Saturday, August 25, 2012



IRELAND legend Damien Duff today retired from international football ahead of the naming of the Ireland squad for an upcoming World Cup qualifier.

  The 33-year-old flying winger, who won 100 caps since making his debut in 1998, has informed coach Giovanni Trapattoni that he no longer wishes to be considered for selection.

Duff told the FAI website: "I found it very difficult to make this decision, not least for the respect in which I hold Giovanni Trapattoni.
"I have enjoyed so many good times in the green jersey and want to thank everyone involved, especially the fans for making the last 14 years so special.

"I want to wish Giovanni, Marco and everyone involved with the Irish team every success for the future and will be supporting them every step of the way."

Fulham midfielder Duff captained Ireland in their last Euro 2012 group game against Italy.

The news comes after goalkeeper Shay Given announced his international retirement last week.

Current Republic manager Giovanni Trapattoni said: "Damien will be missed by us and by Irish fans everywhere. "He was immensely skilful and a great example to the players who come after him.
 I give him my warmest best wishes for his future career."

Duff joined Blackburn as a trainee in 1996 and stayed until 2003, spending three seasons at Chelsea and Newcastle before signing for Fulham in 2009.
He made his senior debut for the Republic against the Czech Republic alongside Robbie Keane.

Paddy McCaul, president of the FAI said: "Damien produced some moments of unforgettable magic on the pitch that will remain with Irish fans forever. "We thank him for his enormous dedication over the last 14 years."

John Delaney, chief executive added: "I have no doubt that Damien Duff will go down in history as one of Ireland's greatest ever players. "He has been an extraordinary servant to his country and has given us all some wonderful memories as well as being a true gentleman. Thank you Damien and all the best for the future."

Thursday, August 16, 2012


James Mc Carthy played well for IrelandJames McCarthy will have given the Ireland boss a selection headache ahead of the World Cup qualifying campaign

The Republic of Ireland conjured an admirable performance against Serbia to consign to the past their harrowing Euro 2012 campaign.

The match at the Red Star Stadium in Belgrade may only have been a friendly, but it was crucial Giovanni Trapattoni's side emerged with creditability after a summer to forget, and they did exactly that.

Chances were sparse in a game that lacked sparkle overall, but at least Kieren Westwood proved himself as Shay Given's replacement for the long term with one stunning save late on to guarantee a deserved 0-0 draw.

For Trapattoni, the starting line-up on show tonight was very different to the one that took to the field in the final group game against Italy in Euro 2012.

The only survivors from a 2-0 defeat were John O'Shea, serving as captain for the first time, Aiden McGeady and Glenn Whelan.

Of those absent, goalkeeper Given announced his retirement from international football on Monday, while Robbie Keane and Damien Duff were given permission to miss this game.

Of the others, Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger, Stephen Ward and Kevin Doyle all have injuries and Keith Andrews was omitted given his pending suspension for the opening World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan on 7 September after being dismissed against Italy.

It meant there was at least a degree of freshness to what was a relatively experimental line-up, in particular as Trapattoni at least kept to his word and changed the formation.

Trapattoni, who had rigidly adhered to a 4-4-2 during Euro 2012, adopted a 4-1-4-1 format, with Whelan sitting in between defence and midfield, and Stoke team-mate Jon Walters serving as the lone frontman.

For the opening 45 minutes Ireland looked more solid and compact than at any time in Poland where they were often cruelly exposed, albeit the calibre of opposition was considerably higher.

But they at least frustrated Serbia whose attempt to work their way in behind the Irish defence often floundered.

Instead, the home side's best opportunities came the way of Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov from distance, both within a minute of one another.

The first from around 20 yards was dragged slightly wide, whilst the second from a further five yards away took a deflection en route.

With big shoes to fill in light of Given's departure, Sunderland goalkeeper Westwood adjusted himself well as he made a smart save low to his right.

As for Ireland, there was a Walters drive deflected wide, whilst the industrious Whelan suffered a similar fate later in the half.

From the corner, however, the ball eventually fell Whelan's way, resulting in a driven half-volley from 20 yards that goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic grabbed at the second attempt after initially clawing the effort out of the air.

For once Stojkovic, previously booed and whistled every time he had touched the ball given he plays for local rivals Partizan, was given some credit by the predominantly pro-Red Star crowd.

After the restart, and following a 26-yard free-kick from Kolarov lifted narrowly over the crossbar in the 51st minute, it was the Republic who went on to conjure two of the game's better chances.

Initially, in the 56th minute, McGeady produced a jinking run in midfield to create some space for himself before laying a ball out wide to James McClean.

Following a surging run down the left flank the Sunderland winger delivered a low ball into the area that was flicked only a yard wide by McGeady.

