From the Stands: Country losing its way in fog of silliness
For those of us who despair about what this country has become, then last week was a bad week. It was another week when you realised that everything you thought you knew was wrong, because Official Ireland is at war against Common Sense.
Don't believe us? Well, the evidence is there in abundance – let's take some gems just from the last few days to make the point.
We were told that we have learned the lessons from the horsemeat scandal and so from now on microchipping of dogs will be mandatory.
Elsewhere, four Garda sergeants who didn't want to listen to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter talk down to them from his lofty perch on the moral high ground walked quietly out of the room and were threated with disciplinary action.
Then there were the two council workers who happened upon a pothole on their way from work and decided to do one last job before clocking off for the day. Having had a tyre blow out last week after hitting a pothole, From the Stands feels particularly strongly on this issue.
Anyway, these two men repaired the pothole, and have now been suspended without pay pending an investigation for alleged breaches of health and safety regulations.
And, finally, we were told that a game which has been in existence for well over a century will be extinct within five years because it has made moves to tackle cynical fouling by introducing a black card, the logic obviously must be that cynical fouling is what makes Gaelic football thrive.
This country of ours truly has lost its way.
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DAVID FORDE, Andy Keogh, Alan Dunne and Sean St Ledger (Millwall) and James McCarthy (Wigan) will be hoping to tread the Wembley turf and emerge victorious in the next fortnight, but another Irishman has beaten them to it.
Last week, Kevin Thornton scored the penalty which earned Wrexham extra-time in the FA Trophy final against Grimsby Town, and the Welsh club went on to win 4-1 on penalties.
It's a major turnaround in the fortunes of the Drogheda-born Thornton, who was an established Championship midfielder with Coventry before moving to Northampton and then taking a sabbatical from the professional game as he went gigging with his band. At 26, he's young enough to revive the early promise of his football career – if he has sufficient interest.
Meanwhile, on Sunday next, three more Irish players will be hoping to emulate Thornton's Wembley success. Barry Corr, Michael Spillane and Michael Timlin are in the Southend United squad that faces Crewe in the JPT final.
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WHEN the late Tony Sheehan was Press Officer for the League of Ireland, among his duties was the dissemination of suspensions and fines issued to players for various indiscretions. Sheehan drolly described the weekly fines as "paying my wages".
Now the League is under the auspices of the FAI, who, despite requests, refuse to issue the lists of fines for publication. However, to judge by the grumbling from junior as well as senior clubs, these fines are now paying more than the Press Officer's wages.
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The NFL rolled into town last Monday night complete with three Minnesota Vikings and a couple of Sky Sports analysts. Although it was predominantly a night for fans of the popular American sport, it was also a fact-finding mission for the managing director of NFL UK Alistair Kirkwood.
"These type of events are very good for me because I get to hear directly and unadulterated what fans are thinking about," said Kirkwood.
"And also what they react to and what might work. I certainly would expect us to do more things going forward but the scale of it I don't know."
Although Kirkwood was reluctant to commit to playing an NFL game here in Ireland, he didn't rule it out if the fan base grows. For now he'd like to have more TV exposure in Ireland and hopes to develop better broadcast relationships with Irish TV stations in the near future.
John Greene, Marie Crowe
and Seán Ryan