Pool ripple effect has generated cash boost
If you build it they will come. Amid all the failures around Ireland's inability to make the most of the London Olympics, the National Aquatic Centre has been the shining light, and proof -- as sports minister Michael Ring told FTS -- that "where we had a facility we delivered".
Friday's announcement that the 38-strong South Korean swimming team will train at the centre as part of their preparations for the games is another feather in the cap for the NAC team. The South Koreans will use the facility for 10 days next month.
The centre will also host the high-profile US synchronised swimming team from April 10-18 and again in July and August, while Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Germany, Great Britain and reigning Olympic champions Hungary will take part in a pre-Games water polo tournament in July. Individual swimmers from Poland, Venezuela, Surinam and the Cayman Islands have also booked into the centre, which is the home of Irish swimming's high-performance unit.
There is a revenue return for the centre with all these visits, as well as for the Blanchardstown area where all the competitors will stay.
Sure, it may be small beer in some ways when you think of the grand, and clearly delusionary, promises of the last government, but at least it's something.
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AS if they haven't enough to do, referees in rugby's Super 15, which kicked off on Friday, will have an extra card up their sleeves this season with the introduction of the white card.
The additional card is being used on an experimental basis and allows the referee to refer suspected incidents of foul play to the citing commissioner in cases when he is either unsure of what has happened, or who is the guilty party. Referees will continue to issue yellow and red cards as normal.
"The white card will be helpful in instances where a referee thinks an act of foul play has occurred but is not sure if a red card is warranted, or is unsure of the identity of a player," explained SANZAR game manager Lyndon Bray. "It will also help get to the bottom of instances where a player makes a complaint to a referee who did not see an incident."
And it seems referees are happy with the new card. "I think it will assist us in removing incidents from the game that the IRB and SANZAR are trying to remove and clean up the game in terms of foul play," referee Andrew Lees said. "That (new system) makes it a bit clearer for the public, who in the past may not have known things are going to the citing commissioner. We're just making the process a bit more transparent to the public eye."
And Waratahs coach Michael Foley also supported the introduction of the white card. "I think anything that helps tidy up that judicial process, makes it slicker, is a good thing," he said. "I see only positives in it."
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OUR favourite tweet last week came from the prolific fingers of Colm Parkinson who offered the following interesting summary of the payments to managers issue. 'Co boards pay managers . . . motion proposed to make it legal & above board . . . co boards vote against manager payments . . . Brilliant.'
Across the water, meanwhile, and not for the first time, the Daily Mail was struggling with a form of colour blindness. Having already had to apologise to Stephen Kelly for calling him permatanned when he's mixed race, a story about Gary Lineker's wife drew the following response from the crisp-peddling former footballer: 'Customary snipey piece about Mrs L in Mail on line. Boob slip faux pas. Er, you wish! Body too tanned. Er, she's mixed race.'
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WHAT a pleasure it was to watch world number two Lee Westwood make a total mess of the short par four 15th at the Accenture World Match Play in Arizona on Thursday.
Having pulled his tee-shot into the crap, he flew the green with a pitch, duffed the one back and finally arrived on the green with a five-footer for bogey.
At least, we thought, we're not the only one who plays like that. Mind you, he probably would have got the putt.
John Greene and Fergus McDonnell
Sunday Indo Sport