Wednesday 13 December 2017

From the Stands: Youths get clear run at making their mark

In a break from its normal policy for major championships, Athletics Ireland has decided not to set absolute qualification standards for this year's European Youth Olympics to be held in the Dutch city of Utrecht in July.

In a move which is bound to please the Olympic Council of Ireland – under whose remit this event falls and who ultimately will foot the bill for the Irish team – AI has instead opted to set 'guidelines' for athletes seeking to qualify.

The association says adopting this approach reflects "a desire to develop young athletes and give them the opportunity to be competitive at this international level".

The good news for Irish athletes is that one per event (there are 14 events in all) is permitted to be entered; the even better news is that any athlete born in 1997 or 1998 has until May 27 to register their interest in qualifying for the Games with the association.

There was some division within AI on the merits of sending a team, but the OCI remains keen on the event, which features nine Olympic disciplines: athletics, gymnastics, swimming, handball, basketball, tennis, judo, volleyball and cycling.

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HOPES the spectacular new indoor track in Athlone IT – which was officially opened on Friday – would today see Derval O'Rourke and teenager Sarah Lavin go head to head in a battle for the national indoor 60m hurdles title were dashed yesterday.

O'Rourke finished sixth at the UK Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham yesterday in a time of 8.15 but then pulled out of today's run because of a tight muscle. Lavin smashed O'Rourke's junior indoor record by two hundredths of a second in a time of 8.44. O'Rourke was also in action last weekend, winning the British 60m hurdles indoor in 8.11. The door is wide open now for Lavin to be crowned senior indoor champion.

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The two most famous trophies in the GAA – the Sam Maguire and the Liam MacCarthy – make fleeting appearances in a bizarre fairytale-like advert aired for the first time last week.

The ad for Cadbury Daily Milk is set, we're assured, in Joyville, a mythical land where Dairy Milk is created. A young apprentice is guided on his journey by an old master through secret passageways of some ancient treasures, including the trophies, on a quest to discover the secret behind the Dairy Milk.

Not bad, but we still prefer the gorilla drumming to the Phil Collins song In The Air Tonight.

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THERE was a familiar ring about new Shamrock Rovers manager Trevor Croly's assessment of his team's 1-0 defeat by Coleraine in the Setanta Cup last Monday.

After totally dominating the first-round first leg game, and losing to a sucker punch, Croly said: "We'll have many more games likes that here, and we've got to learn to keep going through the phases. That's not something our players are familiar with, or our fans, but it has to be done, and then the fatigue will set in, and the gaps will appear."

Patience, of course, is not an Irish virtue, and this relentless repetition of the phases of possession football, passing left and right, sideways and back, until the opportunity arises to deliver the telling forward pass doesn't sit easy with us.

The familiar ring? We seem to recall Irish coach Declan Kidney employing that mantra when he took over at Munster. It worked then – and it could work for Croly also.

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Runners, joggers and walkers are invited to run in memory of their loved ones on March 9 in Ennis. They will be joined by former Clare hurler and Sunday Independent columnist Jamesie O'Connor for the Hurley Hoey 10km charity run which is organised in memory of Ger Hoey and Ailish Hurley, two inspirational figures at the famous St Joseph's Doora Barefield club who died far too young.

Hoey's story features in Christy O'Connor's best-selling book The Club; he was a former Clare and St Joseph's Doora Barefield hurler. Those interested can register on and all information on the race can be found on the Hurley-Hoey Facebook page.

Marie Crowe, John Greene and Seán Ryan

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