Friday, 27 February 2009

Ireland v England

Tom asked us to step up. I don't aspire to do a Harty, but here goes.
  1. Ten minutes to go in Stade de France tonight, I find myself rooting for the home team. Not just because it means Wales have less (though at least a Triple Crown) to play for when we play them in Cardiff. But because France deserved to win. They were simply awesome.
  2. So I guess that makes our win against them three weeks ago all the more impressive? Perhaps.
  3. Marc Lievremont is a mad genius. Maybe. Their best performance of the season to date, and this without an outhalf.
  4. France can now win the Championship. Hmmm.
  5. Gavin Henson (did we need further proof?) is an idiot. Three minutes to go. Overlap of 2 players outside him. And he goes for glory. Chance gone. Tit.
  6. We should beat England tomorrow, but not by much and it probably won't be pretty.
  7. Stringer and D'Arcy unlucky not to be starting tomorrow. But they should still play key roles.
  8. O'Gara needs to get his shit together. No better time than against the English. Ditto O'Leary, please stop kicking the ball away.
  9. I think we will win the Grand Slam. Why? One word. Kidney.
  10. John Hayes to score the winning try against Wales.
Enjoy the weekend lads. I'm planning an afternoon pedal, rolling into the Blue Light for 5pm or so to watch the match over a few pints. And then it's stabilisers on and downhill all the way home.

thought for the day

Met this bloke today, used to know at school,
We didnt say hello, cos he'd had his hair slightly permed and I'd all mine shaved off,
He was always a bit of a CLOWN,
But he did his homework, cos he knew that one day he'd be going places.
I knew I should've asked him there and then,
Was he happy, now that he'd finally GOT THERE?
He goes to bed thinking of ways to fiddle ten more pounds on his expenses.
I go to bed thinking of all the reason why...

(Sorry to pollute a sporting blog, but I think it had to be said)

Thursday, 26 February 2009

6+5 rule

Fifa endorsed the 6+5 rule in May 2008. The 6+5 rule establishes that at the start of each match, a club must field at least six players who would be eligible for the national team of the country of the club.

There would be no limit on substitutes and no limit on the number of non-national players that clubs can sign.

Seemingly, the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, is determined to see the 6+5 rule in place by the start of the 2012-13 season. Fifa's plans to limit the number of foreign players do not breach European Union rules, an independent report declared today.

How would Benitez and Wenger cope?

Guardian article

Monday, 9 February 2009

6N 09

Difficult not to get carried away by Saturday night and, overall, the weekend points to a showdown with Wales. Ranking them in difficulty, Saturday's game was #2 out of the five so to get over it with a victory was a great achievement.

I only watched the 1st half of Scotland vs. Wales because the game was over by then. It was a complete mis-match and dreadful for the neutral fan. If Ireland can put more than 20 points on the board, they will beat them, regardless of how much the Scots drag it down. Italy away will be tough, but if the forwards can take the hits and break even , we will win that one.

The one match that could be a bit sticky, if we are complacent, will be England. The English pack is good but lacking form. If they come good and bring in Shaw for Borthwick they will be awkward to deal with. If they bomb in Cardiff and decide to have a back three shoot-out with us in Croke Park, it could be a bit hairy yet.

One worry from Saturday is the amount of lineout ball O'Connell called on himself. I am surprised that Donncha was not used more often and it also seems to be a comment that our back row is not too lineout friendly. Neither Heaslip nor Ferris look light enough for regular lifting. Wallace is used very rarely, even by Munster (though this could be because Quinlan is good option). Having said all that, O'Connell was immense on Saturday in taking clean ball.

Anyway, it is onwards and upwards for now.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Alpe des Trois Roches

One week now since the Snows Came, and our garden snowman is still alive - albeit slightly deformed - and in between, there were ten commutes the like of which I've never experienced. But that's not what this post is about so I'll not bore you (ice, snow, sub-zero temperatures - you get the idea). Yesterday afternoon (Saturday), after a morning minding Ruby & Aster, I was itching to get out into the hills, this time without wheels. So with about 3 hours daylight remaining, my neighbour Adrian and I decided to head for Tibradden. A local hill, 5 minutes in the car, about 440m elevation.

Richenda had already been up 3 Rock with Adrian's wife, and I was rushing so didn't hear how they'd got on. 'Bring Gaitors' was the advice, duly noted. To cut a long story short, we hiked up and down in 2 hours, and it was magical up there, a perfect blue sky day. One foot of snow at the bottom, and - no exaggeration - 3 to 4 feet deep on top, almost impossible to take a step without sinking. This is the Dublin Mountains, I am up here a lot, and have never seen anything even close to this. We noticed that it wasn't just any old snow either - this was powder, dry, fluffy. Would it be too crazy to snowboard this?

That night, it was up to the attic and down with all the gear - bindings on, set back for powder conditions. Boots, gloves, goggles, helmet - this was like packing for a ski holiday. Next morning, it had started snowing again, but visibility looked good. Attempts to round up others were unsuccessful - lame excuses such as lack of snowboard etc. Fair enough. Into the car, happy to make it out of the estate - which is still an ice rink - without totalling the vehicle. A three minute drive, to save 30 minutes walking. Parked and strapped the board onto my rucksack. It was raining now, but I had a fair idea this would turn to snow as I climbed.

Into Kilmashogue forest, up and up, lots of people out and a few stares when they saw the board. They wanted me to pull some moves for them, but it wasn't high enough or steep enough yet. Sorry. Onwards and upwards. It was getting colder now, and wet too but it suddenly cleared and it was time to take the camera out. How else would anyone believe the amount of snow up there? 90 minutes from the car I was on top of 3 Rock, famous for the huge masts and great views of the city and Dublin Bay, across to Howth.

I saw 2 cross-country skiers, a number of mountain bikers, and lots of walkers - it was somewhat surreal. Then it got even stranger - as I was strapping on the board, I see a guy walking towards me with a... yep, snowboard. He was French, on a weekend in Dublin and had borrowed the gear from a friend. He beat me to it by about 10 seconds, so I was at best the 2nd person to board the Dublin Mountains (today, if not ever). Ah well. I followed the forest track all the way down to Ticknock, my first time on a board in 2 years, so not exactly ripping it up - sorry Tom.

Trying not to take out hikers was the big challenge. Some stared, some said Hi or Wow, others pretended to be uninterested like they see skiers and boarders up here every weekend. Got into a groove and only had to stop and push once before the car park. The buzz was only somewhat spoiled by some clown in a Fiesta trying to drive up the mountains in foot deep snow. Muppet.

45 minutes hiking to get back to the car, but spirits were good if unused leg muscles somewhat sore. Overall a big effort to pull this off, for maybe 15 minutes return - not quite ski-in-ski-out. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Once in a lifetime? Perhaps, but there may be more snow on the way so I wouldn't rule out another spin in the week ahead. I had certainly ruled out heading to the Alps for a ski holiday this season, but as someone once said - "you never know what you're gonna get".

Some photos attached for the disbelievers.

Subscribe via FeedBurner