Football focus paying dividends: Ex-Donegal star Barrett is Ireland's new hero, but it's been a steep learning curve
Amber Barrett is a breath of fresh air. When we meet, her face is full of smiles and bursting...
Amber Barrett is a breath of fresh air. When we meet, her face is full of smiles and bursting...
There's something calm about Louise Quinn. Standing in the tunnel after her side's dramatic 2-1 victory over Slovakia, the towering defender's eyes are sparkling with pride, but she is relaxed and...
As 2013 dawned, Conor Ryan wrote down some goals in his diary. Fresh from winning an All-...
As lasting images go, there were few as dramatic and inspirational as the sight of the Irish women's national football team standing together outside Liberty Hall - a great symbol of defiance -...
Going on a run in a club provincial competition is a special time for all involved on and off the pitch. Those lucky to experience it know just how hard it can be to progress at that level.
The rain spilled down for most of yesterday afternoon, the outdoors was an uninspiring place where few people wanted to be. It was one of those days where the sky and the roads were the same dull grey colour.
When US footballer Hope Solo was in Dublin last month she posted a picture of herself with Republic of Ireland player Áine O'Gorman.
From the window of Crawford's coffee shop in Maghera you can see the local cemetery. Kenny Shiels looks across as he speaks, pointing at the spot where his brother David is buried.
'If someone had told me during my career that I will never win an All-Ireland title but my daughter will, I would have taken that."
Football defines Ciara Trant and the Dublin goalkeeper is more than okay with that. In fact, she wouldn't have it any other way. Lining out for Dublin is all she's ever wanted and she's made plenty of sacrifices along the way to achieve it.
Every Thursday morning, Aoife Murray heads to the Kilmacud Crokes club. She meets former Dublin hurler Niall Corcoran there at 7.0am and they get straight to work.
The three Donnelly men are on the sofa in their sitting room. Mattie, Richie and their father Liam. The pictures that decorate the walls around the...
Jackie Crosbie's eyes filled with tears. Her daughter Katie Fitzhenry was just hours away from playing against France in the Women's Rugby World Cup. It was a must-win game, more than a big deal.
Eight years ago, on a hot summer's day, I sat down with Lindsay Peat outside Anderson's Creperie in Drumondra. We did our best to ignore the smell of the sweet pancakes and melted chocolate as we sipped black coffees in the sunshine. Peat was preparing for an All-Ireland football final against Cork so treats were off limits.
There are those who say you should never meet your heroes, but with the Women's Rugby World Cup just around the corner, a group of aspiring rugby players were handed the chance to do just that - and they weren't disappointed.
Aoife McDonnell received a phone call at the end of last year from the Donegal football manager Michael Naughton. She was on her third stint living in Australia, playing Aussie rules for the Sydney University Bombers and teaching too. Life was good.
In September, 1957, a seven-year-old Con Murphy sat quietly in the Cork dug-out at Croke Park. The final whistle blew in the All-Ireland football final and the young boy watched on as his father Weesh Murphy and his team-mates dealt with losing an All-Ireland final they desperately wanted to win.
Every few months the number of girls dropping out of sport at a young age is highlighted in the public sphere, discussed and bemoaned. But there are few solutions offered to stem the flow or even voices heard from female athletes who have been down the dropout road but found their way back.
On a summer's evening in Kilkishen, Co Clare not much is happening. A few people are gathered outside the hurling pitch after training, the shops are closed and the village is very quiet. Some tractors purr in the distance as farmers finish off their day's work.
Vinny Corey makes it sound very simple. He has just been asked what it takes to be a successful man-marker. He doesn't need time to think; he clearly knows the role but, equally, he plays it down. "You need a lot of focus and concentration; you need to stick to the task as best you can; and depending on how the match unfolds you need to be able to bring your own game."
The year was 2003, but the conversation remains as fresh as if it was yesterday. "Do you think you are good enough to start on Sunday?" asked Mick O'Dwyer. "Ya, I think so," replied 20-year-old Ross Munnelly. "Right that's settled so, you'll start against Wexford," said O'Dwyer, and he walked off leaving Munnelly staring into his bowl of jelly and ice-cream, wondering what had just happened.
