Tuesday 25 October 2016

McGinley's amateur cause put to R&A

Dermot Gilleece, Sean Ryán and Fergus McDonnell

Published 02/08/2015 | 02:30

Golfer and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley
Golfer and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley

With the sort of thoroughness which characterised his Ryder Cup captaincy, Paul McGinley has followed through on last week's views in these columns about prize-money in the Open Championship. He felt that payments could be made to amateurs for the benefit of their national associations.

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"I have now made my feelings official in a letter to the Royal and Ancient," he said yesterday. "Who knows what may come of it, but at least I've opened the door for a full discussion on the matter."

Had they been in a position to accept it, combined prize money for the five surviving amateurs, including Paul Dunne, at St Andrews last week would have amounted to €635,834. Which, McGinley claimed, could have been deployed to the development of the game at grassroots level.

Instead, the money went back into an extended prize-fund, prompting the reaction "Why should the pros get additional money that they didn't actually earn?" from next year's captain of the Irish men's and women's golf teams in the Olympic Games.

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To label an 18-year-old as "potentially the next Paul McGrath," is a big statement. So when UCD manager Collie O'Neill did just that to his centre-back Maxi Kouogun after his outstanding display against Slovan Bratislava, we felt honour-bound to ask if this was not placing too big a burden on the young lad.

"No, not for Maxi," he replied, adding that the son of Cameroon parents "can take it."

O'Neill elaborated further: "He's on an elite scholarship, and when we sent him to the Sports Science department, he asked them to work on his fitness and speed, and he was the only player to ask that. Most players ask to work on their strength, but he never asked for that."

Kouogun subsequently broke all the speed records in the Sports Science department - sprint speeds over 20 and 50 metres. "We switched him from midfield to centre-back," explained O'Neill, "because he has that initial quick recovery, which we saw to good effect against Slovan."

With his pace and his athleticism, allied to his good reading of the game, Kouogun just needs some more senior experience to see if he is capable of following in the great McGrath's footsteps. As McGrath was 22 before he signed for Manchester United, Kouogun also has time on his side.

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The rights and wrongs of how the Camogie Association decided on the rules for running their senior championship, and indeed those rules themselves, were the subject of some debate last week before the authorities folded under the weight of Twitter outrage.

Many of the contributions to the debate came from people who care nothing about camogie, but who love a good cause to get outraged about. These are mostly the same people who cared for a week or two about women's rugby, and for another week or two about women's football, before disappearing again - certainly never to be seen watching any of the games they appeared to care so much about.

It's interesting to cast our minds back 25 years to Italia 90 when Ireland and the Netherlands could not be separated after one of the most boring group stages in World Cup history, which included the spectacle of the Irish and the Dutch suspending hostilities so that both would qualify.

Lots were drawn and Ireland got to play Romania, avoiding eventual winners West Germany, and ensuring one of the most memorable periods in Irish sporting history.

We don't remember anyone at that time screaming about the injustice of it all and demanding that we have a play-off against the Dutch.

If the cap fits . . .

Sunday Indo Sport

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