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Planners are all-stars for putting GAA's noses out of joint over Casement Park

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Sinead O'Connor

Sinead O'Connor

Sinead O'Connor

In a week when the GAA suffered another blow to its monstrous ego with the refusal of the planning authorities in Belfast to grant permission for the extension of Casement Park, it was good to know that at least the powers-that-be in the UK don't allow these people to do as they want.

Naturally, the GAA were outraged as they'd already begun work on the project, assuming that - as is the case in this country - those in power wouldn't dare question the might of the organisation, but they had their noses well and truly bloodied on this one.

Funniest of all was that some hardliner went on BBC Norn Iron to bemoan that they were "entitled" (he actually used the word) to a new stadium, while others brought up the fact that failing to extend the ground could affect Ireland's bid for the Rugby World Cup.

Clearly the concept of irony hasn't taken hold up the road, given that it was the Ulster counties that were most adamant that 'foreign' sports shouldn't be let next nor near the hallowed turf of Croke Park, yet here they were complaining that the refusal of planning permission would affect a push for a rugby tournament. God, the sheer neck of that mob.

Back in the real world, The Beautiful Game provided plenty of entertainment off the field. We had the frankly hilarious story of former Aston Villa assistant manager Roy Keane (currently sitting on his hands until March when he resumes his duties as Martin O'Neill's sidekick in the Republic of Ireland set-up) going round to Villa midfielder Tom Cleverly's gaff and ringing the bell for a good half-hour. It seems that the ever-chilled Roy wanted a word with Cleverly to see if he'd been telling tales about the various spats at the Villa training ground before the Corkman walked away from his job as No2 to Paul Lambert.

Lambert, quite rightly, looked exasperated at Thursday's Villa press conference, fielding questions about someone who'd skipped out on a troubled club just before a vital league match. That someone no longer employed by the club should take up time at a media briefing is ridiculous but, then again, for Roy it's always been about Roy and to hell with everyone else.

We also had the truly great Thierry Henry announcing his retirement from the game to take up a very lucrative gig with Sky Sports, and fair play to him. During his career he was a joy to watch, one of the greatest and most graceful strikers we've seen in our lifetime, but, naturally, there were those who brought up that handball incident in Paris in 2009.

As usual, we had the "He cost us a spot in the World Cup" brigade out in force. Rather like the "RTE turned down Father Ted" crew, these people seemed to think that we were headed to South Africa when Henry - as any good professional player would have done - controlled the ball, twice, with his hand to set up William Gallas's goal. We weren't. We were on course for a penalty shootout, which is not the same as having your bags packed at all.

Anyway, while I, like every other football fan in the country, was absolutely livid at the time to the extent that I refused to drink French wine or eat in any of their over-rated restaurants for several months afterwards, Les Bleus' catastrophic implosion in South Africa wiped the slate clean. Enjoy your new gig, Thierry, you were a genuine legend, even though you played for Arsenal.

And finally, Hollywood was up in arms about how anonymous threats from "mysterious people on the internet" caused Sony Pictures to pull The Interview from its release schedules. Hmmh, a self-indulgent 'comedy' from Seth Rogen and James Franco about a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gets the chop. Thank you, "mysterious people on the internet", thank you.


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