In Denis Walsh's brilliant book, Hurling: The Revolution Years he beautifully captures an era that defined a sport. He takes the reader on a journey through a time when hurling was arguably at its best, when it was free-flowing and ferocious.
There's a sense of excitement around Wexford. Something good is happening and the hurling fans of the county can't contain themselves. It's the pre-championship open night for fans, a chance for them to watch training, ask for autographs and take pictures.
Nestled in the grounds of University College Dublin, lies the head office of Leinster Rugby. It's exactly what you'd expect the HQ of a big organisation to look like.
Zurich 2015: Stephanie Roche struts past Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at the Ballon d'Or ceremony after being shortlisted for the Puskas Goal of the Year award. The image goes viral, she's an international star.
There are few tougher journeys than walking off your home pitch to a chorus of boos. It's the kind of feeling that can break a heart and a man. Especially when the ground is Thomond Park and your team is Munster.
Conor O'Shea is a self-professed rugby man and his CV both as a player and a manager backs that up. Like many who operate at his level, he feels a responsibility to play the game a certain way. For him, Italy's tactics against England at Twickenham under his stewardship fulfilled that responsibility.
There are few memories that resonate more with Clare people than the vision of Anthony Daly raising the Liam MacCarthy Cup on the steps of the Hogan Stand in Croke Park 22 years ago. Behind every great team stands an administration, and at the helm in Clare during that time was Robert Frost.
John O'Loughlin's phone started buzzing last Monday evening. The Laois footballer knew immediately something was going on and he wasn't wrong. The 28-year-old plays his club football in Dublin with Northside club St Brigid's and their practices had become a hot topic for discussion on social media.
Colin Ryan typed the letters y-e-s into his phone and felt a rush of emotion. Happiness, sadness, relief, excitement and anticipation. A friend had just invited him to his stag do in February and for the first time in ten years, he was in a position to attend such an event at that time of year.
There's a typical scene in GAA clubs around the country on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Parents drop their kids off for training and underage matches. The coaches put the young players through their paces and take charge of games - these roles are mostly filled by men.
As golf fever keeps hold of the Irish nation thanks to our big stars like Rory McIlroy and Graham McDowell blazing a trail at last weekend's US Open, it's clear that its popularity with armchair sports fans is not going anywhere.
There are few images more harrowing on the sports field than that look on a player's face when they realise the injury they have just sustained is serious. It's a mix of shock, terror, pain and disbelief. Players instinctively know something is seriously wrong, and as they are being helped or carried off the field the emotions often get the better of them and tears start to flow.
Ireland's top athlete Mark English was at a race meeting in Dusseldorf recently where he sat around with other clean athletes and openly discussed the runners they believed to be cheating.
An early morning train journey to Westport, on the shortest day of the year, does little to inspire much Christmas cheer. With only a cider-drinking pensioner for company, thoughts of championship football are a world away. That is until Aidan O'Shea appears at the train station and almost immediately it feels like the first round in Connacht is just around the corner.
There's Psalm in the Old Testament where God calls Samuel, and Samuel replies, 'Here I am'. It reminds Ger Brennan of his life growing up on Dorset Street in Dublin's north inner city. Reading it brings him back to a time where his father PJ was always calling him.
When Mick Wallace brought Wexford Youths into the League of Ireland First Division eight years ago, 10 of the 11 for any match could have been from Wexford. However, the pink shirts which earned promotion to the Premier Division are more like a South-East combination.
When Mark English walks into the Santry Crowne Plaza Hotel, heads turn. Dressed from head to toe in sports gear he looks every inch the world-class athlete. From his tall, lean physique to his healthy glow and spiky black hair, the 22-year-old epitomises fitness and health. But of course he's not just fit and healthy, he's talented and determined and shockingly dedicated to the sport of athletics.
Dressed in his blue scrubs and wearing plastic gloves, Ray Moran drills a hole in the bone that is attached to the tendon he's just removed from Podge Collins' knee.
Speaking to Caoimhe Mohan fresh from playing a match is an exhilarating experience. The Monaghan star loves football and her enthusiasm for the game is infectious. She's positive and passionate about her sport and grateful she was given the opportunity to play it.
Clare football manager Colm Collins once said that bringing his son Podge to a match when he was a child was like trying to hold a rabbit in his hand.
