Solveig and Hegerberg, the greatest game never played and the week’s best sportswriting

Olympique Lyonnais’ Ada Hegerberg celebrates with the Women’s Ballon d’Or award.

Source: AP/PA Images

1. “It won’t have been pleasant having to do this even at one of the very highest points of her professional career so far, but it certainly won’t have been unfamiliar. Not making dickheads feel like dickheads is one of the earliest ingrained lessons.

As for Solveig, he has apologised “to anyone who may have been offended”, which as everyone knows is the boilerplate non-apology. He went on to say: “People who have followed me for 20 years know how respectful I am especially with women.”

That “especially” is a bit of a tell. Why would you be any more respectful with women than with men, unless you thought there was something patronisably different about them?”

‘Martin Solveig says he is ‘especially’ respectful with women. What a twerk,’ writes Martina Hyde for The Guardian.

2. “You all know Mullinalaghta or at least a place like it, the Irish village with a church, school, graveyard and pub. A couple of years ago, you would have mentioned its grocers and post office, too, in the days before maroon and white bunting hung across the street and a clapped out old car, painted in the colours of the local football club, was parked at the crossroads.” 

Mullinalaghta’s Conan Brady and Aidan McElligott.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Garry Doyle pens the story of Longford’s Mullinalaghta for The Times.

3. “He even handed over a list of names to make it easier to plead their case. A ridiculous ask, that didn’t stop Ali turning up in Tel Aviv four months later requesting the “freeing of his Muslim brothers” from Atlit detention camp.

A trip to the most dangerous city on earth – a daily ceasefire existed in Beirut until midday so women could get home safely from the markets – and a bit-part in the Middle Eastern morass, had been suggested to Ali by a most unlikely source.”

The Irish Times’ Dave Hannigan wrote about how Muhammad Ali’s hostage negotiating led to an unlikely friendship.

4. “Two River fans sat next to me in the last row. They talked softly to themselves, but my translator could hear.

“This could change my day so much,” one said.

His friend looked at him.

“No,” he replied. “My life.”

He paused.

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“I went to the psychologist Friday and only talked about this,” he said.”

ESPN’s Wright Thompson wrote an incredible, in-depth piece this week surrounding that Boca Juniors and River Plate ‘greatest game never played’.

River Plate fans.

Source: Diego Martinez

5. “And that’s the thing about social media. Moral outrage is the cheapest commodity going. Quickly it becomes a race to be the most offended and have the hottest take on the issue.

Scroll through the timelines and it’s rare you feel like many of those moralising about the struggles of women in sport actually care too much about the subject.

It is simply the topic du jour and the next incensed tweet could be about celebrities in the jungle or their dinner that night. How many of those bemoaning the ongoing struggle for recognition on social media over the past few days are actually willing to get involved to help take women’s sport to a higher plane?”

The Irish Independent’s Donnachadh Boyle wrote an interesting column around the Ada Hegerberg Ballon D’Or incident. 

6. “‘Her smile is infectious. When I think of a Monday night gym session in January, I can see Sinead Goldrick coming in there and she’s beaming and subliminally it helps lift everyone, no matter what their day has been like. And then she’ll give everything she has to that session — in fact at times you have to rein her in because she’d go through the wall for the team. But the young players are seeing all this. ‘That’s Sinead Goldrick, that’s my aspiration, I’ll follow that example.’ Everything about her is 100%.’

Sinead Goldrick.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Yet this time two years ago Goldrick wasn’t smiling. The girl renowned for giving it her all felt she had no more to give. The girl who it seemed could run all day was running on empty. No sooner had Robinson and Mick Bohan landed the Dublin job then they were informed they mightn’t get to work with her at all.”

The Irish Examiner’s Kieran Shannon focused on Dublin and Foxrock-Cabinteely star Sinead Goldrick ahead of the All-Ireland club final yesterday.

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‘Bean an D’or’, Ghaoth Dobhair celebrations, AC Milan in Athlone and more Tweets of the Week

1. AC Milan in St Mel’s Park in the European Cup

I thought the story of AC Milan players stepping off the coach in Athlone, getting their Italian leather shoes dirty back in '75, was exaggerated… until I saw this picture… https://t.co/6FQ4kzdCcn

— Stephen Bennett (@stebenn15) December 8, 2018

2. History made at Croke Park

On a day when your babysitter goes on to score the first point by a ladies footballer in Croke Park. Congrats on your @LadiesFootball Hall of Fame Award Marie @Crottywall pic.twitter.com/YPTiML31ik

— Michelle Ryan (@Shelz1218) December 2, 2018

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3. Kings of Ulster

Kings of Ulster🇳🇬💚🇳🇬💚🇳🇬💚 pic.twitter.com/A4xuVbuwET

— Kevin Cassidy (@KCASS7) December 2, 2018

4. Baby face at Bournemouth

Sky doing a feature which includes footage of Eddie Howe from ten years ago. "Look at the state of me – I look so young" he says. Camera cuts back to him today, looking exactly the same.

