Archive for the ‘SPORT’ Category

NEW BLOG PAGE FOR 2013


2013
01.03
Michael Fisher

Michael Fisher

I have written a series of blogs on various topics since I started up my website in July 2010. I have also had some articles published in various newspapers and I have included them in this section. Now in a move to prompt me I hope to write more blogs on the issues of the day and other subjects of interest (including local history), I have created a dedicated blog page, FisherBelfast’s Blog. I have transferred the blogs from here to the new site, but I will leave the ones for 2010, 2011 and 2012 here for archive purposes. So I am now inviting you to take alook at how I have cast my rod and started fishing for stories on a new page. Thank you to all those who have read my blogs here. Please sign up on my new page for regular emails about fresh stories.

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http://fisherbelfast.wordpress.com/

WE ARE WIMBLEDON


2012
12.06
AFCW v MK at Kingsmeadow

AFCW v MK at Kingsmeadow

A huge day in the history of AFC Wimbledon. A goal in additional time saw MK Dongs aka Franchise overcome the Real Dons and advance to the FA Cup 3rd round. But the Wimbledon players & supporters were the real stars. Full marks to whoever ordered the aerial bombardment #wearewimbledon sign! There was a great atmosphere at Kingsmeadow where several hundred Dons supporters watched the match on tv.

Back bar at Kingsmeadow

Back bar at Kingsmeadow

AFC Wimbledon fans

The bar trade helped to bring in revenue as did the Club shop. I am glad I went there to follow the match and not to MK some 60 miles away. A moral victory for AFC Wimbledon. Two coincidences: as I write I am waiting for a bus at London Victoria coach station to take me back to Belfast via Cairnryan and the first stop is Milton Keynes. A five minutes stop there for a cup of tea was plenty!

Passing Milton Keynes

Passing Milton Keynes

Secondly I was picked up this morning to head to Belfast City airport by a taxi driver whose relative works for MK DONS!! #wearewimbledon

AFC Wimbledon banner

AFC Wimbledon banner

UP DOWN


2012
06.24
Down v Monaghan in Ulster senior championship semi-final

MONAGHAN 1-13 DOWN 1-14. A last minute victory for Down by a single point against Monaghan. Benny Coulter came on as a sub in the closing stages and scored a vital point. But Tommy Freeman scored a great opportunist goal for Monaghan in the second half after a pass by Conor McManus from a quickly-taken free. Monaghan dominated the first 35 minutes in all departments until they gave away a penalty in added time just before the break. Aidan Carr scored from the spot to make it at half time Monaghan 0-11 Down 1-02. At one stage Monaghan were rampant and led by nine points. But it was a different story in the second half and Down manager James McCartan must have given his team a spirited talk in the dressing room at the break. Down: A Carr 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), D O’Hare 0-5 (5f), C Laverty 0-2, K Duffin, L Doyle (f), B Coulter, D O’Hagan, A Rogers (f) 0-1 each. Monaghan: T Freeman 1-0, C McManus (3f) 0-5, P Finlay (3f) 0-5, D Hughes 0-2 (1f, 1 ’45), D Clerkin 0-1.

Monaghan huddle


Workout by Monaghan

Pre-match parade

All over

EMYVALE GP CYCLING IN TYDAVNET CO.MONAGHAN


2012
05.31
First race ready for the off: Under 12

There was plenty of excitement around Tydavnet on Sunday as dozens of cyclists and their back-up supporters arrived for the annual Grand Prix races organised by Emyvale Cycling Club. The Community Centre was used for registration and adminstration. The sun shone brightly and the temperature climbed up to 25C as the junior races got underway over a shorter route. The Under 12s were first off, although a car parked outside the chapel on the start/finish line caused the organisers a few problems initially until the owner was located. The crowd was not as big as for last year’s national championships. Nevertheless there were visitors taking part from several counties including Donegal (Errigal CC), Cork (Kanturk), Tyrone (Coalisland), Derry (Roe Valley) and East Antrim.

