Header Random

Monday, 31 August 2009

Renault Probe Could Have Consequences

Interesting reports from the world of Formula 1 this morning regarding Fernando Alonso's win at last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

According to Brazilian TV Channel Globo, Renault are accused of ordering Nelson Piquet to deliberately crash in the racce last year, shortly after Alonso made a surprisingly early pit-stop.  I remember watching the race at the time, and I realised instantly how much of a boost this crash was for Alonso, who was, of course, Piquets' team-mate.  The ensuing safety car allowed Alonso to catch up on the rest of the field and overtake them when they made their pit-stops, thus putting the Spaniard into a lead that he never relenquished.

There were, I read, rumours at the time surrounding Piquet's crash (they went over my head) and how much of an 'accident' it was.  They make sense to the cynic, for sure, but an FIA investigation will determine whether or not the Brazilian was ordered to dump his car into the wall, a very serious offence if true.

A few comments regarding the investigation however:

It would not be a gross assumption to presume that the source for Globo is Piquet, or someone from his camp.  The Brazilian was fired recently, and a statement on his personal website showed his disgust at the decision.  This may not be any more than sour grapes, but only time will tell on that.

If it turns out that Piquet is telling the truth, then Renault will (rightly) find themselves in hot water.  Any such action, which not only corrupts the essence of the sport but also endangers drivers and patrons, would be dealt with in the most severe of fashions by the FIA.  Coming off the back of their screw-up with an Alonso pit-stop in Hungary, an offence so serious that it initially earned them a one-race ban (later revoked on appeal), there's no telling what sort of a penalty would be imposed.  A multiple-race ban and hefty fine would both be likely. This could end Renault's participation in the sport, as it is already in doubt, but I doubt that the sport's governing body would let that stop them in the imposition of their penalty.

And finally, how will Filepe Massa feel if it turns out that Piquet's crash was deliberate?  The Ferrari driver saw his World Championship hopes fade after a botched pit-stop in the aftermath of Piquet's crash.  He had been leading but he lost the lead when her drove off with the fuel-hose still attatched, while he was then given a drive-through penalty to rub salt into the wounds.  How different things almost certainly would have been if not for the incident?  It could turn out that Piquet cost his fellow countryman the World Championship.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Bolt Is Boring?

Just watched Usain Bolt run in Zurich.  He did the 100m a time of 9.81 seconds, a time which has only ever been beaten (legally) by three other men, and he did it in an odd way.  Bolt was pressured by Asafa Powell and then seemed to change up in gear to overtake him, in a manner which defies the normal flat-out nature of the shortest outdoor sprint.  Without a doubt, it was impressive.

Yet...  I'm feeling ambivalent about the run.  Meh, even.  Bolt has set such a high standards with his heroics in Berlin recently that a 'mere' 9.81s is disappointing.  It's like Michael Schumacher winning repeated Grand Prix, it gets boring.  It shouldn't, because it is so impressive, but if Usain Bolt fails to build on his Berlin brilliance, then I get the feeling that this ambivalence will return.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Lescott's Transfer, Another Blow For Football

So the Joleon Lescott saga is over, or so it seems, now that the Everton defender is reportedly at the Middle Eastlands undergoing a medical. Lescott, it seems, is set to move to Manchester City for a fee of £23m, making Lescott one of the twenty most-expensive players in the history of the game. Fools and their money...

The problem with transfer fees in football is a long-standing one but in these recessionary times, surely it is madness for so much money to be spent on a player. This year, 2009, has seen the three most expensive transfer deals occur (Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kaka) and also the worst economic slowdown for about eighty years. Surely these are two opposing events and shouldn’t happen at the same time. Yet they do.

I don’t know why you love sport but for me, it’s main attraction is in the fact that it gives a sense of community. Manchester United fans, for example, are bonded by their love of the side, the club, it’s history and the buzz of match days. We’re all united by this and it’s the same for every club in every sport across the world. This bond should also include a bond with the players, a respect for the heroes who represent your community on the pitch.

The problem with this, however, is that in an age where players are moved for so much money and earn stratospheric wages, this bond is weakened. Lescott is a perfect example. He should be a hero down Goodison way, having made over 100 appearances for the club, played with his heart on his sleeve and helped the club to some of its highest league placings in over 20 years. I’m sure that there are many young Everton fans who have his name and number on their jerseys. They had the bond with him that fans of not so long ago had with many players on their teams. Had.