— Nick Miller (@NickMiller79) December 8, 2018

5. ‘Ah howya Buddy…’

‘He’s tall for his age’ @RahenyGAA pic.twitter.com/m6M8eXgv10

— Brian Fenton (@BrianFenton08) December 8, 2018

6. He wants, he takes

"FELLAINI MISS HAIR. FELLAINI SAD" pic.twitter.com/el6tXoqDKZ

— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) December 6, 2018

7. The colours, the synth!

Pete Shelley's Tour de France masterpiece pic.twitter.com/kmkjodX0C0

— James Dart (@James_Dart) December 6, 2018

8. It actually has a ring to it

Opportunity missed : naming the @LadiesFootball player of the year award the “Bean an D’or” #BallonDor

……🚪🚶🏽‍♀️

— Noëlle Healy (@NoelleHealy) December 5, 2018

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9. Ghaoth Dobhair call-out videos

@CorofinGAA pic.twitter.com/1UnK6yBzj4

— Niall Friel (@niallfriel96) December 4, 2018

10. ‘Hope he comes out less of a f****** idiot…’

From Mary Hannigan's football round-up in @IrishTimesSport pic.twitter.com/NGEP6LDzCZ

— Joe Culley 📝 (@TheRealCulls) December 3, 2018

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne preview a big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Hannon the star as Glanmire lift first-ever All-Ireland junior club title

Glanmire (Cork) 1-22
Tourlestrane (Sligo) 3-11

KATE HANNON SCORED 0-11 and scooped the player of the match award as Cork’s Glanmire won their first ever All-Ireland junior club title with victory over Tourlestrane at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe.

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It was all Hannon versus Katie Walsh in the first half and although the Sligo county star hit 1-5, no other Tourlestrane player managed a score before the break and they trailed by 0-13 to 1-5 at half-time.

Glanmire captain Amy Turpin lifts the cup.

Source: Sportsfile

Hannon and Glanmire won the second-half battle and with just two wides, and Niamh McAllen’s 1-7, they ensured the junior crown remains in Cork, following victory for Aghada in 2017.

Glanmire captain Amy Turpin won the toss and decided to play against the breeze in the first half but the Munster champions raced into 0-4 to 0-0 lead after seven minutes.

Hannon opened the scoring in the first minute and her second point was sandwiched by efforts from Ally McCarthy and Shauna Murphy.

Glanmire, who had Cork’s 10-time All-Ireland senior medallist Geraldine O’Flynn working as coach, were in control and Katie Walsh missed an early goal opportunity when she was blocked down by Ellen Baker.

But the Tourlestrane full-forward came alive in the eighth minute when she landed a long-range free. She followed that up with a brilliant strike off her right and the goal arrived in the 14th minute.

It didn’t look like a dangerous situation for the Glanmire defence when Walsh was surrounded by defenders about 30 metres out from goal, but she manoeuvred her way through the cover before unleashing a ferocious shot into the top right corner of Ava Carey’s net.

Glanmire retained their composure and Sarah O’Brien scored their first point in eight minutes. They scored three more points before Walsh reduced the arrears — 1-3 to 0-8 — in the 20th minute.

McAllen cancelled that out with her second point while Tourlestrane missed three goal chances as Sarah Cunney, Tara Walsh and Katie Walsh all misfired when through on goal.

Glenmire manager Dave Carey.

Source: Sportsfile

Hannon kept Glanmire in charge and she scored her fourth, fifth and sixth points to ease her side into a 0-12 to 1-4 lead with two minutes remaining.

Glanmire took a 0-13 to 1-5 lead into half-time but Gráinne Carty became the second Tourlestrane player to score just 20 seconds after the resumption.

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Tourlestrane midfielder Nikki Brennan was sin-binned one minute later after her second foul. Nevertheless Tourlestrane drove on and Walsh added to her tally.

Glanmire needed to score next but Hannon showed all of her experience. She got three points in-a-row to drag Glanmire clear again.

Carey, daughter of team manager Dave, made her third brilliant save to deny Tara Walsh but she couldn’t stop Cunney’s low shot in the 54th minute.

Rachel Kelleher saw yellow late on but McAllen found the net for Glanmire and Molly Kennedy’s goal was just a Tourlestrane consolation, as Cork clubs made it two out of three All-Ireland club titles over the weekend.

Scorers for Glanmire: K Hannon 0-11 (0-5f), N McAllen 1-7, A McCarthy 0-1, S Murphy 0-1, S O’Brien 0-1, A O’Mahony 0-1.

Scorers for Tourlestrane: K Walsh 1-8 (0-3f), S Cunney 1-2, M Kennedy 1-0, G Carty 0-1.

Glanmire: A Carey; R Kelleher, A McNamara, A Turpin; A McCarthy, E Baker, L Cashman; R Crowley, A O’Mahony; N McAllen, S O’Brien, E Twomey; E Murphy, K Hannon, S Murphy. 

Subs: C Murphy for Turpin (38), K O’Connor for S Murphy (44).

