Expectation building for Six Nations
I am sure that the purists will have something to say but last Saturday’s game between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva was one of the most exciting matches I have seen in many a long day.
In the first half, it looked like the game would be over at half-time, such was the dominance of Joe Schmidt’s men. Then 15 minutes into the second half it looked like Australia would win the match by 20 points such was the transformation. But Ireland’s patched up team got going again and they dug in and it was mighty stuff to watch. We had at least five players playing totally out of position yet they withstood whatever Australia had to throw at them and they survived.
To come to the end of the year and to be able to say that we beat New Zealand, South Africa and Australia is some achievement. There will be huge anticipation ahead of the Six Nations now and with England and France coming to Dublin expectations will be raised. I just hope that no one gets carried away because that’s what usually happens when we win a few games. England look a very good side and they will carry a huge threat, but that’s all in the future.
To see so many younger players come on to the team and do so well augurs well for the future. Gary Ringrose, Paddy Jackson, Josh van der Flier, Joey Carbury, Kieran Marmion and the returning Iain Henderson were all superb last Saturday and we have a very strong panel of players now. I thought that we would never see the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara and their brilliant team again but it is now entirely possible that Ireland have a stronger team than ever under the management of Joe Schmidt.
Next up is the Champions Cup and it’s back to the bread and butter for most of the players until Ireland get back into training in January.
As an aside I was talking to a Roscommon sporting star last weekend who had an interesting suggestion with regard to the success of Connacht Rugby. Anyone who has been there will tell you that The Sportsground in Galway, for all it’s charm, is not a very suitable venue to host Connacht games and an opportunity is being lost not to move their big games around the province, and you know, he has a point.
With the GAA ready to host several World Cup games, wouldn’t it be a novel idea for Connacht to play some of their games in Castlebar, in Sligo, in Carrick-on-Shannon and at Dr Hyde Park. Imagine the excitement in each area in the build up to a big Connacht game and the interest that it would generate. It would be during the winter too when there are no big GAA games on. It is something that should be considered.
Classy Corofin are contenders
It was a pity that St. Brigid’s went down so badly last Sunday but before this championship is over I have a feeling that losing to this Corofin team might not be such a disaster, as they look possible All-Ireland winners for sure. Their six forwards would get on any inter-county team in Division Three or Four of the National League and it will take a great team to beat them. Brigid’s never got going and they will have no complaints this week.
Elsewhere, Dr Crokes had a very easy win against The Nire and the clash of Crokes and Corofin will be a mouth-watering prospect.
Slaughtneil have continued with their fairytale year and now they await St. Vincent’s and Rhode who play in the Leinster final next Sunday. Slaughtneil have won both the senior football and senior hurling titles in Ulster, which is some achievement. There are about 10 players in the club who play on both teams. There will be some scratching of heads if both Slaughtneil teams reach the finals on St Patricks Day!
Sad to hear of Joe’s passing
I was sad to hear of the passing of Joe Lennon last weekend whom I knew personally a long time ago. He was one of the first people to introduce coaching into Gaelic Games and he was way ahead of his time. He trained the GAA teams in Gormanston College in Co. Meath and it is not a coincidence that they won the All-Ireland senior title under his management and they have not won that title since. To have won three All-Ireland senior medals was some achievement and he is surely one of the all time GAA greats. May he rest in peace.
United out of the loop!
Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City continue their pursuit of the Premier league title and with Arsenal as a long shot that’s about it as far as contenders go. Manchester United look out of the loop completely. They are playing well but they cannot score and they are not being helped by the antics of Jose Mourinho, who seems to never be out of trouble. He should tone down his behaviour and leave the headlines to his players. Everywhere he goes it’s all about himself. He will have to get his team winning matches and forget about fighting with the officials.
There was a programme on Channel 4 last week, which detailed what almost everyone in the UK earned from top to bottom. From bin men to shop workers to the highest paid people in every walk of life. It was fascinating stuff, especially when it came to sport. Wayne Rooney gets £300,000 sterling. The average Premier League footballer gets paid £42,000 per week, which is not bad if you can get it! No wonder the cost of the Sky subscription is going up!
By the way, Rooney’s earnings pale into insignificance when compared to Andy Murray (£27 million sterling), Rory McIlroy (£56 million) and Lewis Hamilton (£88 million).
From the Internet
Irish Show jumping star wins three new cars over the weekend and has won nine cars in all over the past two years!
Irish Show jumper Bartram Allen won not one, not two, but three brand new Volkswagen Tiguan cars at the Stockholm Grand Prix over the weekend.
The 21-year-old, now based in Germany and ranked 17th in the world, provided a reminder of his prodigious talent with an incredible display to claim the leading rider of the show in Sweden.
Allen collected his first set of keys by winning Saturday night’s Volkswagen Speed event and followed that performance up with another stellar showing to record the only double clear round of the competition yesterday.
The Wexford native then collected his third motor for good measure after being named the weekend’s top performer.
It now means Allen has won six cars at the same Swedish venue in the last two years and his overall career tally now stands at nine, and all this before his 22nd birthday. (Courtesy of the 42.ie)