Sexton magic, Klopp celebrates…and I swear I don’t watch DWTS!



This went beyond analysis – this, quite simply, was another of those great examples of how wonderful sport can be. 

  It was one of those priceless, peerless sporting moments, guaranteed to live in our memories all our lives.

  When Johnny Sexton attempted that audacious kick, time really did seem to stop.

  “This French wall will not crumble” the TV3 commentator had said as Ireland patiently/desperately went through numerous phases.

  Thus, faced with a seemingly impregnable wall, Sexton tried to recover Ireland’s stolen victory by going over the French wall.

  More or less in control of a fairly tedious match, we led 12-6 when we were hit by a sucker punch, the non-doubting Teddy Thomas dancing past several flat-footed Irishmen for the game’s only try.

  Now trailing 13-12, Ireland looked to have thrown victory away. We sought to rebuild from the rubble, but the French half looked a long distance away. With time up and Ireland slowly gaining ground, we were one handling error away from a sickening defeat. I have re-watched Ireland’s subsequent 41-phase play four times since the game ended; I still fear that something will go wrong! It is a riveting passage of play.

  Finally, Conor Murray’s pass to Sexton, and time stops. Ball leaves boot. You’d have put your house on a hard luck story revealing itself now. Sexton’s kick rises over that French wall which had refused to crumble. The ball spins into the disdainful rain. The players lift their heads, the Irish in hope, the French in fear. Unbelievably, it’s looking like Sexton had the accuracy, the distance, the courage. The camera closes in on the Irish out-half; his head tilts, as though willing the ball to its destination, then he starts a slightly ungainly run of joy, reminiscent of Mick McCarthy’s celebration on the sideline when Robbie Keane scored a late goal against Germany in the 2002 World Cup.

  It was indeed a great sporting moment. The TV3 team, fresh from winning the Six Nations rights from RTE, were in dreamland. I imagine that Michael Corcoran on RTE Radio probably got a bit excited too, but I find it hard to listen to him, because he’s just too partisan! All day on the TV3 panel, Ronan O’Gara confirmed his status as a superb analyst; a pleasure to listen to.

  A fairly mundane match had somehow muscled its way into the sporting hall of fame.


The Premier League moves along, sometimes dull, sometimes dramatic, always immersed in grotesque levels of money, refereeing controversies and laughable exhibitions of egotism by showboating managers.

  When Liverpool went 2-1 up against Spurs in the 91st minute, Jurgen Klopp almost matched Usain Bolt as he sprinted along the touchline, celebrating in his usual ‘Look at me, it’s all about me’ fashion.

  Can you imagine Kevin McStay or Jim Gavin behaving in such a manner? Er, no.

  Still, it keeps us entertained, I suppose!

  Meanwhile, back in The Championship, my club Leeds are in some disarray again. The soccer world is patiently waiting for the return of the great Leeds United to football’s top flight, but it looks like we’ll have to wait at least one more season.

  Briefly top of the league in September, Leeds have failed yet again to maintain any form of consistency. Now down to 10th, it looks as if fans will at least be spared the anguish of the club flirting with promotion; it is, after all, the hope that kills you.

  The Leeds board responded to a run of poor results in the usual manner, that is by sacking the manager. ‘You’re fired!’ they told Thomas Christiansen at the weekend, and now Leeds are looking for their 7th manager since 2014 and their 10th since 2012.

  When we do eventually get back to the Premier League, I’d hope all previous managers will be invited back for the celebrations. It might be awkward – and crowded.


Radio coverage of GAA is great, but sometimes I prefer to dip in and out, letting the game develop a little before I return for an update.

  This afternoon, I’m driving to Rooskey, and it’s time to check in on the match. 

  We’re nearing Ballyleague, and Roscommon are in a spot of trouble.

  Shannonside are reporting from the various grounds; Longford are impressing against Derry, Leitrim are leaking scores to Laois, and it’s shaping up to be a fruitless trip to Tipp for Roscommon.

  It’s turning into a dull enough GAA afternoon; I need a break from the unfolding tedium in Tipp.

  I decide to switch stations for some music. A great blast from the past – Johnny Cougar (‘Hurts so good’) – guides us through Cloontuskert.

  By Scramogue, curiosity gets the better of me and I switch back to Shannonside.

  Roscommon are five or six points behind. Back to music.

  Passing the beautiful Kilglass Lakes, I give in to temptation and switch the dial again. Leitrim have un-Laoised carnage on their opponents and scored three goals in six minutes, but it’s not quite enough to avert defeat.

  No news just now from Thurles, so it’s back to music and a quick visit to Newstalk. I’m done for the day. But a half mile from Rooskey village, I relent. Back to Thurles for the grim news. But there’s drama to report. Diarmuid and Willie are on fire. Murtagh has goaled, and the Rossies are raining points too.

  Willie is in full flow, and suddenly a dull GAA afternoon has sparked into life. Roscommon score 1-5 without reply in the time it takes to get from the Kilglass Gaels GAA pitch to the Dromod Road. Now that’s good going!

Later on Sunday

Drama on tonight’s Dancing with the Stars:

  There were gasps when Amanda Byram and Nicky Byrne staggered on to the stage, spontaneously cracking bawdy jokes while making faces at the audience.

  Meanwhile, a mass brawl broke out between the contestants after simmering tensions erupted.

  Chaos then as Marty Morrissey launched a Cantona-like kung fu kick at the judges after they scored him poorly.

  If only.


I always thought Gerry Kelly, in the news this week after he was filmed removing a clamp from his car, was a tough old nut.

            The Sinn Fein man, a former IRA activist who became a fairly major figure in the peace process, has always retained his hard man image, perhaps finding the transition from paramilitarism to parliament understandably difficult. You could say that, for Gerry, the wheels of democracy have turned slowly.

  Still, Gerry got elected by his people and attained a grip on power. He’s been in the driving seat during talks aimed at restoring power-sharing.

  Gerry will survive this controversy, but it’s a test for the party’s new leader, Mary Lou.

  She can’t afford to park this issue and just hope it will go away. Surely Mary Lou has to clamp down on this type of behaviour?