From the stands: Rebels’ Banner causes
Donal Óg Cusack is not the first Cork hurler to leave the county in order to gain coaching experience in Clare and no doubt he will, like Justin McCarthy, one day return to coach the Rebels.
In 1976 McCarthy was appointed coach to the Clare senior hurlers, but the difference between Cusack and McCarthy is that Justin had already spent time coaching Antrim whom he helped win the All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling Championship in 1970 and had also spent a year coaching Cork before his move to the Banner where he spent four years.
McCarthy would return to coach his native county along with the late Canon O’Brien and he later managed Waterford and Limerick.
Athlone gather to remember famous tie
There is a photograph of Giovanni Trapattoni gingerly making his way through a muddy St Mel’s car park in Athlone back in October 1975 when the mighty AC Milan came to the midlands to play ‘The Town’ in the second round of the UEFA Cup.
Trapp, who was then on the coaching staff of Milan, won’t be in Athlone next week, but the Athlone Town team, who held Milan to a 0-0 draw at St Mel’s before losing 3-0 in the second leg at the San Siro, will gather in the Sheraton Hotel next Friday for a dinner to remember the heroics of 40 years ago. A 4-2 aggregate win over Valerenga of Norway had set up the glamour tie against Milan and it could have been so different had John Minnock converted a first half penalty after Terry Daly was fouled.
A nostalgic era for the League of Ireland and looking back at results in the European Cup from 40 years ago would remind you of a recent Heineken radio ad, only that these results were the real thing, e.g. Derby County 4, Real Madrid 1.
Blessed with talent
Cricket seems to be on an expansionist curve these days, even to parts of the world more accustomed to the smell of insense rather than that of linseed oil and leather pads. Last week’s game in Rome between a Vatican XI and a Church of England XI was groundbreaking in more than an ecumenical way.
The Vatican team, or St Peter’s Cricket Club to give it its correct name, defeated their English opponents by 43 runs in a 20 overs match and seems to be developing a hectic schedule of games — they played an all-Muslim side from Yorkshire the previous week. The team is made up of seminarians, or trainee priests, who are studying in Rome. The majority are from the Indian sub-continent.
High achieving Spence
In a week when the Department of Justice and Equality hosted a thought-provoking conference on ‘levelling the playing field’ for girls and women in sport, Sophie Spence deserves recognition for her achievement today.
The Irish second-row was invited to yesterday’s World Cup final as one of the three women shortlisted for World Rugby’s 2015 Player of the Year which will be announced at a gala banquet in Battersea tonight.
She is up against the Black Ferns’ brilliant scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge and Les Bleuets’ imposing captain and hooker Gaelle Mignot.
But the Tyneside native, whose mum hails from Lisburn, cut a pretty rampaging figure herself while helping Ireland secure their second Six Nations in three years.
Spence is equally immersed in rugby off the pitch. She worked for Leinster rugby when she first moved here and, since last year, works fulltime as DCU’S rugby development officer, overseeing all their men’s and women’s programmes and also coaching the latter.
You can bank on that
We are grateful to Daragh Persse of The Brand Fans and Gerard O’Neill of Amárach Research for a survey which measured the impact sponsors of the Rugby World Cup had on viewers and supporters.
It’s no surprise that Heineken, long associated with the game, achieved a recognition level of 80 per cent during October. It is a surprise, however, that Bank of Ireland were named as World Cup sponsors by 25 per cent of those surveyed. Why is that such a shock? Simply because they’re not.