Soon after Ireland again strode forward purposefully, sparked by a fine challenge in midfield by Wigan's James McCarthy.

It resulted in a pass into the path of McGeady who, at the second attempt, brought a clutch stop out of Stojkovic after his first effort was blocked.

The save of the game, though, belonged to Westwood in the 71st minute who proved himself superbly with a full-stretch effort away to his left in turning aside a low 20-yard free-kick from Zdravko Kuzmanovic.

As to be expected with any pre-season friendly, a raft of substitutions unfolded throughout the second half.

The most notable of those saw West Ham's Joey O'Brien on for the final 11 minutes to win his first cap for five years having suffered a catalogue of injuries in the intervening period

(c) Rte Sport

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Shay-Given-retires-from-Ireland-dutyRepublic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given has announced his retirement from international soccer.

Given, who made the revelation via Twitter, is the most capped Republic of Ireland international of all time, having amassed 120 caps.The Aston Villa netminder made his debut against Russia in 1996.

The 36-year-old tweeted: “After a lot of thought and consideration, I have made the most difficult decision to retire from international football.
“It's been a great honour and privilege to play and on occasion captain the team.

I shall remain a huge fan of the team as I have been all my life and I wish them every success for the future.
“I wish to thank all the players, managers, staff and most importantly the most wonderful fans in the world.
“Finally I would like to thank my wife Jane, my two amazing kids and my entire family for their unwavering support over the 16 years and 125 caps.”

The Aston Villa number one was omitted from Giovanni Trapattoni's squad for the friendly against Serbia on Wednesday, with the Italian looking to blood youngsters following their disappointing Euro 2012 campaign.

Given was an ever-present in Poland and Ukraine as the Republic lost all three of their group games to Croatia and finalists Spain and Italy.

But with a World Cup qualifying campaign that opens with a trip to Kazakhstan just around the corner, the 36-year-old has opted to stand aside.

The former Newcastle and Manchester City keeper told the FAI's official website: "This has been an extremely difficult decision for me to make."I have dedicated 16 years of my life to my country, and I have a great affinity with Giovanni Trapattoni's squad."
I'd like to thank the Giovanni, (assistant) Marco (Tardelli) and Alan Kelly for their support during my time with the team.

I will continue to be Ireland's biggest fan, and wish the lads well as they embark upon their new campaign."

Given made his name with Newcastle but it was his on-loan performances for fierce rivals Sunderland and, prior to that, Swindon from Blackburn that caught the attentions of then Republic boss Mick McCarthy.

He had established himself as a regular for both club and country before 2002, where he played a key role as the Irish reached the second round of the World Cup in Japan and South Korea before being knocked out by Spain on penalties.

Given won his 100th cap in a World Cup qualifier against Montenegro in October 2009.

Trapattoni thanked Given for his efforts, telling the FAI website: "I understand the difficult decision that Shay had to make, and appreciate all of his efforts during his international career.

"He is a strong player, with a great character and his love of playing for his country always shone through."It has been a pleasure to work with him during my time with the team. I wish him the very best in his future."

