Thursday 22 February 2018

RTE jump gun over Derval's injury woe

Derval O'Rourke must surely have been none too pleased last week when breaking news from the National Athletics Championships in Santry had as good as ruled her out of the Olympic Games because of injury.

The hurdler had to pull out of her event at the last minute because of a back spasm. Her withdrawal was purely precautionary but after RTE's Jacqui Hurley tweeted "big news coming from Santry is that Derval O'Rourke may be out of the Olympics", the story gained legs and the rumour mill went into overdrive.

RTE pundit Jerry Kiernan said she had no chance of reaching an Olympic final, then RTE practically ruled her out of competing at the Games. Several others followed suit. What next? Will O'Rourke be retired before the gun goes off in London?

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WHEN you take over as manager from someone who has become a legend at the club -- as Declan Devine has done at Derry City in succession to Stephen Kenny -- you are on a hiding to nothing. Add in seven first-team players out injured, and six red cards so far, and you can see that it has been a difficult managerial debut for the former Derry goalkeeper.

However, that's not all. The loss of transferred players Eamon Zayed, James McClean, Daniel Lafferty and Gareth McGlynn "have taken 54 goals out of the team," he asserted. Replacing that sort of goal-power is a monumental task and can't be done overnight. To be in fifth place last week, with an eighth-best goal tally, was a considerable achievement for Devine's team.

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Last November, Portlaoise man Mick Rigney suffered a serious and debilitating stroke. A special evening of sport, music and friendship will be held on Friday, July 27 in The Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, preceded by a golf classic earlier that day in Portlaoise GC where Mick is a popular member. A sponsored cycle is also planned for next Sunday, with a 110km option and a 50km option. Rugby legend Mick Galwey will lead the cycle.

All events are in aid of Mick Rigney, who needs 24/7 care and assistance as well as modifications to his family home. Mick has been involved in sport all his life and is a recent past president of Portlaoise RFC, where he has had a 30-year involvement with the club.

His brother Brian, a former rugby international, said: "Even in Mick's illness he continues to inspire us all and we just want to show our appreciation by helping him out at this time."

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The return of the Open Championship to Royal Lytham this week prompted Gary Player to reflect on a decidedly mixed association with the Lancashire links. In fact, he incurred the ire of the Royal and Ancient for comments when making his Open debut at Lytham as a callow 22-year-old in 1958.

"During that championship, there were no rakes for the bunkers," said the 76-year-old South African. "Guys raked the sand with a club and pushed it over with their feet. And at number eight I hit it in a big hole and couldn't get out."

He went on: "I'd better not mention his name, but I went to the secretary of the R and A. I was not being facetious; I was honestly being courteous and sincere when I said, 'I would love to buy 18 rakes and donate them'. To which he (Brigadier Eric Brickman) said, 'Get out of my office, you little insolent bastard'."

Player, who went on to capture the Open Championship on three occasions, including the 1974 staging at Lytham, was to discover that the R and A didn't bear him a grudge for his insolence. When the Open returned to Lytham in 2001, he was given a special exemption.

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A Dublin versus Meath Leinster final is not a hard sell to GAA fans, but the Leinster Council has still been working overtime to generate as much interest as possible.

And so they have enlisted the help of former players from both counties who were involved in the unforgettable 1991 saga to help stoke the flames of interest. Watch out this week for Bernard Flynn and Jack Sheedy on leinstergaatv.com, for example.

Marie Crowe, Dermot Gilleece and Seán Ryan

ssport@independent.ie

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