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All eyes on Dec. 2 Euro draw in Kiev

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

Marco Tardelli and his boss Giovanni Trapattoni are likely to get a new contract.

Following the play-off win over Estonia Irish soccer supporters are now looking ahead to the draw for the 2012 European Championship finals which will be made in Kiev on Dec. 2. We are fourth seeds and definitely will not be paired with Denmark, France or the Czech Republic, who are in the same category. We could be paired with England and that would rule out a friendly early next year. England are due to meet Holland on Feb. 29, but if they are paired with Holland in the Euro finals then there will be speculation that Ireland could fill the February date  But my information is that the friendly against England is likely to be played at the Aviva in August next year. England owe Ireland a game since 1995 when the friendly at Lansdowne Road was abandoned after English “supporters” rioted on the upper deck of the old West Stand. Every tournament has a tough group, the so-called “group of death.” But last week the joke doing the rounds was that if Ireland is paired with Greece, Italy and Portugal would it be described as the “group of debt.”

There is only one international date before the end of the English Premier League season and that’s Feb. 29. Further friendlies cannot be played until the English season finishes on May 13 and then the FAI has a short window to arrange games before the Irish squad leave for Poland and Ukraine. The lack of friendly fixtures means that manager Giovanni Trapattoni will have very few opportunities to look at fringe players before he submits his squad to UEFA on May 29. That’s bad news for the likes of James McCarthy (Wigan) and  Everton’s Seamus Coleman, who would be hoping to make an impression if there were friendlies. That’s why the Carling Cup tournament earlier this year was so important as it allowed newcomers like Simon Cox and Jon Walters make an impression on the manager.

Meanwhile the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup will begin and end with Kazakhstan. Our first game is away, probably in the capital Astana on Sept. 9 next year and we finish our campaign at home to the minnows of the group on Oct. 15, 2013. Full fixtures: 2012: Sept 7, v Kazakhstan (A); Oct. 12 v Germany (H); Oct. 16 v Faroe Islands (A). 2013: March 22 v Sweden (A); March 26 v Austria (H); June 7 v Faroe Islands (H); Sept. 6 v Sweden (H); Sept. 10 v Austria (A): Oct. 11 v Germany (A); Oct. 14 v Kazakhstan (A).




FAI CEO John Delaney said last week that the FAI board will meet in the coming weeks to discuss offering Giovanni Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli a new contract. The 72 year-old Trap feels that Tardelli and himself have done enough to earn a new contract. Trap said: ”We are all responsible people and we were aware that had we failed with qualification, things could have gone differently. But now, there is clarity on both sides. I have said I think that Marco and myself deserve a new agreement.  We are now happy with the squad. We find new players in almost every game. We have done what we were asked to do by the FAI and the Irish people. They chose us for this reason and I think we have given the perfect answer with qualification.” Trapattoni took over from Steve Staunton in February 2008 and his first game in charge was a friendly against Serbia at Croke Park in May 2008. He has now taken charge of the national team on 42 occasions and only Jack Charlton (94 games) and Mick McCarthy (68) have been in charge of more Irish senior teams.



Justin McCarthy, who was forced out of Limerick last year, is back in hurling management in his native Cork. The 66-year old has been appointed manager of the Castlelyons club. McCarthy has also previously managed Antrim, Clare, Cork and Waterford.

Former Tipperary and Kildare footballer Brian Lacey is joining the Limerick senior football backroom team. Lacey, who has coached Kildare clubs Nurney and Rathangan, replaces Corkman Ephie Fitzgerald who has returned to his own club Nemo Rangers



Eddie O’Sullivan quit last week as coach of the US Eagles rugby team.  The Cork-born coach said: ”I have thoroughly enjoyed my two and a half years with the Eagles. I was delighted with our progress and overall performances in the Rugby World Cup, but I feel that it is now time for me to consider other options closer to home. ” Coincidentally on the same day as O’Sullivan quit, Martin Johnson  announced that he was also standing down as England’s rugby coach. O’Sullivan, who is 52, is unlikely to get the England job, but he could get a job with a club in England or Ireland.



