Tuesday 20 February 2018

From the stands: Irish glory reaches all corners of the globe

IT can be said without a shadow of a doubt that Kevin O'Brien hit a shot that reverberated around the world. Several of them, in fact, as the Dubliner eclipsed former Australian batsman Matthew Hayden's record for the fastest World Cup century.

Hayden was in Darwin having just returned from a very remote and isolated community in the Tropical Top End called Tiwi Island when he was given the news that he had lost his record, a 66-ball hundred against South Africa at St Kitts in the 2007, to a pink-haired Irishman.

The former Australian opener said Tiwi Island Land Council chairman Cyril Rioli told him about an "Irish fella" who had scored 113 against England. "When he first said it, I couldn't believe it. It just didn't sink in that not only did he smash my record but he smashed the Poms as well, something Australia found so hard to do this summer in the Ashes," Hayden said.

"This is just that opportunity and it would be my great honour and privilege to be able to tell the world two things," he added. "First that the bush telegraph is alive and well in the humongous country of Australia and secondly to pass on my heartiest congratulations to young Kevin O'Brien for this amazing achievement."

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One of the GAA's most successful initiatives, Lá Na gClub, is no more.

Introduced in 2009 as part of the 125th anniversary celebrations, Lá Na gClub proved hugely popular as a way of recognising each club's place in its community. It was also used to generate much-needed funds and the imaginative ways in which people celebrated in their own area had a hugely positive effect on the image of the GAA.

So successful was the day that it was decided to repeat the occasion last year and once again a day was set aside, free of fixtures, with the theme 'Youth Through Volunteerism' -- we're not sure what that means, but another great day was had by all.

A letter from Christy Cooney in advance urged clubs "to participate and to strive to match the huge success of last year's event." Well, strive they did, but maybe it wasn't enough. Clubs in Dublin were recently informed that there would be no Lá Na gClub this year with fixture congestion cited as the reason.

Word has reached us that some clubs are going to go ahead with a celebration of some kind anyway and hopefully the GAA will recognise the error of their ways and restore Lá Na gClub for future years.

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Former Armagh team-mates Justin McNulty and Aidan O'Rourke put on a show of solidarity at the Sigerson Cup on Thursday despite being only being 10 days away from coming up against each other for the first time in their inter-county managerial careers.

The All-Ireland medal winners spent the day together relaxing and watching the action in UCD. McNulty is the boss in Laois and O'Rourke is Kieran McGeeney's assistant manager in Kildare, and the two teams are set to meet next Sunday in Division 2 of the National League. We wonder if that encounter will be as friendly?

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Last week From the Stands reported that Westmeath star John Heslin was banned from participating in the launch of the Cadbury U21 football championship because he was sent off in a National League match the previous weekend. It was a pleasant surprise to see him doing what he does best in last week's Sigerson Cup.

It's not often we get to see six-foot 18-year-olds selling dummy solos off both feet. Banned from the photo shoot but not from the football, Cadbury's loss was definitely UCD's gain.

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The Sunday Independent Sports Section recently carried the story of sudden cardiac arrest survivor Seaghan Kearney and just last week we were delighted to hear how well his awareness drive on defibrillator storage, use and training is going.

But, as primary school principal Breda Fitzgerald pointed out, this problem doesn't just affect adult sports people. Breda has been allocated time to speak on the subject at the INTO conference in Sligo in front of 1,000 delegates on the need for defibrillators and staff training. We wish her well.

Fergus McDonnell and Marie Crowe


Sunday Indo Sport

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