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Monday 11 December 2017

From the Stands: Lilywhite adventure looks over for Seánie

Eamonn Sweeney, Fergus McDonnell and Seán Ryan

According to last week's Anglo Celt, Seánie Johnston looks set to leave his adopted Kildare club St Kevin's and return to Cavan Gaels in time for the club championship. Which presumably puts an end to the most ill-advised and unsuccessful bit of foreign travel since Hitler invaded Russia.

Johnston presumably felt very crafty altogether when he jumped ship from Cavan to Kildare last year. The Lilywhites had made the last eight of the championship in the previous two years while his home county appeared to be going nowhere. But now with Cavan reaching the All-Ireland quarter-finals and Kildare already out of the championship those faraway hills don't seem so green anymore.

At the time the inherent dodginess of the Johnston transfer was glossed over by sycophants who assured us that the renegade really wanted to play for Kildare and should be allowed to do so. In these new-fangled modern times, apparently, the old-fashioned loyalty of the likes of Eamonn O'Hara, Declan Browne and Barry Owens was a bit passé.

Now that Johnston is returning home, no doubt to a rapturous welcome, expect an interview in the near future where he expresses his desire to once more play for Cavan, perhaps noting that their improvement under Terry Hyland shows they're meeting Seánie's high standards these days. Though whether, given the plethora of fine footballers coming through after three Ulster under 21 titles on the trot, there's a place for the Cavan Globetrotter remains to be seen. Didn't we tell you it'd all end in tears?

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THE GAA programme, an essential part of the match-day experience, is now available as a mobile application for iPhone and iPad.

The app is free to download on iTunes and then an annual subscription of €54.99 gives you access to the programmes containing player and team information, unique content, live stats and analysis. And you don't even have to be at the game to have all the information at your fingertips. It's all very 21st century, but we did spot a few design faults.

You can't roll it up and jab it in the direction of the pitch to make a point about the referee or a player. You can't open it out and put it on your head to protect you from the rain or the sun, depending on which version of the Irish summer we're getting that hour.

You can't bang it off your knee or wave it in the air to express your disgust or delight. You can't clatter your young fella over the head with it to make sure he's listening when you say: 'See that? What did I tell ya?'

And when the game is over, you can't stick it in your arse pocket for the walk home.

And they call that progress?

* * * * *

IN a bid to boost St Patrick's Athletic's title challenge, manager Liam Buckley secured striker Philip Hughes from Shelbourne in the transfer window. According to Buckley, "he's a quality player and will fit in with the way we play. I have great respect for what he does."

However, there's a little matter of wedding bells for Philip and his bride, planned for August 3. "Ah, yes," responded Buckley, "he's getting married on a Saturday, so I'll give him Saturday and Sunday off."

So much for the joys of part-time football.

* * * * *

THE latest statistics on the racing industry in Ireland offer signs of stabilisation and even a little growth.

Most measures of the performance of Irish horse racing stabilised or improved in the first half of 2013, with year-on-year increases in racecourse attendances, prizemoney, sponsorship, entries, runners and Tote turnover.

Bloodstock sales at public auction in the first six months grew for the fourth consecutive year, with turnover up 12.7 per cent from €22.9million to €25.8m year-on-year and 91 per cent up on the 2009 figure of €13.5m.

The number of horses in training stabilised at 7,626 compared to 7,668 in the first half of 2012, arresting the annual declines experienced since 2008. Although the total ownership figure showed only a modest decline of 4.4 per cent from 3,088 to 2,951, new owners registered showed a more marked decline of 11 per cent from 382 to 340.

Sunday Independent

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