Sport Gaelic Football

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Politicians show true colours in glory hunt

THERE'S no doubt about it, when it comes to bandwagon jumping the old Charlton-era chant still holds true -- you'll never beat the Irish.

No sooner had the doyen of sports commentary, Micheál ó Muircheartaigh, announced that today's All-Ireland would be his final curtain, than the emails came flooding into newspaper offices all around the country.

These mails are a common occurrence. Whenever there is something a politician wants to be associated with -- a medal won, a team success on the international stage, a retirement, even a death -- a statement is released expressing your public representatives' congratulations or condolences, all in the hope of getting a mention in the paper.

What we never get, however, are press releases from politicians or their handlers admitting that they are making an unholy mess of running the country and outlining how, and indeed when, they are going to do something about it.

Wouldn't it be great to have politicians who could remind you of their own tangible achievements instead of constantly trying to bask in the reflected glory of others?

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JJ McCORMACK, who passed away recently, was a familiar name to Irish cycling fans of the 1940s and '50s as a national and international star of the sport. But younger generations will remember him more as an administrator.

JJ's legacy is the Junior Tour of Ireland, a race he instigated in 1978 and which remains a major stepping stone for young cyclists. We all probably know a character like JJ. He's the guy who seems to be able to get things done by getting out there and talking to people rather than sitting in committee rooms for endless hours discussing and planning.

He had the ability to leave people scratching their heads in his wake, wondering what exactly they had just agreed to. And when you saw him holding someone by the elbow and explaining a problem that he needed to be solved, you knew another volunteer had just been recruited.

JJ could stop trains, close city and town centres, divert traffic and enlist the help of total strangers with a smile and a few well-chosen words. His determination to help youngsters in his sport is rapidly becoming a dying art, so if there happens to be someone like JJ in your rugby, soccer or GAA club, treasure them.

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Bernard Brogan is leading this season's charge for footballer of the year. In seven championship games for Dublin he racked up a personal tally of 3-42.

This season has undeniably been his most impressive, so you would be forgiven for thinking that he would be wreaking havoc on the Dublin club championship. However, since losing to Cork three weeks ago, Brogan has failed to score from play in his two games for St Oliver Plunketts.

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IRELAND finally got a team in the Champions League when Alan Kelly became the first referee to take charge of a group stage fixture last Wednesday.

Kelly led a team of Irish officials for the Group E game in which CFR Cluj of Romania beat Swiss side Basel 2-1.

Six Irish match officials were involved -- Kelly (Cork) was assisted by Damien McGrath (Mayo) and Ken Hennessy (Cork), while Anthony Buttimer (Cork) and Neil Doyle (Dublin) were the additional assistant referees, and Pádraig Sutton (Clare) acted as fourth official.

Five of the officials are graduates of the FAI Referees School of Excellence. Kelly, Doyle and Sutton graduated from the first school, which ran from 1998 to 2000, while McGrath and Hennessy graduated in 2002 and 2004 respectively.

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The GAA promised last week that touts found trading All-Ireland final tickets today will be reported to the Gardaí and dealt with accordingly.

We wish them well with such a noble aspiration as experience tells us that touts tend to ply their trade unhindered on big match days.

From The Stands would be delighted to hear reports to the contrary from vigilant readers.

Fergus McDonnell

and Marie Crowe

Sunday Independent

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