The bond that used to exist has gone. There’s no link between players and fans because players, at the game’s highest level, are disposable. They play for the pound and the euro more so then the club. The National Game is weakened in many ways for the same reason. Champions Leagues, television rights, extortionate season ticket prices and lucrative pre-season tours to far-flung destinations are all signs of how clubs extract as much money as possible to pay these wages and to pay the increasing number of foreign owners. Ultimately, however, it is the fans that pay. In real terms, we shell out for jerseys, tickets and TV subscriptions but in a less-tangible but more hurtful sense, we lose the bond we once loved so much.

Need Some Assistance Over The Unassisted Triple Play

I know they're very rare but that aside, I really do not understand why Eric Burntlett's Unassisted Triple Play for the Phillies against the Mets last night is really a big enough deal to warrant the lead headline on the American sports websites this morning.  Anyone get it?

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Gender Bender

Gavin has already spoken about this earlier in the week, and some interesting debate was generated but its a rainy Sunday morning, and there's nothing I enjoy more then flicking through the Sunday Sports papers. The back pages of the sports sections are full of opinion on the South African 18 year old Caster Semenya. Semenya won gold in the 800 m at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics with a time of 1:55.45 in the final, a personal best and the fastest time in the world that year. In August 2009, amid growing speculation, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) conducted a gender verification test in the weeks before the 800m event at the World Championships. Results have not yet been published.

The IAAF have not handled the situation with the sensitivity they should have. It put the poor women into a situation in which the world's eyes were on her and her life itself was put on display and questioned.

The fact of the matter is that these allegations are not new. They have followed Semenya for a few years. Therefore, there was ample time to verify sex (again, a difficult process) and clear the way for her to compete. There is no doubt however, that the question was always going to be raised in Berlin, that people would ask and scrutinize, and so good management and coaching would have seen this resolved BEFORE the Championships even began. Because it was not, we are sadly seeing that Semenya will be the loser in what might well become an ugly story. There is surely nothing more offensive than the question of a woman's sex - even a doping accusation does not come close.

Opinion has been divided amongst athletes and media pundits. "For me, she's not a woman, she's a man," said Italian Elisa Piccione, who finished sixith in the final. "Jeez, she's fair big, she's no bulge down below though, must be a woman," said Pat Conliffe from Castleblayney. This guy had some interesting opinions on the matter.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Brett = Barney

Watching the first half here of the Chiefs - Vikings game. It's turgid stuff but I am a K.C. fan. Tonight also marks the comeback of Brett Favre and it was interesting to see him get a standing ovation from the Minnesota crowd.

His stats line's pretty poor (so far: typing at the end of the first half). Brett is 1 of 4 for 4 yards. Hey, at least he's got no interceptions or fumbles.

God he's old. If he wanted to see a purple dinosaur I'd have checked out this guy:

Friday, 21 August 2009

Fantasy Premier League Update

A big thanks to all of you who have joined our fantasy football league over at http://fantasy.premierleague.com. One week gone so far and top of the pile is Stephen Kidney and his team, Butters Apples. He's had a very, very impressive start with 148 points from the first two gameweeks. Well done!

If you're playing Fantasy Football on the site, you can join the Almost Daily Sports Blog's league. The code you need is 1007205-238235. If you're not playing, join now. There's still plenty of time to catch us all up, particularly me if my current stretch of form continues!

Here's the League table in full:

Stay tuned for an announcement on a fantasy American Football League sometime next week. If you're interested in joining, email me or leave a comment below.

Media Watch - The League Of Ireland Takes Another Blow

A little bit of selfish news from the media watch scribe this week. I recently received funding to ake a documentary on Italia ’90. I’m delighted with the news if I’ honest. I’ll be trekking across the country over the next few months and interviewing fans, asking them how they enjoyed the tournament which happened when I was a mere four-and-a-bit years old.

As part of said documentary, I’ve naturally been doing a lot of research. I can tell you all about Sheedy and O’Leary and Big Jack and co. but this research has involved going through newspapers of the time, capturing a sense of how Ireland as a nation celebrated the greatest sporting achievement in the history of our nation. The optimism is refreshing. To see people living, breathing and enjoying football is a marked difference to what we see in 2009, and what we see with regards to the League of Ireland.

