HURLING HEAVEN AND MOANING ABOUT HARPS! IT’S PADDY WALSH ON WEDNESDAY

first_imgCLONES BOUNDGeraldine McLaughlin:There IS a Donegal team vying for All-Ireland honours this weekend. Not quite Croke Park yet for our senior women but Clones is as good a venue as any to make the leap from last eight to semi-finalists.And while much of the talk this week has centred on the fitness, or not, of the injured Geraldine McLaughlin – the ace forward went over on her knee in a club game for Termon against St. Eunan’s – there is a squad strong enough to progress against Armagh and players who have already shown they can shine even in the absence of their star performer. Davy McLaughlin would indeed prefer to have the Termon tiger available to him on Sunday but can still call on the likes of Yvonne McMonagle, Aofie McDonnell and Amber Barrett to supply the scores and with the inspirational Katie Herron on the field his team have a better than odds chance to make it through to the semi-final.PROMOTION STILL IN SIGHTThe legend that is Kevin McHugh!Alien territory this third place. At any rate, this season it is. Been a while since we last were able to reflect on holding our own for the bulk of a campaign in one of the top two slots of the league table.But U.C.D.’s expected win on Monday night in one of their two games in hand has dislodged Finn Harps and placed them on the outskirts of the promotion positions, automatic or play-off. And now the battle really begins. The 1-0 win over Shelbourne on Friday evening has kept that promotion pot boiling – and possibly condemned the Tolka Park outfit to another season in the lower ranks – and while the students leapfrogged over Harps after their 3-1 success over Athlone at the start of the week, there’s only a solitary point between the sides.U.C.D. still have a match in hand But the fact that it’s against Wexford Youths – for the second time in a matter of weeks they managed to win a game with two late goals despite being down to ten men – means something has to give and points will be dropped by either side.Wexford currently occupy the automatic promotion spot and pundits – specifically those who are Dublin based and have desperately wanted the promotion challengers to hail from the southern regions of the country as has been evident from the outset – will be predicting the First Division champions will come from the current top two.But Harps are still very much in the running and, remember, they can afford to finish in third and still secure a play-off place.And that’s surely something the league authorities will have to examine before the 2016 campaign. Where exactly is the justice in a team finishing runners-up – potentially a hatful of points ahead of their nearest challengers – and still being forced into a play-off with the third placed side before earning the right to take on the 11th placed Premier Division team in a promotion/relegation showdown?You won’t, of course, find too many down Finn Park way complaining about the system should Harps be that third place team but if I was a follower, player of official from the side who finish second, I’d be mightily aggrieved at how things stand.What is the point in it, and, as I say the fairness, apart from a couple of hefty gates at the respective legs and some much needed coffers arriving into the treasurer’s trove?Answers please at the next annual meeting of the Airtricity League management committee.HONOURING A LEGENDLike old times in Ballybofey. The familiar figure controlling the ball and delivering the perfect return. Well almost perfect because as it happened it went straight to a Shelbourne player. But then it was their throw-in and one thing about Big Brendan Bradley is, and was, that you rarely ever saw him dispute a decision. He was standing in his traditional spot near the press gallery opposite the stand side at Finn Park when the ball arrived in his direction from a hefty clearance and he took control of the situation before sending it back on to the field of play.And two things triggered inside what I have the poor judgement to call a mind. That time way back in the mists when he was making his first appearance since returning from Lincoln City and he did control the ball – no hands on that distant occasion – and with a couple of deft movements touched the ball over a Shels defender and over their then goalkeeper, Paddy Roche, before guiding it gracefully into the net. One of THE great Finn Park goals. One of THE great League of Ireland goals indeed. And perhaps the best of them all.Still a regular at the Ballybofey venue- even, significantly, when Derry City are at home as they were against Premier League leaders, Dundalk last Friday night – Big Brendan hasn’t lost his passion for the club where he truly made his mark. Sure there were spells with his native, Derry, and with Sligo Rovers, Athlone Town and at Sincil Bank, Lincoln, but his heart back then lay with Harps and still does to this day.And as my good friend and long-time Harps follower, Brian McArt, has often pointed out – where is the reminder of the contribution he made to the club back in the first two decades of their League of Ireland debut? Never a hint of a statue being erected in his honour in Finn Park. Or the stand being named after him? Or allowing us to walk down Brendan Bradley Way on route to the ground?A player who helped put Finn Harps Football Club on the footballing map; helped them win, God knows how many, matches; represented the club as a true ambassador; and is still the League’s all-time leading scorer. But, yet, not a visual tribute in sight.Perhaps, of course, those of us who have long worn the club crest in our hearts and remember what the big man did for it over those years, should ourselves be getting together and putting up some sort of proposal in this respect and acting upon it.HURLING TAKES ANOTHER WELL EARNED BOWSo goals win matches, do they? The experts in the world of Gaelic Games have been telling us for years so, well, it must be true.Full-time score from Croke Park: Galway 0-26; Tipperary 3-16. Someone forgot to mention it to the Tribesmen which is why they are now facing into an All-Ireland Final with the kings of the sliotar, Kilkenny and not a green flag raised among all the maroon.But, as Marty Morrissey declared, “Oh my God, what a game….”Sunday afternoon and while the weather demanded that I go out and savour the appearance of that big bright thing in the sky, some of us settled for the illuminating spectacle on R.T.E. instead. And very glad we did.But isn’t it funny how, even throughout one of the most thrilling hurling matches in years, the smallest of things can still irk you. “Level at Croke Park for the very first time”, Marty reacts to Cathal Mannion’s point that brings the teams all square just before half-time.Memo to Marty (and Ger Canning and any other G.A.A. commentator guilty of it), the teams are level when they come on the bloody field and UNTIL the opening score is registered.But this was hurling as it was meant to be played. And two outstanding goalkeepers at either end to pull off some remarkable stops including respective penalties even if Colm Callanan did tip the effort he was facing over for a point.