Thursday, 25 February 2010

Jimmy hoping to get back to Sheffield

Jimmy White is currently practising in preparation for qualifying for the world championship, next week he'll have to win 3 matches to get to Sheffield for the first time in 4 years.

Jimmy has freely admitted that he was not a model professional and liked to have a good time to much and relied on his natural talent. Speaking on Newstalk on 23rd February he said that "he was putting his heart and soul" into getting back to Sheffield and "giving it 100%". He said that his time in the jungle had given him time to think and Barry Hearn was reinvigorating the sport he loved.

Jimmy got a wild card to the Masters at Wembley in January 2010, but he was a bit "ring rusty" and lost badly in the first round - however last year he was in his best form for years. Jimmy won the Sangsom 6-red World Grand Prix in Bangkok Thailand in July 2009, his first title since 2004. Only O'Sullivan was not in Thailand, "Thank God" said Jimmy! In the Paul Hunter Classic (formerly the German Open) in August 2009 he lost to Shaun Murphy in the final. Two months later on 18 October White reached the final of the World Series of Snooker in Prague, his fourth final of the season. He won his 2nd title of the season defeating Graeme Dott 5-3.

Plenty of former world champions, such as Ken Doherty, Graeme Dott, John Parrot and Steve Davis are also trying to qualify for Sheffield - the qualifiers run from February 26 to March 9, they are all fighting for one of 16 coveted places in the Crucible line up. Jimmy plays his first match at the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield on Wednesday March 3 against Patrick Wallace or Mark Boyle, and would then have to beat Ken Doherty and Joe Swail to get to the televised stages in April.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Tom Watson master of the wind

Tom Watson, 60, has won 8 majors, including 5 (British) Open championships in a 9 year span between 1975-1983. Last summer he _nearly_ completed one of the greatest ever feats in sport when he came 2nd in the British Open at Turnberry. He needed a par on the last hole to win but his second shot went over the green.

Tom Watson showed his mastery of windy conditions once more last week in Dubai, he tied the best score of the week, 68, in coming 8th in the Dubai Desert Classic. Rory McIlroy, 21, came 6th.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Miller Time

In Turino Norwegian Kjetil-Andre-Aamodt became the first downhill skier to win 7 Olympic medals spanning 4 games, including 4 golds. He won 3 medals in LilleHammer in 1994, a feat also achieved by Jean-Claude Killy (1968), and Toni Sailer (1956). In Vancouver 2010, American Bode Miller has joined that club, having won 3 medals in the 3 Alpine ski events completed so far, a bronze (Downhill), silver (Super G) and Gold in the toughest event, the Super-combined, which combines a downhill run followed by a slalom course. He and Kjetil-Andre-Aamodt are the only two men who have won medals in four different disciplines and Miller could have the single games record on his own with one more medal in the two events left to run.

Miller now has 5 Olympic medals having won 2 silvers at Salt Lake city. In Turino he was leading the Super-G after the downhill (only 7th in Vancouver) but straddled a gate in the slalom. In Miller's 13 years career he has won the overall World Cup title twice, won four World Championships, and 32 World Cup victories.

It'll be worth watching Bode Miller tonight in the giant slalom, he won silver in this event eight years ago in Salt Lake City.


Tuesday 23 feb - Giant Slalom
17:30 GMT - First Run
21:00 GMT - Second run

Saturday 27 Feb - Slalom
18:00 GMT - First Run
21:45 GMT - Second run

Friday, 19 February 2010

Just one to watch out for tomorrow afternoon, if caught in front of the telly, no rugby, fed up of winter olympics?

BBC are showing the Indoor Grand Prix from Birmingham where Bekele is going for a 3000m world record....

BBC's commentary will be focused on the local lad - Mo Farah.

Kevin Myers Rugby critic

I had been hearing a little about Kevin Myers article about the Ireland v France rugby match on Newstalkbut had not read it until I was pointed to Ronan O'Gara's letter of response today.

While I would tend to agree with Myers about the insanity of Jerry Flannery's tackle the rest of his piece - which includes such quotes as

  • "Ireland did not want to win, and Declan Kidney did not choose a team that could win. His selection of Ronan O'Gara said as much."

  • "...but the Irish team that lost in France really was representing Ireland."

- could only be taken seriously in the context of a school debate.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Shaun White legend at 23

Shaun White, 23, successfully defended his Olympic gold medal from 2006 in Turin in the Men's Half-pipe at Vancouver. This adds to his winter X Games Gold medal count of 9.

With the gold medal already in his pocket he broke the record for the biggest ever half-pipe score with 48.4/50 with his second run, pulling out the brand new Tomahawk to finish.

White spent a week in December at the private halfpipe Red Bull built him in the San Juan Mountains in rural Colorado perfecting a variety of new tricks, including the Tomahawk - which he invented, perfected and nicknamed - two front flips and 3½ twists (double McTwist 1260).

