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LPGA superstar Christina Kim will cheer us up

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Christina Kim
A week from now the best female golfers in the world, or most of them anyway, will be hanging out in the Royal County of Meath.

They’re coming our way to enjoy the Jack Nicklaus-designed masterpiece that is Killeen Castle in the wonderful village of Dunsany, not far from the great town that is Dunshaughlin.

There is, of course, a reason why I know Dunsany to be wonderful and Dunshaughlin to be great. I live here.

My house is across the road from the Killeen Castle golf club that will host the Solheim Cup next week, and my life is centered around the town -- a village when we first moved here in my teens -- that I will always regard as home.

Like everyone else in the vicinity, we will be throwing our doors open to our visitors for the Solheim next week. The Solheim Cup, incidentally, is the female equivalent of the Ryder Cup as the marketing people keep telling us, although I’m sure the girls who golf as well as the men are sick of that description.

Anyway, we can’t wait to welcome the American girls and their supporters to Meath before the Europeans try to repeat the K Club result from Ryder Cup history.

The buzz isn’t as intense as it was back then, but it is building. All around us local golf clubs -- like Black Bush and Headfort, Knightsbrook and Trim, Royal Tara and Rathcore -- are all hosting American visitors next week.

Dunshaughlin itself is reviving the town’s ancient tradition for an annual knees-up with the new Harvest Festival.

And one LPGA superstar called Christina Kim will be playing golf across the road from me.

Christina, just in case you didn’t know, is on the American team that will defend the Solheim Cup in our Royal County.

She qualified for the U.S. team on merit and she will have a very special guest supporting her on this American layout in the heart of Ireland.

Most of you will know who George Hook is, and some of you may know that in his past he was a coach to the American rugby team of all things.

In his present day guise, Hook is the most popular presenter on the Newstalk radio station here at home and probably the best rugby pundit on Irish television.

I say that because George wears his passion for sport alongside his heart, and both of them are on his sleeves. He loves Irish rugby.

He also loves Christina Kim, but only in a plutonic way, ever since they played together in the pro-am for the Irish Ladies Open last year.

That was the day, by the way, that Christina asked another well known broadcaster, from RTE if you want to know, if he had a banana in his pocket or was just happy to see her.

Truth is he did have a banana in his pocket, having just taken it from the fruit stand on the first tee at our local castle!

Christina, like George, is never short of a word or five as you have probably gathered by now.

She is, again like George, engaging and charming and opinionated, and often all at the same time.

Miss Kim will enrich our lives when she comes back to see us next week, and I can only hope that she makes George’s day again and all day, every day at that.

George needs a bit of sunshine in his life. He didn’t look happy at all when we met over breakfast early last Sunday morning.

Actually, I was having my breakfast and George was on my television screen, minutes after Ireland had just about managed to beat his former American charges 22-10 in their opening game at the Rugby World Cup.

He wasn’t happy. Even the muesli looked more attractive. The George gait almost soured the milk in the cereal bowl yards away from the big screen as George ate Kidney (as in Declan) and I ate my brekkie.

We were, he reminded us, talking about his country. George wanted his national team to do him proud at this World Cup, and he didn’t see anything against a largely amateur American team on Sunday morning to suggest that they are going to do him proud in New Zealand.

It was disturbing stuff. At one stage I really feared George was going to cry into a metaphorical bowl of corn flakes as he digested a rather tepid Irish display with the rest of the RTE panel.

The bad news is that George Hook is going to have to go through the heartache all over again on Saturday when Ireland face the might of Australia in their second Pool C game. Judging by their lack of form on Sunday, they won’t stand a chance this weekend.

Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel, for our pundit at least.
The good news for George, and for those of us who really want him to be happy, is that the lovely Christina Kim flies into Dublin late on Sunday night ahead of her Solheim Cup adventure in Meath, and the sooner the better.

I’ve no doubt that Christina’s mere presence on our shores will brighten George’s mood considerably by the end of next week.

Now, if only our rugby team could just do the same thing. We’d all be very grateful.


Sideline Views
SOCCER: A week ago, as my regular reader can tell you, I was George Hook as far as the Irish soccer team were concerned. After the scoreless draw with Slovakia at home I couldn’t see any way they were going to make it to the Euro 2012 finals. Now, after the miracle that was the scoreless draw in Moscow, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it to Poland and the Ukraine as group winners with two wins from their remaining two games. I still don’t believe that Giovanni Trapattoni is a great manager in the context of the modern game, but he may just be a lucky manager. He was certainly lucky in Russia last week, and if luck alone is enough to get us to a first major finals appearance since the 2002 World Cup then we should accept it. And celebrate it. And even give him a new contract. But only if we get there.

GAA: You can’t get a ticket for love nor money for Sunday’s All-Ireland football final and rightly so. Kerry against Dublin is always something special but, as the great Eoin “Bomber” Liston pointed out on TV the other day, it is now 34 years since the Dubs beat their old rivals in the championship. Eoin was also quick to highlight the fact that Elvis was alive the last time Dublin beat Kerry. The Bomber was a bit cruel when he said that but he was telling the truth.
For what it’s worth I fancy the Dubs to end that barren run come Sunday. And no, I don’t have any tickets for the game. Even if I did, there’s a queue already formed!

SOCCER: Nice line from the Bohemians midfielder Glenn Cronin about his teammate Liam Burns in the match program for Monday’s Airtricity League game against Dundalk at Dalymount. Commenting on Burns’ taste in clothes, Cronin said, “I can’t understand a word Burnsie says but his clothes speak louder than words. He wears the worst check shirts ever – he’s like something out of Brokeback Mountain.” That’s not a compliment by the way.

SOCCER: The Irish striker Jonathon Walters quite enjoyed scoring the winner for Stoke City against Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday, and with good reason. Jonathon is a lifelong Everton fan, so putting the ball in the Liverpool net was always going to be a little bit special for the Irishman.

CRICKET: Good news from the game with the stumps and the heavy ball. Two minnows will be allowed to compete in the 2015 World Cup after all. That means we’ll get another chance to beat England at their own game -- just like we did this year.


HERO OF THE WEEK
There hasn’t been a footballer as good as Paul McGrath in an Ireland shirt for some years now, but Richard Dunne came very close to matching the Black Pearl’s brilliance when he stood up defiantly to the Russians in the scoreless Moscow draw last week. A football man I know reckoned Dunne’s heroics in Moscow were as good as McGrath’s against Italy in New York, and I probably agree with him. That’s high praise indeed.

IDIOT OF THE WEEK
Serena Williams didn’t win the U.S. Open on Sunday night, but you’d never have guessed that to judge by all the publicity her little tantrum got on Monday. That’s a second hand opinion by the way. I heard U.S. resident Dave Hannigan say as much to Matt Cooper on Today FM the other evening and he was dead right. Such childish behavior shouldn’t be tolerated in any sport.

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