Tourlestrane: C Walsh; S Brennan, L Walsh, S Mooney; E Meers, S Henry, C Marren; A Egan, N Brennan; A Corcoran, G Carty, T Walsh; L Surlis, K Walsh, S Cunney.

Subs: M Kennedy for Meers (36), L Gaughan for Surlis (44), C Brennan for Mooney (63).

Referee: Barry Redmond (Wexford).

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Eddie Brennan gets off to winning start in charge of Laois while Westmeath footballers also prevail

Offaly 1-16 Laois 2-16 

THE LAOIS HURLERS got off to a winning start under new boss Eddie Brennan with a win over Offaly in the Walsh Cup on Sunday.

The sides traded scores throughout the opening phases, with Laois holding a slender one-point lead after 23 minutes.

Offaly then edged into the lead with a goal just before the half-hour mark but Laois struck back in the second half with a goal of their own from Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher.

Bord Na Mona Walsh Cup (2nd half, 72min) Laois 2-16 (22) Offaly 1-16 (19)
All over Great win

— Laois GAA (@CLGLaois) December 9, 2018

Offaly pushed on once more to go three points clear but a second Laois goal, scored by Aaron Bergin, leveled up proceedings.

Laois claimed the advantage from there and went on to record a solid win.

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Carlow 0-8 Westmeath 0-12 

Meanwhile, the Westmeath footballers also got off the mark with a win, defeating Carlow in their opening O’Byrne Cup game to make a positive start to life under new manager Jack Cooney.

The home side were four points up inside the opening 15 minutes and they maintained their advantage for the remainder of the tie, leading by the same margin at the half-time break.

Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup Round 1

70 mins

Westmeath in control here looking to be a winning start for Jack Cooney@westmeath_gaa 0:12@Carlow_GAA 0:08#westmeathgaa #iarmhiabu #obyrnecup #bordnamona

— westmeathgaaofficial (@westmeath_gaa) December 9, 2018

Carlow cut the gap to two points after the restart but Westmeath stretched their advantage again with Luke Loughlin hitting three points after his introduction on the way to a four-point win.

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne preview a big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Wilderness to Leinster champions – Mullinalaghta story sums up magic of club game

Shane Mulligan lifts the trophy.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Kevin O’Brien reports from Bord na Mona O’Connor Park

THERE WON’T BE a cow milked in Mullinalaghta tonight, but that doesn’t mean the farmers are let off the hook. 

Earlier this week, centre-forward James McGivney said that no matter what happened in the Leinster final against Kilmacud Crokes, on Sunday evening he’ll have to put in a couple of hours on his beef farm at home. 

“Before the Leinster final this year, me and my brothers will probably do around two hours outside on the farm that morning, go to the game, come back home and do another two hours in the evening time,” he stated. “Go up then and enjoy a few pints or whatever.” 

There will be more than a few pints consumed in Keogh’s, the only bar in the half-parish, this week. 2018 Leinster club champions. It’s quite the achievement for the tiny Longford club that spent decades in the wilderness. 

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What dreams are made of!!! #LeinsterChamps @TheLaurelsM representing @OfficialLDGAA in the @AIB_GAA Leinster final! #ClubIsFamily 🇶🇦🏆 pic.twitter.com/fZliyPXZbp

— Bláithín Brady (@BlaithinBrady1) December 9, 2018

This was billed as a David v Goliath contest. Kilmacud Crokes, with their 4,800-odd members, are sponsored with Bank of Ireland. Mullinalaghta have an entire population of around 450 and are without any jersey sponsors. 

There were 3,510 supporters in Tullamore this afternoon and the majority were shouting for the underdogs. Hopefully the last ones out of Mullinalaghta turned the lights off before they left.

Last week it was Gaoth Dobhair, from the Ghaeltacht region on the north-west tip of Donegal, who became the first club from the county to lift the Ulster title in 43 years and sparked joyous scenes in Healy Park.

“It was just surreal. It’s impossible to describe the buzz I’ve felt since last Sunday,” Eamon McGee said over the weekend. 

The Mullinalaghta giant killers will be feeling that buzz all this week – and beyond – as the magnitude of what they’ve achieved begins to kick in.

Check out the full-time highlights from the Leinster Club Football Final between Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) and Mullinalaghta St. Columba's (Longford) here! pic.twitter.com/7VnMMMXmbh

— The GAA (@officialgaa) December 9, 2018

They’re the first club from Longford to win the provincial crown and it arrives on the 50th anniversary of the county’s sole Leinster SFC-winning campaign of 1968.

It remains to be seen if the Mullinalaghta celebrations videos this week will contain a call-out of their All-Ireland semi-final opponents Dr Crokes, similar to their counterparts in Donegal last week.

Despite the constant barrage of negativity that seems to follow the GAA, stories like Gaoth Dobhair and Mullinalaghta highlight the hugely positive impact it can have on local communities. 

In the same interview last week, McGivney stated that if it wasn’t for St Columba’s GAA club in Mullinalaghta, the vast majority of the squad would have emigrated.