On the start line at Tydavnet chapel

Cyclists also came from Dublin and Newry and the local riders from Emyvale were also there battling for the prizes in the various categories. The event was well organised with stewarding to ensure that roads were kept clear for the participants. Following the thrilling finish in the senior race in the senior event last year in Scotstown, it was decided that a village finish would once again be more exciting for the spectators. For the full list of results, go to the Cycling Ulster page. East Antrim’s Glen Kinning won the main event over a 60 miles course in a sprint finish from David Wherity of Stamullen, Co.Meath.

Under 14s getting ready for the start

60 MILES FOR 60 YEARS COMPLETED!


2012
04.30

Day 1 departing from Kingsmeadow

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I undertook to walk 60 miles (one for each of my 60 years) to fundraise for charities. In Dublin I took part in the Milltown 25 walk, marking the exile of Shamrock Rovers FC from Glenmalure Park at Milltown quarter of a century ago. The 6 mile (10k) walk was to the new stadium at Tallaght. Back in Belfast, I completed another 5 miles by walking from home into town and back as part of my preparation for the major challenge. As a founder member of the Dons Trust (supporting AFC Wimbledon) I participated in the fifth Walk Further for Wimbledon. This year the route on the London outer orbital path  covered 50 miles over three days, starting at Kingsmeadow and finishing at Underhill, North London, in time to watch the league 2 match between Barnet (who had just dismissed former Dons’ FA Cup hero Lawrie Sanchez as manager) and AFC Wimbledon. Last year’s walk finished at Kingsmeadow in time for the final match of the season (40 miles over two days) but this time it ended at an away game.

Arriving at Underhill

What was even more painful after the walk was completed was to watch AFC Wimbledon being thumped by the Bees 4-0!  As a member of Belfast Lions Club I am also fundraising for the Moorfields Lions Korle Bu eyesight project in Ghana, a trust chaired by Past International Director Lion Howard Lee. The walk began on Thursday 26th April at 9:15 am and finished on Saturday 28th around 1:15pm. Thanks to my fellow walkers for the company on most of the route and for lending a helping hand when needed. I am also grateful to those who have already made donations via my JustGiving page.

MONAGHAN STAGES RALLY


2012
04.24

The roar of car engines filled Tydavnet parish and the surrounding area as Monaghan Motor Club held their annual stages rally. Many minor roads were closed to facilitate the event, but main roads and secondary roads were kept open. However if your house was on the rally route and you don’t like fast cars, you might certainly have felt somewhat inconvenienced as the roads were closed from 9am for nearly ten hours. It can also be a dangerous sport. Ten years ago in the Dunlop rally championship a competitor was killed in a crash near Scotstown and the event was immediately cancelled. During Mass at St Dympna’s Fr Clerkin prayed for the safety of all. The congregation was smaller than usual because of the rally, but most people were able to reach the chapel in time. Safety of drivers and spectators is an important consideration at such events. It was noticeable that the Clerk of the Course and former winner Dessie Keenan from Drumcoo Woods had a team of stewards at all the important viewing points and that spectators were kept a reasonable distance from the cars. There were plenty of thrills and a few spills along the route. The stages were centred on the Milltown and Tydavnet area up towards the border at Drumfurrer. The next section was around Bragan mountain and a third section of stages saw the cars tackle roads around Scotstown, Smithborough and Ballinode, which proved a popular spot to view the rally.

Damage to wall of house at Corrinshigo, Scotstown
When I heard in Knockatallon that one car almost ended up in the kitchen sink at a house, I thought the report might be exaggerated. But on viewing the damage at the scene at Corrinshigo, this is exactly what happened as Strabane driver Aidan Caldwell’s car left the road, hitting a wall and ending up in the yard beside a window! Luckily the occupant of the bungalow was not inside at the time. But she said if it had been a year ago, her sister and her young children might have been outside watching the cars going past. The driver and his navigator also escaped serious injury. But it was a reminder that such events are not without their dangers.
Local drivers inclusing the Moffetts performed well on their home circuit, although three times national rally champion Niall Maguire from Ballinode was forced out with gearbox problems. The rally was won by Daniel McKenna from Scotshouse in an Escort with navigator Andrew Grennan. They were fortunate to finish the event, as they were caught out by a sudden shower of rain on the sixth of nine stages, spinning backwards into a bank and losing half a minute before they could restart. They finished two minutes ahead of Sam Moffett and were presented with their prize at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan, which sponsored the event and provided a headquarters for the organisers.

