Archive for the ‘SPORT’ Category

TOP CYCLING EVENT IN MONAGHAN


2011
06.07

Emyvale CC

One of the top cycling events in Ireland is being held for the first time in North Monaghan later this month (June 23rd-26th). Expect to see busy roads and many visitors around the villages of Emyvale, Tydavnet, Knockatallon, Scotstown and Ballinode as over 250 riders including some well-known names compete in this year’s Irish National Cycling championships. The event is being hosted by Emyvale Cycling Club on behalf of Cycling Ireland. Town of Monaghan Co-op which has supported the club’s activities for over twenty years will be the main sponsor.

ON SUNDAY JUNE 26th around  120 riders are expected to take part in the national senior road race championships for men. The winning elite rider wears the national champion’s jersey for all road races in the following 12 months. The first of the men under-23 in this race receives a separate award for the espoir category. With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching it’s certain thecompetitors will be out to impress the selectors of Ireland’s Olympic team. County Monaghan will have two riders taking part, Conor Murphy from Clara near Emyvale who has just finished the 8 day FBD Milk Rás. Another local competitor is Monaghan town’s Ryan Sherlock, current national hill climb champion. These riders along with all the Irish elite competitors will make this one of the top sporting events in the county this year.

Last year’s winner, Matt Brammeier, a Liverpudlian with an Irish passport, wears the national champion’s jersey. As a result of his victory he signed a professional contract with HTC-Highroad. The silver medallist is better known, Nicholas Roche, son of former champion Stephen Roche. He has already won this race twice and rides as a professional with a French team, Ag2r-La Mondiale. Roche has won a total of five professional races, finishing 15th in last year’s Tour de France and 7th in the Tour of Spain, raising him to 32nd position in the world rankings. Roche’s cousin, Daniel Martin, is the 2010 bronze medallist and is a professional with the Garmin-Cervelo team, currently ranking 49th internationally. Fresh from his exploits at the recent Giro D’Italia, Letterkenny’s Philip Deignan of Team RadioShack could well lead the Ulster challenge to win the race.

Spectators are invited to come and watch all the competitions particularly the men’s and women’s races starting on the main street of Scotstown at 11am on Saturday and Sunday. Admission to all events is FREE so the organisers are hoping many people will turn up to cheer on the local riders in particular. The race distance for the elite men’s event on Sunday is around 175km. featuring seven laps of a 25k circuit. Beginning in Scotstown the cyclists head for Knockatallon Cross, past the Sliabh Beagh Hotel, onto the Clogher Road heading past Killylough to Tydavnet, then continuing along the Monaghan road to Lemacaulla Cross and Connolly’s Bridge, branching off to Ballinode and then back to Scotstown. Medal presentations will take place immediately after the finish of the race around 4pm.

The four-day event begins on Thursday evening (June 23rd) with a time trial in Emyvale village for the elite women’s and paracycling champions awards. The first competitor sets off at 7pm and riders will follow at one minute intervals on the N2 main Derry to Dublin road. Their route will take them southwards to the Coolshannagh roundabout near Town of Monaghan Co-op, then heading northwards on the N54/A3 across the border to Middletown. The riders then head for Caledon and Aughnacloy, with a finish back on the N2 at the border at Moybridge, covering a distance  of 40km.

On Friday (June 24th) it’s the turn of the senior men’s time trial championships, with the first rider due off at 6pm. The 40km route is the same as that cycled by the women. The time trial is not expected to cause too much traffic disruption on the main roads but drivers are advised to proceed with caution and to allow extra time for their journeys. AA roadwatch traffic information can be obtained at www.aaireland.ie.

On Saturday morning (June 25th)  the national elite women’s road race championship takes place with about fifty competitors. Scotstown GAA complex will serve as the race headquarters and parking at Urbleshanny will be available for spectators. The race starts on the main street of the village at 11am over a 12.8km circuit. Competitors will be heading for Knockatallon Cross, turning right towards the Sliabh Beagh Hotel and then right again onto Carrahor Road onto the Scotstown Road back to the village, continuing this right hand circuit for seven laps. It finishes outside the Sliabh Beagh hotel after completing a total distance of almost 100km. Current champion Olivia Dillon from Co. Mayo will have to travel from San Francisco in the USA to defend both the women’s time trial and road race titles she won last year. The Ulster challenge in the women’s events is likely to come from 2009 road race champion, Heather Wilson from Lisburn.

