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Roberts legend is safe with Celts and Rangers

THE Fred Roberts Cup is a splendid idea, bringing together teams from the North and South.

Two of Dublin's most respected names, Lourdes Celtic and Bushy Park Rangers, deserve the plaudits.

It's noble, little steps like that maybe one day will lead to an All-Ireland team. How marvellous would that be.

Fred Roberts only got one cap for his country. That's a mystery that even Sherlock Holmes couldn't solve.

He played for Glentoran for five years. His record in the 1930-31 season will live forever.

Fred scored 96 goals in just 47 games that season. It included 40 hat-tricks. His debut for the Glens was away to Newry Town. He missed a penalty but scored the only goal of the game.

He hit 66 goals that season and 57 the next before setting his British and Irish record. The following season it was 64 goals and he concluded life at the Oval with 49.

In his youth he was a keen sprinter and high-jumper, the perfect tools for the penalty box. He was tall and lean.

Just like Brendan Bradley, the Finn Harps legend. Mick Leech scored 56 goals for Rovers one year, and then there were other celebrated finishers like Dixie Dean, Jimmy Greaves and Ian Rush.

Goal-scoring is an art. A very difficult art. Timing, positioning sense, patience and confidence are all part of the briefcase.

Fred Roberts obviously had the lot. And how appropriate the new tournament is named in his honour. Too often the greats of yesteryear are forgotten, their deeds hidden from the modern generation.

The generations to come might be lucky enough to follow an All-Ireland League and an All-Ireland team.

They still talk of the summer's night in Lansdowne Road back in 1973 when Pat Jennings, Martin O'Neill, Derek Dougan, Don Givens, Terry Conroy and Johnny Giles played for the one Ireland team against Brazil.

A few years later, the Republic played the North in a European Championship qualifier in Lansdowne. Giles was the Republic's player-manager. The iconic Danny Blanchflower was the Northern Ireland manager.

It was a nil-all draw. The treasured picture was of Danny embracing Johnny as he came off the pitch. If ever a picture pointed the way to a better future, that was it.

Dublin's proud footballing sons, Celtic and Rangers, could have just made the first steps.

Skill central to Templeogue's climb to the SFAI summit

THE news spread quickly -- Templeogue United, champions of Ireland. And the applause echoed all around the city and county.

"They are one of the best teams in the country. They play beautiful football," said an admirer.

On the morning of the U-11 Menton-Seery final, two gents recalled Con Houlihan's description of the infamous Ireland-Egypt 0-0 draw at the 1990 World Cup.

If Big Jack said row Z, row Z it was. Anytime the ball came into the Irish kitchen, it found itself back in the upper balcony.

Con said that style was like the jackdaw building a nest in a chimney. Ten bits of twig might fall down the chimney before one bit stuck, allowing the building to commence.

He was saying that if the Irish defence cleared the ball ten times, maybe one of the clearances might find a green shirt.

That worked for Jack. But now it's all about Barcelona and Spain, and Templeogue are a mirror image of that.

A sweet, skilful passing side with a touch that comes form many hours in the rehearsal room.

Templeogue represent the new vision. Little craftsmen at work. Playing the game the way it should be played. Quick, exciting movement all laced together with assured feet.

It gives promise that Irish sides will eventually feel as comfortable on the ball as the continentals.

Now that's something worth crowing about.

niall scully


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