For most Irish people, 2016 is the centenary of the Easter Rising. For people like Mark English, whose careers are defined by tiny margins, it’s much more than that. It’s Olympic year and that doesn’t just mean a chance to compete in a huge event, it means decisions need to be taken and sacrifices made.
As the rain poured down in Portlaoise last Sunday, I stood in the middle of O'Moore Park playing football with my two-year-old son. He was decked out in the Austin Stacks colours, as was I. Moments earlier, the team we were there to support had been sent crashing out of the All-Ireland club championship, losing to Slaughtneil by just one point.
Just a few months ago I stood in the hallway of Cork University Hospital waiting to say goodbye to a precious angel, Siun Long. She was born to Darragh and Niamh too soon and left just five weeks after arriving.
Last year's Fantasy Gaelic wasn't for the faint-hearted. It offered a small glimpse into the tough world of inter-county management and exposed many who believed they were experts when it came to team selection.
When Kevin McManamon was given a yellow card last April against Tyrone in the Allianz League his first reaction was one of relief. He'd heard someone from the crowd shout "that's a black card ref" and he was worried.
Tipperary manager Eamon O'Shea has named an unchanged team for today's Allianz Hurling League final against Kilkenny.
Senan Kilbride and Donie Shine gave a masterclass in point-scoring, finishing with 11 between them as Roscommon captured the title at Croke Park yesterday.
Sitting on the bleachers on a sunny day in UCD, Kevin McManamon attracts quite a bit of attention. Several Easter sports camps are in full swing around the campus and the kids giggle and point when they spot the casually dressed footballer. His heroics on the pitch for Dublin on the big days have ensured that he is a household name and a recognisable face.
When Galway or Portumna are playing, it's impossible to resist the urge to seek out Joe Canning and spend time just following his movement round the pitch.
KERRY star Colm Cooper believes the GAA needs to do more for players who are forced out of work by injury. Cooper is recovering from a knee operation and is on sick leave from his job in AIB.
South Africa's World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar has fears that the concussions he suffered during his illustrious career will have long-term effects on his health.
If it didn't know before, the IRFU certainly knows now the importance of deadlines after missing one almost cost the union a cool quarter of a million euro.
Peter Clohessy wasn't a run-of-the-mill rugby prop. Yes, he was one of the best the game has seen, arguably the bravest and the toughest, but he was different to other props; he could do things that many others couldn't.
The introduction of the clock and hooter system which was set to revolutionise time-keeping in the GAA has been put back for a year.
When Ireland won the Six Nations Championship in Paris last weekend, Richardt Strauss proudly looked on. He had been called into the Ireland camp two weeks previously to provide cover and was in the stadium with the squad for the decider against France.
FOR many people, this time of year is strongly associated with Cheltenham. For Cork footballer Colm O'Neill, it is the season for cruciate injuries. Because it was around now, on three separate occasions, in three different years, that the young forward injured his anterior cruciate ligament.
When Derval O'Rourke told the Sunday Independent recently she was coming back from injury to try and win a medal at this year's European championships in Zurich, few doubted her. Except, it seemed, her own association, Athletics Ireland.
For many Irish athletes lack of funding is an issue. The costs of living, training and competitions aren't easy to meet and they regularly find themselves living hand to mouth.
REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill will get straight down to work once today's qualifying draw for Euro 2016 is complete.
Taking the blood and saliva of athletes and analysing every detail of it is a unique business to be in and an extremely interesting one when the samples come from some of the world's elite.
Liam Dunne looks ready for action. He rubs his hands together, clearly ready to get some things off his chest.
WHEN Bubba Watson missed a five-footer for par on the 72nd green at last weekend's Phoenix Open, Kevin Stadler could celebrate his first PGA tour victory in 239 starts.
Over the last two weeks, Martin Barrett has been busy preparing his side Kiltane for today's All-Ireland club intermediate football final. He knows that they may never reach the same heights again so he is leaving nothing to chance.
Growing up in the shadow of McHale Park in Castlebar didn't influence Tom King's sporting ambitions. He dreamed of being a professional footballer – playing for Mayo wasn't even on his agenda.
