Irish rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll is still our man


Just as Robbie Keane will bring the best out of the next generation of Irish soccer stars, so O’Driscoll must stay around long enough to ensure rugby’s transition is in safe hands.

Right now he offers the safest hands of all. And he might just hang around long enough for his daughter to have something other than a photo to remember her dad’s rugby career by.

The League’s Ups and Downs
A FEW myths were put to bed over the weekend as Gaelic football’s National League completed a fourth round of fixtures.

The notion that Kerry is too good to be relegated from the top flight was well and truly dismissed by their latest defeat away to All-Ireland champions Donegal.

The drop now seems inevitable for Eamon Fitzmaurice’s side simply because they are not playing well enough and are running out of games.

Likewise, those who suggested that Meath will fall into the no-man’s land that is Division Four got their answer with an emphatic enough win away to Roscommon for the Royals on Sunday.

And those who argued before the weekend that Kildare were the form team in Ireland certainly got their answer at Croke Park as a storming start to the second half by Dublin blitzed the Lilywhites.

The only football team currently showing All-Ireland winning potential in the league is Dublin.

They are on fire at present and everyone knows it, even their new manager Jim Gavin, who has been doing his best all week to talk down their latest league success and, more significantly, the consistent level of their performances.

Gavin has made Dublin better, there is no doubt on that score. The team that was good enough to win the All-Ireland in 2011 looks even better equipped now to get it back.

That’s the real lesson after four weekends of National Football League. The Dubs are back – and woe betide anyone who gets in their way between now and September. No matter what their manager has to say on the subject!

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)

Sideline Views
SOCCER: The cross border Setanta Cup is in real trouble. All four semifinalists – Shamrock Rovers, Drogheda, Sligo and Cork – are from the Airtricity League, and the disgraceful scenes when Linfield hosted Rovers on Monday night did little for the competition. Without a sponsor for next season, its future may well be debatable despite the confidence of both the FAI and the IFA that it will carry on. Rovers will play Cork by the way, and Drogheda will meet Sligo in the April semis.

SOCCER: Congrats to Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew, who said publicly what everyone is thinking the other day when he suggested that Rangers should be catapulted straight back into the Scottish Premier Division next season. The truth is that without them it is a pretty poor league. So poor that Celtic can afford to go to Ross County and lose, as they did last Saturday, without any threat to their title hopes.

SOCCER: Happy birthday to Giovanni Trapattoni, 74 this coming Sunday. For what it is worth, I do think this is the last time we will wish him a happy birthday as Irish manager. Anything other than four points from the World Cup games against Sweden and Austria in the next few days and we can kiss Trap goodbye.

GOLF: Nice to see Rory McIlroy back in form on Sunday, just over a week after his rather sad tantrum in Florida. And spare a thought for Graeme McDowell. His six at the 18th at Doral on Sunday cost the Ulsterman a whopping $170,000 in prize money. Ouch.
HURLING: Donal Og Cusack has confirmed that he won’t play for Cork again, but at least the great man isn’t lost to the GAA forever. His role as a figure of influence within the Gaelic Players Association can only serve the association well in the coming years.

LAR Corbett has taken a lot of stick in a lot of quarters of late, so it is only right and proper to acknowledge his brilliance as Tipperary beat Kilkenny in the National Hurling League on Sunday. My man in Thurles tells me Corbett was back to his very best, and that is very good indeed.

THE GAA world is awash with allegations of spitting incidents, the latest coming when an Offaly opponent allegedly spat blood at the Leitrim captain Emlyn Mulligan in their NFL game on Sunday. The GAA have promised to take strong action against anyone accused of spitting and found guilty – a year-long ban is the least such a culprit deserves.