Wednesday 28 June 2017

Gerrard in the right place at the right price

WE couldn't help but admire Steven Gerrard's skill against Napoli last Thursday night as his second-half hat-trick turned the game in Liverpool's favour.

But we weren't dazzled by the way he chased down Dossena's back pass for his first strike, nor even the firmly struck penalty for his second. And while his perfectly dinked third was a joy to watch, what really impressed us was the way he followed in the footsteps of our own Brian O'Driscoll.

For Gerrard has mastered the art of pleasing sponsors through product placement. After his first goal he dashed to the sideline to consume an energy gel secure in the knowledge that all eyes (and cameras) were firmly fixed on him. And as soon as the whistle was blown, a bottle of Lucozade Sport magically appeared in his hand as he walked away happy and thirsty. His performance, though not quite as embarrassing, had all the trademarks of O'Driscoll's Powerade campaign from circa 2005.

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WE often lament the lack of colourful characters in the GAA but Tipperary hurler Pat Kerwick is bucking the trend this Christmas by releasing his own CD-DVD compilation.

Kerwick received such a reaction from his spontaneous rendition of the Galtee Mountain Boy from the winner's podium of the Hogan Stand on All-Ireland final day that he has decided to release this musical arrangement. A renowned singer from a musical family, the flying half-forward has compiled four songs on the collection, including the one that brought him so much acclaim on All-Ireland final day.

Proceeds are going to two charities, one Dublin-based and the other in his native Killenaule. The DVD is currently on sale around the Premier County. The other three songs include Slievenamon, The Boys of the Blue and Gold and the Hills of Killenaule. There is also bonus footage of Kerwick singing from the Hogan Stand with Liam MacCarthy in tow.

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The fourth annual National Athletics Awards take place next weekend and for the first time since their inauguration they will not have a hall of fame award. In the last three years, the recipients were Ronnie Delany, Eamonn Coghlan and John Treacy. Speaking on behalf of Athletics Ireland, Donal O'Riordan explained why they dropped it.

"When Athletics Ireland set up the awards three years ago, the committee decided it would be at their discretion whether or not they would have a hall of fame award each year. This year there was a list of potential recipients, but due to reasons mostly logistical they decided not to award it," said O'Riordan.

That's a relief, then. At least they haven't run out of candidates.

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PREPARE yourself in the run-up to the Budget for a mad scramble of interest groups fighting to retain a slice of dwindling government funds.

Government funds, we often forget in this country, are actually taxpayers' funds. Real money that would be in your pocket if some State agency wasn't spending it on inflated wages/pensions or a free holiday barely disguised as work.

Dessie Farrell, chief executive of the GPA, announced at their awards dinner on Friday night that "as part of our campaign to safeguard Government funding for GAA players, we will publish a report confirming that inter-county hurlers and footballers contribute up to €200m to the Irish economy annually."

It would be nice to think that we lived in a State where such things were deemed important, but we don't. Soft targets are the order of the day and a group of athletes pose little or no threat to a political party's re-election (their only real concern). Brace yourselves.

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WHEN the League of Ireland switched to a 36-game Premier Division, it seemed the day of the ever-present, who started every league game, was about to come to an end. Only goalkeeper Barry Ryan (Galway United) managed that feat last year. However, this year has seen that number increase threefold -- and only one is a 'keeper, Alan Mannus (Shamrock Rovers). Take a bow, winger Conan Byrne (Sporting Fingal) and centre-back Conor Kenna (St Patrick's Athletic).

Marie Crowe, Damian Lawlor, Seán Ryan and Fergus McDonnell

ssport@independent.ie

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