Wednesday 22 November 2017

Memory Man has gone all Selective

Colette Fitzpatrick may not have felt uncomfortable while interviewing Jimmy Magee on TV3's Midweek show on Wednesday night. But she certainly looked uncomfortable.

She may have missed the Memory Man's assertion that "You won't have Messi and Ronaldo there (at the World Cup) because one of the play-offs is Portugal against Argentina" but you can forgive her that, she's not a sports journalist.

There are certain mental and physical functions that diminish with age and it is only right that we should understand that when dealing with the 'not as young as they used to be'.

Fitzpatrick was well-briefed. She knew that the inclusion of Michelle Smith as Jimmy's number one Irish Olympian in his book Different Class was a touchy subject and she was at pains to remind viewers that the former swimmer had never tested positive for a banned substance and retains her medals won at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"But she was found to have tampered with a urine sample," offered Fitzpatrick, at which point Jimmy made the startling revelation that "but sure we've all tampered with something in our time."

That's cleared that one up then. Case closed.

Incidentally, Selective Memory Man's take on sporting history isn't confined to these shores. He also expressed surprise that Peter Shilton, the former England goalkeeper, "a big man who used weights and stretching exercises," couldn't beat Maradona to the ball during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final "whether Maradona handled it or not, so it was a good goal in my opinion." Whether Maradona handled it or not? Happy reading.

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GAA president Liam O'Neill was every inch the perfect host to the visiting Australia team that contested (if that is the right word) the recent international rules series.

At the presentation of the Cormac McAnallen Cup, he said: "We've been treated to a marvellous game of football here this evening. I want to commiserate with Australia. Over the two games you played great football but you were unfortunate to meet a better Irish team."

We're not sure what two games the president was watching, but we didn't see Australia play any "great football" at all. TG4's 'súil eile' slogan never seemed more appropriate.

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There was a famous story in Victor comic where Alf Tupper the Tough of the Track is spooked by the appearance of a mysterious rival who goes by the name of W.H. Oami. Well, on Monday last the Dublin Marathon, or at least its online followers, had its own mystery athlete.

Because, in a race predicted to be a battle between Sean Hehir and Joe Sweeney, the hitherto unknown H. O'Neill was revealed to be leading at the 10K mark and he was still in pole position at halfway. However, when the race reached the 20-mile mark there was no word of O'Neill, the unknown runner presumably having been unable to sustain his pace.

The mystery has apparently been unravelled by the always-excellent Running in Cork blog. It appears that one Henry O'Neill from Tyrone was forced to withdraw from the race through injury. O'Neill hoped that he might recover so organisers held on to his number and timing chip which somehow ended up in the media bus. The bus travels along just in front of the leaders so for over half the race there was great online excitement as this complete unknown led the field.

We hope Henry has a few screengrabs for posterity.

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What is the value of Sports Tourism to Ireland? What challenges and opportunities face Ireland in developing niche markets? Does sport get enough from the tourism sector in supporting events that benefit others? These and other questions will be explored at a high-powered seminar on sports tourism this week.

The event, organised by and taking place in Croke Park, features sporting rights holders, the airline and hotel sectors and others from business with a strong interest in developing sports tourism will discuss and share new ways of strengthening the relationship between sport and the travel trade.

Fergus McDonnell, John Greene and Eamonn Sweeney

Sunday Independent

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