Daniel McKenna, winner 2012 Monaghan stages rally

 

NO NORTHERNERS NEED APPLY


2012
04.16

Euro2012 Poland-Ukraine

The headline looks appealing: win an InterRail trip for two to Euro 2012. Come on you boys in green! Iarnród Éireann is offering Ireland soccer fans the chance to win a trip to the European football championship, travelling overland from Ireland to Poland. The prize includes tickets for two to Ireland’s three Group games against Croatia, Spain and Italy, courtesy of North Dublin Schoolboys & Schoolgirls League and spending money of €1,000. The winner will be accommodated at a campsite at Poznan. Interested? Then all you have to do is to submit a sample blog post about a journey you have taken or a sporting event you have attended. Looks great. But I always believe in looking at the small print (terms and conditions). It seems that if you are an Ireland soccer fan from the six counties of Northern Ireland, then too bad, you can’t apply! Rule 3: “Applicants must be 18 years of age or over, and must be resident in the Republic of Ireland”. So if you are an Ireland fan from Newry, Portadown, Lurgan, Lisburn or Belfast, or perhaps a Derry City supporter following the club in the airtricity League, then sorry, you can’t apply, unless you happen to live in Donegal, Cavan. Monaghan or anywhere else in the Republic. This is a clear case of discrimination, where marketing people have not acknowledged the fact that hundreds of Ireland supporters are resident in some cases a few hundred yards across the border along the railway line between Dublin and Belfast. Yet they are not allowed to enter this competition. If you feel excluded then perhaps you should contact competitions@irishrail.ie and complain. But you need to do so immediately as the closing date for the competition is April 27th. Although I raised this matter with @IrishRail on twitter this morning I have not had any response. Sure I’m only a Northern Ireland resident and of course I would never use Iarnród Éireann or ever think about supporting Ireland as I did at Euro 1988 in Germany……

I can see the Republic of Ireland from here (Co.Tyrone) but I can't enter an Irish Rail compeition!

UPDATE: As the comments below show, the blog attracted a response within hours from Iarnród Éireann defending the terms and conditions for the competition. The issue was also taken up by other outlets including Slugger and BBC NI News website. After the response from the rail company, the following thought occurred. Their marketing experts in designing a competition for RoI residents ONLY did not take into account natives of counties along the border such as Monaghan who might follow their airtricity premier league team as well as the national side, but who happened to reside across the border eg in Aughnacloy, Ballygawley, Middletown or Roslea. I was therefore glad to see that a Monaghan and border region perspective was added by Frank McNally in An Irishman’s Diary in The Irish Times.

WEEKEND OF SPORT


2012
03.26

Shamrock Rovers 4 Shels 0

Rovers win the Dublin derby

Two great results for two of my favourite football teams. A visit to Tallaght stadium in Dublin, my first of the new Airtricity Premier League season, was rewarded with a convincing 4-0 win by Shamrock Rovers over Shelbourne. Mind you, Shels did not help their cause by losing a player after only seven minutes. Goalkeeper Dean Delany was red-carded for a foul in the box on Billy Dennehy. Gary Twigg converted the spot kick. A back pass from Stephen Hurley drifted slowly towards the goal, ending up in the back of the net, much to the amusement of the home supporters in the 5,000 crowd. Kick-off had been delayed for ten minutes because of the number of spectators waiting to gain entry. President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins was in the stand. Will be interesting to see the replay on RTÉ’s Monday Night Soccer show. A long-range strike from Ronan Finn just before half time made it 3-0. Shels continued to battle against the odds but Aaron Greene added another for the Hoops, who had Gary McCabe sent off for a second offence. So both sides in the Dublin derby were reduced to ten towards the end.By that stage the three points were already in the bag for the Hoops, who remain at the top of the table along with Sligo Rovers.