Last Sunday, RTE’s Radio One’s This Week programme ran a feature on the sustainability of football in Ireland. It was a relatively glum piece that had input from the likes of Sligo chairman Dermot Kelly and Fran Gavin and the tone was simple – the League needs to downsize, return to local roots and avoid more controversies. Now, you may think that this is the sort of piece that’s not too relevant, being broadcast when the sane among us are watching, say, Man U v Birmingham or the GAA. Unfortunately, it’s not. This Week has over 150,000 listeners on an average Sunday, which far exceeds the total weekly League of Ireland attendance, or even the number of people who watch MNS on RTE Two. It’s certainly more people than will see Pats’ European run, that’s for sure.

Us hardcore, we know what the sport is like here. We love it. We get the buzz of a Friday night and we know what it’s like to follow a team. We have the passion. Those among us who’ve heard that report know that despite the problems, the League of Ireland is in many ways vibrant and exciting. Claire Byrne can voice an ad on Newstalk all she likes, but her reach is limited. The clubs can do a lot in their communities, but are they doing enough to change the public’s opinion, an opinion formed by shows like This Week.

Maybe all we need is one person to come along and capture the public’s opinion again, make us all love football once more. Maybe we just need Big Jack.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Usain Bolt - Again

I don't know what to say that hasn't been said already about Usain Bolt. heck, I don't know what to say that I haven't already said about Usain Bolt. 19.19s was his winning time in Berlin tonight, and all this when "tired" and "it wasn't a good race." His words.

My buddy Alan contends that these comments make him the most self-critical athlete ever. Possibly that's true. After two Olympic titles and two more World titles, all in World Record times, I'm going to ask a different question however. Make that two questions.

Has Usain Bolt had the greatest career of any athlete in any sport under the age of 22? (For the record I say yes, undoubtedly)

Now for another question...

At the tender age of 22, are we watching the greatest athlete of all time, in any sport? If not, who's better? I think that's a short list.

High hopes for Irish rugby season.

The Magners League is just around the corner and the Irish provinces have finished their signings for the coming year, which after the successes of last year holds a lot of promise for further improvement in Irish rugby, at provincial and national level.

Munster, after months of speculation and rumours, have completed their marquee signing of the talented Springbok centre Jean De Villiers. De Villiers, captain of the Stormers and Springbok player of the year in 2008, will be expected to replace Rua Tipoki in the centre. He will be battling for his place with Keith Earls and Liefimi Mafi, with the likely outcome being De Villiers and Mafi in the centre with Earls shunted to wing or full back. In terms of developing Earls as a centre this signing is not ideal but many believe his future lies at full back where he shone for the British and Irish Lions.

Toby Morland, a Kiwi scrumhalf, has been signed as cover for Tomas O'Leary and is showing himself to be in a similar style to O'Leary. He's a physical scrum half with good pace but a slow pass. Expect him to go the way of the South African back row Justin Melck who was signed last season as injury cover and moved on in January.

Munster have also signed Leinster full back Felix Jones who had an excellent showing at the Churchill Cup with Ireland A. Danny O'Riordan having been released from Connacht after a very promising start to his career stalled under the rotation policy of Michael Bradley has also signed. Both are solid under the high ball and have exceptional pace. Competition for the backs in Munster will be intense in all positions.

In the pack Munster have signed French prop Julien Brugnaut from Dax. The 27 year is just entering his prime in propping terms but stuggled in the scrums against Sale in the first pre season match for Munster. His signing stalls the development of Irish props such as Dave Ryan and shows why Ryan's older brother, Timmy, moved to Toulon to get more game time. Munster have also signed Damian Varley, the Garryowen hooker who had a successful season at Wasps, however his gametime will be limited with Flannery and Denis Fogarty ahead of him.

The back row remains an area of strength for Munster with high expcectation for UL Bohemians openside Tommy O'Donnell to make an impression this year after procuring a senior development contract. Nick Williams is also back to full fitness and was impressing in the match against Sale before a minor injury forced him off.

