SOCCER: I found myself agreeing with Eamon Dunphy on Monday and that’s a worry. The great one thinks we are coming to the end of the Trapattoni era ahead of next week’s World Cup clash with Sweden in Dublin and the visit to Austria five days later.
Dunphy slammed Trap’s treatment of Andy Keogh as reported elsewhere on these pages and was highly critical of the Italian’s term in office. Pity then that the same Eamon Dunphy who was one of the people who campaigned for the veteran Italian to get the job in the first place! Maybe he’s forgotten that.
The only good news for Ireland fans ahead of next week’s must win clash with the Swedes is that Richard Dunne is back in the squad. We will surely need him against Ibrahimovic.
GAA: Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny is a big Mayo fan, so it will come as no surprise to know that Kenny was in Croke Park on Sunday, shouting his team to victory against Tyrone.
It will also come as no surprise to those who know him that Kenny placed a €500 charity bet on Mayo to win the All-Ireland at the start of the year.
If the Westerners land Sam, Paddy Power will donate a whopping $10,000 to the Irish Heart Foundation on Kenny’s behalf. Everyone’s a winner in that case so.
HURLING: The Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald opted not to speak to the press at the All-Ireland final media night last week, planned as part of the build-up to their game against Cork on Sunday, September 8. Davy Fitz is free to make such a decision but it didn’t go down well with the fourth estate. If his team doesn’t do his talking for him on the pitch against the Rebels, expect lots of criticism in print after his no-show. That’s the way it works round here.
GOLF: Rory McIlroy really needs to find himself a good PR man or woman who can keep his name off the front pages. He also needs to do something to get himself back onto the back pages after falling down to fourth in the latest world rankings. His talent deserves to be talked about more than his love life, but only he can sort it on both fronts.
GAA: Dublin against Kerry is a sell-out on Sunday and it should be a classic, with both teams brilliant in attack and unsure in defense. Mayo are already favorites in many quarters, for Sam but Dublin will get a huge lift if they beat their old rivals this weekend. It should all make for great entertainment come Sunday.
CYCLING: Great to see Nicolas Roche follow in his cousin Dan Martin’s footsteps and record a major win this season with his victory in the second stage of the Vuelta on Sunday. Roche has always been known for his second place finishes but now he’s a winner, just like his cousin and just like his dad Stephen.
SOCCER: The Premier League is back, but Monday night’s scoreless draw between Manchester United and Chelsea was little to write home about. Hopefully it will get better in weeks to come. It can’t be any worse than Monday’s drab offering.
HERO OF THE WEEK
MUCH was made of the Aidan O’Shea-Sean Cavanagh battle in midfield ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland semifinal, but it was Aidan’s brother Seamus who ruled the roost in that sector. His ability to win ball and dictate the pace of the game in the second half was crucial for James Horan’s team as they booked their place in a second successive All-Ireland final. A repeat performance from O’Shea against Dublin or Kerry at the end of September and Mayo really can dream about a first Sam Maguire win in 62 years.
IDIOTS OF THE WEEK
Everyone connected with the $150 million sale of Gareth Bale from Spurs to Real Madrid – or Manchester United if Tuesday’s back pages are true – deserves to hang their heads in shame. No footballer is worth that sort of money. It is immoral and insane and it is likely to happen.