Sunday 22 April 2018

From the stands: Finish line in sight for betting tax anomaly

THE DáIL last week voted on, and approved, a subvention of €26.3m to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund for 2011 to make up for the expected shortfall in money raised from the one per cent betting tax.

The Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said recently that continued support for the fund from the public purse is unsustainable and that the tax would have to be extended to include telephone and internet betting to make up the shortfall.

The sad thing is that the need for action to be taken on this score has been obvious to everyone interested in this area for several years and yet we have only now arrived at a point where the government has confirmed its intention to apply the tax in an efficient and even-handed manner.

At least the Opposition benches have been more alert to the problems regarding the shortfall and we can expect that if, as seems likely, there is a change of government before the new system is put in place that it will only hasten a resolution.

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IT seems everybody loves a little bit of FAI-kicking -- none more than Fine Gael's Olivia Mitchell.

Mitchell issued a press release on Friday morning positively dripping in indignation. She had been outraged to discover that the FAI had levied an extra €15 per ticket for Irish fans hoping to attend next May's Europa League final at the Aviva Stadium. She accused the association of ripping off its own loyal fans.

The only problem with this was that it simply wasn't true, and the FAI -- who presumably have better things to be doing -- was forced to respond.

"The FAI is not profiting in any way from the €15 ticket-handling charge imposed on ticket transactions. The charge is exactly the same amount as applied for last year's UEFA Europa League final in Hamburg and it is clearly explained on UEFA's ticketing portal that this covers third-party fees including credit card charge, ticket administration and guaranteed express courier delivery of tickets which is a mandatory requirement for UEFA's European finals."

And, as ever, there was a sting in the tail. "Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Olivia Mitchell TD has issued media statements without first checking with the FAI."

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BR JOHN DOOLEY, whose input to Ireland's success in the European under 23 cross-country championships last Sunday was acknowledged by all concerned, is no stranger to champion sportsmen.

In his teaching career, which saw him based in Dublin, Tralee, Dublin again, Cork city and now Nenagh, he has helped educate a wide variety of sportsmen, from Pádraig Harrington and Paul McGinley to Ray Flynn and Mark Carroll.

However, his first love is cross-country and wherever he went he always encouraged that discipline. During his time in the North Mon, for instance, his boys won nine senior All-Irelands in 10 years, while his one year in Oatlands also produced an All-Ireland.

"We had an advantage over most schools in the North Mon," he admitted, "in that we had a transition year after the Leaving Cert. As a result, boys came from other schools to get on our programme as a means of getting a scholarship in America. In 10 years, we had 55 scholarships."

Brother D, as he is affectionately known, is 70, but he is as enthusiastic as ever. Long may his influence on Irish athletics continue.

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Over the last three years, a team headed up by physiotherapist John Murphy has tracked injuries from 17 inter-county football teams and 16 inter-county hurling teams and their findings were published last week.

They revealed that footballers are three times more likely to be concussed than hurlers and that the most common injury sustained in Gaelic games is to the hamstring. This is closely followed by injuries to the knee, pelvis and groin, and ankle.

Murphy said the database showed the instance of injury in Gaelic games was similar to Australian Rules. The findings also showed that an inter-county panel spends an average 13 hours in collective training for every one hour of competitive game time.

John Greene, Marie Crowe

and Seán Ryan

Sunday Independent

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