Louth supporter Paddy Garvey is taking the GAA to court in Dublin on Dec. 13. The plaintiff’s case is based on an assertion that the GAA “deliberately” broke their own rules when they “declared” Meath as Leinster football champions in 2010. Tyrone referee Martin Sludden awarded a controversial late goal to Meath after Joe Sheridan literally fell over the Louth goal line with the ball in his hands. Fergal McGill, the GAA’s operations manager said: ”The one thing that we were criticized for was not awarding a replay, which is something that we could not do because we would have been in breach of our rules.”



A PSNI Gaelic Football team will play their Garda counterparts at Croke Park on Friday Nov. 25. The Northern Ireland police force have played the Gardai on an annual basis for the McCarthy Cup since 2002, but this will be the first time the game will be played at Croke Park. The McCarthy Cup is named after Thomas St George McCarthy, who was a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary and was one of the GAA’s founding members in 1884.



There was laughter in the Dáil chamber last week when Wexford TD Mick Wallace suggested that the house should rise for two weeks in June while the Euro 2012 Finals are being played in Poland and the Ukraine. Wallace, who is also manager of the Wexford Youths and a huge fan of Italian soccer in particular, suggested that TDs get time off for the first two weeks of the tournament, which commences on June 8, and then return to work for the end of June and all of July. But Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore wasn’t biting and said that the usual summer holiday period would apply for TDs and Senators.



Louth is the only county in the country that does not have a stadium capable of hosting a big hurling or football championship game. Now club delegates in the Wee County will be asked to give their backing at next month’s county convention to a proposal which would see Louth GAA link up with Dundalk IT to co-develop a new facility on the college’s grounds in Dundalk. The 12,000-capacity stadium is expected to cost around €6 million and the cost will be shared by the college, Louth County Board and Croke Park.


CEO is not afraid to grab limelight, credit

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

Richard Dunne of Ireland is challenged by Estonia's Kaimar Saag during European Championship 2012 play-off at the Aviva Stadium.

In the last couple of days, I’ve received several emails containing links to various YouTube montages chronicling Ireland’s improbable qualifying campaign for Euro 2012. Of course, my favorite clip isn’t Richard Dunne doing a very passable Paul McGrath impression in Moscow. It’s not even Keith Andrews starting the ball rolling against Estonia last Friday. Nope, my most cherished piece footage, the one I just keep watching over and over again, involves FAI Chief Executive John Delaney out on the pitch at the A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn, conducting the fans, punching his fist in the air and making the “let’s go for a few beers” motion with his right hand.

Watching Delaney do his jigs of delight brought back so many memories of his vital contributions in this campaign. Much like the fans cheering (if laughing at somebody sounds like cheering) him on in Estonia, I recalled his last-ditch tackle in Moscow on the night he helped keep the mighty Russians at bay. My mind filled with other cameos of his magnificence. The quality of his passing away to Armenia. The memorable way he imposed his will against the Andorrans like some sort of modern-day Roy Keane. Flicking through the highlight reel of Delaney’s on-field magic (has Trapattoni ever had such a trusted lieutenant in the fray?), I thought to myself: Who else is more entitled to celebrate with the fans than this guy?

Inspired by repeated viewing of Delaney’s antics, I decided to go searching YouTube for more vintage carry-on of this ilk. I couldn’t resist the urge to look for more clips showing the heads of successful sports organizations celebrating on the field of play, in front of legions of adoring fans.  I started off trolling for Frank Murphy footage. Given the fact he’s been secretary of the Cork County Board through so many triumphs, I figured there must be no end of videotape of Murphy.  I quickly found the classic shot of Jimmy Barry Murphy climbing up the railing on Hill 16 with Liam McCarthy in his hand back in 1999. Surely, his namesake must have done something similar through the years.

Imagine my shock. Picture my surprise. I could find no extant video of the head honcho in Cork GAA celebrating on the field of play. Or doing a Delaney as it’s now called. Of course, many will see this as a sign Murphy just isn’t as passionate about his games as the FAI’s top man. A fair point. Especially since there are no mobile phone montages showing Murphy conducting the Cork fans or buying them drink in pubs before big matches. I know Murphy has always divided people in Cork and now I understand why. Where was he when all those All-Irelands were being celebrated? Why wasn’t he out there on the field milking some applause for himself? We should be told.

