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Rock-solid Cashel continue to impress

Winning is a habit. Sometimes for a group of players it just clicks, and they can't stop winning. And we're not talking about a sequence of games here, we're talking over a number of years.

Cashel Rugby Club are a fine example of this. Last week they completed their first season in the AIL, in Division 2B, with 15 wins from 15 games and will play in Division 2A next season. A great achievement in their first year in senior rugby.

It's only 10 years since Cashel could be found plying their trade in the lower half of Division 3 of the Munster junior league. But work that had started a few years before that in overhauling their underage set-up began to bear fruit and in the decade since they have climbed up through the junior rugby ranks, finally reaching the senior club game this time last year. Along the way, they amassed 40 trophies and were twice Munster junior club of the year.

The production line has never faltered and new players have been blended each year. This line has produced Denis Leamy, Denis Fogarty, John Fogarty and, more recently, Paddy Butler, and there's no sign of let-up. We'll watch their journey through Division 2A with interest.

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In the wake of familiar accusations of elitism in golf, this time over the continuing absence of women members at Augusta National, New York Times columnist Bill Pennington made some interesting revelations to coincide with National Golf Day in the US. He described the facts as "surprisingly contrary to the persistent image of a sport at a pricey country club". For instance, 70% of rounds in the US are played at courses open to the public. And only 10% of the country's 26 million golfers belong to private clubs.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation, however, certainly in the context of golf in this fair land, is that the average price of 18 holes on a weekend, using a buggy, is about $40 (€30). Granted, certain establishments in NAMA are offering seriously low deals, but that figure from the US is a national average. Which serves only to emphasise the view that we need to be offering something special to attract their tourists.

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When great players or officials pass on they are rightly lauded for their contribution to the GAA. So it was recently with John Egan, a prince among corner-forwards, a man of power, poise and the balance of a ballet dancer. He was unselfish, honest, almost unmarkable.

When Charlie McAlaster went the same road last week, he had no medals or other honours as an official but it would be hard to think of anyone making a bigger contribution to the GAA. As kit man to Louth teams over 40 years, he washed the jerseys himself, gathered the gear and treated everything associated with the GAA with the utmost respect. In doing his work of minding footballs and playing gear, he must have clocked up more matches and training sessions than anyone else.

Everyone knew and liked Charlie. He was the first citizen of Drogheda and the numbers at his funeral from every county bore testimony to the affection he was held in. There is no man in the GAA who will be more missed than Charlie, by Newtown Blues, and Louth, and everyone who respects the unseen work of people in the background. The jerseys will be clean and neat in heaven.

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GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI is still the subject of second-guessing and criticism by Irish fans because of the conservative style of play he espouses, but the fascination for him in his native country remains unabated.

In a recent interview, Bologna boss Stefano Pioli, regarded as the manager of the moment because he has hauled his team from the relegation zone to mid-table security, spoke about his move as a 19-year-old from Parma to Juventus.

He was on his way to sign for Inter Milan, when a phone call was made, and he ended up signing for Juventus. "In my three years in Turin, I was in the company of many champions, but most of all I took delight in the Tuesday lessons of Trapattoni, the maestro of football and of life. Listening to him, I learned to distinguish and to respect the rules."

It's this ability of Trapattoni to persuade players to adopt his regime that could yet prove Italy's downfall when they play Ireland on June 18.

John Greene, Dermot Gilleece, Colm O'Rourke and Seán Ryan

ssport@independent.ie

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