“They’ve been level five times so far…,” Marty reminds us. Come on, man, get it right.And Seamus Callanan. What a performance from him. Into the dressing-rooms at half-time having scored a goal and five points, he continued that streak into the second period ending up with three goals and nine points. And you know what they say, goals win games.“Level eight times so far.”And Galway manager, Anthony Cunningham, dancing a jig of fury on the sidelines after a decision goes against his side. Pure passion pumping him up into someone he’s probably not if you meet him on the street.“Ten times they were level…..”.And Marty and his co-commentator, Michael Duignan, insisting they’d be delighted with a replay. And the rest of us nodding in agreement.And Noel McGrath. In April of this year, undergoing surgery for testicular cancer. And now coming on to send over a point for Tipp. The winning point? A fairytale comeback?Not quite. Galway level again – just as they were at the very start of the game, Marty – and then….and then…..Another substitute, Galway’s Minor winning captain from 2011, Shane Maloney, firing over to win the game for the Westerners.“Brilliant blocks, hooks, scoring, great saves from both goalkeepers,” Cyril Farrell sums it all up in the R.T.E. studio at the end as we all sink back in our seats and inhale in the drama we’ve just witnessed.But perhaps, the station’s Head of Sport, Ryle Nugent, summed it up even better when he tweeted at half-time: “It’s some shock to the system when you turn over to a Premier League game at the end of a first half of hurling like that!.”Some shock indeed. Almost like Marty Morrissey realizing that, yes indeed, teams do actually be level BEFORE the opening score.But, really, I ‘ve no right to be griping after that incredible All-Ireland hurling semi-final.DUFF BACK IN ACTIONWell, who would have believed it? Damian Duff turning out in the League of Ireland and not just in a guest appearance bracket.There may have been a greater audience than normal for Monday evening’s live television coverage of a domestic fixture but if there was the additions were to be sorely disappointed at the absence of the former Republic of Ireland, Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers ace until his number went up on the touchline in the 89th minute. By then Shamrock Rovers were enjoying a 3-0 lead over faltering title challengers, Cork City, and Duff was given just four minutes to show the odd spark of those twinkling feet.But it was more his finger-pointing and verbal directions to his new team-mates that caught the eye and I’m quite sure there was the odd Rovers player thinking to himself that they’d rolled over Cork up to that stage without his help and they didn’t need his strongly delivered advice.But what a boost for the league it is that he has decided to end his footballing career here and what a tribute to the man himself that he intends devoting his weekly wage from Rovers between two childrens’ charities close to his heart.Meanwhile, I’m eagerly looking forward to Rovers next clash with league leaders – and still hot favourites to retain their title – Dundalk and the sparring of Duff and Daryl Horgan who, I believe, is close to being the former’s clone both in appearances and in playing style.MARATHON DAYThe start of last year’s marathon.It’s the Donegal Marathon on Sunday around and about the streets of Letterkenny and beyond and those hardy participants (which won’t, it’s safe to say, include me as I’m more more Laurel and Hardy than hardy) will be setting off on the 26.2 mile course from early morning.If you’re not involved, get out and lend them your support. If you are, I’m quite sure, by this stage, you’ve put in the adequate training and taken all potential pitfalls into consideration.It’s one mighty step from 5k and 10k to marathon distance but while most prepare properly, there are those who believe they can venture into their first marathon as something of a stroll in the park. But this is a big park and some human bodies – particularly those who have under-prepared – aren’t fit for purpose, the purpose in this case being to run over twenty-six miles and reach the finishing line outside the back of an ambulance.BLACK PUDDING TITLE TASTES SWEETOne man who has travelled a few thousand miles more than your average marathon is Donagh Kelly who claimed both the Todd’s Leap Ulster Rally in Enniskillen at the weekend and consequently clinched the Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.There was a slight piece of good fortune attached to his win victory given that Garry Jennings – who took the honours at the Donegal International this year in the company of Letterkenny co-driver, Rory Kennedy – watched his dreams go up in non-proverbial smoke as the engine of his Subaru Impreza caught fire.“Feck it anyway, I’m gutted but I’ll have it washed and half stripped and I’ll be back,” Jennings delivered a typically earthy response to his rally ending mishap.But take nothing away from his Frosses rival – Donagh Kelly has earned his title after a solid season’s rallying in his WRC Ford Focus.BARCA AND BOHSQuote of the week: “If R.T.E. One were a football team, I think we would be Barcelona but with the budget of Bohemians” – R.T.E. Managing Director, Glen Killane.What. even after de Bohs offload Dalymount Park?DRY DOCMan walks into the doctor’s and the doctor says: “Ah, Mr Mourinho, remember me?….”HURLING HEAVEN AND MOANING ABOUT HARPS! IT’S PADDY WALSH ON WEDNESDAY was last modified: August 19th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img

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