One of the great sports books of recent years was Moneyball, Michael Lewis's account of how a canny statistics-based strategy helped Major League Baseball side the Oakland As get the better of much richer rivals.
Kilkenny picked up their first piece of silverware for 2014 with a 0-24 to 1-17 win over Dublin in the Walsh Cup final at Croke Park yesterday.
Off The Page started with a bang last Wednesday night when the 120 Sunday Independent Sports readers who had gathered in Elvery's flagship store in Dundrum were treated to an exclusive by Paul Kimmage.
Just before Christmas, Fairyhouse Racecourse turned green and gold for a Meath football fundraiser. Over 130 tables were filled for the event and sold out signs were up long before the day itself.
History was made on a dark night in Armagh in December when Derry player Declan Mullan was sent to the line in an O'Fiach Cup game against Louth.
An astonishing display by Ruan Pienaar last night saw Ulster finish the pool stages of the Heineken Cup with a 100 per cent record and secure a home quarter-final against Saracens in the Heineken Cup.
On June 26 last year, Toomas Ilves was coaching basketball at the gym in Palmerstown Community School. He was overseeing some routine drills, when he started to feel unwell.
THE wind and rain battered the car as my husband Billy and I drove from Clare to Dublin just before Christmas. Our wedding, 36 hours earlier, was a distant memory. But none of it mattered because it was honeymoon time and we were headed to Fort Lauderdale in Florida for a week of sunshine.
There was a big shock in Irish basketball on Friday when Dublin Inter dramatically defeated Bord Gáis Neptune in the Men's National Cup semi-final. But it was a bittersweet occasion for the winning side.
Munster and Ulster are through to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup and both teams will go into next weekend's final round of pool games in search of a home tie.
The football season heads into its second week today and Marie Crowe has been getting reaction to the black card rule
November and December will be remembered as two untypically dry months, although a lot of footballers and hurlers will remember differently.
A relaxed Derval O'Rourke strolls into the bustling Cake Café in Dublin City centre, the staff rush to greet her. Not because she is a famous athlete, arguably the best sprinter the country has seen, but more for her baking skills. She's been in the specialist café on many occasions, talked to the staff about what they do and discussed recipes, not sport. When O'Rourke isn't running, baking is her thing and many of Ireland's elite athletes will testify to that.
Paul Pollock's athletics career has been unconventional. Over the last decade he's dipped in and out of the sport but never fully committed. Instead, he chose to focus on his education. Now, at 27, he's a qualified doctor with hospital experience and he's ready to switch his attention back to his sporting ambitions.
ON a freezing cold Friday night, the car park at Irishtown Stadium is filled with Garda vehicles, buses and taxis. There are even a few boy racer cars scattered round the place.
The golden girl of Irish athletics, Fionnuala Britton, looks to make history this afternoon in Belgrade as she bids for an unprecedented third consecutive European cross-country title win.
WHILE inter-county players seem to be retiring ever earlier, club players are bucking the trend and sticking with their teams for as long as they can.
It's a miserable wet Friday in Rome and away from the hectic evening rush one man finds himself the centre of attention in the grand room of a plush hotel on the outskirts of the city.
Cuala GAA club are on the verge of finalising a multi-million euro expansion move into the grounds of Blackrock RFC.
Fit file with Aileen Morrison
In the space of just a couple of months, Ronan Sweeney went from Kildare footballer to retired inter-county player to Waterford selector, while still togging out for his club Moorefield. Although the retirement was planned after a couple of years of consistent injuries, jumping in with Waterford was not.
Roy Keane has vowed to come out and defend himself over the claims Alex Ferguson made about him in his book – but only when he thinks the time is right.
It's Wednesday morning between international Tests and Fergus McFadden is having a day off. For him that means that there is no scheduled training just a bit of kicking practice at the Aviva.
1/ How many hours a week do you spend training?
Martin O'Neill disagreed with Roy Keane's actions in Saipan, the new Ireland manager revealed yesterday.
Within hours of Martin O'Neill being confirmed as new Ireland manager last week, Mike McGurn's name was being linked to the position of fitness coach. He's graced the sports pages of newspapers around the country and some of his former charges have publicly endorsed what he does.
