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Clubs have power to energise idle Dubs

LEINSTER Council chairman Martin Skelly said last week that Dublin had guaranteed never again to delay the Leinster club SFC to the extent that they did this year.

They didn't guarantee not to delay it at all, you will have noticed, just not to delay it by so much.

The problem with this is that Skelly is relying on what he understands to be the view of Pat Gilroy -- that the Dublin manager wants more club games to be played during the summer. But we understand that was the view of Pat Gilroy at this time last year as well.

The solution to this is not to rely on vague guarantees and your understanding of what people want. The Dublin board should take the bull by the horns, fix at least two championship rounds for July and August and insist that these are played whether Dublin are still in the championship or not. If the clubs have to play these games, they will put pressure on Gilroy and his squad to (pardon the pun) play ball.

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THOSE of us of a certain age remember a time back when we were poor, before we got rich, before we became poor again when we had the best education system in the world. Well, as no less a person than Ruairi Quinn, the Minister for Education, told us earlier this year, "that ain't true anymore".

And as part of the drive to improve our apparently flagging education system, the minister is planning a total overhaul of the Junior Cert. The good news is that the new version -- which will be built around the module system -- looks certain to include sport as one of the optional extras. With obesity levels on the rise, introducing a more formal element of physical education sounds like an attractive proposition.

The sport module would balance activity with classwork, although it would not be an exam subject, and, if it goes ahead, would take us past those pandering noises about the importance of participation in sport to a point where there is a meaningful action. The new Junior Cert is expected to come into force in September 2012.

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WE are indebted to GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell for revealing on Thursday that the GAA collective training ban is being 'contravened left, right and centre'. No kidding.

This came almost a week after this paper exposed the extent to which the ban is being flouted -- and a full 12 months since we first shone a spotlight on the issue. The GPA failed to respond to enquiries from us in advance of last week's story, despite the fact that this is clearly a player welfare issue. "It's not that we've had any formal complaints but as we go digging, you realise that you don't have to scratch the surface too far maybe to discover that this is a problem," said Farrell.

That's interesting. The GPA may not have had any formal complaints, but they certainly had a formal enquiry, from us, which they chose to ignore. We wonder what form their 'digging' took. Reading the Sunday Independent maybe?

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PETER ROBINSON, the North's First Minister, emerged from the VIP area at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday with a broad grin on his face. "Did you enjoy that?" we asked. "I did indeed, every minute of it," he said.

Turns out that Mr Robinson is such an avid Tottenham Hotspur fan that he refused the entreaties of his security advisers to make an early exit, and stayed to enjoy the full 90-plus minutes of Spurs' 4-0 Europa League win over Shamrock Rovers.

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It has been an historic year for the League of Ireland. But while Shamrock Rovers enjoyed one of their greatest years, many other clubs struggled. An historical context for these troubles is provided in Brian Kennedy's Just Follow the Floodlights, a tour de force which tells the history of every club which played or plays in the League of Ireland.

Kennedy visited every club in his research, an act of devotion that's not surprising after we learn that he re-mortgaged his home to help save his other great love, Exeter City.

There is a reward for his devotion in this wonderful book. League of Ireland fans suffer enough. There isn't one whose life wouldn't be enriched by this book at Christmas.

Fergus McDonnell, John Greene, Seán Ryan and Dion Fanning


Sunday Indo Sport