“Football is the only thing keeping the community together,” he added. McGivney himself spent time working in Australia a few years ago before the GAA lured him home. 

The team’s corner-back Conan Brady has been commuting home from the UK for eight years to don the club colours. He had five years of flying back under the belt before they even won a county title – their breakthrough win in 2016 was their first since 1950.

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John Keegan and Simon Cadam celebrate with the trophy after the game.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Other squad members travel back for training from Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Athlone and Louth without receiving a penny in expenses from the club, because they simply can’t afford it.

The club has barely 100 adult members and they’re just about able to put out a minor team thanks to their amalgamation with Abbeylara. Their squad has been pretty much the same for the last three years and the starting team yesterday featured five sets of brothers – McElligotts, McGivneys, Foxs, Rogers and Mulligans.

Each week, a different family from the area prepares the food for after training sessions and another washes the gear after games. 

Mullinalaghta went close in their last two provincial campaigns. They ran eventual champions St Vincent’s to four points in the 2016 last four meeting and threw away a sizeable lead before losing by the minimum to St Loman’s in the semi-final last year.

But the unexpected victory has left manager Mickey Graham with a daunting workload over the coming weeks. The new Cavan manager will be double-jobbing until February 16 at the earliest. 

The Breffni County begin their McKenna Cup campaign against Down on 30 December,  before further games against Queen’s University on 6 January and Donegal three days later. 

At the same time, he’ll be preparing this remarkable Mullinalaghta group for an unlikely All-Ireland semi-final tilt against Dr Crokes in the middle of February. 

Conor and Donal McElligott celebrate the victory.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

It’s an issue Anthony Cunningham had to deal with in early 2012 after the start of his reign in charge of the Galway hurlers coincided with Garrycastle claiming Leinster football honours. They went down to Crossmaglen in the All-Ireland final replay the following March. 

Pat O’Shea had a similar situation after he was appointed Kerry boss in the winter of 2006. The Dr Crokes team he managed made it all the way to the All-Ireland club final the following year. O’Shea had to combine the two high-pressure jobs until April 2007, when Crossmaglen beat Crokes after a replay in the decider.

Graham won’t worry about that tonight though. 

“This is a dream becoming a reality,” overjoyed captain Shane Mulligan said after accepting the cup. 

“This will go down in history, it’s never been done before. The scenes were incredible. People came from all over the world to see this.

“It’s well documented that we are a small rural area, with a small population. GAA is everything, so many people have committed so much time, so much of their lives to GAA. And now we are standing on top of Leinster.”

The tiny club with a huge heart. They’ll be pinching themselves for a while.

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Extra-time in All-Ireland semi-finals, club concerns, Liam Miller match and stepping down in Cork

OUTGOING CORK COUNTY board secretary Frank Murphy believes drawn All-Ireland semi-finals should go to a replay rather than have extra-time played ‘in fairness to players’.

Long-serving Cork county board secretary Frank Murphy is stepping down.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Murphy has made his remarks in his last report to Cork’s annual county convention, which will take place next Saturday, as he prepares to step down after 46 years in his current post.

While congratulating Liam MacCarthy Cup winners Limerick, who defeated Cork after an epic clash at the semi-final stage in July, Murphy wants to see the playing of extra-time in these games reviewed.

A motion from the St Ita’s club, the home of Cork captain Seamus Harnedy, to the convention in Cork is seeking to make this change and is passed there, it will go forward to GAA Congress in Wexford next February.

“The game was an intensely high scoring contest from beginning to end,” writes Murphy in relation to that Cork and Limerick match.

“Limerick led at the interval by a one point margin. Cork gained good control in the second period and led by six points with a few minutes plus injury time remaining. Limerick fought back to take the lead but a long range point from Patrick Horgan sent the game into extra-time.

Patrick Horgan won an All-Star for Cork in 2018.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“Injury problems played a crucial role in the extra-time period and Limerick forged a four-point winning margin. A drawn All-Ireland senior semi-Final deserves, as heretofore, to go to a replay in fairness to players.

“The publicity and financial benefits to the association should also be factors of consideration. This decision should be reviewed as soon as is possible.

“We congratulate Limerick on their victory and going on to achieve All-Ireland glory. Our team have performed tremendously well over the past two championships but it will be important to build on the strength of the panel. The excellent team management under John Meyler have set this task as an early objective.”

John Kiely and John Meyler shake hands after their Croke Park clash.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

While acknowledging the success of the new round-robin format in hurling, Murphy has questioned the impact it has having on the club scene.

“While the new format of the provincial senior hurling championship was highly successful it must be asked at what expense? It seriously impacted on the club championship scheduling in this county. It was impossible to fit in a number of rounds of the championships between inter-county fixtures.

“Even though the month of May was utilised for first round county championship games, the knock-out rounds were played in too compact a period. While many counties had no difficulty in the past year or in previous years in delaying the progress of their county championships, this is not a reasonable position in this county given the number of clubs and the extensive dual involvement of clubs and players.