Then again, I wondered whether this was maybe just a Cork thing. Perhaps other counties are more demonstrative than us. I decided to give Kilkenny a try. They’ve won a lot (okay, an awful lot) in the past few years. There had to be video of the county board chairman or secretary out on the grass in Croker, playing up to the black and amber hordes following one or other of their (traditionally lucky) All-Irelands. I was appalled and dismayed to discover nobody had ever managed to film Pat Dunphy (currently vice-chairman but previously secretary) climbing over the hoarding at the end of a single All-Ireland victory to throw shapes in front of the fans.

I was similarly disappointed when it came to Andy Kettle. As chairman of the Dublin County Board, you’d think Kettle would have been reveling in Pat Gilroy’s team defeating Kerry back in September. Well, if he was, there were no public displays of emotion. There are thousands of clips of the celebrating Dubs, shot from every available angle in the stadium that memorable day. And Kettle isn’t in any of them. No jumping around, no fist-pumping in front of Hill 16. Not a single jig of delight or drinking motion to drive the supporters wild with delight.

What is wrong with Kettle and all these other people who run the various sporting bodies? Do they not understand the significance of the roles they have played? Why did they not seize their opportunities to remind the fans of their immense and often undervalued contributions to the on-field success? Surely, all these sports administrators can see that failing to grab a piece of the limelight for themselves is quite ridiculous. In this day and age, the men in the suits and ties are every bit as important as the talent that crosses the white lines to compete.

At this point in my research, I came to a realization. Maybe the GAA is just different, a bit backwards coming forwards and all that. So, I switched focus to international soccer. England recently qualified for Euro 2012. As Chief Executive of Club England, an entity within the association that is solely to do with the senior squad, Adrian Bevington is the man in the Delaney role there. But, you’ve guessed it. After hours of research and YouTubing, I could not find any upload showing Bevington bigging it up with the English fans after qualification was clinched against Montenegro in Podgorica.

What dereliction of duty. That’s not the fit and proper behavior of a man who really cares about his country and its followers. While Bevington should be ashamed of himself for not showing enough emotion for the cameras, all may not be lost for him. If the mooted Ireland-England friendly in Dublin comes off before the Euros next summer, at least the English supremo will get a close-up view of how a real, classy chief executive conducts himself at the Aviva Stadium. Should Ireland win that game, he may see what it truly means to do a Delaney. That’s a lesson in etiquette not available in any finishing school.


Manchester clubs at the top, in the red

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

No change at the top of the English Premier League with both Manchester clubs winning at the weekend. On the day they announced record losses of £195 million for the year ending May 31, 2011, City ended Newcastle United’s unbeaten start to the season, winning 3-1 at the City of Manchester Stadium. United, who also have a big debt problems, won 1-0 away to Swansea to stay five points behind in second place. Shane Long, who missed both of The Republic’s play-off games against Estonia, returned to the West Bromwich Albion starting line up on Saturday and scored the winner in Albion’s 2-1 win over Bolton at The Hawthorns. The only other Irish scorer in the Premier League at the weekend was Stephen Hunt, who converted a penalty for Wolves, but Mick McCarthy’s side lost 2-1 away to Everton. Liverpool, who are gradually making progress under Kenny Dalglish, beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and the ‘Pool would do all the chasing clubs a big favor if they could beat Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday next.


Stokes on target

Anthony Stokes, who admits he would like to make the Irish squad for the Euro 2012 finals, showed Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni that he can score by getting both of Celtic’s goals in their 2-0 away win over Inverness CT on Saturday. Old rivals Rangers could only draw at home to St Johnstone, but the ‘Gers are still ten points ahead of Celtic in the SPL.


Combo make Rockland work for U-16 title

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

In the final of the u 16 league  Rockland just about had the edge but the combination squad made them work hard all the way to the final whistle. Rockland started very impressively and soon jumped ahead with points from Aidan Weir, Ronan Curry and Garvin Lee. St Raymond’s/St Brendan’s were slow to start but eventually some strong running from Mike Murphy set up Terence McDonald for the opening score.

By midway they had drawn level as Peter Rogers pointed from play and from a placed ball after James Smith was fouled. However Rockland stepped on the gas again as Kieran Walsh, their chief play-maker and score-getter, struck two very fine scores. Meanwhile another good run by Murphy plus a good interchange between Rogers and Smith ended a Murphy point. For the last 10 minutes Rockland monopolized possession but a goal bound effort from Weir came back off the post before a quick free from Walsh set up Lee for a point. At the other end the post also came to the rescue before another trademark run from Murphy ended with a spectacular point to just leave the minimum between the sides at the break.

