Inside back: Have your say
Trap not to blame for lack of quality
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni is the best thing to happen to our Ireland football team since the Jack Charlton era of the 1990s. He does not have the same range of players as Jack Charlton had. They qualified for the first time ever for a World Cup in 1990 and again in 1994 and did well. Most were playing regularly at the highest level in England.
Since then, teams have been average with our current captain, Robbie Keane, the top goalscorer for Ireland, but unfortunately not playing regularly for Spurs. Our excellent goalkeeper Shay Given was No 1 goalkeeper for Newcastle for 10 years but decided to move last year to Manchester City, only to be relegated to the supporting role of No 2. And without regular play these two can't be as sharp as they were.
This is the team that Giovanni Trapattoni has. They are professional players who, although have to play to the manager's gameplan, need to be able to think quickly on their feet when opportunities arise. They don't seem able to do that so confidently which Richard Dunne has honestly admitted recently.
This team came close to qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. They played out of their skins in that fateful qualifier against France in Paris in November 2009, with the added motivation of being insulted by a French player who remarked in the previous week's home game in Dublin that Ireland was not good enough. The team had pride and honour at stake and they did us proud.
Overall, the team is still a work in progress. The manager has been accused by some sports journalists of not letting the players play freely but there are reasons for his caution. Until his appointment the team had become a laughing stock. It had deteriorated to the point that the players had become cold and standoffish to supporters and the media. There was a dreadful atmosphere when they played.
Trapattoni restored order, structure and discipline to the team and the feelgood factor, as he has a warm and genial personality. The important thing is that the team is no longer a laughing stock, but they may not sadly be good enough, as yet, to qualify for major competitions.
The captain's armband could be handed around to the senior players every two years or so, because the current captain has had the role long enough. When Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane were captains, one knew they were in charge and Roy was a powerful presence, urging the players on and giving out when he had to. Fear can be a good thing!
Hurling skills lost in possession game
As a keen follower of Gaelic games I would like to make some comments about modern day hurling.
The players and management teams are to be complimented on the great entertainment that is provided to the public. However, I am disappointed by the fact that some of the traditional skills, eg ground hurling and overhead striking, are disappearing from the game. You also don't see as much of the 'clash of the ash' or broken hurls or doubling on the ground.
All of the above skills should be intrinsic to the game. Instead nowadays there is an over-emphasis on getting the ball in the hand, handpassing, catching, picking up and possession. These are important and attractive skills but don't forget about the other skills. I think that we should think of ways of encouraging these skills again.
Jackies show how it should be done
Firstly, may I congratulate the Dublin girls on their magnificent victory against Tyrone -- a victory par excellence -- in the All-Ireland football final.
Their winning performance was so awesome that one wonders if the inclusion of some of the fairer sex in our current senior football team would be advantageous to Pat Gilroy. The amount of skilful football and the way the scores were taken left a few of us in wonderland.
One will always remember Dublin's third goal scored by Sinéad Aherne, a goal that would have done justice to the great Kevin Heffernan -- when she twice sold a dummy to the Tyrone full-back before she unleashed an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net. Skill and strategy was also evident in this All-Ireland.
Jackie Rogers Sheridan should be Ireland's No 1
Unquestionably the best and most exciting goalkeeper in Gaelic football is Damien Sheridan of Longford. That he has not been nominated for an All Star or the international rules doesn't say a lot for those involved in the selection process. And I have the cheek to say I think I know a thing or two about goalkeeping.