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Roy Keane settling in nicely with the Republic of Ireland again, for now

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Aussie Boozers Still Winners

THE great Willie John McBride talks fondly of his time as a player when “sex was safe and rugby was dangerous.”  In those days it wasn’t unheard of for the Ireland players to have a pint or two in a Dublin pub the day before a game.

They famously even met the England team in a pub on Baggot Street less than 24 hours before they were all due to do battle together at Lansdowne Road in the early 1970s.

That story will cut little ice with the new Aussie coach Ewen McKenzie, who suspended six players on Monday after he discovered they had taken the aptly named Guinness Series to heart and engaged in a few pints too many before their win over Ireland on Saturday.

The Aussies, by the way, went drinking on Tuesday of last week, four days before the game. They’d never have lasted in the Willie John McBride era.

As for Ireland’s performance against the same Aussies, it doesn’t say much that they fumbled their way to a heavy defeat against a team of drinkers!

The fact that New Zealand are next up at the Aviva on Sunday, seeking to close 2013 with a perfect 100 percent record from 14 games, won’t do much to settle the nerves of the Irish fans or even the players as they adapt to life under new coach Joe Schmidt.

Maybe Joe should go back to the future and bring his players out for a few beers in the build-up to the game. It certainly didn’t do Australia any harm now, did it?

Sideline Views

GAA: We can only hope the new Cork football boss Brian Cuthbert doesn’t suffer from paranoia. No fewer than six senior county players have announced their retirement since he was appointed to the job, and another has left for life as an Aussie Rules player. It’s good so that Cuthbert knows the under-21 and minor scene in Cork inside out. He’s going to need all the good young players he can find next season.

RACING: Hurricane Fly set a new world record of 17 grade one winners at Punchestown on Sunday with the brilliant Ruby Walsh aboard, but we all know the horse will really sit up and take notice at Cheltenham next March. That’s when the action really counts and all the signs are encouraging for an Irish banker at the 2014 festival.

SOCCER: Great to see Roddy Collins back in management with Derry City. Whatever else, the great one will bring a touch of color and excitement to the Brandywell and, like the fans and his new number two Peter Hutton, he will wear his heart on his sleeve. That much is always guaranteed with the Rodmaster!

RUGBY: The Irish government wants the island of Ireland to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and why not – by then the recession should be over, the emigrants will have returned and the border will be gone. And pigs will be flying alongside Ryanair jets!

GAA: Pity the poor footballers of Cratloe in Clare. No sooner had they won the Clare senior title for the first time on Saturday than they had to go out and win a Munster club game on Sunday. I’ll bet that beer tasted good on Sunday night.

HEROES OF THE WEEK

The GAA kicked the weaker hurling counties in the teeth with their decision on Saturday not to change the format of the National League for next season. Carlow are one of the lesser lights that will suffer from the status quo decision, so wasn’t it ironic that their club champions Mount Leinster caused a major shock on Sunday with a provincial club SHC semifinal win over Ballyboden of Dublin. They won’t win the Leinster final against Oulart the Ballagh, but their mere presence there will embarrass the powers that be. And that’s always a good thing.

IDIOT OF THE WEEK

It's not even a contest this week, not even with the Aussies who went on the beer before they hammered Ireland at the Aviva. Our old Twitter connection James McClean was at it again on Sunday when he slaughtered The Belfast Telegraph newspaper and labeled it both sectarian and staffed by “bigots.”  He’s been in trouble on social media more than once before and really needs to throw the phone away and concentrate on what he’s good at – playing football. James needs to leave the words to those who know what they are doing, even the bigots!

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