The combo squad leveled up right from the throw in as good lead- up play by Rogers and Murphy ended with Smith hitting the target. Further pressure saw an Emmett Keane effort cleared off the line before the action was transferred to the other end. Rockland were now back in the driving seat after withstanding the early onslaught as Walsh ran off three straight points with good support from Logan McIntyre, Martin Gavin, Ryan Traynor and Lee. Then as Rockland looked to be edging away, a goal from Steven O’Shea brought the sides level midway in the period.

Now the intensity increased as both side had shots blocked and missed before Lee broke the dead lock by finishing the good support play of Walsh and Aidan Noonan for a point. A further attack saw Weir solo right through the defense but keeper Kilkenny did well to deflect the ball out for a “45.” However once again Walsh showed his coolness and class as he clinically sent the ball with plenty to spare over the black spot.

The combo squad battled back to score again, but Rockland had the ace in Walsh as he methodically ran down the clock and eventually drew a free and an eventual score to cap a man of the match performance to complete a very sporting and exciting game.

Rockland Pat Guerin, Joe Joyce, James Linnane, Brian Maher, James Moriarty, Chris Coughlin, Brandon Healy, Martin Gavin, Brian Coryn, Aidan Weir, Kieran Walsh, Eoghan O’Brien, Ryan Traynor, Ronan Curry, Garvin Lee. Subs. Aidan Noonan, Logan McIntyre, Alex Jeroy, Kenny Sessay

St. Raymond’s/St. Brendan’s John Kilkenny, Joe Minna, Declan Byrne, Brendan Grant, Mike Murphy, Conor Phelan, TJ Corbett, Peter Rogers, Steven Slattery, Emmett Keane, Steven O’Shea, Conor Bradley, James Smith, Terence McDonald Subs Stephen Dunnion, Darren McGivney, Colm Mellet, Kevin Mahon, Morgan McLoughlin, Brian McLoughlin, Pearse Crowley Referee Martin O’Connor


Rangers roll over Rockland

The minor final brought down the curtain on Gaelic games for the year as the Rangers easily saw off the challenge of   Rockland. This was a very powerful Rangers squad as they well anchored from goalkeeper Aidan Tansey to a strong central line of Donnacha O’Dwyer, Daniel Lehane, Kevin Daly, Brendan Hynes, Aidan Jussiffe and Kevin Moran and which was well supported from the flanks.

In fairness to Rockland many of their players had earlier being involved in the tough u 16 decider and hence fatigue was certainly a factor. Though Kevin Daly and Mike Vince exchanged opening points the Rangers took control as they raced into a 2-5 to 0-2 lead at the half. Moran struck the first goal after he latched on to a well- while placed delivery from Daly while Brian Twomey hit a brace of points before he rattled the net after Lehane had supplied the critical pass.

The exchange after the break were fairly evenly until midway as Mike Vince, Conor McIntyre, Ronan Curry, Conor O’Sullivan and Austin O’Toole stepped up their performances for Rockland. Both sides hit three points before Rangers hit the turbo button again midway as Jussiffe blasted a powerful shot to the net plus another three points quickly popped up on the board.

With 10 minutes left and leading by 3-11 to 0-5, it was well and truly over as a contest but Rockland to their credit refused to throw in the towel despite the deficit. They managed to add 1-3 to their tally with the goal coming from James Moriarity with Vince and O’Sullivan hitting the points to add a veneer of respectability to the score line of a contest that was rarely in doubt once the rampant Rangers found the range.

Rangers Aidan Tansey, Kieran Donnelly, Donnacha O’Dwyer, Dan Feighery, Garrett Moore, Daniel Lehane, Dan Moriarity, Kevin Daly, Brendan Hynes, Joe Shankey, Aidan Jussiffe, John McCusker, Jack Becker, Kieran Moran, Brian Twomey. Subs. Keith McCarthy, Mike Teelan, Paul Reynolds, Emmett Clarke, Enda Dunbar, Keith McHugh, PJ Loane, Uner Cassidy

Rockland Mike Coleman, Stephen Moroney, James Linnane, Chris Coughlin, Conor Madigan, Andrew Giamarcia, Austin O’Toole, Tommy Furlong, Mike Vince, Conor McIntyre, Garvin Lee, Ronan Curry, Conor O’Sullivan, Kieran Wash Subs Aidan Weir, Logan McIntyre, James Moriarity, Alex Jeremie Referee Martin O’Connor.