Munster have built on the strength in depth of last season and should again challenge for the Magners League and Heineken Cup. With the reintroduction of the maul as a legitimate attacking weapon and the increase in off loading evident from last season they'll be a threat to any team. The big worry is if John Hayes gets injured and Brugnaut fails to step up. The expectation though is for Munster to regain the Heineken Cup and the largest negative about Munster's work in the off season is the new all red kit.

Leinster have also signed very shrewdly strenghting their pack with Cork native Mike Ross who signed from Harlequins. Ross was part of a formidable scrum with the London team and provides an Irish option at tight head. However Tony Buckley put in a much better perfromance at tight head for Ireland A over the summer. Hopefully this was a result of fatigue on Ross's part after a grueling season.

Nathan Hines, the Scottish second row from Wagga Wagga, has also signed for Leinster. He will bring a hard edge to the pack as well as some underrated handling abilities. A second row of Leo Cullen and Hines may not win any modelling competitions but no one would bully a pack with them in it.

Another Munster native has signed with Leinster in Eoin Reddan. Reddan will be replacing Chris Whitaker and is hoping to regain the Irish number 9 jersey. He had a poor season at Wasps by his standards but not many Wasps enhanced their reputation last season. His sniping runs and box kicks will give the Leinster back line lots to work off and he could prove to be the catalyst for a backline that sturggled for consistency last season.

Leinster's biggest loss is Rocky Elsom, undoubtledly the best back row in the world. His bullocking runs, huge tackles and enormous work rate will be sorely missed. However this does present an oppurtunity for Sean O'Brien to gain a regular starting spot for Leinster. The young Carlow man is hugely promising and is strong with ball in hand on and on the floor. Expect an Irish cap for the youngster before the end of the year.

Other Leinster players who can expect their first Irish cap are Cian Healy and Johnny Sexton. The loosehead prop offers an offensive weapon in the scrums as well as the habit of scoring tries on the wing shared by his rival Marcus Horan. If Sexton carries his form and confidence into the new season we could see a new first choice out half for Ireland, it's a big if though.

Leinster have a lot of expectation on their shouders after last season's Heineke Cup success but expect them to be there or thereabouts again this season.

Ulster have a new Head Coach in former Irish skills coach Brian McLaughlin and have placed a lot of faith in new Operations Director David Humphreys to steer them back towards success of any kind after a few poor seasons.

Unfortunately for them the bad news began before a ball was kicked with their captain Rory Best being ruled out for the season. Andy Kyriacou, who some may remember from a brief spell at Munster, will be an able replacement but Best is part of the backbone of a young Ulster team.

The best Ulster can hope for is a mid table finish in the Magners League and some good performances in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup. They have a lot of promising young players, Ian Whitten, Darren Cave, David Pollock to name a few but Ulster should be planning for the future rather than the short term this year.

Michael Bradley continues coaching in Connacht so expect another year of mediocrity interspersed with one or two good wins and some foreign signings. It's hard to motivate yourself for Connacht when Bradley's losing record is never punished despite the fact that when a quality coach, Warren Gatland, was in charge Connacht made the most of what they had and became the first Irish team to win in France in a European competition and were generally expected to make the semi finals of the European Challenge Cup most years. However, the IRFU don't seem to want to replace Bradley at the moment.

I'll save any predictions for the national team until before the autumn interantionals but with Kidney in charge another good season should be on the cards.

Caster Semenya

This is Caster Semenya, the woman at the heart of a gender verification scandal at the World Championships in Berlin.

I don't think this is a Stella Walsh situation. Semenya, is not a cheat, at least according to a statement from the IAAF. This is more likely to do with genetics, and for it to be played out on such a public scale has to be tough for her.

What you all think?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Brett's Back

Brett Favre is coming back to the NFL, and to the Minnesota Vikings. 21 days into his second retirement.

I couldn't be more annoyed at the man if I tried. For a man who's decisive in the pocket, even if he's not always made the right decisions, these off-the-field antics ruin everything. I blogged about Favre three weeks ago, when he retired, so this is a topic of which I've already spoken. Brett's second comeback makes him cringeworthy, laughable and pathetic.

"I didn't feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable" said Favre three weeks ago, speaking about his own decision to quit the sport. And now this. I'm glad that the only Vikings I support are of the University of Limerick variety.


