Vincent Hogan: 'Custom-made Klopp'
Jurgen Klopp knew the Paul Pogba question was coming, packed tight with a thousand subtle trip-wires.
Jurgen Klopp knew the Paul Pogba question was coming, packed tight with a thousand subtle trip-wires.
When chasing down history, maybe the first thing to do is disregard it. Or, maybe more accurately, to de-mythologise the people who set themselves apart. To stop seeing them as an alien species.
Henry Shefflin stands under a low December sky, smiling that wise smile of his as the miracle of Ballyhale unwraps another chapter.
Ballyhale Shamrocks extended their remarkable record to nine Leinster club titles with a convincing victory over Dublin's Ballyboden St Enda's at...
On Sunday, the photographers didn't see Robbie Keane slip inconspicuously into a front-row seat for Irish football's latest coronation.
The boy in Jacob Stockdale is eternal, a human breeze forever scrambling over orchard walls, climbing trees, giggling about a classmate's attack of wind.
Mike Tyson always kept a pretty jaundiced view of the back-page community, once even declaring: “I don’t like sports, they’re social events.”
Michael Obafemi could become anything or nothing as a footballer, yet the possibilities around him all but overtook an evening compressing all the awkward energies that still cast shadow on this complex island.
The FAI has apologised to 1993 Windsor Park hero Alan McLoughlin for a "complete oversight" in not inviting him to tomorrow night's friendly against Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
The FAI has apologised to ’93 Windsor Park hero, Alan McLoughlin, for what they’ve called a 'complete oversight' in not inviting him to Thursday night’s friendly against Northern Ireland.
In his 1994 autobiography, Brian Clough addressed a personal dislike of Martin O'Neill's capacity to be "a bit of a smart-arse".
A single moment of refinement sufficed, a gently arced free that ran at odds with the frenzy of a clangorous evening.
On a night touted as a catharsis of sorts, Harry Arter stayed faithful to the theme, pausing in...
Delicate crockery seldom survives this kind of day, so the joy of five in a row comes spilling out of Fergal Hartley as he talks about Ballygunner men standing up to be counted in Dungarvan.
They gathered around Tiger as if the 17th green was a church gate and he'd soon be tossing clay on a loved-one's casket.
It was closing on 5pm in the photographers' room when John Delaney settled for the interrogation he always knew was coming, his back to the lockers, a black leather stool pushed tight towards his knees.
Seamus Hennessy can turn an almost sanguine gaze to his mother, Josie's, passing now.
Of all the stock villains in Irish sport, none has been more derided or resilient in recent times than John Delaney.
In football, separation statements speak with a thousand tongues, so that FAI line about Martin O'Neill's reign ending by "mutual consent" maybe conveys little more than corporate politeness.
IN football, separation statements speak with a thousand tongues, so that FAI line about Martin O'Neill's reign ending by "mutual consent" maybe conveys little more than corporate politeness.
Just at the end of Saturday's post-match press conference, Joe Schmidt was invited to personalise the dark thunder now rolling Ireland's way. Was it, someone asked, the "great challenge" of his coaching career to line up the All Blacks in his crosshairs?
By Wednesday, Alan McLoughlin's enthusiasm for the looming anniversary was already beginning to taper. The media calls had been building, interest in that goal piqued by the symmetry of next Thursday's friendly against Northern Ireland in Dublin almost exactly 25 years on from one of the ugliest, yet most tumultuous nights in Irish sports history.
They were supposed to have retired to the reading room by now, Coolderry, this ageing team that most of Offaly imagined last spring would be relegation material.
From a world bubbling with stress, endless sacrifice and cold, cold scrutiny, from a need to hear those cheers rattle down off the grandstands, to this.
He blames himself for the day something broke in Tipperary, something that - to this day - hasn't entirely healed.
We were back revisiting the paradox of Rory McIlroy's season last night after a day that never quite subdued the impression of a man trying to solder gaping cracks in his game.
Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy' blared from speakers high above him as Tiger Woods came - ceremonially late - to the first tee, last of a dozen Americans to step onto the hottest spot in golf.