Farewell Shay, thanks for your outstanding dislays down the years for Ireland.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Joe Canning scored 11 points v Cork
Galway 0-22 Cork 0-17
Galway are through to their first All-Ireland SHC final since 2005 after overcoming Cork by 0-22 to 0-17 at Croke Park this afternoon.
The Rebels led for much of the first half, with captain Pat Horgan and Paudie O'Sullivan scoring well.
But it took a late Horgan free to level matters at 0-11 apiece for half-time as Galway, with Joe Canning scoring 0-7, finished strongly.
The Leinster champions edged a pulsating second period with their defence improving and Canning and Damien Hayes shooting them through to the September 9 decider.
There was a degree of rustiness to Galway, who were last in action in that historic provincial final win over Kilkenny five weeks ago, but they threw off the shackles after the break to move a step closer to All-Ireland glory.
Cork emptied their strong bench in a bid to overhaul Anthony Cunningham’s men, however Johnny Coen and Fergal Moore were rock solid in the Tribesmen’s rearguard and the firepower of Canning, who finished with 0-11, was hugely influential in this goalless encounter.
Cork boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy brought Lorcán McLoughlin and Conor Lehane back into the team that defeated Waterford last time out, with Daniel Kearney and Niall McCarthy making way.
Galway were unchanged from the Kilkenny game apart from the late withdrawal of Cyril Donnellan who has been nursing a chipped bone below his elbow.
Donnellan’s place in attack went to James Regan and his team-mate Damien Hayes picked off the opening point after just 27 seconds.
Cork had the breeze at their backs and captain Pat Horgan brought them level from a free, before Jamie Coughlan fastened onto a long Anthony Nash puck-out to make it 0-2 to 0-1.
Fergal Moore ferociously clattered into Lehane to prevent the youngster getting a clear shot, giving a glimpse of the intensity that Galway played with against Kilkenny.
Clever stick work allowed Cian McCarthy add to Cork’s lead, but an unchallenged Pa Cronin shot a poor wide and a Joe Canning free brought it back to 0-3 to 0-2.
Niall Burke was wayward with a couple of efforts and Nash was equal to an opportunist, low-slung free from Canning after Hayes’ pace had caused concern for the Rebels’ rearguard.
A loose clearance from Moore gifted a 10th minute point to Paudie O’Sullivan, with both defences coming under incessant pressure.
The gap was down to one again following a long range Canning free, and Regan announced himself with a tremendous leveller, with Niall Donoghue and Iarla Tannian doing the donkey work.
Cork nipped ahead again thanks to a Horgan free and he tagged on another in the 18th minute after his own fine catch in midfield.
O’Sullivan, moving extremely well, then cancelled out a Canning free to maintain the two-point advantage.
Profiting from a short puck-out tactic, Galway swooped downfield and Conor Cooney’s clever centre teed up Canning for his first point from play.
Cork goalkeeper Nash did well to thwart Cooney at the expense of a ‘65’ which Canning lofted over, bringing the Leinster champions level in the 26th minute
.But Galway were unable to fire on all cylinders, with robust defending from the likes of Seán Óg Ó hAilpín and Eoin Cadogan forcing mistakes - David Burke hit his side’s fifth wide.
Horgan nudged Cork back in front from a textbook free - his fourth of the contest - and Galway’s wastefulness continued with Tannian’s spooned attempt drifting wide.
Barry-Murphy’s charges were much more economical with their possession, an example of which saw corner forward O’Sullivan collecting his third point from play.
In timely fashion, Galway upped the tempo in the closing five minutes of the first half.
David Burke’s persistence paid off with a deserved score and Canning lobbed over his sixth point from the left.
Hayes darted through the middle and set up Canning for the lead score at 0-10 to 0-9, but Cork replied swiftly with Luke O’Farrell getting off the mark.
David Burke doubled his tally with a pinpoint shot from near the left sideline, before Horgan had the final say in injury-time - firing over a terrific free from distance to tie the sides at 0-11 apiece.
Horgan clipped over a close range free after O’Sullivan was brought down early in a sun-splashed second period, and as Galway pressed for an equaliser a first-time pull from Cooney flew narrowly past Nash’s far post.
Canning won a free which he sent over to level the sides for the seventh time, and a trademark burst from Hayes saw the Portumna flyer move Galway ahead.
Two sweetly-struck passes from Andy Smith and David Burke played in Canning for his ninth of the day and suddenly Anthony Cunningham’s men had a two-point lead.
Tigerish play from Canning, who was drawing more and more Cork defenders, laid the platform for a Niall Burke point, before Horgan rallied his troops with a well-hit effort from play.
But there was a sense that Galway had found an extra gear, with their two-man full-forward line of Canning and Hayes keeping the Cork defence more than occupied.
Niall Burke drilled over his second, much to the delight of the Galway contingent in the 41,537 attendance, and the same player produced a brilliant save from Nash as the Tribesmen went for the jugular.
Canning converted the resulting ‘65’ and Hayes slotted over shortly afterwards, in response to a score from Cork substitute Darren Sweetnam.
Cork, aided by some fresh legs, gained some precious momentum as a Cronin snapshot cleared the crossbar and substitute Cathal Naughton weighed in with a rousing effort from the left.
The margin was down to two again, 0-18 to 0-16, as the hour mark approached.
Galway responded with a point from Regan, although their wides tally soon increased to 10.
The pressure was really on and Cork, as determined as ever, showed no signs of falling away.
Net-minder Nash thumped over a long range free, only for Andy Smith to reply in the next attack.
Cork were hanging in there despite wides from Nash and Niall McCarthy, while a strike from O’Sullivan on Canning’s hand produced the semi-final’s only yellow card.
After receiving treatment, Canning split the posts with another accurately-struck free, stretching Galway into a four-point lead as the signal came for three minutes of injury-time.
Cork desperately craved a goal but the Galway defence stood up to the task, particularly the heroic Coen and Moore, and a final point from Hayes sealed the deal for the westerners.
Scorers: Galway: J Canning 0-11 (0-05f, 0-02 ‘65‘), D Hayes 0-04, J Regan, D Burke, N Burke 0-02 each, A Smith 0-01
Cork: P Horgan 0-07 (0-06f), P O’Sullivan 0-03, J Coughlan, C McCarthy, L O’Farrell, D Sweetnam, P Cronin, C Naughton, A Nash (0-01f) 0-01 each

