In brief: McCartan picks have weight of experience
It's half a century since James McCartan won the first of his two senior All-Irelands with Down.
And if anyone has the right to put his head on the chopping block by naming his best ever All Star teams pre- and post-1990, it's James Snr. After all, he had one of the best of them under his own roof. His son 'Wee' James, the current Down manager, also won a brace of Celtic crosses in 1990 and 1994 and was an All Star himself.
So James Snr played against or saw at first hand the finest exponents of the game over the course of more than 50 years. And he isn't afraid to pass judgement in his new book The King of Down Football co-written with Seamus McRory (Blackwater Press).
Here are the two sets of 'McCartan All Stars'. Feel free to disagree. Email to email@example.com.
Pre-1990: Johnny Geraghty (Galway); Jerome O'Shea (Kerry), Noel Tierney (Galway), John Egan (Offaly); Seán Murphy (Kerry), Paddy Holden (Dublin), Jim McDonnell (Cavan); Jim McKeever (Derry), Jack O'Shea (Kerry); Sean O'Neill (Down), Sean Purcell (Galway), Paddy Doherty (Down); Mikey Sheehy (Kerry), Eoin Liston (Kerry), Kevin Heffernan (Dublin).
Post-1990: John O'Leary (Dublin); Robbie O'Malley (Meath), Seamus Moynihan (Kerry), Tony Scullion (Derry); Paul Curran (Dublin), Henry Downey (Derry), Kieran McGeeney (Armagh); Anthony Tohill (Derry), Sean Kavanagh (Tyrone); Brian Dooher (Tyrone), Greg Blaney (Down), Michael Donnellan (Galway); Steven McDonnell (Armagh), Peter Canavan (Tyrone), Mickey Linden (Down).
* * * * *
SCORING a goal against Rangers can be more satisfying than winning a cap for the Republic of Ireland -- that's the surprising message from Paul Keane's book Gods v Mortals (Irish Sports Publishing, €16.99).
Pat Morley, a lifelong Celtic fan, explained to Keane why he blessed himself in front of the Rangers fans after putting Shelbourne 3-0 up in their UEFA Cup tie at Prenton Park in 1998: "It's not that I was sectarian or anything like that. It's just if you do something that you've always wanted to do in your life then you'll want to do something to remember it by. I just turned around and put my hand up to my head and blessed myself and, just as I finished it, I was mobbed. It's one of those moments.
"It was great winning Leagues and Cups and I've got all the personal awards, but that was it for me. I never got an Irish cap. I was close but, even if I got an Irish cap, this would outweigh it, by a mile."
Keane's book recounts 10 occasions when the mere mortals of the League of Ireland pitted their part-time skills against the gods of European football.
* * * * *
HERE's news that might offer hope to the European Tour in their efforts to find a title sponsor for next year's Irish Open. General Motors is to make a comeback as a PGA Tour sponsor in 2011, two years after filing for bankruptcy and ending its 50-year link with the golf circuit.
Through its Cadillac brand, GM signed a six-year deal to be the title sponsor of the World Championships at Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami in March. "We are partnering with a company that has demonstrated, over a long, long period of time, a tremendous knowledge for marketing," said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, speaking about the automaker that once sponsored four tournaments through its Buick unit.
Cadillac is also holding talks to create a new event in Detroit, but location and dates are yet to be confirmed. The Opel Irish Open has a nice ring to it.
* * * * *
YOU could argue that exchange betting is the purest form of gambling as the layers and the backers know what they are talking about. So in that context it's unusual for Betfair's customers to get a market as badly wrong as they did in the days leading up to England's failed bid to host the World Cup in 2018.
The arrival of David Beckham, David Cameron and Prince William on the scene seems to have been given too much weight as England shortened from 10/3 to 4/7 while Russia drifted 4/5 to 11/5. England's miserable return of two first-round votes only serves to emphasise how far off the mark punters were.
Jerome Reilly, Seán Ryan
and Fergus McDonnell