Nabbed from our contributor Danny, here's a July 30th tweet from Stephen Colbert.

brett favre has announced he will finally retire from the nfl for good. can't wait to see him on the field this season

I Want One Of These

Last week the Philadelphia Eagles signed Michael Vick. A gutsy move, considering his dog-fighting past. It's a move I actually agree with - football-wise it's a good fit and Vick has served his time and deserves a second chance.

Most importantly though, I want one of these jerseys, currently on sale on the Philadelphia Eagles' official website.

Vick, 7, across the back of my Suki? Yes please.

Richards Banned for Three Years, Williams Reduced to 4 months

The fall out of Harlequins Heineken Cup 1/4 Final loss to Leinster last season on the 12th of April continues.

First there was the investigation into the "apparent" blood injury to winger Tom William's. This allowed Nick Evans (crocked knee and all) to re-appear in the final 10 minutes of the game. Evan's is a noted goal kicker and Harlequins were hoping he could hobbled a kick over to beat Leinster by two points. It wasn't to be and what has followed I can only describe by borrowing a quote from Derek Mahon "from the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime".

William's was originally found guilty of fabricating the blood injury. One would think his "sly" wink (38 seconds) to the Harlequins bench while coming off the pitch only heightened suspicions.
He was banned for 12 months. Cheating should be punished - make no mistake what was done was wrong and I agree all those involved should be punished.

However, it seemed odd that the club was fined monetary value and found guilty of wrong-doing yet no mention was made of throwing them out of European Competitions. The fine will hurt - no Guinness Premiership can withstand 1/4 of a million hit to their budget - I shudder to think how an Irish province would fare under such a hit.
But could one not argue that a ban from any European competition for 1-2 years would have made more sense?
The loss in revenue to Harlequins from advertising and ticket sales I feel would have been just as damaging and also more relevant to the crime.

Williams then came out and appealed his ban - no surprise there.

I was fully expecting him to appeal and I feel his reduction to 4 months is fine. Personally, when I heard of the first 12 month ban I was surprised. I asked myself what would any player do in that situation - struggling to win a very important game for the club and the management ask you to take a fall ( or crush a fake blood capsule in your mouth - why would teams even have these near the sideline?).
Do you a) go with the management and team (who pays your wages) or b) refuse and then probably face the sack at the end of the month on any disciplinary actions the club can think of that will not result in an unfair dismissal case.

In the end Williams was found to be the "pawn" in the case. Dean Richards, a former great player and coach has taken the hit. He is shocked by his 3 year ban, and will weigh up his decision to appeal.

It is hard to tell exactly where the blame should lie - personally I think it should fall something like the following:
Richards - 2 years for his part in the cover up.
Williams - 2 months from playing time for his actions.
Doctors in Harlequins - if found guilty of cutting William's mouth with a scalpel. Banned from involvement with any rugby club for life - subsequent medical investigation into the ethics of that decision will probably have some impact on their medical licenses.

This is pretty big news for Rugby Union - I've never heard of such a blatant case of cheating in such a high profile game. Hopefully, it is not a sign of a direction the game is taken - and maybe the high penalties being paid by Harlequins will prevent teams from taking such mindless decisions in the future.

Saturday, 15 August 2009


Usain Bolt.

9.58 seconds.

Watch. Marvel.

It may be the greatest sporting performance I have ever seen.

Hellie didn't get why this was such a big deal and I'm not sure if words can explain. Usain Bolt just knocked 1.5 metres off the 100m World Record. Usain Bolt has taken the 10 seconds 100m, a famed mark in sport, and made it redundant. Usain Bolt has changed what's possible, what it takes to win. He may be the most phenomenal athlete the world has ever seen, and all this in the space of just a year.

And what a year. It's exactly 365 days since his 100m final win in Beijing, since he ran 70 and celebrated 30 metres. I worked on that day, and I read the sports bulletin minutes after the race. My headline was simple... 'Wow'. I was speechless. I had that same feeling tonight, times ten. In the build-up to last year's Olympics, Bolt went from a star of athletics to the star of world sport. Tonight he lived up to that billing in a way no one dreamed possible. I felt he could have run 9.65. He did 9.58. Those seven-hundredths are a lifetime, and it may be a run the likes of which I never see again in my lifetime.

