Something from the weekend
Published 22/03/2010 | 05:00
The New Diego Maradona is a title that has been bestowed upon every young Argentina striker with a hint of the old master's magic. While many -- including former Portsmouth player D'Alessandro -- have briefly shined brightly before disappearing quicker than a Maradona comeback, Lionel Messi is currently lighting up the world of football like few others since Diego hung up his boots. Messi continued his incredible goalscoring form -- eight goals in eight days -- with another mesmerising hat-trick against Zaragoza last night. On this form, he's closer to the Messi-ah than Maradona.
Tough to tackle
Irish rugby players -- well Ronan O'Gara to be specific -- have been accused of being incapable of tackling a fish supper in the past. That accusation was back on the menu after Ireland's usually reliable line of defence was dismantled by Scotland. When the autopsy is carried out there are plenty of possible route causes for this Croker choker but Ireland's 10 missed tackles played a crucial role. The sight of Gordon D'Arcy being tossed aside like a rag doll and Geordan Murphy's unorthodox attempt -- to put it politely -- to prevent John Beattie's try will cause sleepless nights for defence coach Les Kiss .
Darlington's gaffer got the guillotine treatment as the lowest club in the English football league ran out of patience with Steve Staunton. The former Ireland boss was relieved of his duties after just five months in the hotseat and with the club 15 points adrift at the bottom of League Two. Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by Barnet was played in front of a record low crowd of 1,463 and proved the final straw.
Well, it could have been worse. Limerick's 22-point mauling at the hands of Tipperary is an improvement on the last meeting of this two teams. The humiliating 24-point defeat in last year's All-Ireland semi-final was still fresh in Limerick minds even if Justin McCarthy fielded a team with 13 changes from then. Different faces but the result was the same. Their fourth defeat in a row will sharpen minds, and probably the knives, ahead of this week's special board meeting.
Old Trafford was particularly buoyant after Manchester United's crucial victory over their old rivals yesterday. And their fans were eager to take the air out of Liverpool's lacklustre bid for fourth place with a banner on display for the 'MUFC Beachball Appreciation Society', in reference to Liverpool's inflatable anguish at Sunderland.