(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)
SOCCER: The Scottish Cup semifinals had the monopoly on excitement over the weekend as both games produced 4-3 wins after extra time, for Hibs and Celtic respectively against Falkirk and Dundee United. Neil Lennon’s side will be favorites to lift the trophy and complete the double at the end of May, but Dubliner Pat Fenlon, a lifelong Celtic nut, may have other ideas. He is still hurting over last season’s Cup final defeat to Edinburgh rivals Hearts. And he seems to know what to say to teams at halftime in the Hampden Park dressing room. Hibs were 3-0 down at the break last Saturday, got a rollicking from their manager and won 4-3. Nutsy, his nickname of old, said the right thing that day, but I’m not sure I’d fancy being three down to Celtic at halftime next month.
SOCCER: Great story from Africa, where the football authorities in Sierra Leone have appointed little known Northern Irishman Johnny McKinstry as the manager of their national football team. McKinstry has his coaching badges and has been handed a trial period when he will take charge for World Cup games against Tunisia, Cape Verde and Equatorial Guinea. McKinstry has been working as a coach with the academy set up by Welsh star Craig Bellamy in Sierra Leone but has little or no reputation as a manager despite spells working with the Irish FA in Belfast, Premier League club Newcastle United and the Major League Soccer team New York Red Bulls. How he progresses promises to make for fascinating reading.
GAA: The Irish government can’t wait to cash in on a return visit for President Barack Obama, but he might not be too popular with Fermanagh GAA fans. Peter Canavan’s team is scheduled to play the winners of the Cavan-Armagh game in their Ulster SFC opener on June 16, and the game should be played in Enniskillen if Cavan come through. Now it has emerged that the G8 summit at the Lough Erne resort outside the town will force Fermanagh to concede home advantage if the game clashes with the powerbroker’s conference. Fermanagh fans are none too happy at the prospect, and you can’t blame them.
GAA: It looks like Bitegate is going to go away. A week ago, Donegal were up in arms over claims that a Dublin player bit Paddy McBrearty on the shoulder during their league match in Ballybofey. Now it seems the GAA can’t find enough evidence against any Dublin player to take action, and we’ll never know who the Mike Tyson in the Dubs dressing room is.
RUGBY: The London club Harlequins have launched an investigation after their fans were outnumbered by Munster supporters for their recent Heineken Cup quarter-final -- at their home ground. The Quins can’t understand how so many Munster fans got their hands on tickets. Clearly they don’t understand Munster fans. Or know their history of outnumbering the home team’s support in Europe’s top club competition.
GOLF: Loved the pictures all over Twitter of the guy in the Kerry jersey at the Masters. His presence at Augusta went viral, but I’m not sure how a green and gold Kerry shirt would look under a green jacket! We’ll probably never find out.
HERO OF THE WEEK
SOMEONE tweeted on Sunday night that Stephen O’Neill put up some performance for Tyrone against Kildare for a guy who retired five years ago. The veteran forward is captain of a very young Tyrone team going places and if any of them can play as well as O’Neill did last Sunday, they will be serious contenders for Donegal’s crown this summer. O’Neill’s sidestep for one point was worth the admission price alone.
IDIOTS OF THE WEEK
MILLWALL fans fought with each during the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Saturday, and Newcastle supporters fought on the streets with their Sunderland rivals after the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday. These idiots have no place in football, but until someone take’s serious action against their clubs they will continue to blacken football’s good name. Take the three precious points Sunderland won against Newcastle off them and it might soften their blows.