“It’s groundbreaking,” said Mike Jankowski, the head halfpipe coach for the United States. “He’s the first one to try it and the first one to do it. No one else has attempted it. No one else feels comfortable or confident or safe at this time. Now, he’s the leader of the pack. He’s basically setting the road map for snowboarding right now.” [Yahoo Sports]

"It's impossible to beat Shaun unless he falls," said silver medallist Peetu Piioroinen of Finland.

The judging was a little inconsistent I thought with American Lago getting bronze though his team mate Louie Vito, who finished 5th, threw down a much more technical impressive run.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Paris Post-mortem

I called a French win (by 4), but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow and I certainly wasn't expecting capitulation on that scale. France would probably have beaten anyone in the world on that form.

As I said to Tom in a txt after the game: A good wake up call. How they respond will tell a lot. A game of inches (Kidney said the same, after I wrote the txt - all the cliches...); mistakes punished and cruel bounces.

Healy somewhat unlucky (to be spotted, that is) but fully deserved to be binned. Flannery very lucky to stay on (does anyone know what exactly he was trying to do?) - he would have been shown the door had Healy not already been off. Both critical turning points. Our much-vaunted defense: 4 tries conceded I think all last season (six nations), and 4 already in first 2 matches.

Italy have done us a big favour - exposed England's limitations, without beating them which would have made them a dangerous beast in Twickers. The two week break to this match is much-needed on our part.

Certainly not the end of an era or anything like it, but time to really think about what this means for our World Cup ambitions. Let's cut to the chase: we don't have the strength to cope with losses of talented players such as Kearney & Luke Fitzgerald. Will John Hayes be on the flight to NZ next year? Our scrum creaks again, yet he continues to win caps and we have a huge dependency on him. No more honest player, but the doubt remains what to do at tighthead. Paddy Wallace, just not good enough, sorry - never rated him. He is a good provincial player, that's it.

So, time to bring in O'Brien, Court, O'Loughlin, Ronan, Sexton et al in the games ahead with an eye on the World Cup. We have never beaten a tri-nations team, or England or France, in a World Cup. We need to do so in the 2011 pool game to get an "easy" quarter-final and a potential semi-final. Or else beat one in a tough quarter to get to that semi. That to me is the extent of our ambitions. I'm sure Kidney thinks we have the potential to win a World Cup and will instill that belief in his squad - but to beat those teams I just mentioned not once, but THREE times in a few weeks is beyond us. It's just dreamland even for this golden generation.

Friday, 12 February 2010

France v Ireland

Let's start with a few predictions: France 25 - 19 Ireland

For starters, the opposites in this match are amazing. We have a weak scrum, no such problems for them. We have excellent half-backs, their pair are nothing special. Our centres are slippery steppers, Jauzion and Basteraud are hybrids, they bash and step, but the more skillful player is at 12, not 13.

I think both sets of backs are equally good so it is down to the forwards. We have an excellent lineout, but on his day Harinorduquy is a one man wrecking ball on the opposition throw, cast your mind back to HEC final 2006, he pressurized Munster's lineout all day. My major fear is that the French physicality will last 80 minutes and they will knock us out in the last 15.

The one team to totally outfox them recently was New Zealand, they walloped them by going around them as much as possible. That's a high risk strategy for an Irish side.

Our X-factor is on the sidelines, Kidney is a better coach and he may make better decisions in reading and changing the game if it is close going into the last quarter.

What do ye think?


Reply from McG
man, this is one is to hard to call - if pushed to it, i think we will lose. and i wouldn't even rule out a draw.

Reply from Garbhán
If Sean O'Brien (Tullow Community College) makes his way onto the pitch in Paris this weekend, he will become the first rugby player from a vocational school
to represent Ireland in the 6 Nations Championship.....

"We had reached the day when we could endure neither our vices nor their remedies"

Titus Levy

Reply from McG
not sure if that's good or bad ;) but it's certainly v. interesting....

Reply from Conor
Excellent stat. Dunno if the GAA will be pleased ….

Irish Winter Olympics team

Good news - Irish bobsleigh team allowed to compete in Winter Olympics - this would have been a travesty.

See article here.

Reply from Kev:

Jaysus dave - it makes absolutely no odds. Its a joke us having a bobsleigh team. We are not and never will be a winter olympics nation.

It's a waste of time focussing resources in that area.


Reply from Tom:

Right let's revamp all sport competitions, take the world cup back to 12 teams, or less, we only want those who can win in it.

WTF mcdaid?

we have a lad in the slalom who is world class, shane o'connor (see here).

Alpine slalom skier Shane O'Connor in action on the slopes


Reply from Conor:

The McDaid doctrine decrees that all competitions are to exclude teams who cannot win.