“Some defeats of dual clubs allowed the main championships to be concluded on schedule. However some club players had to play up to eight successive weeks and this undoubtedly took its toll in performance levels.

“We are told that this is a problem that we must ourselves resolve by either eliminating the second chance for teams defeated in the first rounds or by reducing the number of teams competing or dividing competitions.

Seamus Harnedy captained Cork to this year’s Munster hurling title win.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“Put quite simply there has been greater consideration given to the expansion of inter-county formats and at the expense of a reasonable club championship schedule in a county the size and duality of ours.

“While the 2019 championships will be run on the same format, it is essential to make early plans for the following years. The status of the championships must be maintained and it must be borne in mind that they provide the main source of income for the county committee and there is no room for impairment in this regard if the board is to have the revenue to run its affairs.

“A previous experiment to run the initial stages of the championship on a league basis proved disastrous in terms of status and attendances and it took some years to recover from that experiment.”

Murphy also referenced the Liam Miller Tribute Match which was staged in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in September, an event that had sparked controversy after the Cork venue was initially not available to be used.

The teams observed a minute’s silence before the Liam Miller Tribute game in September.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“It (Páirc Uí Chaoimh) also staged the Liam Miller Tribute involving Liam’s former club colleagues. This game was authorised by our Central Council on its interpretation that the basis of the application did not conflict with the association’s rules governing the use of its grounds. It is pleasing that the event was a great success and benefited a number of deserving causes.”

Finally Murphy paid tribute to a number of people who had closely alongside him during his tenure and wished his successor Kevin O’Donovan well.

“I retire as county secretary at this convention after 46 years in office. It has been a great honour and privilege to have served this great county in this prestigious position. I served with 16 county chairpersons and some long serving treasurers.

“Four served as chairmen of the Provincial Council and two had the honour of becoming Presidents of the association. All were outstanding persons in their own right and good friends.

Frank Murphy celebrating Cork’s 2013 All-Ireland semi-final victory over Dublin with Jimmy Barry-Murphy.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“To all the officers and members of the county committees, divisional boards, Coiste na nÓg, players, team managements, referees, sponsors and supporters down the years, I say a sincere thank you. In a particular way I remember those who have left us. Dia trócaire orthu.

“While I thank all the personnel who have served in the county committee’s office during my time, it is particularly appropriate that generous tribute be paid to two ladies, namely Mairéad McCarthy and Barbara Hartnett. These ladies have given distinguished and unparalleled service. 

“Their extraordinary commitment was always to the fore and I will personally be eternally grateful to them for their vast contribution, loyalty and friendship.

“I appreciated too the immense opportunity that was afforded me to work in various capacities at provincial and national levels – areas that provided great experience and many enduring friendships.

“Caoimhín Ó Donnabháin of Kilmeen and Kilbree has been chosen as our new Rúnaí/CEO.

“I warmly congratulate Kevin on his appointment and wish him an abundance of happiness, job satisfaction and success.

“He will be his ‘own man’ but any assistance or advice that he may require from me as he settles in to this onerous position will be readily available. May the Gaelic Athletic Association in this proud county advance and prosper under your leadership. Go raibh fada buan thú a Chaoimhín.”

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‘It’s definitely their day, not ours and we have to take our beating’ – Kilmacud salute new Leinster champions

NO EXCUSES, NO criticism of the referee, no bemoaning of their own display.

Kilmacud Crokes were the overwhelming favourites entering yesterday’s Leinster final but that school of thought was shredded by the underdogs Mullinalaghta.

David Gough awards the crucial late penalty in yesterday’s Leinster club final.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

A maiden Leinster senior club title was destined for Longford after the decider in Tullamore and amidst the bitter disappointment, there was no complaints from the Kilmacud Crokes camp.

With a rich tradition at this level, Kilmacud were aiming to land a fifth Leinster senior crown after four final victories (1994, 2005, 2008 and 2010) and claim an 11th title in 16 seasons for Dublin clubs.

But a two-point loss was the outcome they had to absorb.

“To be fair I think Mullinalaghta probably deserved it, we didn’t play well so I don’t think we can have too many complaints really after it,” remarked Kilmacud’s joint manager Robbie Brennan after the game.

“I think we were two or three up with maybe five minutes to go but even as a management we felt we needed another one or two to get the lead to the four in case something like that happened.

“And of course, eggs is eggs it’s going to happen and that’s what happened, they got their patch. Credit to them for taking the opportunities at the end.”

Celebrations continue in Longford after Mullinalaghta claimed a stunning Leinster SFC final victory over Kilmacud Crokes. #rtegaa pic.twitter.com/avNqMu040k

— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) December 10, 2018

Brennan had no qualms over the awarding of that penalty late in the game.

“No, absolutely not. There were a few other ones that I think Dave might have to take a look at himself as a ref but no we don’t blame (referees). There were two or three incidents, a black card situation, but look I don’t want to be blaming referees.

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“It’s definitely their day, not ours and we have to take our beating. We had our opportunities, we didn’t take them, it’s back to the drawing board and lets go again for next year.”