Pat Murray R.I.P.

Pat Murray, a former New York Leitrim footballer, and most recently a resident of Hackensack passed away on October 31st. He was 73 and retired as a construction supervisor from the New York Telephone Company. Pat is survived by his wife Noreen and children Brian, Shean, Eileen and Diane. The funeral service was held on Thursday, Nov. 3 at the Englewood  Assembly of God Church and the late Pat was buried in George Washington Memorial Park Paramus.

Pat was universally known as Big Pat Murray in New York GAA circles and he was easily recognizable from his large physical stature on the playing field. He got the “Big” prefix attached to his name when another Pat Murray, this one of smaller dimensions and a fine footballer, too, came along from Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim. From then on, it was Big Pat and Little Pat with their performances being occasionally labeled the “Murray Show” by John Byrne of the Irish Echo.

Before coming to the States, Pat played with his local club Drumeela and St. Ciaran’s College in Dublin. In New York, he won championship medals with Leitrim in 1958 and 1973. During his prime playing days Pat featured prominently on the New York All-Star team. In 1962 he traveled to Wembley to play against London and later against Kerry. In 1963, Pat played against Kerry in the National League Home final and he won a National League medal in 1964 when New York defeated Dublin. Pat’s individual and inspirational displays on the local scene also garnered him many accolades.

In 1962 and 1963, Pat won the Ballantine Awards for outstanding displays. Also in those years , he won the grand prize as player of the year and received trips to the All-Ireland. He also picked up the Tommy Ayers trophy for the Outstanding Player at the United Irish Counties field day. Pat was unique in the annals of Leitrim football as he played longer (1957 to 1982) and in more games (at least 200) than any other Leitrim player. Besides being a central playing figure, Pat Murray capably commanded the gamut of positions from full back to full forward, he could also make a credible claim to another record, namely torn jerseys. It was not an uncommon sight to see defenders swinging from Pat’s shredded jersey as they attempted to stop him going goalwards.

Besides having a very productive and prominent playing career, Pat also managed, trained the team while also being Leitrim’s delegate and secretary. In later years with St. Joseph’s he guided several under-age teams to New York Minor titles. The late Pat was my team mate in the early 1970s and I was in awe of his prowess as he was an outstanding player on the field but more importantly also an outstanding individual off the field.   Big Pat Murray was a tower in the Leitrim ranks for nearly three decades, and capped a great career by being Leitrim’s most capped player.


The GAA Elections

The nodding, the winking, the hinting and keeping the cards close to the proverbial vest ended on Thursday night as calls for nominations were made at the regular meeting of the GAA. Larry McCarthy’s reign as chairman was ending so the word from the unofficial sources along McLean Avenue was that Brendan O’Sullivan, the Vice-President would progress to the Chairman’s position. However getting the top job was not going to be that easy as Liam Birmingham, the current Secretary and also a former Chairman, threw his hat into the ring for the position. Naturally as O’Sullivan has had to vacate his position in his quest for higher office, thus prompting Tommy Fahey and Lawrence McGrath to seek the Vice-Presidency.

Similarly as Birmingham vacates his position, there will be a battle between the outgoing Registrar Mary Murphy and the current PRO Joan Henchy, both native New Yorkers, to fill the position. Voting will be on Dec. 4 while I’m sure the delegates will be hearing from the respective office seekers as they seek to obtain their all-important number one on the ballot. Meanwhile Treasurer John Phelan and Assistant Treasurer Liam Moffat will be returned unopposed as will the Development Officer, John Fitzpatrick, the Youth Officer, Denis Twomey and the Coaching Officer, Alan Hearty.  Rounding out the slate of officers as the incoming PRO is yours truly.

35-yard goal puts Rocks back on track

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

Sean McMullen was Shamrock Reserves hat-trick hero.

