Sunday 18 March 2018

From the Stands: Farmleigh entertains whole new ball game

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling

For GAA journalists at this time of year, there are always some subtle reminders that The Championship is just around the corner.

The weather (fingers crossed) gets better, then come The Championship Haircuts and finally the GAA launches arrive thick and fast.

Although most of these PR gigs are anodyne events, Tuesday's promotion for the Leinster football and hurling championships looks a cut above the norm.

For what marks a change to the usual venues like Croke Park or a centrally located hotel, the media have been invited to Farmleigh House, the former stately home of the Guinness family, in the Phoenix Park. While there, to accompany the beautiful rustic views, they will be treated to refreshments and, even more importantly, a host of managers and players selling nothing but themselves.

The Leinster Council is reporting unusually high interest among print and broadcast media in an event of this type, which they are attributing to the novelty of the venue, but also to the list of attendees. Among those confirmed are Jim Gavin, Anthony Cunningham, Jason Ryan, Jack Sheedy, Brian Whelahan, Mick O'Dowd, Paddy Keenan, John McCaffrey and Rory O'Carroll.

Farmleigh House has played host to the likes of Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II but this is a whole new ball game for the historic site.

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These are heady days in Clontarf. Aside from the commemorations for the battle of 1014, the clubhouse at Castle Avenue is now home to two All-Ireland trophies for two completely different sports.

The rugby club captured their maiden All-Ireland League title two weeks ago while the cricket club are reigning Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup holders. Since taking the AIL title, the rugby team have gone on to take the scalp of the prestigious Barbarians 43-42 in a game organised at Castle Avenue as part of the Battle of Clontarf celebrations.

Meanwhile, the future looks bright for the cricket team who started their Leinster League campaign last weekend with a 16-year-old, Colin Curry, scoring 60 runs for their first XI and another 16-year-old, David Delany, scoring a century for the seconds.

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DONALD STERLING'S lifetime ban from the NBA for making racist comments has sparked a battle among the mega-rich to purchase his team, the Los Angeles Clippers. Leading the charge at the moment is a syndicate of Oprah Winfrey, entertainment mogul David Geffen and Oracle Corporation chief executive Larry Ellison.

Ellison has a sporting background in so far as he funded from his personal fortune, estimated in the region of $40 billion, Oracle Team USA, the racing squad that competed without success in the America's Cup in 2003 and 2007 before winning it in 2010 and 2013.

But what fascinates us most about the Oracle chief is the fact that he has had basketball courts on at least two of his yachts. Ellison likes to relax by shooting hoops on these courts, and has someone in a powerboat following the yacht to retrieve balls that go overboard.

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Shane Curran enjoyed a day of triple celebrations last Monday when his two brothers and best man all welcomed baby sons on the same day.

The former Roscommon goalkeeper tweeted his excitement and while it may be a long shot that Curran will still be between the posts for St Brigid's when the boys come of age, we wouldn't bet against it.

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The task facing Minister for Sport Michael Ring and his Department officials in assessing applications for the sports capital grants was laid bare last week. The Department confirmed that it received 2,036 applications seeking a total of just short of €160m! Sadly, there will be a lot of disappointed sports clubs as the minister has just €40m at his disposal this time.

The greatest number of applications, as you might expect, came from Dublin (298) and the fewest came from Longford and Leitrim (23). There is no confirmed timescale as yet on when a final decision will be made, although, according to sources, it may be as soon as July.

Pat Coffey and Marie Crowe

Sunday Indo Sport

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