On Saturday afternoon (June 25th) the national veterans’ road race championships will be held. The race begins at 3pm on the main street of Scotstown, cycling over the same course as the women’s event to cover eight laps, making a total distance of around 110km and again finishing at the Sliabh Beagh venue. On Saturday evening at 7pm, all leisure cyclists are invited to take part in a charity ride covering one lap (25km) of the elite road race course. Those wishing to participate should sign on at the Scotstown GAA complex from 6pm. Voluntary donations will go towards the Co. Monaghan branch of  Special Olympics Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, race organiser Patsy Brady said: “This is a big honour for Emyvale Cycling Club to be staging the national championships for the first time. Although the club hosted the B Championships three years ago, this is a much bigger event and we are grateful to Town of Monaghan Co-Op for their sponsorship. There has been massive interest in the national championships this year with Irish cyclists based in the UK, continental Europe, and the USA making enquiries. We look forward to welcoming them all to Monaghan at the end of June.”

2011 Irish National Championships Programme

Thu 23rd  Elite Women’s/Paracycling Time Trial @ 7pm Emyvale

Fri 24th   Senior Men’s Time Trial Championship @ 6pm Emyvale

Sat 25th  Women’s Road Race Championsip @ 11am Scotstown

Sat 25th    Veterans’ Road Race Championship @ 3pm Scotstown

Sun 26th   Senior Men’s Road Race Championship @ 11am Scotstown

Full details about entries and routes can be found at Cycling Ireland

 

BUYING ONLINE


2010
11.30
I’m an eBay rookie and now the proud possessor of a gold star. That sounds impressive. But regular buyers and sellers will know the rating means little at this stage, just an indicator of reliance as far as payment is concerned after more than ten transactions. You really have to be in the red star category reserved for over 1,000 positive transactions before it becomes significant. Even then you are less than half way up the ladder! For those of you who wonder how the company awards the stars, the details can be found (new window) here.
I joined the world’s online marketplace to purchase some rare books and am very pleased with my purchases so far. Three have been acquired from sellers in the USA. So far the American postal service has been very reliable, although the airmail cost is sometimes more than the book itself. I have also used eBay to add to my collection of Wimbledon football club programmes and memorabilia. Among the items I purchased were two lapel badges, one from the time the Dons were in the Premier league. One programme was from the first important match I remember namely Wimbledon v Sutton United in the 1963 Amateur Cup final at Wembley.

There’s also a communal song sheet from the same occasion, sponsored by the Daily Express. During the match, postman Eddie Reynolds from Derry scored four goals with his head to help despatch the opposition 4-2. Eamonn McCann included Eddie’s story in a recent article in (new window)  HotPress magazine. He also gave me a mention for introducing him to (new window)  AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow. I also bought on eBay a book of carols which my daughter required for her choir. Sometimes a buyer has to bid for an item in an auction and the item will be up for grabs for a limited time, after which the highest bidder wins. I have lost one bid but all others have thankfully been successful. Eventually I may decide to test the water as a seller and if my better half gets her way, that will be sooner rather than later!  An important footnote in view of the state of the Irish economy: eBay, together with its online payment company PayPal, employs over 1,700 people at its European headquarters in Dublin, making it one of the country’s largest employers.

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THERE’S ONLY ONE WIMBLEDON FC


2010
11.10

Haydon the mascot

Anyone who knows me will realise I am a Wimbledon supporter. That includes Hot Press readers thanks to Eamonn McCann’s article in the latest edition. The conversation sometimes starts along the lines of “you mean MK Dons?”. It’s a phrase I and many others cannot bear mentioning because of the way a once proud football club which won the FA Cup thanks to Lawrie Sanchez in 1988 v Liverpool was allowed by the football authorities to fold and move some sixty miles away to Buckinghamshire. There were plans at the time for the club to transfer to my home town of Dublin (or possibly even Belfast where I live). But I would not have gone to watch them in either place as I could not regard them as Wimbledon FC. I have followed the Dons since their days as amateurs in the Isthmian League. For me, their first major success was in winning the FA Amateur Cup final at Wembley in 1963 when they beat local rivals Suttton United 4-2.