A dejected Stephen Williams after Kilmacud Crokes were defeated.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The Kilmacud approach to try to run down the clock in the closing stages rather than push on to extend their advantage proved costly.

“I think that’s probably the mistake – we started trying to hold it instead of doing what we’ve done all year which is go forward with the ball and attack. And for whatever reason we reverted back to type, which we had been doing probably for the last three, more of a defensive game, keep ball, go backwards with it.

“We reverted back to that for some strange reason and it caught us, played sloppily towards the end of the game. Particularly with the breeze in the second half we had opportunities where we could have scored. I think there were probably a couple of situations where we had frees and we didn’t get them.

Mullinalaghta’s Patrick Fox celebrates their win.

Source: Instagram – @the42.ie

 

“We just couldn’t get that rhythm going that we normally have. Again, credit to Mullinalaghta for that because they got bodies back behind the ball and made it very difficult for us.

“It was tricky to get a rhythm, the day itself made it difficult with the playing conditions, we were hoping for more rhythm in the second half but it just didn’t come.”

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‘There is a fear in the unknown…I’m going in as head coach, something I’ve never done before’

JIM MCGUINNESS FLIES out to North Carolina tonight as he begins the next chapter of his coaching career in the soccer world.

Former Donegal boss Jim McGuinness.

The former Donegal GAA manager is stepping into his first managerial position in his adopted sport at United Soccer League (USL) Championship side Charlotte Independence, where he has signed a three-year contract.

“I feel ready now and I’m really excited about it and looking forward to it,” McGuinness said at a press conference in Dublin this morning.

“There is a fear in the unknown and I’m going into an environment now, I’m going in as a head coach, something I’ve never done before.

But I had the exact same experience when I was going into the Donegal job, it’s the exact same feeling, you’re going in there, you’ve never managed an inter-county team before there are teams in the country winning All-Ireland’s every year and you’re… I don’t know what age I was, 36 or 37.

“Going in as a young manager and you are trying to take them on. Obviously, there is (some fear), but that becomes part of the excitement of it as well and the adrenaline of it.

“I think I would be as happy as Larry still managing Donegal had this challenge and opportunity not been presented. You’re in one environment and you are plucked from obscurity and transported into another world, another culture.

“Six years is a short period of time when you are involved in something like this, but it’s a long stretch as well in terms of the experiences that I’ve had. I think I’m out the other side of it now and I’m ready to stand on my own two feet now and move forward. I have a good coaching staff and playing staff around me and that’ll be it.”

McGuinness during his last year in charge of Donegal.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

After leading Donegal to the All-Ireland title in 2012, the 46-year-old had stints on the coaching staff at Celtic and Beijing Sinobo Guoan. He left China after six months for family reasons and has been on the look-out for a new position since then.

It was during that spell out of the game when he realised he was ready to step up and take on a team of his own.

“There was an article I read in a magazine about Stevie Gerrard,” he said.

“He’d just taken over the underage team in Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp said to him, ‘Listen, I want you to get in and around the place (senior set-up) for a couple of weeks but that’s it, a couple of weeks. You need to get in there and start picking teams, you need to start kicking people up the backside, putting your arm around people, trying different systems, getting slapped in the face with certain things in terms of your system and learning.’

When I read that I just thought, ‘All my experiences have been in that environment of sort of observation when I went to Celtic originally, and then as an assistant.’ So that kind of resonated with me that maybe I just need to get in there and start standing on my own two feet myself.”

McGuinness confirmed there had been offers from the League of Ireland but the move to Charlotte came about after a chance meeting with Meath man Padraig Smith in Colorado.

The Glenties native visited a club in New York and then spent five days with the Colorado Rapids MLS team, who had Charlotte Independence as an affiliate team at the time.

He began speaking to the club about taking on the role “six or seven weeks ago” before meeting with the club’s board members in London.

“When I met them in London, one of the things they said as well is that, ‘You’re an outlier and we like outliers because we are a club, not with a huge budget, so we have to do things a bit differently and we have to look at things a bit left-field. We have a vision to move forward and we’re very positive about what we can do moving forward.’

“They liked that about me. That was good for myself in terms of them being a fit. They’re going in with their eyes wide open, they understand who I am, they understand what they’re getting and they’re still prepared to make that leap. All these things, feed into your decision.

“I spent a week out there and it’s just been the last couple of weeks trying to get everything over the line.

I’ve always said it’s not about getting a club, and this is a direct quote from Brendan Rodgers from a conversation we had. He said: ‘Jim it’s not about getting a club, it’s getting the right club’.

“So I had an open mind with everyone that I had spoken to and I wasn’t against coming to Ireland.

“When I met these guys and we sat down and we had started talking we started talking about the vision that we had for the club. In the short term, on the football side of things but also the long-term strategies and it seemed to make a lot of sense and that just made the decision a lot easier.”

McGuinness in his new club’s colours.