Bubba Watson grins as he insists, "I don't know, I was the glove guy!" - refusing to be a grass.
Le Golf National is fantasy cut from cornfields, a topography contoured by wind, sun, rain, phosphates, nitrogen and a sadist's eye.
Mick McCarthy knows better than most how the concepts of harmony and outrage are strictly transient in football, so he could be forgiven a weary chuckle at this week's sense of Irish football sliding back towards the circus ring.
He talks about history in that peculiar, zipped up way of his, a book-keeper impassively collating volumes.
They laid the U-21 grade to rest under a dirty bedsheet of a sky in Limerick last night, with bellicose Tipperary roars serenading it into history.
It ends with Tom Condon, ball in hand, slewing clear from the Canal-end traffic and all the tangled roots of Limerick doubt suddenly snapping in a thunderclap of sound.
He was never fooled by the tidy, congenial idea that winning would change everything. So Joe Canning knows he can't be a tourist in this story. There's a picture of him from Thurles on August 5, a lone wolf hemmed in by five Clare coyotes. His face crumpled for war, he has one of them by the collar. Some yards away, the capsized six-foot five-inch form of Johnny Glynn lies injured on the...
Mickey Harte steps from the claustrophobic field with a smile that can't obscure the fire in those wise eyes.
The story of those '12 apostles' tumbles from the pages of old newsprint now, reeking of almost monstrous folly and denial.
Donal Moloney lurched towards the dug-out rail, palm to his face, Clare's run through this smouldering summer over.
Around the villages of Clooney and Quin, the first instinct is to disabuse you of any notion that that point was just a random, scratch-card act. The second is to protect the man who made it.
Hurling is still God’s creation, but this was a hymn to human ingenuity.
The surprise has been the syntax of this Limerick story, the sense of investing hope in strategy rather than lumping it all on prayer and lucky heather.
In 'Behind the Banner', the DVD of Clare's All-Ireland win of 2013, the early footage is an essay in the pursuit of stronger minds.
PETE Taylor sits in the lobby of a Dublin hotel, wrestling – he says – with a compound of emotions.
John Kiely tries to slow the cascade of garlands falling his way by reminding the assembled literati that no medals have passed hands in the oily murk of Thurles.
The trick for Limerick now is to escape this cycle of every game being either a crisis or a new dawn, a 'house private' soliloquy or a christening.
Kilkenny make you hear footsteps, that's their gift, their beauty. They are a perpetual study in the art of spookery. So this felt a monumental step for Galway, a recognition that when this game became, as it did, a conversation with themselves, they did not buckle.
On some level, Galway's size has become a trick of the mind, a gentle psychological swindle.
He had his own funeral planned down to the music, to the message on the grave, even to the angle they'd set his body at in the coffin.
'Our boys are human, do you know what I mean?" sighs Micheál Donoghue, peering out into a sparsely populated media auditorium.
Galway and Kilkenny must do it all again after a monster point from TJ Reid in injury-time scured a draw for Brian Cody's men against the reigning Leinster and All-Ireland champions.
The game had been over more than 40 minutes when Michael 'Brick' Walsh finally reached the mouth of the dressing room tunnel, applause splashing towards him from some stragglers by the toes of the Kinnane Stand.
Derek McGrath is likely to continue as Waterford manager for another year despite their 2018 campaign lasting just 21 days.
Cork's Munster title defence held by a thread in Thurles where four injury-time points eventually edged them past the challenge of a determined Waterford.
If Waterford dwell on the circumstance in which Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh strides towards history tomorrow, this game almost seems a vulgarity.
This isn't a Limerick familiar to old-school prejudice. It's not a team reliant on flame-cheeked gusts or hurling that's primarily heat and melodrama.
Limerick set down a huge statement of their Championship intent at the Gaelic Grounds today with a ruthless eviction of Waterford from the Munster Championship.
in Ferns on Wednesday night, 34 slim, black GPS monitors remained untouched on a wooden table by the field nearly an hour into Wexford hurlers' allotted training time.
A day threatening to descend into a memorial service for Tipperary hurling turned rogue in the soupy Limerick air, all those old ghosts Waterford suspect lurk in the stonework of this place suddenly coming for their corpse.