Fast forward to the FA Cup 2nd round draw live on ITV on Sunday, presented by Jim Rosental, with whom I used to work in BBC Radio Birmingham. In fact I persuaded him to add to the station’s coverage of six league clubs by reporting a “minor match of the day”. I was motivated by the fact that Wimbledon were in the Southern League premier division at the time (1975) and the very first match of the new season was Nuneaton (at the edge of the station’s area) versus Wimbledon. The Dons won and Jim back-announced my report by saying “Mike Fisher, bit of a Wimbledon supporter himself”.   Sunday’s draw has produced the possibility of a tie between AFC Wimbledon and the franchise outfit. But first both sides have to win replays. Headlines in some media have portrayed this as a glamour tie and one which the TV companies would no doubt seek to cover. But judging by the mood on the ground as expressed in blogs and on twitter, many AFCW fans would prefer such a clash not to happen. As a founder member of the Dons Trust I agree. AFC Wimbledon are not yet ready to meet the club that stole the Wimbledon heritage and wrapped themselves up in the comforts of league status. AFCW have started from scratch, even going back to the roots at Wimbledon Common where they began trials for players. Now the club is at an exciting stage, contenders for promotion to the Football League. But I would be glad enough to meet MK when we get there, in another year or two and who knows, maybe they will even be relegated to division two. So my first thoughts are that I will be delighted to see either Stevenage or Ebbsfleet or even both of them progress in the Cup. I will return to this issue after the replays.

If it does turn out to be AFCW v MK Dons then the club I am sure will be very professional in its response, as indicated in the statement at [new window] www.afcwimbledon.co.uk . However the real fans will have to decide. Do they boycott the game (which would mean the club would lose badly needed revenue) or if they do attend, how do they behave towards the visitors? Various options have been discussed so far, but I think that if this fixture is held, then my best approach as a season ticket holder would be to purchase a ticket and then not go to the game or else attend but not take a place on the terrace or in the stand. Anyway the 1st round replays have to be held before the Dons fans face what could be some difficult choices. Neutrals have a lot of sympathy for them and nothing must be done by supporters at Kingsmeadow that would alienate the wider soccer fraternity.

UPDATE: The match that some media people would like to have seen will not happen (sighs of relief all around Kingsmeadow). Stevenage overcame MK Dons in a thrilling finish decided by penalties after extra time. The Dons needed extra time too as they overcame a very lively Ebbsfleet United 3-2 in their replay. Nice one Sammy!! So it’s a home match to look forward to now in the FA Cup second round against Stevenage on November 27th. The game will be televised live by ITV sport as they are now following the fortunes of AFC Wimbledon. The kick-off time has therefore been altered to 12.50pm.

From the website (new window) www.afcwimbledon.co.uk a brief description of how the Dons overcame Ebbsfleet:

In a pulsating game Sammy Moore scored an equaliser in the fifth minute of added on time to take the match into extra time and then the winner in the last minute of extra time. Mark Nwokeji had put Wimbledon ahead after 8 minutes heading home but a brace from Ashley Carew after 12 and 19 minutes put the home team ahead. Both teams created a number of chances with the two goalkeepers pulling off great saves.

DALYMOUNT ROAR FROM SLIGO


2010
10.17
Jodi Stand

I had not ventured to Dalymount Park in Dublin for many years. I used to watch Bohemians in 1967/78 and remember some great occasions when Ireland played internationals in front of a packed crowd. I had been once I think since the new Jodi stand was erected. On Friday night (15th October) I found myself queueing to get into the ground, a bit like the old days. I thought I would end up with Bohs supporters in the “shed” behind the goalmouth. In fact this is the territory of away fans, in this case Sligo Rovers. I joined hundreds of them singing and applauding their team in an FAI Ford Cup semi-final. The atmosphere was great and the Red and White Army did everything they could to boost the players as they attacked into the goal they stood behind in the first half. Sligo had a couple of chances but it was scoreless at half-time.

As the RTÉ Sport report described it (new window) http://tinyurl.com/27j2mg5 Rovers went very close to opening the scoring on 11 minutes when Romauld Boco shrugged off Powell to get on the end of Matthew Blinkhorn’s excellent cross. Boco chipped the advancing Murphy but sent his effort over the bar.  Boco got a shot on target on 14 minutes but Murphy dived to his right and saved well. In the second half Rovers enjoyed a superb spell of pressure with twenty minutes remaining, with excellent passing football and creativity. They were rewarded for their effort with the winning goal on 75 minutes when Gavin Peers got his head to Richie Ryan’s corner and sent the ball into the net. So the westerners secured their place in this year’s final at the Aviva stadium next month. Their opponents will not be known for another few days as Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic drew 2-2 in the other semi-final. The Sligo fans went away happy and on this display their team will probably be considered favourites in the final. I thought Friday night’s game was a great advertisement for Irish soccer. I also hope Dalymount will continue to witness many many more years of football. But it will require more money to be spent on the stadium to update the facilities around the ground.