The USL Championship is officially recognised as the second tier of American soccer, sitting a level below Major League Soccer (MLS), although there is no promotion or relegation between the two leagues.

The professional game is growing in the country and USA, Mexico and Canada will jointly host the 2026 World Cup.

Charlotte Independence finished 11th last season, seven points outside a playoff place. The club, with their 5,000 capacity stadium, will begin the new season in March. The USL Championship contains 36 clubs that are split into two 18-team conferences.

Welcome to all of our new friends and followers from #Ireland 🇮🇪 ⚽️👍🏼 #WeAreCLT

— Charlotte Independence (@CLTIndependence) December 8, 2018

The club plans on moving into a new stadium located in the city’s downtown area by 2021 – prior to the final season of McGuinness’s contract.

“That’s obviously the club trying to lay down a marker that they would like to be considered for an MLS position,” he says. “There’s a lot of energy within the club and a lot of motivation in the club to move forward and develop. That was one of the things that caught my eye.

The location at the moment is about 15 or 20 minutes outside of the city and the new stadium will be downtown, walking distance for all the supporters and stuff.

“That will be exciting moving forward but obviously the short term for me is to try and build a team that can be competitive in the league and hopefully get ready for a move if that can happen down the line.”

McGuinness said Celtic owner Dermot Desmond has been a sounding board for him throughout his journey into soccer coaching, as have Mick and Paul McGinley.

“They’ve been people that have been really, really important to me. Personally, I’ve gone on this journey and they’ve helped facilitate and mentored me along the way.

Their support is really important to me and I continue to receive their support and every decision that I’ve made to this point, including this one and the last one to go to China, all those people would be really important points of counsel for me in terms of which direction to move in next.

“I think everyday is a school day and wherever you go, you will learn things, and I think if you get out there and meet people and see people coaching and see how they work, you will have own opinion and philosophy about how the game is, but you will always take something away from that environment that you feel will add value, or put a twist on it and tweak it to make sense of it to yourself.”

McGuinness at Celtic Park before a Champions League qualifier against Malmo FF.

Source: Jeff Holmes

In terms of his philosophy and the style of play he wants to employ, McGuinness will draw on his experiences from Donegal, Celtic and China.

“It was the same with Donegal – you’ve got to be good on the ball, you’ve got to be good using the ball. That is Celtic to a tee, their capacity to play really good quality possession football. I would characterise it, to answer your question, this capacity to play the game and to force the game.

“In China we forced the game really aggressively. I think it’s the emerging of both those aspects in terms of soccer and then everything I brought from home in terms of intensity and pressing and overwhelming the opposition and playing the game on the transition.

“Forcing the game and forcing the game in certain areas of the field where maybe it’s not as high risk, and creating as many chances as possible with the protection that everybody has bought into the system and thus you can actually do that. If I was to describe it in a few sentences I would say the capacity to play the game through the thirds but also always looking to be aggressive and dynamic and direct as part of that.

I think to an extent, Liverpool play that type of game. They can play ball, there’s no doubt about that. They can build the play and play it through the thirds. But you’d have to say they’re very dynamic and they like to play in the transition and in behind. They’ve got pace, they’re not afraid to play a vertical pass.

“Everybody will have their own take on it. (Maurizio) Sarri has come into Chelsea and has created a twist on the possession type of football. I think you’ll take experiences and influences from everywhere but ultimately you have to work out what’s best for you and then also what’s best for the players you have at your disposal.

“I’d like to play a high intensity and aggressive game. For that to happen you need a certain type of individual and athlete, not just the physical characteristics but also the physicality to go with that.

“I think that’s important as well and that’s where recruitment comes in and the type of players we want to bring in. Hopefully they will fit the system and the type of athlete we want to bring in. It’s one thing saying, ‘This is what we want to do’ but it’s another thing if they can or cannot do it.

“So it’s unfair to employ a system when your players haven’t got the capacity. With Donegal we had to build that capacity through the training. So hopefully with the transfer market, you can get players in that have those attributes at their disposal right now.”

McGuinness worked closely with Roger Schmidt at Beijing Guoan FC.

Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

He will be involved in player recruitment with the team’s General Manager Mike Jeffries, who was the manager of the side last season. Jeffries will primarily be responsible for managing the club’s finances and the transfer budget.

With the new season beginning in March, McGuinness has a relatively short time-frame to implement his ideas on the squad, but he’s not feeling under pressure to achieve immediate results.

“I don’t think it’s pressure. I’ve never gone down that road of ‘pressure’ from a coaching point of view ever. I think the reason for that is I’ve got a very clear vision in my mind as to what the thing is and also how to train it.

We’ll be looking to have a considerable pre-season. It’ll not all be there by the end of pre-season but I think we’ll get a lot of work done and I’ve a lot of work done on that already in terms of the phases of play that we’re speaking about and how that breaks down on the daily and weekly cycles running into the start of the season.

“There’s a saying in psychology that ‘fear lies in the unknown’. That’s why, from a coaching point of view and a philosophical point of view, if you know exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it, you could potentially eliminate that fear for the players.

