for a foul on John Russell,
It was a very harsh decision in a cup-final to send a lad off when he was impeded in going towards goal.

That changed the nature of the Cup Final as Shelbourne was put on the defensive for the remainder of the game.

Sligo Rovers, under Manager Paul Cooke, failed to make the advantage count until Galwayman, Iarlaith Davoren scored a good goal in stopage-time at the end of the 1st half.

So it was 1-1 at half-time, tough on Shelbourne, who twarthed most of Sligo's attacks from midfield until Dean Delany had to save an Owen Doyle shot for Sligo on 53 mins.

However, Alan Matthews Shelbourne side heroically held out for penalties after full-time & extra-time was played out.

Paul Cook,the Liverpudlien Manager of Sligo Rovers brought on Ciaran Kelly to stand between the posts for the penalty shoot-out to try and retain the Cup for Sligo and it paid dividends as he again saved penalties from the Shelbourne team with Karl Bermingham scoring for Shels while Eoin Doyle, Richie Ryan and Alan Keane score. from the spot for Sligo to ensure they retained the FAI Cup for a second year after pushing Shamrock Rovers so close in the League all Season.

At least Shelbourne have the satisfaction of being promoted to the Premier League and maybe a chance at the Europa League next season.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Leinster and Munster squared up to each other at a packed Aviva Stadium in the Pro 12 League, formally known as the Magners League this evening.

Of course it was going to be an unusual game after the exertions of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, however the traditional rivalries of Ireland's most successful provinces ensured that it was a full-blooded encounter.

It was a kicking game with both Ronan O'Gara and Jonny Sexton taking the three point option after every infringement.
Indeed, both players were in fine shooting form with the boot, Jonathon Sexton scored seven from seven while O'Gara scored with four penalties and a conversion from a penalty-try in the second-half as Munster were chasing the game.

In the end a fiercely faught encounter between Leinster & Munster has helped to dust away the cobwebs of an unfulfilled World Cup & will prepare both Provinces for the Heineken Cup, which starts again next weekend.

Final Score: Leinster 24-19 Munster


IRISH coach Anthony Tohill says he feared his players would be injured in Friday night's fiery International Rules Series win over Australia at Metricon Stadium.

A total of six players - three from each team - were yellow carded in a match that threatened to boil over with a number of off-the-ball scuffles at Metricon Stadium.

The Irish kept their cool and ran out convincing 21-point victors to wrap up the series 2-0, but Tohill said he was relieved to finish the match with no injuries.

He said the Australians had walked a tightrope with the officials.
"It's a very, very fine line. For a while tonight I thought it was going to boil over," Tohill said.
"I must say I'm relieved to get all my players off that pitch with no injuries. There was a time there tonight I was concerned with where that game was going. I'm just glad that it settled down and that we got the game finished with no injuries."

Angus Monfries, Mark Nicoski and Robbie Gray all spent time on the sidelines with yellow cards for Australia, while captain Brad Green and Mitch Robinson were never too far from the action.

Tohill said it was important the series continued to be played in a sporting manner.
"We welcome the physical side of the game. We don't get it in our own game, so we welcome it here, but it has to be within the rules," he said.

Green said it was not a pre-meditated plan from the Australians.
"It was more we had to show some fight - not literally - but show a bit of what you're playing for and standing for," Green said.
"It's not only your family and your teammates and your friends, the whole AFL was looking at us and watching this game."

Tohill said he was delighted with the way his players had stood up in the face of the physicality and praised them for a professional two Test thumping of Australia.
"They've been a pleasure to work with and their execution again tonight was very good and I can't say enough praise for the lads and what they've achieved here," he said.
"Our target before we came out here was to win the series two nil. We did half of that job last Friday night and finished it tonight. We're relieved and very satisfied with our victory."

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Shamrock Rovers lost their fourth game in the group stages of the Europa Cup, going down 3-1 to PAOK of Greece.

Rovers got off to the worst possible start when Salpingidis scored after only 7 minutes.
Michael O'Neill's men were playing poorly, missing tackles, misplacing passes and they were punished again when a Conor Mc Cormack slip allowed Fotakis in for PAOK's second on 35 minutes.

Worse was to follow for the Hoops 3 minutes later when Salpingidis scored his second of the night to make it 3-0, half-time could not come quickly enough for the home side as this was their worst performance in Europe this Season.

Gary Twigg and Stephen Rice came on for the second-half and Shamrock Rovers upped the tempo straight away causing PAOK all sorts of problems with wave after wave of attacks and Billy Dennehy scored with a great shot from a free-kick on 51 minutes.

Suddenly it was game-on as Rovers pushed and probed for more goals, sadly, the closest they came to adding a second was a Steven Rice shot which was kicked off the line by the visitors defence near the end.

But well done to the Airtricity League Champions who showed their opponents what the were made of with a very good comeback which was a credit to the Irish outfit.

Man of the Match: Billy Dennehy



Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The opening round matches of the European Heineken cup have been announced with Connacht making their debut in the competition against Harlequins away on Friday 11th of November.

Reigning Champions Leinster, take on French side Montpellier in France, while Munster host formidable Northampton at Thomand Park.
Ulster take on another French side in Clermont-Auverne at home in Ravenhill, Belfast.

Good luck to all the Irish Provinces taking part in this year's Heineken Cup,