Saturday 25 November 2017

Free spirit Ceni just keeps on scoring

Football fans of a certain vintage may remember Pat Jennings' famous goal in the 1967 Charity Shield final for Spurs when his long kick-out from the hands soared over the head of Manchester United's Alex Stepney at the other end.

But such fleeting phenomena are as naught compared to the feats of Rogerio Ceni of top-flight Brazilian side Sao Paulo who last week scored his 100th career goal as his team beat local rivals Corinthians. What makes Ceni's record extraordinary is that 55 of those goals have come from free-kicks. The man who is in, a distant, second place, former Paraguayan goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert, had 45 penalties in his total of 62.

The Football League record is held by Fred Craig who scored five penalties for Plymouth between 1926 and 1930 in the old Football League Division Three South. League of Ireland wise Colin Oakley of Sligo Rovers scored in the final game of the 1983/1984 season against Home Farm.

Ceni is no mean performer between the sticks either, having won the Brazilian League's Silver Ball for best goalkeeper on six occasions . He won player of the tournament and man of the match in the 2005 final of the World Club Championships when the Brazilians defeated Liverpool 1-0. He has also been capped 17 times for Brazil and understudied Dida at the 2006 World Cup finals.

It makes you wonder who holds this record in the GAA. It has to be Damien Fitzhenry, doesn't it?

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HAVING already achieved one of his goals this season, Motherwell 'keeper Darren Randolph hopes to achieve another one in June -- in the land of his father. With at least 15 games still to play, Randolph has beaten John Ruddy's record of 15 clean sheets (he has 17 to his credit) and he would now like to add an international cap to his CV.

While he enjoyed his time with the Irish squad last weekend, he admitted that "you don't really feel part of it until you play", and he is hoping to put that right in the end-of-season matches, preferably in the USA, from where his basketballing father Ed hails. "That way, all my family and friends in the States would be able to come and see me," he said.

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THEY say a fool and his money are soon parted and it seems horse racing is never short of fools with money and people prepared to do the parting. Winter talking horse Frankel has been a hot favourite for the English 2,000 Guineas for some time now but the hype was turned up another notch last week when the Racing Post reported on its front page that the horse, out for a morning gallop, had outrun the 7.13am passenger train from Newmarket to Cambridge.

Thankfully, sanity was restored as renowned tipster Tom Segal scoffed at the notion that punters were being asked to back a horse at odds-on when they haven't seen him run for six months "in a race that invariably sees the juvenile form turned on its head."

And Craig Thake revealed in his 'Big-Race Trends' piece that only one favourite has won the race since 1993. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

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In a significant breakthrough back in April 2002, this island had four representatives -- Darren Clarke, Pádraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and amateur, Michael Hoey -- in the US Masters. Yet there wasn't enough cash in the Montrose coffers for an on-site reporter to complement RTE Television's live feed from Augusta. All had been splashed on lavish coverage of the Sydney Olympics 18 months previously.

Since then, our professional golfers have brought the total of Irish international tournament victories to 160, including five Major championships. Yet with Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy as serious challengers for the coveted green jacket, the country will have no terrestrial TV coverage of the first two rounds.

RTE Television have been gone from Augusta since 2007. This, at a time when our professional golfers have never been so dominant. Incidentally, the studio presenter in 2002 was Ryle Nugent, RTE's current head of television sport.

Eamonn Sweeney, Fergus McDonnell Seán Ryan and Dermot Gilleece

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