Still on Tom's soccer theme, let's look forward to next season's Premiership which will feature Man Ure vs Chelski: 19 games at Old Trafford and 19 games at the Bridge


Reply from Kev:

you guys are living in cloud cuckoo land - its a question of where the money should be spent in sport - its all well and good to have romantic sporting notions about participation and the olympic spirit but do think irish rugby would have got where it has today if it had focussed resources as much on the 7's game as on the 15 man game, no, or do you think UK track cycling would be leading the world if they focussed on road and track, no. A country, and especially a small country, needs to focus resources on select sporting areas to which they are well suited.


Reply from Conor:

Fair points Kevin and well made.

I do think it is good that we have some representation at the Winter Olympics.

On the subject of resources, it is hard to get it right. We still send sailing teams to the summer games because we won a medal in 1980.

For all the investment in rowing, we have won nothing. Our track and field performance is abysmal. Boxing is a success story. Our rugby resources have been very well managed and paid off over the past 10 years, although we were a shambles for the first 3 yrs of professionalism.

Rugby is ruthless and funding is targeted at kids at a very young age, it is killing the GAA.


Reply from McG:

"our track and field performance is abysmal" - somewhat harsh, look at the improvements made in sprinting in recent years. european and world indoor medals, world champs finalists. surely the investment has paid off here. 4th place in olympic finals for rowers (though ultimately disappointing, i concede). boxing a big success story with great coaching. why shouldn't we have a rugby 7's team competing at a top level - tom and i were at the 7's tournaments in wellington, watching teams like portugal, uruguay, kenya out there - we were noticable by our absence.

our bobsleighers are ranked 19 in the world. they have surely earned the right to compete in the winter olympics, against all the odds - sure, they won't win medals (though remember clifton wrottesley? he missed out on a bronze in the skeleton by 1/100th of a second in 2002...) - maybe they have the same ambition i do when i enter the odd race - finish in one piece, and don't come last. and i doubt they received much (if any) funding along the way. they are going to vancouver despite rather than because of OCI support.

i'll be switching on for the winter olympics. sounds like some of you won't be bothering. your loss :)


Reply from Kev:

ah dave, we all love sport and i am as interested in the winter olympics as much as anyone but I cant help thinking that this country needs to spend money in select areas to produce some real sporting superstars to drive a national interest in sport and recreation for the good of everyone's health. A women's bobsleigh team finishing 11th or a slalom skier 9th wont change the habits of the overweight 7 and 8 year old girls I see at the school every day.

And if you think Ireland's olympic performance is even approaching what we should be achieving, check out the genesis report commissioned by OCI (see here).


Reply from Dave:

re. the habits of overweight kids. interesting point kev - but perhaps irish kids watching the winter olympics in the weeks ahead might think about taking up a new sport? maybe even some of the kids who saw andy, ken and i boarding in the hills last month might do the same. we certainly got a good few whoops from anyone we saw. 10 years ago while i was "learning to board" (read: being stretchered off NZ ski fields...) snowboarding wasn't an olympic sport. changing tack here, nor was mountain biking. we now have irish bikers competing at the top level, and it will only get better - mountain biking will continue to explode in this country, it's only just started - it is the new surfing.

did you know we have a female downhill biker who is a european champion?
i see more and more young kids out in the hills every weekend. so that's one way habits are changing. and look at the number of people entering triathlons, multisport/adventure races now - it's a revelation (albeit in an older generation). in our day, the only options were the big team sports - computer games and TV aside, i'd suggest we in a better place now?


Monday, 8 February 2010

Drew Brees flawless

The New Orleans Saints won their first Superbowl defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV yesterday. Quarter back Drew Brees tied a Super Bowl record with 32 successful pass completions to win the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award (MVP).

Brees finished the regular season with a completion percentage of 70.62 which established a new NFL record. Also, in 2008, Brees threw for 5,069 yards, finishing 15 yards short of the NFL record of the single season set by Dan Marino in 1984.

Saints coach, Sean Payton, called an onside kick at the start of the 2nd half which was recovered, this along with Payton Manning's interception in the 4th quarter were the two turning points of the game.

Was the onside kick a roll of the dice? Well, since the 2000 season, more than 500 onside kicks have been attempted by NFL teams. Nearly half took place in the fourth quarter and the kicking team was able to recover the ball less than 15 per cent of the time. However, when the tactic has been used in the first three-quarters the success ratio approaches 60 per cent.

Super Bowl XLIV had a US television audience of 106.5 million topping that of 1983’s final episode of M*A*S*H to become the most-watched programme in US history.

Ref: Wikipedia Irish Times - America at Large

Monday, 1 February 2010

New Chairman of the Boards

Kenyanian Bernard Lagat (35) won the Wanamaker Mile, for a record eighth time, at the Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden in New York on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010.

He was previously tied with the former chairman of the boards, Irish legend, Eamonn CoghlanSource, who won it 7 times ('77, '79-'81, '83, '85 and '87).

Other Irish runners to have won the Wanamaker are Ronnie Delaney ('56-'59), Marcus O'Sullivan ('86, '88-'90, and '92) and Niall Bruton ('94 and '96).

Source: MSNBC
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