Referee Alan Kelly and a couple of his umpires had to be escorted off the field at the end of this rip-roaring Munster Championship contest in which Tipperary came from eleven points down with fifteen minutes to go to rescue a draw in Limerick.
Ten days before the start of the 2015 National Hurling League, Waterford unveiled a few stiffened ideologies behind closed doors in Sixmilebridge.
From the shadow of a pathologist's glove, Tipperary's Championship was re-awakened through what manager Michael Ryan acknowledged as "sheer bloody-mindedness".
Just as the clouds rolled in like leathered Hell's Angels on a family campsite, all that was left to do with Tipperary was log the time of death.
In Munster's Old Testament, all that worry squatting above Ennis tomorrow could be neatly siphoned down into a duel between hurling's brightest prodigies.
Pat Gilroy settles on a spot no more than a yard inside the tiny committee room, declining the offer of a chair.
Maybe the gently elegiac ambience of Roscommon’s Hyde Park, perched as it is between a respite home and a graveyard, didn’t make for the wisest of places to return.
For Galway hurlers, whatever happens next, it will not be a study in hubris or carelessness.
Ten days after last year's All-Ireland final, Galway's hurling management team met to begin the planning for that awkward second album.
Galway hurling manager Micheál Donoghue has warned against the legacy of last year's All-Ireland win being jeopardised by complacency.
Ten minutes before his tee time on Sunday, Rory McIlroy strode through a raucous funnel of humanity to the putting green.
There are no gentle ways to unravel on a Masters Sunday and Rory McIlroy knows better than most the loneliness when tension cauterises the brain and Augusta turns its back on you.
I spent last week sleeping with the ghost of Payne Stewart above my head. Just behind the headboard, to be precise.
He came to the shade of the great oak with the zestful, swinging stride of a man hurrying to a different place.
Tiger Woods all but came here trailing gun-carriages, but Augusta National hasn't a name for deferring to presumptuous storylines.
Just gone seven on the pilgrim track that is Washington Road, pedestrians out-pacing the snarled-up morning traffic in their race to see gods of the game hit their ceremonial drives.
Rory McIlroy defied a solid drizzle of discouragement to come home well placed for a weekend charge on history under the pale Georgia sun.
There will come a moment for Rory McIlroy these next few days when Augusta National reaches for his collar with a cold hand and he'll feel like someone on a fairground ride that's just popped a bolt.
Augusta is the mirror to its own smile and, in this history-scented place, there was never going to be much appetite for shining a light into the shadows around Tiger Woods' "miracle".
Rory McIlroy has vowed to attack from the start tomorrow as he goes after the career Grand Slam in Augusta.
For all the counsel rolling Rory McIlroy's way on the eve of his tenth Masters, none will legislate for the war Augusta National wages on a human pituitary gland.
The accidental tourist chooses to go without a TV in his Rathmines apartment.
He comes to us ceremonially late, the drill-sergeant behind this march on the English temple. Jonathan Sexton in the mixed-zone.
Tony Martin's smile concealed an eternity of inexpressible thoughts as hands began reaching towards him, celebrating Anibale Fly's guilt as a brazen social climber.
It could be that he's bitter as a crab apple inside, that all the grace espoused is just a firewall against the most human of resentments, but Davy Russell's equanimity has begun turning into an elegant parable.
Pat Kelly waves our microphones away like a man who's been interrupted doing the stations of the cross.
Six years ago, Ruby Walsh, Davy Russell and Barry Geraghty participated in a TG4 documentary, 'Jump Boys', focusing on the habitually dangerous lives led by National Hunt jockeys.
March hurling incubates a small world of gentle deceits, so Tipperary weren't inclined to trumpet their arrival into a National League quarter-final here as the safe negotiation of any forbiddingly high mountain pass.
An in-form Jason Forde fired Tipperary into the National Hurling League quarter-finals at Semple Stadium today, the Premier county surviving a late surge from old Munster rivals, Cork.
