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From the Stands: Saturday night is alright for hurling

FIFA, bless them, get no complaints when their showpiece, the World Cup final, is on a Sunday night.

The International Olympic Committee get no complaints when they stage their showpiece, the 100m final, on a Sunday night.

ERC, organisers of the Heineken Cup, play their final on a Saturday evening. UEFA, rulers of European soccer, have seen the light and they have switched the Champions League final from a Wednesday night to a Saturday night.

The Super Bowl is on a Sunday evening, the FA Cup final is on a Saturday evening, the Irish Derby is on a Saturday evening . . . you know where this is going, right?

Why, oh why, is there such a whingefest when the GAA fixes the All-Ireland hurling final replay for a 5.0 start on a Saturday evening?

If it's good enough for every other major sporting organisation in the world, it should be good enough for Clare and Cork. It is not unfair to both counties. It is not disrespectful to the players and their fans. It does not diminish the occasion. It is what it is – a replay that everybody is looking forward to given how good the drawn game was.

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FOLLOWING the defeats to Sweden and Austria, the most frequently asked question has been: Where is the next generation of Irish players coming from that will re-establish the country as a force to be reckoned with?

Perhaps the answer lies with the players who proved matchwinners for Sweden and Austria. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the son of immigrants from Bosnia and Croatia, David Alaba is the son of immigrants from Nigeria and the Philippines.

It was only during the short reign of the Celtic Tiger that Ireland had any notable influx of immigrants. Their offspring are now making their presence felt in the ranks of Irish underage teams, but it may be another few years before we see them emerge at senior level. Hopefully, among them will be the equivalent of an Ibrahimovic and an Alaba.

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From the Stands came across a fascinating article in the September-October issue of History Ireland written by Cork teacher Barry Keane. Under the heading 'Murder stops play', it tells the story of how a two-day cricket match played at College Park, Dublin in June 1921 was interrupted when two IRA gunmen opened fire on the players and crowd from behind the railings at Nassau Street.

The game featured the Gentlemen of Ireland against the Military of Ireland and attracted a few thousand spectators. The 'Gentlemen' were in control of the game towards the evening of the second day's play when the shooting occurred. None of the players were injured but a female spectator, Trinity student Kathleen Wright, was killed. Surprisingly, the game continued until the Provost of Trinity insisted that play be stopped.

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The Gathering experience came with a kick of its own for the DAA All-Ireland Kick Fada in Bray yesterday as competitors from the US, Canada, Britain and Europe went head to head with the cream of inter-county home talent on the exact date that Cavan and Kerry competed at the Polo Grounds in New York 66 years ago.

The Gathering experience continued in the clubhouse where Cavan author Paul Fitzpatrick read a poignant extract from his new book The Fairytale in New York, recalling Cavan's finest hour from 1947. Kerry great Donie O'Sullivan added to the occasion with his recitation dwelling on the Kerry front.

A unique part of this year's competition was the involvement of Patrick Murray, a nephew of former Monaghan captain Ciarán, who this year trialled as a kicker for the NFL. He was with the Chicago Bears for a period in May and is on the shortlist for a number of football franchises in the event of any injuries after trying out for the NY Jets, Giants and the Indianapolis Colts.

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YOU'VE got to love Lance Armstrong. On Thursday, he tweeted: "The 2000 Bronze is back in possession of @usolympics and will be in Switzerland asap to @olympics"

It would have been there a lot asap-er if he had sent it eight months ago when he was asked to.


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