Karl Hughes’s wonder strike on the hour sank East leaders Barnstonworth Premier 1-0 on Randalls Island last Sunday, ending a run of poor results for the Shamrock Over-30s.

The pacey winger lobbed the Premier goalie from some 35 yards out to hand Shamrock their first league win since Oct. 10. They’d lost three of their last four matches and slipped to third place from the helm in the West.

Paddy McCarry’s lads [4-3-1, 13] climbed one rung into joint second with New York Greek-American/Atlas after the latter succumbed 3-2 to Manhattan Kickers.  New York Dinamo [5-1-1, 16] lead the West.

“Tough, tough game but we got the win,” said McCarry. “It’s the strongest [squad] I had out all season.”



After losing seven straight this season in the Second Division, Shamrock’s senior team picked up its first point from a 1-1 tie with EMC under faulty lights on Randalls Island.

EMC’s Nick McClefferty beat goalie Dan Greenberg from 30 yards 13 minutes from time to cancel out Sean Riley’s early opener [15th] and deny the Rocks a much needed win.

“Despite the fact that the field lights were operating at 50% both teams played  some good football but Shamrocks will rue a missed opportunity to take three points for the first time this season,” said Glen Wrafter.

His side [0-7-1] remains bottom of the table, three points adrift of EMC.



Sean McMullen, described by EMC boss Eddie Yee Woo Guo as a “210 pound bulldozer of a striker,” was the hat trick hero in a 4-1 rout by the Shamrock reserves.

Shawn Duda also connected and assisted on McMullen’s third goal. Joaquin netted EMC’s face-saver.

“It could have been more but EMC made us work,” said Robbie Walsh.



Atop the Division Two standings, Austin McCann kept Manhattan Celtic’s hundred percent record going with the only goal of the match against Central Park Rangers at Icahn Stadium.

Celtic, beaten 2-0 in the curtain raiser, are now 7-0 [21], five points clear of second place Hoboken FC.



Lansdowne Bhoys slipped out of first place on the Cosmopolitan Soccer League First Division [West] standings after a 2-0 loss to Clarkstown SC at Tibbets Brook Park.

Mike Konicoff’s brace dropped the Bhoys [4-2-2, 14] into second place. It was their first defeat since a 2-1 setback to New York Athletic Club [NYAC] in their season opener, September 11.

With Barnstonworth Rovers blanking NYAC 2-0 on the day, Bhoys now trail the sole leaders by three points

“We deserved to lose – no complaints. Bad day at the office for many reasons,” shrugged coach Kevin Grogan, whose reserves drew 0-0.



Earlier at Tibbets Park, Kevin McGinney had tallied in the Lansdowne thirds’ 2-1 Metro Div. II capitulation to Grenadier Zenith.

Harvey Bertrand Jr. and Kerby Mimmy were the Zenith marksmen.


Kenneally wins Churchill race with Blues Street

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

Eddie Kenneally’s acquisition this past summer of the Anstu Stable horses has worked quite well and he reaped another benefit on Saturday when Blues Street won the River City Handicap at Churchill Downs. The 7-year-old gelding bided his time past the stands the first time, made a move into the far turn, took command straightening for home and drew off to win by four lengths under Robby Albarado. He paid $7.40 to win.

Kenneally also got a win on the Sunday card at Churchill Downs when Em Fleur’s A Boy Named Em rallied in the slop under Corey Lanerie to win the eighth race, a maiden special weight sprint. The first-time starter returned $24.40 to win.

John Good also came out on top in Louisville, sending out Brereton Jones’ Sympathy Act to capture Wednesday’s third race at Churchill. The winner, a 3-year-old filly, was pitted here against males, but was up to the task under the guidance of Roberto Morales, stalking the early pace and going on to prevail by one-half length at the wire in this condition claiming sprint at the $15,000 level. She paid $6.20 to win and is now undefeated in two career starts.

Shane Ryan’s Race to Urga rallied to prevail by three-quarters of a length in Friday’s eighth race at Aqueduct. The 3-year-old homebred filly, trained by Christophe Clement, took the measure of first-level allowance rivals competing at a mile and one-sixteenth on the grass. She paid $5.60 and was ridden by Ramon Dominguez.

