Team Cowen finally gets sidelined

You could get very upset, angry even, if you sat back and analyzed the madness of Transfer Deadline Day in England on Monday, but we have far more important things to be worrying about in this country today, Tuesday.

Not 24 hours after Fernando Torres left Liverpool for Chelsea and Andy Carroll left Newcastle for Liverpool, the man with a title once referred to as the “Tea Shop” by Tony Cascarino made a move all of his own.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen and his government went on the transfer list on Tuesday afternoon, and a nation celebrated as Team Fianna Fail fell apart in spectacular fashion.

Not alone does new Fianna Fail captain Micheal Martin have to plan for the forthcoming general election without Cowen the Clown, he must also go into battle without two handfuls of his former government colleagues.

The likes of chief buffoon Bertie Ahern, Noel Dempsey, Dermot Ahern, Niall Blaney and Noel O’Flynn don’t have the balls to face the electorate on February 25.

They’ll tell you they are retiring from public office for various reasons, some of them health related, but we all know the truth -- there’s hardly a serving Fianna Fail minister prepared to put his or her name on a ballot paper right now.

They know what’s coming and they are about to get what they deserve for driving this country down the tubes and hundreds of thousands of our young people onto airplanes to America, Australia, Canada and Britain in search of employment and a fair crack at life.

As you might tell if you’re reading between the lines, I am not impressed with the shower of politico who failed to take advantage of the Celtic Tiger.

That the ministers now deserting the sinking ship in their droves will earn hundreds of thousands in pension payments for the rest of their natural lives -- potentially $9 million in Cowen’s case -- really sickens me at a time when so many here at home are unemployed and struggling.

My anger also explains why I really don’t care what happened in the transfer market in England on Monday when the wheelings and dealings on the other side of the Irish Sea served only to prove that football has lost touch with reality.

By the time the January transfer window closed an hour before the end of the month, English clubs had engaged in over $300 million worth of business over the course of the window, most of it on Manic Monday as the Bangles might say.

That day alone, Liverpool’s American owners accepted $80 million from Chelsea’s Russian owner for the Spaniard Fernando Torres, then spent $55 million on Newcastle’s young English man Andy Carroll and another $36 million on the Uruguayan World Cup cheat Luis Suarez.

Not content with spending that $80 million on Torres, Chelsea also dished out $40 million to Portuguese side Benfica for their promising Brazilian defender David Luis.

Such figures bear no reality with the real world, a world where the very fans who idolize Torres, Carroll and their likes have to fight for their own financial futures.

I could get annoyed about it, but I have other things to get upset about as I write.

The politicians are about to start knocking on my door and trust me, the reception will be red hot. Bring it on!

Counihan Really Cares

Cork manager Conor Counihan went up in my estimation yet again this week when he made a very public appeal to help three of his All-Ireland winners find jobs.

Midfielder Alan O’Connor and forwards Paul Kerrigan and Donnacha O’Connor are all unemployed in this great little country of ours, and Counihan wants to change all that.

“All three are struggling to find work. That’s a big challenge. People talk about pressure, but if you don’t have a job to go to in the morning, that’s real pressure,” Counihan told the Irish Independent.

“Hopefully, we can do something. It’s a big county and the three individuals I’ve spoken about are very good, dedicated people in regards to what they do. We hopefully won’t go down the road of emigration.
“The reality is guys have responsibilities and commitments, and these must be met.”

Counihan’s secret fear, I suspect, is that Kerrigan and the two O’Connors may be forced to emigrate like so many other young Irish men and women as the country goes down the tubes.

There isn’t a household in this land right now that hasn’t been touched by the scourge of the economic downturn.

Young Gaelic footballers and hurlers are just two of the groups forced into emigration by the inadequacies of those who governed us during the Celtic Tiger boom.

As the politicians prepare to knock on our doors again with their empty promises, it is heartening to see that a great sportsman like Counihan is prepared to put action into words and make that appeal on behalf of three of his young players.

Hopefully, somebody in Cork is listening and the GAA community on Leeside will rally around these players before emigration becomes a real, live issue for the All-Ireland champions.

Sideline Views

GAA: Rural life in Ireland will never be the same again. Not content with allowing goalkeepers to kick the ball out off rugby tees and players to kick sideline balls and free-kicks from their hands, the GAA are about to remove another relic of our glorious and ancient pass.

From this summer on the men in white coats won’t be men in white coats anymore. That’s right, the four umpires who stand beside the goalposts in GAA grounds up and down the country are to get new uniforms in time for this year’s hurling and football champions. I’ve yet to see the new designs, but those in the know tell me the umpire coats won’t be white anymore. What next, American football at Croke Park?

SOCCER: The Internet has been responsible for many things, not all of them savory, and this week we saw another example of just that among Manchester United fans. Now I know this has nothing to do with world peace or the unrest in Egypt, but United fans have just voted Ryan Giggs as their club’s greatest ever player. The votes were polled online by the club’s official website and magazine and Giggs, who has played more than 600 times for the club, was a clear winner, mostly I suspect because those who voted are too young to remember George Best or Bobby Charlton in their prime. Even Eric Cantona deserved to finish above Giggs in my humble opinion.

SOCCER: It emerged this week that manager Ian Holloway is entitled to a percentage of any profit made when Blackpool sell on players he has coached. So the fact that former Rangers midfielder Charlie Adam didn’t move to Liverpool or Spurs on Monday actually cost Holloway a few bob. Irish international Andy Reid won’t mind however. He was signed by Holloway, many felt as a direct replacement for Adam, on Monday when the Blackpool gaffer came out with a great description of the now former Ireland star. “He’s a dinky-doo little player and perfect for us,” said Holloway. I think I know what he means.

RUGBY: Ireland begins the Six Nations campaign in Rome on Saturday with Declan Kidney forced into a number of changes thanks to his current injury crisis. Luke Fitzgerald, Fergus McFadden, Cian Healy, Mike Ross and Sean O’Brien will all get their big chance in Italy and all are good enough to take it. With the World Cup around the corner, Kidney needs both a good Six Nations and some young talent to emerge. He may well get both as a bonus this weekend. 

SOCCER: Giovanni Trapattoni wants to open talks with the FAI about a new contract, but I’d wait until we know our European Championship fate if I was them. There’s no way the ordinary Irish fan will stomach another two years of Trap if he doesn’t make it to Poland and the Ukraine next year.

HERO OF THE WEEK

We produce precious few international champions in this country so when someone produces a quite extraordinary feat, we should celebrate it. Cavan teenager Leona Maguire did just that on Sunday when she won the Portuguese Ladies Amateur Open in Lisbon -- by 15 shots. The Curtis Cup player won’t turn pro in time to play at the Solheim Cup in Killeen Castle in September, but the 16-year-old is going to be a major force in Irish golf for a long time to come.

IDIOTS OF THE WEEK

Glasgow Rangers have signed the most hated footballer in Britain – so said one of the British TV stations on Monday night when the vile striker El-Hadji Diouf moved from Blackburn Rovers. The Senegalese international is on a loan deal at Ibrox which can be made permanent in the summer but somehow even Rangers fans are likely to have enough of the idiot by then.

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