THOSE who are lucky enough to have completed the Dublin Marathon, regardless of their athletic ability or lack of it, will happily bore you for hour upon hour about their personal journey to the starting line and their experience of the day.
Most are overwhelmingly positive, but if there is a negative in the narrative it usually centres on the stretch between the 20- and 22-mile markers – Roebuck Road's 'Heartbreak Hill' and the stretch along the Stillorgan dual carriageway.
Most can live with the Hill, although the fact that it comes at such a crucial point in the race, when spirit and energy levels are already dipping into the danger zone, makes it a very difficult proposition.
The N11 is a different kettle of fish. The runners are funnelled into the bus lane and in a crowded race this represents a number of dangers. As fatigue takes its toll, some people are forced to stop while others can pull up very sharply due to muscle strains or tears. If someone stops in front of you, there is very little room to take evasive action without falling over or straying into the traffic.
"We're trying to adjust the route so that we go through UCD," explains race director Jim Aughney, "but so far we have been unable to get the go-ahead from the University board. We have the support of the Gardaí and Dublin Bus as a move that would take us through the College would be of benefit to everyone."
Hopefully the UCD authorities will look kindly on Aughney's request and help to make a great occasion even better.
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WHEN Walsall announced the appointment last week of David Kelly as assistant manager, there was one glaring omission in the CV they published of their former apprentice.
They listed all 13 of Kelly's former English and Scottish clubs, but omitted to mention the stint the former Republic of Ireland striker enjoyed at Derry City in 2002 when he helped them win the FAI Cup.
In view of the steady flow of Derry City players across the water since – Paddy McCourt, Niall McGinn, David Forde, Conor Sammon, James McClean, Mark McChrystal, Stephen McLaughlin – that looks like a serious omission. It seems to us that, with a flow of talent like that, it's best to stay on the best of terms with Derry.
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You may be familiar with a vibrant new advertising campaign currently on the airwaves that's promoting the Allianz National Football League, and which spins the somewhat clunky catchphrase 'unexpect the expected'. Clearly the creators are following this dictum very much to the letter – ads broadcast during the past week previewed the ties Cork v Dublin and Kildare v Donegal, the only problem there being that they had already been played. Expect the unexpected indeed.
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SETANTA Ireland begins a new series tomorrow night which promises a unique insight into the world of schoolboy football at the highest level – the race for team glory and the individual jostling for position to catch the eye of Premier League scouts.
The six-part documentary will follow the coaches, players and parents of Home Farm's under 15 team as they battle in the ultra-competitive atmosphere of premier schoolboy football and try to fulfil the dream of landing a professional contract.
The first episode tomorrow night screens after coverage of the Setanta Sports Cup and because there is strong language throughout (there's a surprise), there is also a pre-watershed version of Episode 1 on Saturday, February 16 at 11.0am.
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Sponsors can be selective with potential suitors in these austere times but Thurles Sarsfields and a company called e-Frontiers, which specialises in IT recruitment, were delighted to announce their happy commercial engagement recently. The three-year deal is an appropriate alliance given that the company's MD is none other than Brendan Carroll, a current Sars selector and centre-back on the team that won the county title in 2005, their first since 1974. Brendan also wore the blue and gold for a few seasons in the 1990s.