“Because they understand all the different variables that can happen within a game and they have a game plan in their head for that, so you don’t get this ‘rabbit in the headlights’ moment and that for me is coaching.”

McGuinness during a training session with Donegal in 2014.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

What is it about soccer coaching that has made McGuinness determined to build a career in the game?

“I think it’s the challenge of it, you know. It’s just the challenge of it and to see where it takes you. Can it be done? I’m big believer in people. Your work environment, my work environment, the players will now come into work in our environment.

“If there’s a sense of self-value and self-worth and they’ve got a voice and they can contribute and they’re adding value to the overall process.

I don’t really believe in really big squads. A focused squad, everybody knows they have a part to play, everybody will be involved in this picture. When they slip in and they slip out, they all know that it’s for a period time because everyone knows that they’re really important and everyone needs to be used.

“Then, developing players, on the back of that, stretch out the numbers. They don’t need the same exposure but if they’re making strides, you’ve got to be fair to them and true to them to give them the chance.

“For me, that’s really important. A group of people that know and understand how much they’re valued and they want to be there. Hopefully, you get the best out of them as people.

I also believe that people want to be pushed and they want to be stretched. A lot of the time, people are in a comfort zone and players are in a comfort zone, it’s only when you move out of that comfort zone that you start making really big strides.

“You look back and you do, ‘Woah, we’ve moved to far in the last couple of months.’ I think if players experience that, you can get this feeling of, ‘This is special’ and that they want to be there. Then, when the offers come in, they’re reluctant to go.

“When we were with Donegal, very few people wanted to leave the group. Very few people retired because they were pushing hard and the harder we pushed, the fitter they got, the tougher the defenders are, the harder it is for the forwards to break it down,the better they become.

“These are all the things, that are important to be, anyway. That’s what I’ll be focusing on.”

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Member of famous Offaly hurling family to take over four-time All-Ireland club hurling champions

A MEMBER OF the Whelehan family will be back in charge of four-time All-Ireland winning club Birr next season with Barry Whelehan having being appointed as the Offaly club’s new senior hurling boss.

The Whelahan brothers celebrating their 2001 Leinster club final victory.

Source: INPHO

Congratulations and best of luck to Barry Whelehan who has been announced as our new senior hurling manager for 2019 💚❤️ pic.twitter.com/AJzP4pxPnY

— Birr GAA (@BirrCLG) December 9, 2018

Source: Birr GAA/Twitter

The former Offaly senior takes over at the helm of a club where he was a player at the heart of some of their best triumphs alongside his brothers Brian and Simon, with their father Pad Joe the highly successful manager. 

Birr won four All-Ireland and seven Leinster senior club titles between 1991 and 2007. Barry was wing-back on the team that defeated Galway’s Sarsfields in the All-Ireland final in 1998, and midfield on the victories in the deciders in 2002 against Galway’s Clarinbridge and in 2003 against Antrim’s Dunloy.

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Brian, Simon, Pad-Joe and Barry Whelehan

Source: INPHO

In recent times he has been involved in coaching with Birr underage teams and St Brendan’s CS sides, while also taking charge in camogie of the Offaly senior team and local club Shinrone.

Birr last won the Offaly senior hurling title in 2008 when Pad Joe Whelehan was in charge and since then have lost out in deciders in 2011, 2013 and 2016, with their new manager lining out at midfield in that last final loss. They were defeated at the quarter-final stage of this year’s championship against Belmont.

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Dummy solos, both feet, what a finish – we’ll never tire of watching this incredible goal

WHAT A GOAL.

It was a huge weekend of ladies football action as new champions were crowned in the All-Ireland senior, intermediate and junior club competitions.

Mourneabbey ended five years of hurt and heartbreak as they finally got their hands on the Dolores Tyrrell Memorial Cup on Saturday night while it was two out of three for Cork as Glanmire lifted the junior title with a win over Sligo’s Tourlestrane yesterday.

It finished 1-22 to 3-11 at Duggan Park, but Katie Walsh was most definitely a shining light for the losing side. The Sligo county star finished with 1-8 and was the sole scorer in Tourlestrane’s 1-5 first-half tally.

Video: Think Mugsy. What a goal by Katie Walsh today for Tourlestrane in the All Ireland JFC Final.. @LadiesFootball Not sure about the commentator though.. pic.twitter.com/1Vvo0bDxfL

— Jerome Quinn (@JeromeQuinn) December 9, 2018

Her 14th-minute goal was something special. Walsh soloed off both feet, produced some incredible sidesteps and dummies to send Glanmire defenders on their way before firing the ball into the roof of the net.

Some going.

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Katie Walsh lining out for Sligo in 2016.

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Meanwhile, Clontarf ran out intermediate champions in Parnell Park under Saturday Night Lights, putting Monaghan’s Emmett Óg to the sword.

And while they lost out, Laura Boylan chipped in with a huge score for the Ulster side; flicking the ball up with her toe out wide, soloing off both feet before turning onto her left and splitting the posts.

Have a look.

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