Trainer Tom O’Keefe bagged his first win of 2011 when Tickled Pink’s Flower Exchange got up to win Woodbine’s second race on Saturday by one-half length under Emma-Jayne Wilson. The 4-year-old filly seems to do her best work at this time of the year. She won her first race of 2010 almost a year ago to the day, and then came back two weeks later to put a little Christmas cash in O’Keefe’s pockets. The win mutuel came back $14.80.

Three races later, Mike Doyle put over a surprise when Windhaven’s Peyton held on to break his maiden by, dare we say, a neck. Manning the reins on Peyton, which had failed to hit the board in five previous starts, was Justin Stein. The 2-year-old gelding paid $43.90 to win.

The first race of the day at Parx was the place to catch winners from the Cathal Lynch barn last week. On Monday, Peachtree Stable’s Mistress Quickly got the job done. The 2-year-old filly, making her fourth career start, was in the mix the entire trip of this 2-turn route for maidens at the $12,500 claiming level. She was actually headed in the stretch, but came again under Angel Arroyo to get the head bob. She returned $4.80 to win.

Tuesday’s winner was Gold Mark Farm’s Zuerstgold, which took the measure of maiden routers at the $16,000 claiming plateau in his fifth appearance under silks. Arroyo had this 2-year-old gelding in contention from the get-go, and they took the lead around the far turn, widening to a 3-length advantage at the wire. Zuerstgold also paid $4.80.


Cody stays but Cha quits Cats panel

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

Brian Cody will try to win yet another title with Kilkenny in 2012.

As expected Brian Cody is to continue as manager of the Kilkenny senior hurlers for a record 14th season. The James Stephens clubman has guided The Cats to 10 All-Ireland titles and five National League wins and he will be keen to retain the MacCarthy Cup in 2012. Cody will be joined once again by selectors Michael Dempsey and Martin Fogarty to form the same management team which has been in place in Kilkenny for the last six years. The Cats will be captained next year by Cody’s James Stephens’ club colleague Eoin Larkin.

Meanwhile, on Monday Kilkenny hurler James “Cha” Fitzpatrick made the shock announcement that he was quitting the Cats panel. The 26-year old said: ”This year was a fantastic one for Kilkenny, but personally I wasn’t rewarded for my efforts. It has been a wonderful eight years to be involved with Kilkenny and I achieved every hurling goal. But ultimately Brian Cody made the right decisions as Kilkenny won the All-Ireland. I will continue to enjoy my club hurling with Ballyhale Shamrocks.” Fitzpatrick captained the Cats in their 2008 All-Ireland win over Waterford  and retires as the holder of five All-Ireland senior medals.


Canavan for Fermanagh

Former Tyrone great Peter Canavan will take over as the Fermanagh manager.  He was the only person interviewed after the other candidates withdrew.

This will be Canavan’s first experience of inter-country management after three years in charge of his home club Errigal Ciaran.

Elsewhere, Des Newton has been ratified as the new Roscommon manager. He joins a list of new football managers which include Galway’s Alan Mulholland, Offaly’s Gerry Cooney and Wicklow’s Harry Murphy.

On the hurling front,  there are no fewer than nine new managers. They are John Allen (Limerick), Davy Fitzgerald (Clare), Michael Ryan (Waterford), Jimmy Barry Murphy (Cork), Liam Dunne (Wexford), Ollie Baker (Offaly), Anthony Cunningham (Galway), Teddy McCarthy (Laois) and Jerry Wallis (Antrim).


Additional reporting by Kieran Rooney.


Given set to extend record beyond 120

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

Republic goalie Shay Given.

Shay Given set a new Irish record for international caps against Estonia in Dublin last week when he made his 120th senior appearance. In doing so Given overtook former Northern Ireland ‘keeper Pat Jennings. Jennings won his 119th cap on his 41st birthday against Brazil in the 1986 World Cup finals and at the time it was a world record and it’s still a Northern Ireland record. If 35 year-old Given stays injury-free it looks like he will set an Irish record that will stand for many years to come. The late Alan Kelly, who won 47 caps in goal for Ireland, held the record for the most capped Irish player for many years, but right now there is no keeper within the proverbial mile of Given. And Robbie Keane’s current record of 53 international goals is also like to stand for many years to come. Niall Quinn is second in the Irish goal-scoring chart with 21 goals and of the current crop of players Kevin Doyle with nine goals is nearest to Keane.            Sean Creedon.

