Sunday 20 January 2019

Joe Brolly

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Dublin manager Jim Gavin with Diarmuid Connolly

Joe Brolly: Jim Gavin better pray that the four in a row is not blown while Diarmuid Connolly is in America 

Paraic Farrelly from Cavan is obsessed with Gaelic football and for some time, we have kept up a lively WhatsApp correspondence. I could be sitting in a packed court 11, waiting to rise to my feet to cross-examine a flummoxed detective, when I feel the buzz in my pocket: 'Greg Blaney was a better number 11 than Brian McGuigan, what do you think?' Or, 'What is your best ever half-back...

Dejected Derry defender Christopher McKaigue after last Sunday’s defeat to Donegal in Celtic Park. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Joe Brolly: Game is not about winning, it's about living 

Anto Finnegan came to Celtic Park for the match last Sunday. We went for drink beforehand on the sound basis that it is no longer possible to watch a Derry match sober. As far as Anto is concerned, his motor neurones are a mere hindrance. His legs and arms no longer work and his son Conal has to tilt his head back when it falls forward, but like The Black Knight in Monty Python, these are trifles. For two hours we laughed and reminisced on the street outside Mary Bs, Anto sucking down bottles of lager out of a straw as Conal held the bottle. Life is for living.

If things don’t change soon for Derry football, selling Celtic Park for social housing will be the only humane thing to do. Photo: Sportsfile

Joe Brolly: Abandoning our principles has left Derry in tatters 

Horse goes into a pub and falls into conversation with a donkey. Says to the donkey, "What do you do for a living?" Donkey says, "I take kids on my back at the beach. What about yourself?" Horse says, "I'm retired now, just taking it handy." "What did you do?" asks the donkey. Horse says, "I don't want to blow my own trumpet but I used to be a champion racehorse." "No way," says the donkey. "I ran on the flat and over the jumps. Won the Derby, the St Leger and, in the twilight of my career, I won the Grand National." "Wow," says the donkey.

Delegates vote to introduce the new football championship structure at Congress last weekend. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Joe Brolly: GAA ideals drowning in cash flow 

We'll start this week with a little quiz: 1. Which GAA leader said this to the Irish Independent in November 2015? "We have taken a decision that we do not want any more inter-county games. Round-robin or group stages - whether in provinces or outside - would increase the number of games, so any proposal that includes them will not be looked at any further. We are simply not going to squeeze the clubs any more. On the contrary, we are trying to free up more time for them."

Maurice Fitzgerald in his Kerry days, Derry's Eoin Bradley (left) and Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (right)

Joe Brolly: Fun is off limits for hamsters on wheel 

David Preece tells a great story about Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Preece was the Aberdeen goalie when they played a pre-season tournament game against an Ajax team that had the young Swede at centre-forward. The match was barely started when a ball was slid through between the centre-halves and Ibrahimovic was through one-on-one. Preece advanced, and as he readied himself, the ball was casually looped over his head and into the back of the net. One-nil Ajax.

‘Panic has an overwhelming effect, especially on a keeper . . . The black card was an act of mercy.’ Photo: David Maher. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Joe Brolly: Mayo keep finding new ways to lose - their manager could have saved them at half time but bottled it 

After the lights went down in the studio and the cameras stopped rolling yesterday evening, myself and Colm O'Rourke grabbed our laptops and began writing our Sunday Independent columns. Pat got up to leave. "You not writing a piece for tomorrow Pat?" "I'll let you into a secret boys. I wrote two pieces yesterday. One for a Dublin win. One for Mayo." With that, he winked, and strolled...