If you've ever doubted the importance of strong, visionary management in Gaelic football then you need look no further than the contrasting fortunes of arch Leinster rivals Dublin and Meath.
In the doldrums since the departure of Seán Boylan, who along with Kevin Heffernan and Mick O'Dwyer has been one of the architects of the modern game, Meath's high point this year was the celebrations that followed finishing their Division 2 League campaign with three points (out of 14).
While the Royal won just three games in their league and championship, Dublin, under Pat Gilroy, have reached their first All-Ireland final since 1995, an era so long ago some claim to remember Sinead O'Connor as a singer and not just someone who acts the eejit.
IN the annals of bainisteoir greatness, a special place has surely been reserved for JJ Doyle, who guided Wexford to a historic and unprecedented two All-Ireland camogie final victories in one afternoon. Doyle left Wexford early on Sunday with the intermediate team which went on to beat Antrim in the final of a match that began at 2 o'clock.
“The minute the intermediate match was over, the whole focus was on |the senior,” says a relieved JJ, who successfully masterminded the preparation and planning for two wins on the same day, with his seniors beating Galway in a tense decider.
JJ's double whammy was a remarkable achievement.
THE antics of the regulars in the Rovers Return on Coronation Street are likely to slip in the ratings as that other durable Mancunian soap opera, the rivalry between Maine Road and Old Trafford looks set to reach heights of drama not witnessed since 1974, when Denis Law scored for City against his old club who were relegation bound.
With both clubs neck and neck |in the Premier League and Alex Ferguson's young squad banging in more goals than Roberto Mancini's expensive signings, the focus turns to the European stage where United play Benfica tonight and City get to sample the Champions League buzz for the first time.
Well, since a short European Cup run in 1968. Mancini will know what to expect from his time with Inter Milan, but can he take City all the way?
I'VE met plenty of Irish fans who, although disappointed at not getting a match ticket for the Andorra game on October 7, will be making the trip to either Andorra or Barcelona.
Some supporters, having investigated the tiny Estadi Comunal d'Aixovall ground on Google Earth, will pitch up on the adjacent hillside (dubbed Hill 16) to watch the game.
Others have already booked into a high-rise overlooking the little stadium and will have a decent view of the action with a well-stocked fridge within easy reach.
Whatever about Trapattoni's side, when it comes to the travelling fans the old adage holds good. You'll never beat the resourceful Irish.
THERE were shades of Bernard Dunne's thrilling win over Ricardo Cordoba in Paul McCloskey's gutsy fightback against Breidis Prescott in their WBA light welterweight eliminator in Belfast on Saturday.
Promoter Eddie Hearn predicts a lucrative world title bout for the county Derry man.