Friday 23 August 2019

Mistrust of Long continues sad trend

The present manager, Martin O'Neill, appears to have the same difficulty in recognising the talent of Shane Long
The present manager, Martin O'Neill, appears to have the same difficulty in recognising the talent of Shane Long

Seán Ryan, Pat Coffey and Fergus McDonnell

IF the recent history of the Republic of Ireland team is anything to go by, managers of a conservative nature have an aversion to placing their trust in creative players.

Starting with Jack Charlton, who had his differences with David O'Leary and Liam Brady, this trend was continued by Giovanni Trapattoni, who spurned the talents of midfield playmakers Andy Reid and Wes Hoolahan. Apparently, both managers preferred a more functional type of football, in which they, rather than their players, pulled the strings.

The present manager, Martin O'Neill, appears to have the same difficulty in recognising the talent of Shane Long. The Tipp man might have expected a vote of confidence and a run in the team as No 9 with the declining powers of Robbie Keane, but this hasn't happened. Instead he has been pushed back to the fringes, at a time when, with Hoolahan restored, his pace could be utilised to the team's advantage, as Didi Hamann pointed out on RTE2 last week.

Ten-minute cameo roles are hardly fair to our highest-rated Premier League player.

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MOST people will only know them for their exploits on the soccer pitch, but AC Milan Football Club was founded in 1899 by two Englishmen as Milan Cricket and Football Club.

From the Stands was reminded of that fascinating piece of trivia last week when playing a few games of social cricket in the north of Italy.

The Milano club, no longer formally part of the famous football club, is one of three cricket clubs in the Milan area and while their player base comprises English, Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani expatriates as well as some home-grown Italians, their president is a former YMCA player David Sweetman and one of their star players is the former Ireland under 19 and Hills man Brian Higgins.

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We are indebted to one of our readers, Dermot Kavanagh, who took the time to share the following:

"While recently browsing through a copy of The Kilkenny People, dated June 1, 1913. I noticed a letter from Kilkenny academic, Thomas F O'Sullivan. The letter writer bemoans the GAA's practice of decorating its players like 'military veterans' by presenting them with medals following championship successes.

"In lieu of medals, the writer suggests that books relating to Ireland, its heroes and heroines, its history and culture, should be presented to the winning teams. The writer suggests that books such as 'Jail Journal', 'History of 98 Rebellion', 'Knocknagow' and 'Literary History of Ireland' should be offered to the successful players.

"One wonders what the reaction of modern day players would be if such an approach was taken by the Association. If it had been in vogue in recent years the library of a certain red haired hurler from Ballyhale would be quite comprehensive."

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RIGHTLY billed as the biggest giveaway in Irish golf (none bigger has ever crossed our radar anyway) My Golf Deals had tongues wagging and smartphones bleeping all over the country on Thursday morning.

To celebrate the launch of their new website and mobile app, the company teamed up with one of the country's leading parkland courses, St Margaret's Golf and Country Club, to offer 10,000 free green fees.

What is encouraging is that Andy Kenny, director at My Golf Group, said: "As big golfing fans ourselves, we have a strict philosophy to only offer deals that we would be happy to buy for ourselves." And if they continue with bargains like this week's, which includes two green fees and a buggy at Carton House for €99. If they keep up that sort of standard it really will be "the one stop discount shop you don't want to miss."

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