Sunday 19 November 2017

League's rise means bosses are in demand

ADVOCATES of summer soccer were clear in their belief that the switch -- made in 2002 -- would result in a better standard of play, and that an improvement in results in European competition would follow.

These things have come to pass, but what wasn't foreseen was that the demand for League of Ireland managers would increase in other jurisdictions as a result of this progress.

With Paul Cook's move from Sligo Rovers to Accrington Stanley last week, the League of Ireland has now lost its three most high-profile managers since the end of last season. Bohs' Pat Fenlon moved to Hibernian, while Shamrock Rovers' Michael O'Neill has taken over Northern Ireland.

Roddy Collins (Bohs to Carlisle) was the first to move, and he was followed by Stephen Kenny (Derry City to Dunfermline), while Brian Kerr (St Pat's) was appointed Republic of Ireland manager and later the manager of the Faroe Islands.

Former League of Ireland managers operating in the UK at present include Fenlon, Sam Allardyce, Steve Cotterill, Lawrie Sanchez and Jim Gannon.

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LIKE all good things it came to an end too soon, but the Aviva Stadium FanPic was great while it lasted.

Basically, it meant that you could zoom in on the crowd at the Ireland v Wales Six Nations opener and amuse yourself and your friends by tagging your image or just looking at who else was there.

If only they had the technology in Thomond Park in 1978 when Munster beat the All Blacks. Then all those people who claim to have been there could prove that they actually were and those who weren't could be silenced forever.

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SERIOUS football analyst and serial Tweeter Gary Neville invited followers to send him their all-time Manchester United team prior to last weekend's showdown with Liverpool.

It seems incredible, but almost all the early respondents included Rio Ferdinand, but didn't deem Denis Law, Bobby Charlton or George Best worthy of inclusion.

We said it before and we'll say it again, for far too many people there was no such thing as football before Sky and the Premier League.

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THE economic downturn, as it is so quaintly termed, affects different industries in different ways and Goffs chief executive Henry Beeby had some interesting observations to make on the bloodstock trade in the Racing Post last week.

On the issue of why so many Irish vendors choose to sell at Tattersalls, and even Arqana, Beeby observed: "We have the buyers, we need the horses. And our November mare and foal sales proved that if we have the horses we can get as much in price as anybody else."

An upside to the recession was revealed in that, despite having taken "a caning" from bad payers in the last few years, Beeby described Goffs' credit policy as "very pro-active". "The 'rogues' that seemed to have come in for a little while have gone and we are now back to dealing with the people who have been in the business for years, who we know and who we can work with. Hopefully we won't find ourselves in that position again."

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Just days after an American federal investigation into allegations of drug use by Lance Armstrong ended abruptly with no charges being filed, the seven-time Tour de France winner returned to competitive sports.

Last Sunday, Armstrong finished second in the Panama Triathlon and recorded a world-class time of three hours, 50 minutes and 55 seconds in the process, just 32 seconds behind 2004 Olympic silver medalist New Zealander, Bevan Docherty.

The race was a half Ironman comprising a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21km run. And it looks like Armstrong will stick with the sport; he is set to compete in a full Ironman in France this June, in an attempt to qualify for October's World Championships in Hawaii. The full Ironman event involves a 3.86km swim, 180.25km bike race and 42.2km run. It seems there is no limit to Armstrong's natural sporting ability.

Seán Ryan, Fergus McDonnell and Marie Crowe

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