Sligo Rovers fans celebrate a 1-0 victory over Bohs

SHAMROCK ROVERS SLIP AGAIN


2010
10.17

Pre-match warm-up

I went back to the new Tallaght stadium a week ago (October 9th) expecting to see Shamrock Rovers moving to secure their first League of Ireland title since 1994. Sporting Fingal had other ideas and spoiled the fun for the Rovers fans who for most of the match were solidly behind the Hoops.

Teams line out

Rovers went ahead after 13 minutes, missed a 2nd half penalty and looked like holding the lead until the last 15. The visitors took control and a series of defensive errors saw Rovers concede two goals just before the final whistle. So Fingal went away with three points and Bohemians took the opportunity to topple Rovers from the top. Rovers had been hammered 5-1 away to Dundalk and suddenly their title hopes appear to be evaporating. No doubt manager Michael O’Neill will be taking them in for a good talking to before their final two league games. One thing I enjoyed about the game was to see the crowd pouring in to watch Irish soccer on a SATURDAY for a change, when no English Premiership matched were neing played.

Hoops prepare

There were more signs today of Rovers’ weariness when an own goal in the 90th minute meant that St Patrick’s Athletic managed a 2-2 draw in the FAI Ford Cup semi-final. The replay will be next Tuesday at Inchicore and the winners meet Sligo Rovers in the final. I watched them defeat Bohemians 1-0 last Friday at Dalymount Park and they played well.

Come on the Hoops

SHAMROCK ROVERS’ REVIVAL


2010
08.31

I made my first visit to the new stadium at Tallaght recently to watch Shamrock Rovers. As a schoolboy I used to watch the Hoops at Glenmalure Park in Milltown, a ground with a great history. It adjoined our school rugby pitches. I can remember the great atmosphere there, patricularly during cup games against teams such as Waterford. Apart from an odd visit to Tolka Park during the long period when Rovers were homeless, I had not seen them play for many years. I arrived five minutes late and by that stage Rovers were a goal up against UCD, a side which only developed after my time at Belfield. There was a great atmosphere at the ground and the pitch and stadium looked well. Rovers went on to win 4-1. Whoever said that Monday night soccer wouldn’t work? It was a great advertisement for Airtricity soccer. I also went to the “Hunky Dory” stadium in Drogheda for the first time recently where the students were once again the visitors. The home side won by a solitary goal. The crowd was not big but the supporters (both sets) were enthusiastic and did their best to create some atmosphere. It’s the only pitch I know where one of the goals adjoins a garden wall and house extensions. Unlike the great space in Tallaght. It’s good to see Rovers again at the top of the league.

I intend to pay a return visit some time to see them in action. Come on the Hoops!

WIMBLEDON


2010
07.03

Update on the tennis: Serena Williams won the womens’ final in convincing style, 6-3 6-2. It was her fourth Wimbledon title. This AP photo was accessed through CBS News (new window)

In a BBC interview live on court Serena thanked her family, including her sister Venus, her father, and the crowd. Serena has now moved ahead of Billie Jean King into sixth place on the list of women’s Grand Slam champions with 13, the most of any active woman player. She turned to King, who was sitting in the Royal Box, and said: “Hey, Billie — I got you. This is No. 13 for me now. It’s just amazing to able to be among such great people.” King grinned and applauded. “That’s actually my lucky number,” Williams said of number 13.

The new champion graciously congratulated her opponent, Vera Zvonareva from Russia, who played in her first Grand Slam final and was the second-lowest ranked women’s finalist ever at Wimbledon. “Everyone should give her a big round of applause,” Williams said. “She defines what being a champion and never giving up means.”

HELLO BELFAST!


2010
07.03

 

Front steps at entrance to Parliament in Belfast

Parliament Buildings at Stormont

The marvels of new technology! This page is at an early stage of construction, starting today. I am looking forward to an NUJ training course in London later this month on web page development. Please be patient as I learn some NEW TRICKS. Which reminds me. The BBC series is now running on RTÉ1 on Saturday nights (10.35pm). It’s always interesting to spot how many clues there are as to the team Brian (Alun Armstrong) supports. It happens to be the same as mine, AFC Wimbledon. So look out for the scarf, the mug and the (early) team photo in the office scenes. It’s great to see the Dons embarking on only their second season in the Conference Premier league, with a mainly full-time squad. There will be plenty more about them on these pages over the coming season as I attempt to make more use of my season ticket. Still on sport and Wimbledon in particular, I’m now going to watch the womens’ final on TV between Serena Williams (USA) and Vera Zvonareva from Russia. Could be a good match.