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Views from the World Cup sidelines

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Louth footballer Barry Hamilton is the Irishman on World Cup duty this week – as part of the Croatian backroom team.

An under-21 player with the Wee County in 2012, Barry has been on the bench with the Croats out in Brazil.

He initially met the squad when he flew out to demonstrate an Irish made stats management system called STATSports.

The Croatian players and their manager Niko Kovac were so taken with the technology that they invited Barry to join them for the World Cup odyssey.

He explained to the Dundalk Democrat,  “I suppose it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. The Croats were looking to get a demonstration of our STATSports Viper tracking system before the World Cup so the owners decided that I should go to their 10-day training base in Zagreb and Austria. I flew out on May 20.

“The players and the manager, Niko Kovac, really liked the system and I got on well with everybody but I was due to come home on June 1. I never expected to be going to the World Cup at all.

“The players held a meeting and the captain, Darijo Srna, stood up and told me to give him my passport as I was going to Brazil with the squad.

“The players liked the system and the technology so much that they were adamant they wanted to bring it to the World Cup. The next morning I was on a plane to Lisbon with the team, heading for the tournament.

“There are not too many people in my position, working a dream job that has taken them to the World Cup. I’m really looking forward to it and I really appreciate where I am.”

The Dutch look a contented lot at the moment which is most unusual for them at a World Cup finals.

But Louis Van Gaal may have discovered the secret to keeping his temperamental stars happy – he let their wives and girlfriends into the hotel last week.

The visit, just days before their opening game, clearly worked as Spain were hammered 5-1 by Holland on Friday night.

And the kids were back with the players for Father’s Day on Sunday in another smart move on Van Gaal’s part.

By the way, I’ll bet Manchester United fans are very happy with his appointment as their boss after the number Van Gaal did on Spain.

And don’t be in the least surprised if Arjen Robben follows his Dutch boss to Old Trafford next

Kerryman Michael Griffin has embarked on a charity mission with a difference in Brazil – he’s getting a GAA jersey signed by as many World Cup stars as he can to auction for charity when he gets home.

Diego Maradona leads the list of signatures on the jersey from Tralee side Na Gaeil and the collection is growing.

England’s Leighton Baines and Holland’s Robin Van Persie are two of the current players to sign the shirt.

So did former players Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Danny Murphy, Ian Wright and Klass Jan Huntelaar and the Everton manager Roberto Martinez.

The Tralee man revealed, “Martinez and Van Nistelrooy were actually familiar with the GAA. Martinez said he’d even been to Kerry before.”

Pele may be old enough to be a brand ambassador for Viagra, but he hasn’t lost his marbles when it comes to protecting his multi-million dollar image.

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power spent a fortune decorating 20 of their biggest shops in Ireland and Britain as Pele Power shops on the eve of the World Cup.

No sooner had they done so that the great Brazilian hero hit them with a threat of legal action and a cease and desist order from his lawyers.

I think you’d call that a 1-0 win for Pele versus Paddy.

The pain won’t go away. Thierry Henry was discussing handballs in his role as a BB analyst the other night when the presenter has to ask him an obvious question – did he ever get away with a handball!

The French cheat on that horrible Paris night over four years ago now looked the presenter straight in the eye and said no. Then he and the rest of the studio guests starting laughing -- at our expense.

Lionel Messi was poor in the first half against Bosnia and Herzegovina but brilliant when he scored in the second half, so my World Cup money is still on Argentina to triumph in Brazil, probably against the home team in the final.

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