Saturday 18 January 2020

Professor's lecture on Taylor way off target

THERE can be little doubt that Professor Donal O'Shea, chairperson of the Irish Heart Foundation Nutrition Council, has his heart in the right place. When he decided to criticise Katie Taylor for promoting an energy drink, however, we feel that he picked the wrong target.

Katie Taylor should be held up as an example for all young people to follow. A dedicated sportsperson, her polite, unassuming but determined personality completes a picture of the type of adult our schools should aim to produce.

That they fail to do so far more often than they succeed is the result of a number of factors, not least among them poorly enforced Government health policies for the young and a system which pays, at best, lip service to the notion of physical education in our schools.

It's past time that sport was taken seriously at government level as an effective step in tackling the growing problem of obesity. There are many ills to be targeted in the battle. Katie Taylor isn't one of them.

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People have been impressed by the large number of kids training at Na Fianna's GAA grounds on Mobhi Road and Croke Park visitors will be familiar with the club's location in the vicinity of the main cathedral.

If you are passing by Mobhi Road, however, on the May Bank Holiday you may see crowd levels that are out of this world -- even by Na Fianna standards. That is the day a bid to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest ever Gaelic football training lesson will be made.

Now even Na Fianna, like every other club, has had nights where training numbers have been slack. On May 7, there will be no excuses. To break the record, the session must last at least 30 minutes and have over 528 people taking part. Dublin footballers Johnny Cooper and Bernard Brogan will oversee the attempt, the starting time is 2pm. The current record holder is St Joseph's in Glenavy, Co Antrim, and that was set in May 2010.

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It has always been a bone of contention for some in Irish athletics that the official records of the IAAF, the governing body, show that this country was first affiliated in 1938.

Yet, Ireland competed in the Paris Olympics in 1924, won a gold medal four years later in Amsterdam, and two gold medals in Los Angeles in 1932. Ireland also organised its first national championships in 1873, making it the second oldest national body in world athletics after England.

Now, though, it appears the record has been corrected. Former Irish walker Pierce O'Callaghan has undertaken the mammoth task of compiling a complete list of national champions in all events from 1873-2012. In the course of his painstaking research, he recently came across a document which showed that the IAAF first recognised Ireland as an independent nation on November 1, 1924 when JJ Keane, Ireland's first International Olympic Committee member, was association president. The IAAF has amended its records accordingly.

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Conferences appear to be two-a-penny these days, but there is one coming up which caught our eye here at From The Stands. It's the Irish Sports Summit in Ballincollig on May 25 next.

The summit is the brainchild of SpóirtFest, a non-profit volunteer-led organisation that has set out to do positive things for the Irish sports community by running festivals of sport and forums such was this one.

It will focus on the economic impact of sport and the funding issues caused by the recession, but the main theme of the day will be to look for positives. Among those confirmed as attending are athlete Rob Heffernan, Sunday Independent columnist Jim Glennon, Warren Deutrom of Cricket Ireland and horse trainer Noel Meade.

"We never expected the level of response and goodwill for the summit," said James O'Reilly, one of the organisers. "But we have put together a fantastic line-up of panellists and moderators, all giving their time freely."

John Greene, Dermot Crowe and Fergus McDonnell

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