Saturday 18 November 2017

From the stands: Fear Mór emerges from TG4's Red mist

RUGBY'S extraordinary ability to make itself an increasingly complex game has left many casual watchers wondering what's going on a lot of the time. Add to that the fact that most of us failed to pay enough attention in Irish class to be able to understand TG4's commentary and watching Magners League games can be a bit of a struggle.

But last week's meeting between Munster and Cardiff Blues really took the biscuit.

Grappling with the technical implications of the referee's interpretation of the laws at the breakdown without the aid of commentary in what is, for the vast majority of viewers, our native tongue was tough enough. Then the fog descended on Thomond Park and we couldn't see a blessed thing.

Apparently Paul O'Connell came on and Munster won.

* * * * *

UP to last weekend, there were nine high-profile Irish managers in England and Scotland -- probably the highest number ever -- but now there is one fewer, with the possibility of another falling victim to the axe in the near future.

It was a black weekend for the Irish, as Chris Hughton lost and got the chop, and Owen Coyle, Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane also suffered defeat. The only Irish bosses to enjoy success were Brendan Rodgers, whose Swansea team added to Keane's woes, and Danny Wilson at Swindon.

Postponements meant clean sheets for the remainder -- John Sheridan, Gary Waddock and Neil Lennon.

So now Hughton and Martin O'Neill are kicking their heels and we wonder will another of the Irish brigade join them soon.

* * * * *

OUR hearts were gladdened last week when the misery of sloshing through snow and ice was alleviated by news from sunny Dubai that the Dublin senior football squad were having a whale of a time.

"A little piece of Dublin graced the sunshine in Dubai," the press release gushed, "as the Irish-owned Bonnington Towers hotel welcomed the Dublin Gaelic football squad. Former 98FM presenter, Declan Pierce, the Bonnington Hotel's Events Manager said, 'It was a true honour to welcome the Dubs to Dubai and a great night was had by all in McGettigans Irish Pub, here in the hotel. The team were able to forget their intense training schedule for at least one night and it was a genuine pleasure to welcome them to the hotel'.''

What's that? "Intense training schedule?" In December? During the ban on collective training? Poor lads will be burned out before the season even starts.

* * * * *

WHAT has Eoin Morgan let himself in for? Those jolly japers in the England cricket squad were at it again last week. Following in a rich tradition which includes David Gower hiring a light aircraft back in 1990 and "buzzing" the ground in Queensland while his team were in action against the State side, Kevin Pietersen was fined for speeding in a bright yellow Lamborghini on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Pietersen treated his followers on Twitter to his thoughts before and during the drive, but made no mention of the incident after he was stopped. He did, however, reveal that the players randomly select who pays for dinner by playing Credit Card Roulette and that night Morgan was the unlucky loser. That must have hurt a bit.

* * * * *

SO the FAI have confirmed that they are in negotiations to host a friendly against England in the Aviva Stadium. They haven't revealed a possible date, although the 12th of Never might be a good idea.

It is estimated that such a game would generate up to €4m for the Association, but some things are more important than money. Remember 1995?

The Europa League final in May next year may turn out to be more trouble than it's worth as well, depending on who qualifies on the road to Dublin.

Manchester suffered what was described as "the worst night of violence and destruction since the Blitz" when they hosted the final between Rangers and Zenit St Petersburg in 2008. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

Fergus McDonnell and Seán Ryan

Sunday Independent

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