Jack Midson

Less then 24 hours later I was delighted to see another 4-0 scoreline, this time in favour of AFC Wimbledon who were at home to Burton Albion. A badly needed three points to keep the Dons clear of the relegation zone in npower League 2, their first season back in the Football League. Glad to see Jack Midson is still sharing the top spot for goalscorers in the division with 18 goals. After the soccer, it was time to switch my attention to the RaboDirect PRO12 rugby matches involving the Irish provinces. On Friday night in a sell-out match at the RDS (coinciding with the Tallaght match) Leinster lost by a single point against the Ospreys, 22-23. Tommy Bowe was rested by the Welsh side but turned up as a guest on RTÉ’s Saturday Night Show with Brendan O’Connor. Looking forward to seeing Tommy back in action for Ulster next season! Listening to some of the Ulster match away to Treviso the news was not good but by the time I got round to checking the result I was delighted to see that a last gasp try by Ian Whitten had secured a 23-27 victory. There was also time to watch the first half of the Connacht match against Munster shown live on TG4. An impressive performance by Connacht for forty minutes but not enough to match the strength of the visitors who went on to win 16-20. Finally some GAA thoughts.
On Sunday I was anxious to see how the Monaghan footballers would do in their Allianz National Football League division 2 match against Galway. Monaghan lost home advantage because of the ugly scenes at Clones at a previous match and they had to play the game at a neutral venue at Pearse Park in Longford. The Farney men went down by 0-12 to 1-14 (17 points) and are now in danger of being relegated to division 3 next season. That would be a terrible shame as there are still some great footballers on the team. One of them is Paul “Jap” Finlay from Ballybay, profiled in this excellent piece by Keith Duggan on Saturday in the Irish Times.

A TALE OF TWO SCARVES


2011
12.21
This is a tale of two scarves. Both have been in demand during the cold snap. They are football scarves but with a difference as neither has a club’s name in large letters across its length. By coincidence each was used on an occasion linked to my activities with the William Carleton Society, of which I am Chair.
AFC Wimbledon scarf
The first is an AFC Wimbledon scarf, described by the online shop as “a new era grey knit scarf with yellow and blue to ends with embroidered crest”. I purchased it last season and wore it on two recent trips to Europe and another to London. I was in Berlin at the opening of an art exhibition at the Irish embassy by an artist friend Patricia Lambert when I had this scarf with me. Thankfully the temperature in the German capital remained just above freezing during the weekend I was there in November. A few weeks later I was in Vienna and again the scarf kept me warm as I visited the Christmas markets in the Austrian capital. Most importantly, the scarf is comfortable to wear and does its job properly. As my season ticket seat at Kingsmeadow is in the front row of the stand I will be glad to wear it at any games I attend in the winter months. I brought it with me when I attended the league 2 game between AFC Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley, which we lost 2-0. The next day I went into the centre of London to meet someone I had never met before, so I wore my AFC Wimbledon wooly hat as well as the scarf.

Paul Brush met Michael Fisher at a Whitehall pub

As it turned out, Paul Brush who was in England from Australia along with his wife and two daughters turned out to be a Crawley FC supporter. He had attended their match the previous day when they beat Burton Albion 3-0 in front of a crowd of 3001. Paul pointed out he was the “1″ on the end of that figure! The reason we arranged to meet was because he is a distant relative of the 19thC Irish author William Carleton from Co.Tyrone. I am Chair of the newly-formed William Carleton Society, which runs an annual summer school at the beginning of August every year. Paul provided me with some useful information and promised to remain in contact as he attempts to explore his family tree.