He better be clean.


I'd also like to take a quick moment to congratulate Olive Loughnane on her silver medal in the 20k walk this morning. She did our mutual home-town of Loughrea in County Galway proud with a mature performance which saw her outlast all of her competitors bar Olga Kaniskina, who is almost as dominant as Bolt. The Jamaican will rightly get the headlines tomorrow, but from one Loughrea native to another, well done Olive. You earned it.

How NOT To Celebrate

The winner of the dumbest celebration of 2009 award is Spain's Alvaro Bautista who finished third in today's 250cc MotoGP race in the Czech Republic and then did this.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Women's Boxing, Golf, Rugby Sevens All Olympic Bound

It’s been a good day for Ireland in the Olympics. An unusual thing to say in 2009, granted, but nonetheless decisions made today could pave the way for Olympic success for our fair isle.

The obvious bit of good news is the decision to allow women’s boxing into the Games from London 2012. While some people will have problems with seeing women fight, and I must admit that I’m not sure if I’m overly comfortable with it myself, this means that Ireland’s most dominant sportsperson, Katie Taylor, will get to strut her stuff on the world’s highest stage. Taylor has won 39 fights in a row, 60 from 61, and was named Women’s Boxer of the Year for 2008. Should she be able to cope with the undoubted pressure thrown her way ahead of the 2012 Games than she will be the hottest favourite for a gold medal, perhaps in any sport. Amhrán de bhFiann should be heard, loud and clear, thanks to her in about three years time.

Today’s other Olympic announcement is also good news in that two new sports are likely to be added to the Games from 2016. Pending approval at the IOC congress in Copenhagen in October, golf and rugby sevens shall both return to the Olympics after long, long absences. Ireland’s golf legacy is well known and the sport is one of our most successful. Aside from three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington, Ireland has also produced Ryder Cup stars and European Tour winners throughout the years. By 2016 Rory McIlroy is likely to be one of the sport’s biggest stars while people like Graeme McDowell could also have broken through to become legitimate medal contenders. Again, I have issues with the inclusion of golf. I always feel that sports who wish to take part in the Games should pass one test – would winning an Olympic gold medal be the biggest potential prize in your sport? If no, that sport shouldn’t be allowed. It’s one of the reasons that football fails to register in Western Europe, despite it being the world’s most popular sport. For as long as a Green Jacket is more important than a gold medal, and that is likely to remain the case no matter what, golf’s inclusion will never sit easy with me, no matter how successful Ireland may or may not be.

Rugby sevens is a sport that will pass this test. A sport that is played throughout the world, particularly in the Pacific Rim, it has true global appeal and is at that stage where inclusion in the Olympics will be a real boon in it’s strive for growth. As outlined in an article on The Guardian’s website, this decision means that rugby will now be taught in schools in countries such as Russia where Olympic sports are king, and also receive funding in some countries. For Ireland, well we may not be world powerhouses in the sevens version of the game, but it is a sport that is very, very popular here or obvious reasons. A decision like today’s, which means that sevens becomes even more important, could and should see more of a concerted effort being made to allow Ireland’s men and in particular our women, to go for gold from 2016.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Fantasy Football

A quiet week here on the blog as I’m on a short break with she who must be obeyed down in Kerry. Enjoying it I must say, even if I am still gutted by Michael Schumacher’s decision not to return to Formula 1. Badoer is no seven-time world champion, that’s for sure.

Break or no break, I’m aware that there are sporting events just around the corner, not least the long-awaited return of the Premier League.

If you play fantasy football ,it’s likely that you play it on http://fantasy.premierleague.com as it’s the official one...and free. If you do sign up for it, then be sure to join the league set up by us here at The Almost Daily Sports Blog. There will be a prize for the highest scorer at the end of the season. The code to join is 1007205-238235. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

NASCAR Name Mayhem

I love NASCAR, I really do. Made a few pound off Denny Hamlin on Monday. For all bar two races of the year the cars run around in an oval but not this weekend where the NASCAR circus has rolled into Watkins Glen in New York, for one of my favourite rounds of the year., even if it has one of the most ridiculous names of any sporting event, ever. This Sunday's race is the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen... I kid you not.

