Thursday 23 February 2017

Seán óg has plenty of aces up his sleeve

Much has been made, quite correctly, about the enormous contribution of Seán óg ó Ceallacháin to the coverage of Gaelic games during a lengthy career which comes to a conclusion with his final broadcast tonight. But he will also carry into retirement some great golfing memories as a left-hander of Senior Cup status at Hermitage GC.

Memories, indeed, which extend beyond these shores. There was an especially notable effort some years ago at Torrequebrada on Spain's Costa del Sol where, as a member of an Irish golfing group, Seán óg had a hole-in-one on the 165-yard 13th.

Amid the customary excitement and congratulations came the inevitable question as to whether this was his first ace. Modestly, he replied it wasn't. It then emerged that he had, in fact, achieved the extremely rare distinction of holes in one at all four par-threes on his home course. Which, at Hermitage, are the fourth, seventh, 10th and, by a happy coincidence, the 13th.

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Gerry McEntee -- surgeon, Meath footballer and for so long mortal enemy of the Hill 16 brigade, was generous enough to offer his support and advice when Joey Boland suffered a shoulder injury during last Sunday's Allianz League final which saw Dublin announce their arrival on the big hurling stage. Watching the game on TV, McEntee made a call when Boland went to ground in the second half clutching an arm. His surgeon's and sportsman's instincts made him realise the importance of swift and decisive action and he was quick to offer his services if required.

Of course, the dual All-Ireland winner is no stranger to Dublin GAA. Having managed St Brigid's at minor and senior level, he took charge of the Dublin minors in 2008 when they were beaten in the Leinster Championship by his native county.

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Sticking with last Sunday's final, referee Michael Wadding's strange decision to blow for half-time just as Conor McCormack was through on the Kilkenny goal brought to mind another referee famous for refereeing by the book.

Welsh whistler Clive Thomas earned his moment of fame -- or should that be infamy -- when he blew the final whistle seconds before Brazil's Zico scored what would have been the winning goal from a corner in a 1978 World Cup match against Sweden. It wasn't the only time that Thomas drew upon himself the ire of the fans, but hopefully Mr Wadding won't follow him down that road.

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Maybe it's the recession -- after all walking, jogging and running is perhaps the cheapest sport around -- but the astonishing renaissance of grassroot athletics continues. A glance at the runireland.com website shows there are over 100 events between now and month's end.

But walkers, novices and serious runners looking for an elusive PB for the 10k (6.2 miles in old money) might look towards the Maynooth Post Primary School 10k challenge at 10.0am on May 22 on what is, allegedly, the flattest course in Ireland running through St Patrick's College before heading into Carton Estate and finishing on the leafy Carton Avenue laid out in 1757 by James Fitzgerald, first Duke of Leinster. Olympic hopefuls Paul Robinson and David Campbell will lead the charge.

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RTE is planning to beef up its Championship coverage this year. Although the station will have fewer live games than last year following the GAA's decision to cut back on these to help bolster attendances, its flagship highlights programme The Sunday Game will return next week with Des Cahill again at the helm.

And joining him will be the usual cast of pundits, plus two new analysts whose identities will be confirmed tomorrow at a press conference in Dublin. Journalists attending the announcement are earnestly requested to act surprised when former Dublin footballer Ciarán Whelan and Tipperary's All-Ireland winning manager Liam Sheedy are unveiled.

There was also a tantalising teaser from the station, saying it would also confirm tomorrow the identity of 'the new presenter of RTE's brand new midweek GAA series'. Step forward Marty Morrissey. But for God's sake don't tell them we told you.

Dermot Gilleece, Dermot Crowe, Seán Ryan and Fergus McDonnell

ssport@independent.ie

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