Over 20 hurleys line the walls of the porch in the Collins family home. They all carry the same navy blue grip, but on top of each one, written in black marker, is a different name, P Collins, S Collins or D Collins.
There was considerable disappointment in Croke Park on Friday night when several All Star hurling nominees – including from All-Ireland finalists Clare and Cork – were left without seats for the televised awards ceremony.
There have been plenty of big games in Sligo Rovers' recent past. Cup finals, top-of-the-table clashes and European encounters, it's been a busy time for the club. And in the lead-up to all these significant occasions there has been one consistent factor – veteran defender Alan Keane's pre-match routine.
The prolonged recession this country is enduring isn't having an impact on the number of people taking part in sport or getting some form of physical exercise, but it is increasingly affecting how they go about it.
Former Armagh footballer Enda McNulty feels that the time has come to explore the possibility of professionalism in the GAA.
A year ago Aileen Reid was a newly-wed who had just competed in the London Olympics. She was living at home in Derry and her career was progressing steadily but she wanted more. She wanted to shake things up. So after consulting with her husband and researching world-class triathlon coaches, Reid packed her bags and moved to Australia to begin the next chapter of her career.
In the week after the All-Ireland hurling final, Clare FM was inundated with requests for tunes by Seamus Bugler featuring his son Brendan. The video of the Clare star playing the accordion in the dressing room in Croke Park went viral and the public were crying out for more.
Watching Ireland over the last few months brought Kevin Doyle back to his childhood days. He became a fan again; that buzz that comes with seeing your country bid for World Cup qualification returned. And while it was exciting and at times enjoyable, looking on from his couch wasn't where Doyle wanted to be.
The head of the Irish Olympic movement has laughed off suggestions that Dublin could stage the 2024 Games.
For the last nine years the Cork ladies football team have dominated the All-Ireland championship, winning seven titles in that time.
In the early 1970s, the men and women of the Offaly Association in Dublin came together at the 15 Acres in the Phoenix Park to play Gaelic football. At that time there was no organised structure, but in pockets around the country women were getting together to play amongst themselves.
When Paul Flynn watched the re-run of the 2011 All-Ireland final, he hardly recognised himself. The figure in the blue number 12 jersey looked like a worried man. It was written all over his face. But it wasn't the prospect of facing Kerry that caused him so much strain, nor the enormity of the occasion. It was the injured hamstring that almost ruined his dreams of playing in an All-Ireland final.
Going into today's game, Tyrone boss Mickey Donnelly feels that his side's mental strength will see them through.
Hearing Clare hurler John Conlon's account of the concussion he suffered in the Munster semi-final against Cork, reading about the tragic death of 14-year-old Benjamin Robinson from 'second impact syndrome' and seeing the effects of concussion on the NFL players have all shone the spotlight on what is a very serious issue in sport.
Former Galway hurler Ollie Canning has vivid memories of playing minor hurling for his county. He played in two All-Ireland finals for the Tribesmen and has plenty of advice for the lads lining out in today's final against Waterford.
Traditionally Dublin's fans leave it late to go into Croke Park on match days but Tyrone minor manager Mickey Donnelly isn't taking any risks and is preparing his players for playing in front of their largest audience yet for today's All-Ireland minor semi-final against Roscommon.
The Ireland team and management are under no illusions – this is make-or-break time in the bid to qualify for next year's World Cup. And, according to Ireland's goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly, "everyone's looking at it as a huge phase of the campaign".
An overwhelming majority of players, managers and referees contacted by the Sunday Independent believe that Hawk-Eye should be retained, despite last Sunday's high-profile malfunction.
A lot of new sports books cross the From The Stands desk. Some are barely worth a second glance, others take our attention, fleetingly, and then there are those rare days when a proper gem arrives. Last Friday was such a day.
It has been 74 years since the Monaghan minors last reached an All-Ireland final and their manager Frank Brady feels that they are ready to make some history of their own today when they take on Mayo in Croke Park.
When the final whistle blew in Croke Park on September 23, 2012, the disappointed Mayo players cut lonely figures amongst the exuberant Donegal team. Another opportunity to bring the Sam Maguire west had passed them by and what that meant for their county wasn't wasted on any of them.
Football training: three to four sessions (six to eight hours).