It's still very good though. Here's what happened two years ago.

Tune in, do!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

2nd Tier to get underway.

The Football league kicks off this weekend across the water with the first game taking place on Friday night. Much will be expected of the three clubs relegated from the Barclays Premier League when the new Coca-Cola Championship season kicks off.

All eyes will be on Newcastle after a miserable season of turmoil on and off the pitch but of the three teams relegated in 2007-08, only Birmingham managed to secure promotion last season.
The previous season Charlton, Sheffield United and Watford all failed to regain their places in the top flight.
Middlesboro take on Sheffield Utd in the first game on Friday night. Gareth Southgate's men will hope to be challenging for promotion come May. They have, at present, hung on to many of their 'star' players like Alfonso Alves & Tuncay, so they will be difficult to beat.
My club Watford will, I hope & pray, be up near the top half battling for the playoffs, but I have this nagging feeling in my gut that a season of struggle and hardship may be in store. Last season we had a very strong finish, under Brendan Rodgers, but he upped ship and climbed aboard the Reading yacht leaving the Hornets in the lurch a bit.
Roy Keane's Ipswich will be another side of interest this seaon, he worked well in this league with Sunderland, lets see how he gets on this time round.
My Prediction:
1st - Ipswich
2nd- Middlesboro
Playoff - Newcastle, Reading, West Brom, and what the hell - WATFORD!
Relegation - Scunthrope, Plymouth, Blackpool

Altidore Heads To Hull

Not much made of this move today but I'm going to highlight it because I'm a fan of the player involved. Jozy Altidore has joined Hull on a season-long deal loan from Villarreal. Though ineffective in his time in Spain, Altidore is a promising player. He's scored seven goals from his 16 appearances with the American national team, not bad for a 19 year old.

Here he is against Spain in the Confederations Cup semi-final:

This is a great move for Hull because I believe he's a player with great potential. I think he could be a bargain at £6.5m at the end of the season. One to keep an eye out for, and maybe a potential fantasy football sleeper.

Mucho Excitismo!

OK, so my Spanish isn't all that, but I'm quite excited today after learning that my friend Laura wasn't taking the mick when she told me that Muhammad Ali, yes, THE Muhammad Ali, is on his way to Ireland. And not just to Ireland but to Clare, his ancestry home, which is within half an hour of where I live.. The first of September is marked off in my calendar already. Anyone wanna come with?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Woods Breaks Wind!

Tiger Woods, it seemed, took the chance to relieve some tension during the final round of last weekend’s Buick Open. This video has cropped up on Youtube and it appears to show Eldrick, arguably the finest sportsman on the planet, farting. Yes, farting. Check it out.

Sounds fake, right? I thought so too, I won’t lie. Yet here’s another video, taken from a news broadcast the next day, which shows the same thing.

EDIT: It seems that our old friend David Feherty, CBS golf analyst, is to blame.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Beckham Experiment

"If someone's paying you more than anybody in the league, more than double anybody in the league, the least we expect is that you show up to every game, whether you are suspended or not. Show up and train hard, show up and play hard."

"I don't think that's too much for us to expect.”

They’re the words of one Landon Donovan, speaking, of course, about his L.A. Galaxy teammate David Beckham. Donovan has joined in a chorus of boos and jeers levelled at Goldenballs, a chorus that’s got even louder in recent weeks now that Beckham has actually returned to Los Angeles to play in the MLS.

The fans have turned against the man who proclaimed that he wanted to "take soccer in the US to another level” and “make a difference with the kids." Yet those words now sound hollow, especially after Beckham returned to Europe and A.C. Milan in a move that seemingly was aimed at maintaining his England career. That’s certainly the view of the fans who’ve been involved in two incidents with Beckham and certainly seem to wish that he would return to Italy full-time.

So, where did it all go wrong? That’s the question asked by Grant Wahl in his book, The Beckham Experiment. Wahl is the right man to write this book. As the chief soccer writer for Sports Illustrated magazine, he has been covering the Galaxy, Beckham and MLS throughout recent times and is able to give the fan a neutral, unbiased account of what happened, why, and who to blame. It’s from this book that Donovan’s quotes about Beckham hail. These quotes that are at least part of the reason that the American soccer public have turned against the Englishman and, surprisingly, they’re not even the best part of this book.

