Friday 24 November 2017

Shortall proposals need stout dismissal

IT'S easy to tell when some of us here at From The Stands have returned from our holidays -- even when the pilot has turned off the engines you can still hear the whining.

That doesn't mean we're not justified. One of our favourite moans concerns the habit Morning Ireland presenters have of sticking their tuppence ha'penny worth into the sports news. They don't do it with any other segment and we're presuming they must know more about, say, the business news. Judging by their inane comments on sport, they certainly couldn't know any less.

Another is the propensity of politicians to whip out the shotgun whenever they spot a fly and open up with both barrells.

It has come to the attention of our government recently that there is a problem in this country with alcohol, particularly in young people. This stunning revelation has prompted junior Health Minister Roisin Shortall to propose a series of measures, one of which, the banning of sponsorship of sporting events by drinks companies, ranks right down there with a misguided Morning Ireland attempt at smart comment.

Like Eamon Ryan's nonsensical suggestion of two years ago that Heineken Cup matches should be free-to-air, thereby depriving Irish rugby of much-needed TV revenue, Shortall's proposal should be given short shrift.

The truth is there are more than enough laws already on our statute books to deal with the mess of alcohol abuse. The problem is they are simply not being enforced.

So how about a proposal from a member of the coalition that the Government start doing their jobs properly: abandon the ill-conceived Croke Park agreement, get real value for money form the public sector and give the Gardai the manpower required to keep order on our streets. And restrict your intrusions into sport to sending out congratulatory emails when someone wins something.

* * * * *

The coverage of the Joanna Mills v Catriona Cuddihy controversy has been odd indeed. As the Olympic Council of Ireland's panel sat to make the final decision on who got the last place on the women's 4x400m relay team, the media focus appeared to be entirely on Cuddihy and her "anxious wait".

Beside photos of an anxious looking Cuddihy reporters told us how her 'Olympic dream' might be shattered if the panel didn't overturn Mills' appeal. There was scarcely a word about Mills at all or the fact that she is a better runner with faster times. Yet the reality of the situation is that Joanna Mills deserved the spot and her wait was more anxious, given that she'd already been unjustly treated when inexplicably omitted from the team in the first place.

The spinning of this story to make it seem as though Catriona Cuddihy is the victim makes no sense. A former Irish international athlete who is still involved in the sport contacted us last week to express their outrage at the way Mills has been treated. They had never written to a newspaper before, they told us, but were disgusted by the blatant unfairness of the original selection and what it said about the way athletics is run in this country.

It's a sorry saga. Athletics is supposed to be about how good you are rather than who you're related to or where you come from. There's enough of that in Irish politics.

* * * * *

When the Notre Dame and Navy football teams take the field at the Aviva Stadium on September 1 next, it will be to a full house, with all 48,000 tickets having been sold. What caught our eye, however, was the breakdown of where those tickets were sold.

This game is part of the regular college season in the US, and is technically a home tie for Navy. The two college ticket offices sold 25,000, which suggests a significant influx of visitors to Ireland that weekend. Notre Dame, as the so-called away team, received 7,500 tickets, which were then sold via a lottery to alumni. There were almost 15,000 requests for those tickets.

Of the remainder, 13,000 tickets were sold in Ireland through Ticketmaster and CSL Hospitality, and 10,000 through Anthony Travel.

Fergus McDonnell and Eamonn Sweeney

Sunday Indo Sport

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