Tuesday 28 March 2017

Talented Thep gets taste for victory

Dermot Crowe and Fergus McDonnell

Photo: SPORTSFILE
Photo: SPORTSFILE

Last weekend brought a celebration double for Laois hurling, the famous win over Offaly preceded by an impressive victory in the Féile national skills competition 24 hours earlier in Portlaoise.

Top of the field across a number of disciplines was Rathdowney-Errill and county development player Thep Fitzpatrick (14). Born in Thailand and raised in Laois by his adopted family from the age of 14 months, Thep took to hurling from a young age. His adoptive father John is a former Kilcotton and Laois county hurler.

"We are about 100 metres from the GAA pitch," says John. "His front garden has been the GAA pitch since he was three."

Thep joins some illustrious past winners including Conor McGrath, Cha Fitzpatrick, Paudie O'Sullivan and Shane Dowling. To complete a memorable weekend he joined his father at O'Moore Park the next day to see Laois defeat Offaly for the first time in the championship since 1972.

"We'd go to a lot of games and more often than not, you know yourself, we've been coming back with the tail between our legs," says John.

"Thep would always have hope. It's the first scalp he has seen Laois really taking."

* * * * *

FANS of The Sunday Game, no doubt saddened by the death of James Last who wrote the show's iconic theme, will be delighted to hear that Michael Lyster is on the road to recovery.

Joanne Cantwell stepped in at short notice last weekend after Lyster suffered a heart attack last Friday night, and it was only a remarkable set of circumstances that saved him from a tragic outcome.

"I had been down in Portumna playing golf and I was with a good friend of mine [Irish Independent sports writer ] Vincent Hogan. We had a bite to eat after the round and Vincent was driving so he left me off at my house at about 11.30 pm," he said from his hospital bed yesterday.

"For some reason when he left me off I realised that I had left my mobile phone in his car and I reckoned that I would need it so I went quickly to the house phone and rang Vincent. He wasn't very far away so he said he would come back and would be with me in two minutes.

"I remember walking towards the front door and opening it and that is all I remember. I was down on the floor when Vincent arrived and I remember nothing until I started to come to in the hospital."

Lyster will have a pacemaker fitted on Thursday and is targeting a return to The Sunday Game on June 28, in plenty of time for the Munster final on July 12.

We wish him well.

* * * * *

IF, as everyone seems to believe, the Leinster SFC is little more than a mechanism to provide Dublin with three training matches before the serious business begins, it might be reasonable to expect that the county championship would be well advanced before the All-Ireland quarter-finals in August.

Not so, however. Even the modest target of playing two rounds in the early days of summer looks like a write-off at this stage, with at least one first round match yet to be played and Dublin due to play again this day fortnight.

* * * * *

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring TD yesterday launched the Irish Sports Council Safe Sport App at the Code of Ethics Information Day. The app is aimed at creating greater awareness and understanding about safeguarding best practice in children's sport.

Speaking at the launch, Ring said: "I believe it is extremely important that children and young people are given the opportunity at an early age to participate in sport in a safe and positive environment to develop and enhance their physical and social skills.

"Participation in sport will ultimately lead to a healthier society and an overall improved quality of life."

He has rarely, if ever, spoke a truer word.

ssport@independent.ie

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