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New York raises glass to full Irish breakfast

When Saturday comes the early morning "patrons" (as the grandees of Augusta insist on calling customers) at the Old Castle on Manhattan's West 54th Street are watching the best Irish sports action with a cold one in the hand.

But a 90-second delay in "live" GAA, soccer and rugby action making its way to the TV screen in the Big Apple means that patrons watch big games for free. The New York Times reported on the continuing court battle publican Eugene Rooney is fighting with Premium Sports, a San Francisco-based concern that offers a broadcast package including soccer, rugby, hurling and football.

Premium buys US broadcast rights for games, which it then provides as closed-circuit feeds, mostly to bars. Premium says it has the right to charge for games in its packages that are televised free overseas.

Eugene Rooney disagreed. He told the Times: "You can see I don't have a big crowd -- I need a cover charge here like I need a hole in the head. People don't want to pay to watch a game that they know is on free TV in Ireland."

To that end, he put up $3,000 some time ago to pay for high-tech equipment at a friend's house in Dublin to stream television signals online and then started showing the matches for free. Premium objected and two years ago the case was heard in federal court. Rooney won the lawsuit, allowing him to continue to receive his friend's feed free and avoid having to pay Premium.

During the case a techie witness testified there was a delay (90 seconds) between the broadcast in Rooney's bar and the live action in Ireland. The argument convinced the judge who ruled that because Mr Rooney did not intercept a signal illegally, but instead used a broadcast sent to him from Dublin and then showed it at his bar with a delay of a minute or two, the bar version was technically a rebroadcast, and not an illegal interception.

Premium, co-owned by Shane and Michael O'Rourke, are not convinced and an appeal is on the way. But until that case is heard, the early-morning bar flies at the Old Castle will be watching without shelling out a dime.

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THE women's beach volleyball events at the London Olympics may not be as popular as you might have expected. More than a decade after its controversial ruling that female players wear skimpy bikinis when playing in international competitions, the FIVB Board of Administration have made a key change to its uniform rules.

Previously, there were two uniform choices for female players, a one-piece body suit or a bikini with a maximum side width of seven centimetres. Now, in the hope of attracting competitors from developing nations and in order to appeal to countries which have cultural requirements, there are two extra choices. Players can wear shorts of a maximum length of three centimetres above the knee and sleeved or sleeveless tops.

Sorry lads, you'll have to find another way of amusing yourselves.

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Given the ice-cool free-taking of Stephen Cluxton last year and the iconic images provided by Davy Fitzgerald as he galloped back to his goal after belting in penalties for the Banner, scoring heroics by GAA goalkeepers are hardly unique.

Nevertheless, it's worth recording the effort by Donegal senior goalkeeper Michael Boyle in a recent club game in Fr Tierney Park.

Boyle hit four points from placed balls including two '45s, making him the game's top scorer as he led Termon to a 0-13 to 0-8 win over Aodh Ruadh. Interestingly, Donegal under 21 stopper, Peter Boyle of Aodh Ruadh, also got on the scoresheet with a brace of points though he lined out at corner-forward.

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AMID the flurry of copy surrounding the Monaghan hurling fiasco, this little gem from the Irish Independent almost slipped under the radar: "There was a move to fix the Division 3A final against Fingal for another date but this was not possible because of Dublin club fixtures."

What's that? Dublin club fixtures taking precedence over an intercounty game? We've heard it all now.

Thankfully, order was restored when next Wednesday's round of club football championship fixtures was postponed because the under 21s are in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Jerome Reilly and Fergus McDonnell


Sunday Indo Sport