The great irony of his Festival last year was how the race that became a turning-point was won by a horse known for the equine composure of a drugs mule with unravelling secrets.
Trapped on the boundary between potential and achievement, much of Jason Forde's story so far will have left him feeling like a tourist in someone else's photo album.
Finally, Davy Fitz materialises at the mouth of the dressing-room tunnel, an oddly bleak smile playing on his lips.
Clare's unbeaten National League record came to a shuddering halt at the hands of their former manager, Davy Fitzgerald, at Innovate Wexford Park today.
Nobody will be in much doubt about what lies beneath the gauze of conviviality in Wexford Park tomorrow.
Back in the dim and distant past, as in January of last year, maybe the only thing watching Wexford hurl on a bitingly cold day could promise was curvature of the spine.
A defiant Wexford came storming from behind to record their first National League win over Cork in seven years at a pulsating Innovate Wexford Park.
As they laid one of their greats to rest in Coolderry on Thursday, a low murmur rumbled audibly through the midlands.
The Clare roars thundering up into a mucky Ennis sky suggested that this National Hurling League might amount to something more intense and meaningful than a series of line-dancing classes after all.
A rousing finish enabled Clare see off the tough challenge of a makeshift Tipperary team in Ennis to get their National League campaign off to a flier.
He knows that the biggest trap for Galway now is to come to this season thinking slow and complacent thoughts.
He sees it before I do, a quartered, impressionist-style portrait of Springsteen on the cafe wall, outlaw eyes indifferent to the wisps rising from a live cigarette.
If nothing really matters in January beyond the stoic homilies of the training ground, Parnell Park tomorrow at least reminds us that some games are still about more than just accumulating winter miles.
The light danced in the field behind the old church, as if too cold to settle in a single place.
The roar is what they all remember, a sound clawing echoes from the sky that everybody in Wexford Park knew instantly to be bad news
Before he wrote his controversial six-thousand-word profile of Conor McGregor for 'ESPN - The Magazine', Wright Thompson contacted me, looking to meet up for a chat.
She disappoints us, Sonia. She frustrates us in her resistance to the cliché of the cheated, the obligation to be angry. We want her to spew vitriol upon the resilient lies of history, the ghost records, the secretive champions, the unexplained glories of a time when nobody ran with more thrilling grace than she did on the great flashbulb nights of Track and Field.
It was just a keyhole-sized glimpse of life on the streets, an opportunity to elevate the statistics to human scale.
The indelicacy of counsel coming Jessica McCaskill's way drew an apology from the Sky commentator, as if those watching mightn't be sufficiently hardcore for anything beyond some kind of roped-off nursery rhyme.
There's such an old-school reticence to how the O'Briens conduct themselves in the face of epic achievement that the temptation is forever there to mistake them for unremarkable people.
Before the 2013 Womens' Six Nations, the Irish team had a presentation from IRFU Referee Development Manager, Dave O'Brien.
James Ryan towers above the squinting eyes of his inquisitors, a square-rigged giant, cold to any invitation for giddiness.
The Monday after Ireland's emphatic 2014 November series victory over South Africa, Paul O'Connell remembers Joe Schmidt's video review as an "edge-of-your-seat" exercise that left the players both educated and chastened.
After the drawn third Test in Auckland, voting slips were passed around among the Lions to decide their Player of the Tour.
The dying cliche that Ireland are the oppressed romantics of international football was, surely, finally extinguished last night.
For a couple of hours in Dublin on Saturday evening, somewhere high above the rolling Irish thunder, you could all but hear quiet African churchyards groan, generations of old 'Boks spinning in their graves.
If you are the sort of person who considered Bob Geldof invoking the spirit of WB Yeats as a goosebump expression of our artistic culture, you will have been dismayed by yesterday's rather gloomy rugby news.
Given the Hollywood figures, reputedly, generated by that pageant of vulgarity in Las Vegas two months back, it might be tempting to imagine Katie Taylor on the edge of life-changing money tonight in Cardiff.
This game may have given birth to a new faith in Wexford hurling as a defiant, young St Martin's team turned Oulart-The Ballagh's pockets inside out to claim the club's first senior crown in nine years.