Now for the second scarf. It’s green and white. Some thought it was a Celtic one. Others might regard it as an Ireland one suitable for soccer or rugby. But it’s none of those. It was purchased at Tallaght stadium when I organised my tickets for the three home games that Shamrock Rovers FC played in the Europa League. I wanted to show my loyalties especially when it came to the last match against Spurs. It proved to be the final game for the Hoops’ manager Michael O’Neill after three years in charge. Rovers went down 0-4 to the English Premiership side but O’Neill got a rousing farewell along with Enda Stevens, who joins Aston Villa next month.

Shamrock Rovers 0 Spurs 4

The scarf was needed when I went on the annual mulled wine walk at Knockmany Hill near Clogher in County Tyrone. It is run by a number of ramblers groups from both sides of the border and also cross-community. I joined in the carol service after enjoying some warm gluehwein and mince pies. Then I proceeded to relate to the assembled crowd a story by William Carleton called A Legend of Knockmany. I did not have time to read it all but I summarised part of the tale about the giants Fin McCool and his great rival Cuchulain. When I returned home I posted a picture on facebookshowing me wearing the green and white scarf and remarked that this did not mean that William Carleton was a Shamrock Rovers fan! I then reflected on the matter and discovered that after all, there was a connection (albeit very tenuous) between Shamrock Rovers founded in 1901 and Carleton, who died over thirty years earlier in January 1869.

Addressing ramblers at Knockmany wearing Shamrock Rovers scarf

So here goes…….William Carleton in the days before his death was visited by Rev William Pakenham Walsh, rector of Sandford Parish Church, Ranelagh in Dublin, who also conducted his funeral. The chuch is beside an avenue that leads up to Gonzaga College SJ. The school colours are also green and white, by the way. When I went there in 1967 the back rugby pitches near Milltown Park were bounded on one side by a wall which also bordered Glenmalure Park, once home of Shamrock Rovers FC which had the best playing surface in Ireland. The Jesuits leased the land to the football club and there is a letter in the club shop at the new ground at Tallaght from the then SJ Provincial at the time the Hoops moved. So maybe the Shamrock Rovers scarf was appropriate in memory of the Sandford connection with William Carleton. In the case of Paul Brush, he would no doubt have preferred if I had worn a Crawley FC scarf to identify myself: no chance of that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIEW FROM THE PROM


2011
11.06

Four points in the bag for Ulster

ULSTER returned to their winning ways at Ravenhill, defeating Connacht 22-3 in the RaboDirect PRO12 league. But the scoreline did not reflect how close Connacht came to upsetting the home team. Both sides exchanged penalties early on. Having brought a New Zealander along to watch the match I was particualrly interested in how new signing and World Cup medallist from Auckland John Afoa would perform. He got a great cheer when he came out onto the pitch and was soon demonstrating his strengths in the front row of the scrum. Indeed it was from the scrum just before half time that a move began which resulted in winger Craig Gilroy latching onto an inside pass from Ian Humphreys and then going over in the left corner to make it 8-3 to Ulster at the break. The home side began the second half intent on pressurising Connacht and two minutes in, good work by Rory Best, Dan Tuohy and Afoa created an opportunity for Ireland prop Tom Court to score their second try, with Humphreys adding the conversion. For the rest of the half, though, the battle was extremely tough as Connacht did their best to pull back the twelve point gap. Tempers flared at times but the referee kept the game under control well and no-one was sin-binned or shown a red card. However the medics were kept busy with a series of injuries to key Ulster players Stephen Ferris (ankle), Tom Court (knee), and skipper Johann Muller. Perhaps coach Brian McLaughlin had the risk of an injury in mind when he substituted Afoa before the end and the Kiwi was applauded for his first performance in an Ulster jersey. Additional time was being played when Ian Humphreys broke through the Connacht defence to score under the posts and add a quick conversion as the final whistle blew. Ulster 22 Connacht 3. The result means that with eight games played, Ulster are in mid-table, nine points behind the Ospreys and Leinster, who saw off the challenge of Munster at the RDS.

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