It truly is a fascinating read. Wahl details, in an in-depth fashion, where exactly the Galaxy/Beckham saga went wrong and it also explains why. Incompetence on the part of management is revealed, as is the true extent of the influence held by Beckham and his people. It is a book which is fair, if a bit anti-Beckham, but it as good a sporting exposé as I’ve read in a long, long time. And given the unfolding nature of the story, and how the fans are turning against Beckham, Wahl has given us a valuable document that explains what is happening to one of the most famous athletes in the world, and why he’s no longer the golden child of American soccer.


The Beckham Experiment is available to buy on Amazon, in all good bookshops and in some pretty lousy ones too.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Kingdom of Heaven.

It might not have stirred Gav's sporting passions, but Kerry's destruction of Dublin in Croke Park earlier today further underlines the fact that Kerry is the Kingdom of Footballing heaven. A truly breathtaking display saw them triumph by 1-24 to 1-07.
Kerry's spectacular return to form sent the Dubs crashing out of the race for Sam Maguire at Croke Park. Dublin were simply demolished in front of a crowd of 81,890 by a Kingdom outfit bursting with energy, style and substance. Some brilliant performances from the likes of Declan O'Sullivan, Darren O'Sullivan, Colm Cooper and on and on and on. The strength in depth of the Kerry squad is unmatched by any other County in Ireland & Kieran Donaghy is out through injury!

I watched all of this weekend's 3 quarter finals. Anyone thats knows me will know that I have ties to Counties playing in each of the games. Cork's hammering of Donegal was a bitter blow. I know I was poking fun at the Donegal boys in an earlier post, but they were torn apart by a very strong Cork side.

In the other quarter final, the best of the bunch, All-Ireland champions Tyrone had to dig deep to survive Kildare's gutsy challenge at Croke Park, before squeezing through to the All-Ireland SFC semi-finals. The beaten Leinster finalists produced a heroic display at Croke Park, before going down by just two points in agonising fashion.

What I don't understand about some RTÉ panelists, is that when a team like Dublin, win their Provincial Title easily, then have a break for a few weeks, then come against a Kerry team battle hardened from their run in Qualifiers one member will say "We should take a look at the system, they haven't played at the level of intensity for a number of weeks, it was a factor today". Yet when Cork, a team that, like Dublin, haven't played in a few weeks, hammer Donegal, it gets flipped - Donegal are "Weary from their heroics in the Qualifiers, the system needs to be looked at." Seems a bit daft to me, make up your mind, when it suits it favours those coming through the Qualifiers, then Cork win easliy & the Qualifiers are to blame for a poor Donegal display. Methinks there is an apparent lack of insight from the panel when they spout inconsistent tripe like that. Then again what would I know.
Mayo & Meath meet to fight for the final remaining Semi-Final place. On the evidence of this weekend though, both teams will struggle to reach the level of Cork, Kerry & Tyrone. But, then again, what would I know.

All's Quiet On The Western Front

It’s a really quiet day in work today (the August Bank Holiday weekend is traditionally the slowest time of the year for news) and it’s also a relatively quiet time of the year for sport. Sure, Kerry are taking on Dublin in an All-Ireland Quarter Final today but since it’s a contest that’s as one-sided as a hippy missing his left-leg, it’s not coming close to stirring my sporting passions. Baseball is ongoing, but that has fleeting moments of greatness (Note to self: must post one I saw recently) and, sure, NASCAR is on today, but it’s Pocono. Don’t start me on the Ashes.

So not the most exciting couple of weeks but at the same time, there’s stuff on the horizon to whet our appetites. The Premier League will return in no time. The World Athletics Championships are only just around the corner. It won’t be long until Michael Schumacher returns.

All that’s exciting, but it’s not going to arrive for a little while yet. In the meantime, relax, enjoy something else like the football if that’s your shtick, and maybe spend time with your family and loved ones. Your favourite sports stars will be waiting for you to return in no time at all.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Morning All

Welcome to August.

Here's an August 1st treat for you all: it is, after all, Stephen Hunt's birthday. So there!

Saw this game, Jane Thomson's Marathon, and said I'd share it with you all. There's a prize to the first person to send me a screengrab of the game's completion screen.