Congratulations on Eamonn Sweeney's excellent articles on sports funding and spectator violence and such at gaa matches.
The club championship especially seems to bring these out. I also agree with you on your views on Pádraic Joyce and Joe Brolly (aloof northerner), while on the other hand I didn't like your piece on Leinster schools rugby (I'm a born and bred Cavan man).
Being born in 1968, I also enjoyed your nostalgia pieces leading me to remember Dickie Davis, Brian Moore (commentator), World of Sport and the wrestling (loved by all the local farmer's wives!), midweek sports special, Saint and Greavesie, Neopolitian ice cream, Cliff the Grinder and Big Bill and Jockey v Lowe or Bristow and the surprise of Keith Deller, plus the incomparable Jimmy White etc, etc. Keep up the good work.
Keeping the green flag flying high
In last week's Where Are They Now? Ronnie Long stated that when Frank O'Mara and Paul O'Donovan came first and second in the 3,000m at the 1987 World Indoor Athletics Championships in Indianapolis, it was "the only time that two Irish flags went up together on the same podium" and that he did not think that it happened before and that it has not happened since. While that may very well be true, it certainly was not the first occasion that two Irish-born athletes mounted the podium at a major athletics championships, albeit representing a country other than their native land.
At the 1908 Olympics held in London, all three medallist who mounted the podium in the hammer event, representing the USA, were Irish-born. John Flanagan, born in Kilbreedy, Co Limerick – in the course of becoming the first athlete in Olympic history to win gold medals at three successive Olympic Games in any athletics event – took gold; Matt McGrath, born in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, took the silver medal and Cornelius Walsh, born in Carriganimma, Co Cork, took the bronze medal.
This achievement of three Irish-born athletes stands unique in Irish and Olympic sporting history and is highly unlikely to be ever matched by Irish athletes in any sporting discipline at any major international championships.
Specifically, in relation to the raising of the Irish flags at major athletics championships, it is interesting to note the story of the great Peter O'Connor, who was born in Ashtown, Co Wicklow, and won the triple jump gold medal at the 1906 Intercalated Olympic Games held in Athens with Cornelius Leahy, born in Charleville, Co Cork, taking the silver medal to him in the same event. Both were nominated to represent Great Britain.
After his victory, O'Connor climbed the flagpole, pulled down the Union Jack when it had been raised and replaced it with the Irish Tricolour, claiming that both Leahy and himself were representing Ireland instead of Great Britain.
Interestingly, that great American Olympic historian David Wallechinsky in his publication entitled The Complete Book of the Olympics, which the Los Angeles Times claims is the ultimate Olympics source book, records both O'Connor and Leahy as representing Ireland.
No consistency in hurling refereeing
The recent Munster Club SHC final generated much debate. Having attended the game, I thought the referee, Shane Hourigan, was 100 per cent correct on discipline, which is something hurling badly needs.
It was obvious from as early as the first minute that Mr Hourigan was in a no-nonsense mood when he yellow-carded Lar Corbett.
And he was right in his decision to send off John Keane (albeit for a fairly soft stroke). One has to feel sorry for Keane who must have been bewildered at being sent off considering some of the incidents that took place during a certain game in the summer that were only deemed worthy of yellow cards, but such is the inconsistency we have in refereeing.
One aspect where Mr Hourigan got it completely wrong, however, was when Jake Dillon was hauled down with six minutes remaining. It should have been a penalty but strangely Sarsfields were awarded a free out.
Thurles are living a charmed existence nowadays because Michael Cussen of Sarsfields in Cork had at least two similar calls ignored in the Munster semi-final.
Nevertheless, it was a huge win for Thurles Sarsfields. A Munster final at club or county level is never easily won and they can enter the All-Ireland semi-final with a high degree of confidence.
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