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Thursday 18 September 2014

From the Stands: Fay rant generates unwanted attention

Published 03/03/2013 | 05:00

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We very much doubt here at From The Stands if Athletics Ireland would agree with Oscar Wilde that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. We suspect, in fact, they would like not to be talked about for a while so that the spotlight will fall on athletes.

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Last week, comments made by respected coach Paddy Fay on Facebook after he failed to get the Ireland team manager's job made it into the public domain.

Patsy McGonagle retained the job but Fay, who had given a very impressive presentation entitled 'The Way Forward' as part of his bid, was far from happy and questioned the process which had led to McGonagle's appointment in fairly vicious terms.

Fay, who is currently in Spain, was apparently taken aback at the level of response, and he has issued a follow-up to his Facebook remarks. He said it was out of character for him to "rant" like this, but added that he had waited two years for the job to be advertised and believes he had put a strong application together.

Fay, who is critical of current high performance director Kevin Ankrom, added that he "would have been able to make a difference to elite athletes who work so hard in a lonely place and are after all the reason that professionals have their jobs in the first place."

He signed off by saying that he would contact Paddy Marley and Sonia O'Sullivan, his referees, "and apologise to them, and thank them for putting their faith in me".

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Con Martin, who died last week aged 89, will forever be associated with Ireland's famous 2-0 victory over England in 1949 at Goodison Park. An entire generation of Irish soccer diehards were prone to leap to their feet in protest when some BBC or ITV sports programme declared that Hungary in 1953 were the first team from outside the UK to defeat England at home. The team of Martin, Peter Farrell, Johnny Carey, Davy Walsh and Bud Aherne had got there four years earlier with Martin scoring the first goal against a side that included Billy Wright, Stan Mortensen and Wilf Mannion.

Martin was one of the last players to earn caps for, effectively, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both the FAI and the IFA claimed jurisdiction over the whole island which meant players could turn out for either side. He won 30 caps for the Republic and six for the North before FIFA put an end to the anomaly in 1950.

In a Football League career spanning from 1947 to 1956, the versatile Dubliner made 241 appearances for Leeds United and Aston Villa, turning out at left-back, left-half, centre-half, inside-forward and even in goals. He also played midfield on the winning Dublin senior team in the 1941 Leinster football final when just 18. On learning that he also played League of Ireland soccer with Drumcondra, the GAA banned Martin.

Con's son Mick also became one of the great Irish internationals though like his father he never got the chance to appear at a major finals. That 1949 Ireland team were knocked out of the qualifiers for the 1950 World Cup by a Swedish team who went on to finish third. Offered a chance to participate nonetheless by FIFA, the FAI turned down a trip to Brazil on the grounds of cost.

Nevertheless, Con Martin's career was a pretty special one. Three years before Goodison he played his first full match for Ireland. He was wearing his goalkeeper's hat that day and gave an outstanding display in a 1-0 away victory over a powerful Spanish team. Long before the Charlton era Irish football had built a proud tradition. Con Martin was one of its great architects.

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OPEL, with Arnold O'Byrne at the helm, started it back in the 1980s – and now it is back with a vengeance. German car manufacturers are once again sponsoring Irish football, but this time it is Volkswagen who are leading the way.

At the last count, four League of Ireland clubs will have the VW on their jersey this season – Sligo Rovers, Shelbourne, Bohemians and Bray Wanderers – while Shamrock Rovers boast another car manufacturer, Seat, as their sponsor. On the other hand, Nissan have ended their involvement with St Patrick's Athletic. Hard to see any of them doing as well as O'Byrne's Opel did back in the 1980s and '90s.

John Greene, Eamonn Sweeney

and Seán Ryan

ssport@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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