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Star fades to save us from hype overkill

IT may not be a popular view, and it's certainly not politically correct, but here at From The Stands we felt a certain relief when Kauto Star was pulled up in Friday's Gold Cup.

Having endured months of bullshit from most members of Channel 4's Morning Line team about what a great occasion it would be if Kauto was successful, we really couldn't have handled the sort of nonsense they would have come up with had the horse won.

Trainer Paul Nicholls contributed to the sea of hype in the build-up to the race, announcing that the horse had suffered an 'awful fall' while schooling at home and was no better than a 50-50 chance of lining up for the race. That was two weeks ago and regular bulletins thereafter finally confirmed that he would be fit to take his place at the start.

It was left to former champion jockey John Francome to put all of this in context on Friday's Morning Line. Nicholls' assistant, Dan Skelton, suggested that last year's defeat was partly because Kauto Star hadn't fully recovered from his fall in the 2010 renewal.

Francome, in as kind a way as possible, pointed out that if it had taken the horse a year to recover from that fall, how come he had recovered from the most recent one in two weeks? He hadn't, of course, and it always seemed unlikely that such an interrupted preparation would end in anything other than tears. Channel 4 couldn't resist the story, though, and weren't about to let logic get in the way.

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SOME years back, UCD's League of Ireland team were branded 'full-time footballers and part-time students' at a time when it included players like Jason Sherlock. Now, it seems, that label can be applied elsewhere as the balance of power within the student football world has shifted.

Where once the Collingwood Cup reigned supreme as the top trophy in colleges' football, now it could be said to take second place behind the Umbro CUFL finals, which were dominated this year by IT colleges.

Winners IT Carlow, for instance, fielded a team that was comprised of League of Ireland players from Bohemians goalkeeper Craig Sexton through to Wexford Youths striker Tom Elmes, while runners-up Athlone IT, managed by former Town great Michael O'Connor, included players from Italy and Spain alongside players with League of Ireland experience. No surprise then that Carlow IT completed the double when winning the FAI Colleges' Umbro Cup, beating Letterkenny IT in the final.

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The Irish Hockey Association have just released their Player Participation Survey into the positives and negatives of the sport as perceived by its players. Some 2,023 players completed the survey and the analysis was broken down according to sex, age, geography and performance level. The data was analysed by a UK-based academic and a series of recommendations have been presented to the IHA as to how to increase participation and retain players. It is nice to see sports bodies planning around hard statistical data rather than anecdotal beliefs.

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Notre Dame's university marching band have been performing around Ireland in the last week, and yesterday took part in Dublin's St Patrick's Day parade. It will be interesting then to gauge the level of interest in the American college football game between Notre Dame and Navy, which will be played at the Aviva Stadium on September 1, when tickets go on sale on Tuesday morning.

The Navy-Notre Dame series has been played annually since 1927, making it the longest uninterrupted series in college football, and at corporate level there has been huge interest in their visit to Dublin -- all the available boxes at the stadium have been sold for the day.

Over 25,000 tickets have already been sold in the US and the remainder -- ranging in price from €35 to €90 for premium level -- will be available from 10.0am on Tuesday.

"This is one of our biggest rivalries and along with a great American football game, we plan to showcase all of the game's traditions including the jet fly-over, a 1,000 Midshipmen march, bands, along with a huge travelling alumni and support from both sides," said Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk.

Fergus McDonnell, Seán Ryan, and Pat Coffey


Sunday Indo Sport