Bad economy spawns GAA world cup idea

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

Tentative plans are being formulated for a Gaelic Football World Cup, with Dubai the likely venue for the first finals possibly in 2013. The University of Limerick recently hosted the European Gaelic Football championship, which was won by Guernsey Gaels. It’s hoped that tournament can act as a template for a World Cup finals that would include representatives from the GAA boards of Australasia, Asia, Europe, Canada and North America. With employment hard to find in Ireland right now many GAA players are being forced to emigrate to find jobs and already this year approximately 2,600 players have had transfers or temporary transfers sanctioned. New York is no longer the in place to go with London topping the list with 682 transfers so far this year. Perth is second in the list with 253, Sydney has 253 with the Big Apple in fourth place with 205. Other US cities with large transfers were: Boston (125), San Francisco (61) and Chicago (38).

Harrington lags in Euro rankings

POSTED ON November 23rd  - POSTED IN Sport

Padraig Harrington.

Padraig Harrington is a man on a mission. Unless he can make something happen fast, he’ll find himself on the outside looking in. For instance, he’s currently 76th on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai list; he needs to make top 60 in order to compete in next month’s Tour finale in Dubai.

The numbers don’t stop there. Harrington also needs to crack the top 60 in the World Golf Rankings if he’s to tee off in next year’s World Golf Championship events, which he can use to count towards his participation in both PGA Tour and European Tour events for membership purposes. He’s currently 83rd in the World Golf Rankings.

So, last week’s third-place finish in the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia is a start. The event was shortened to 54 holes, due to rain, with Harrington (at 13-under-par 200) falling two strokes shy to medalist Joost Luiten (198).

Consecutive bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes in the third and final round (holes he had birdied the day before) made the difference. Harrington recovered to birdie 13 and 14, but could shave no more strokes off par.

Peter Lawrie got a share of 29th place at 207 (69-71-67). Birdies at the last three holes in the final round helped considerably.

Michael Hoey was another shot back in 38th place at 208 (69-67-72). A double-bogey 7 at 18 in the final round had the opposite effect of Lawrie’s late run. Hoey had birdies at this hole in each of the previous rounds.

Damien McGrane and Gareth Maybin both missed the cut by a stroke. McGrane shot 73 and 68, while Maybin came in with 70 and 71. A pair of double-bogeys on par-3s, as well as bogey at 18 in the second round, conspired to undo Maybin. They need to finish in the top 115 on the Race to Dubai in order to automatically qualify for full European Tour status in 2012. After Malaysia, McGrane stands 110th, while Maybin is 117th. Two events remain for them and Harrington to solidify their status.

Niall Turner also missed the cut here, carding 145 (70-75).


Seamus Power was looking pretty good to advance to the third and final stage of the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament after three rounds at second stage at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Tex. He had a 2-stroke cushion over the number that would then stand up as the cut point. But matters unraveled over the front nine on the fourth and final day.

Power racked up bogeys at the fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth holes. Another bogey at 17 proved to be the dagger, since he managed to birdie 18. Power missed advancing by one stroke. Perhaps, his experience at the sixth hole has to be the most frustrating; he left there with birdie on each of the first three days.

Power shot 72, 66, 71 and 75 for an aggregate score of 4-under-par 284 in a field that included such PGA Tour stalwarts as Rich Beem, Doug Barron, Shaun Micheel and Jeff Maggert, all of whom advanced. Those who shot 283 or better move on to the final stage in La Quinta, Calif. beginning Nov. 30.

Chris Devlin fared no better at Hombre Golf Club in Panama Beach City, Fla., his adopted hometown. Consecutive double bogeys at 11 and 12 in the first round, as well as a quadruple-bogey 8 in the third round, were too much to overcome. He shot 8-over-par 292 (71-73-76-72) when 286 or better was needed for advancement. Devlin, a former teammate of Graeme McDowell at UAB, now heads for Spain, where he’s still alive in second-stage qualifying for next year’s European Tour.

Fergal Rafferty was slotted at Plantation Preserve in Plantation, Fla. and was only two strokes over par for 72 holes, but the scores were coming in very low and Rafferty’s 286 was 10 strokes off the mark. He shot 74, 67, 72 and 73.

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