Friday, August 10, 2012


Katie wins GoldIreland's Katie Taylor has beaten Russia's Sofya Ochigava 10-8 and won Olympic gold for Ireland.
The 26-year-old from Bray, Co Wicklow, came from behind to win the female boxing lightweight final at the ExCeL Arena in London.
The fight was tied at 2-2 after the first round, and Taylor trailed 4-3 after the second. However, she went on to win the third round 4-1 to lead 7-5, and held on for the win.
It is the first Olympic Games in which women competed inside the boxing ring and her fight attracted intense national and international attention.
Taylor kissed her Olympic gold when it was presented to her in front of a capacity crowd.
Speaking of her victory, she said she had dreamt of this moment so many times before.
Minister of State Michael Ring, who was at the venue, said that the ''roof almost lifted'' and that the ''atmosphere was simply electric.'
'President Michael D Higgins has described the victory as magnificent and said it had lifted the spirit of the nation.
Many work-places around the country closed early for the bout, which began shortly before 5pm.
Big screens were in place in her home town where thousands of fans watched her box her way to victory and a gold medal.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Taylor was ''a force of nature whose pioneering spirit and boxing brilliance have seen her realise her personal dream of winning Olympic gold.''

Monday, August 6, 2012


Katie Taylor, going for gold.Katie Taylor has guaranteed herself at least a bronze medal at the London Olympics after a comprehensive victory in the women's lightweight boxing quarter-final over Great Britain's Natasha Jonas.

The Bray fighter was in charge throughout the bout and Jonas had no answer for her accuracy, her intensity or her punching power.

Taylor ran out a 26-15 winner after the four rounds, forcing her opponent to take two standing counts during the fight.

Taylor made the walk to the ring to a rapturous reception and for the first time during the London games, the Great Britain supporters took a back seat, being out-sung and out-cheered by a huge Irish crowd.

The 26-year-old looked calm and collected as she entered the ring and was out of the blocks first as she took the fight to Jonas during the opening round.

Taylor connected with a powerful flurry of punches after just 30 seconds, looking to have scored with at least two of her shots.
Jonas was struggling to find her range, hitting air as Taylor jumped in and then danced out of trouble and although she managed to connect with her left on the counter, Jonas was off the pace and lost the first round 5-2.

To her credit, Jonas took the fight to the four-time World Champion in the second round and had the Irish woman reeling in the first minute of the second round.

A more aggressive Jonas was working well behind her left jab and landing scoring blows as Taylor struggled with the awkward angled punches that the Liverpool fighter was throwing.
A slip from Taylor gave her the chance to regroup and she managed to slow the pace of the fight with two powerful body shots as she regained control.

"I knew the support was going to be good here but I didn’t realise it was going to be so great" - Katie Taylor.

A scoreline of 5-5 was a fair reflection on the round, but that was as good as it was to get for Jonas.

Knowing that the fight was at a crossroads, Taylor came out full of purpose and immediately had Jonas on the back foot.

Two stinging right hooks rattled the southpaw and Taylor pressed home her advantage as another powerful right caught Jonas flush and forced her into a standing count.
Jonas was now looked spent.
Her defence was increasingly ragged and although she was still having limited joy with her left jab, Taylor was scoring freely and took the round 9-4.

Taylor was again right in Jonas' face at the start of the fourth round, forcing the exhausted Liverpool woman back.
All the strength had gone from Jonas at this stage and her punches lacked the power she has displayed in the second round.
The reigning world champion was blocking anything Jonas could muster with ease and rocking her opponent as she seemingly scored at will on the counter.

The fight was already over as a contest when Jonas was forced to take her second standing count of the afternoon and Taylor pressed home her advantage to win the final round 7-4.

Next up for the Irish fighter is the semi-final where she will take on Manzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan, who beat China’s Cheng Dong 13-8 in their quarter-final.

Afterwards Taylor paid tribute to the huge contingent of Irish supporters in the crowd, who cheered her on the way to victory."It was unbelievable here, I couldn’t wait to get out. I just tried to stay calm and composed throughout the whole thing but it was hard not get excited at the end," she told RTÉ Sport.

Taylor also revealed that she went off plan in the second round and felt that she allowed Jonas too much of an opportunity to get back into the fight."I didn’t do what I was told in the second round, I was staying in there a bit too long and getting caught with back hands."
"I was happy to stay three points up after the second round so I just had to push her back in the third round and thankfully I got a good lead for the last round."

Well done Katie, lets hope you go all the way to gold.