Uncategorized

Four for Four for Irish Provinces but Injury headaches for Joe Schmidt

I pick out the main talking points from the European action as Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht all secured victories.

Leinster remind Toulouse of the path ahead

Toulouse entered their clash with Leinster on the back of 12 successive victories and on top of their Champions Cup pool. For 40 minutes the RDS was home to a slugfest, one which closely resembled an international game. Leinster however are an 80 minute side and they had too much for their French counterparts. This was a stark reminder that although Toulouse have improved they are still not on the level to compete with the best in the competition. With Johnny Sexton and other internationals to return, Leinster once more look the team to beat.

Leinster Pro 14 Champions
Leinster are the defending champions and look the team to beat once more Photo by: Billy Stockland/INPHO

Carbery’s response to adversity is very encouraging

Joey Carbery suffered an off day when Munster lost to Castres in their fourth game of the Heineken Cup. His response to that poor performance has been extremely encouraging. He has kicked 17 successful penalties in a row in games against Leinster, Connacht and Gloucester. His mental toughness shows just why he has the potential to be a pivotal player for Munster and Ireland in the years ahead. His game management has improved too and a 26 point haul against Gloucester will do his confidence no harm at all.

joey carbery
Joey Carbery celebrates his try against Gloucester. Photo by: Inpho.

Stockdale continues incredible try scoring form

Jacob Stockdale has took to senior rugby like a duck to water. The 22 year old winger scored his fifth and sixth tries as Ulster surprised last year’s finalists Racing 92. Stockdale’s second try in which he sidestepped past Olivier Klemenczak before breaking ahead, chipping on with a crisp-left foot strike, showing tremendous pace and then stepping inside to read the bounce quicker than three Racing defenders. Frighteningly good and as he is only 22, there is plenty more to come.

jacob stockdale
Jacob Stockdale scored a brace of tries for Ulster. Photo By: Getty.

Connacht have strength in depth

Connacht overcame Sale Sharks in the European Challenge Cup and now look poised to qualify for the quarter finals. The Westerners have used the competition to test their squad. Andy Friend did name a strong side but the performance of James Mitchell at scrum half and James Cannon in the second row. Substitute fly half David Horwitz kicked the winning penalty. If Connacht are to push for Champions Cup qualification then they will need a strong squad.

Schmidt’s scrum half crisis

If there is one negative that can be drawn from the weekend’s rugby, it is Ireland’s problem in the no9 position. Luke McGrath’s injury in Leinster’s win coupled with John Cooney not being fit to play for Ulster against Racing means that Conor Murray is Ireland’s only fit scrum half. Kieran Marmion was injured in Ireland’s victory against New Zealand last November and is not due back until late February. This means that Murray is the only capped Irish scrum half currently fit, less than three weeks out from the 6 Nations.

conor murray
Conor Murray is currently Ireland’s only fit scrum half. Photo By: Inpho.

Competition for Places for 6 Nations

The clean sweep of victories for the Irish provinces was notable because of the strength of performances by individuals fighting for a place in the Ireland squad. Since Ireland’s defeat to Argentina at the World Cup in 2015, Schmidt has tried to develop strength in depth. The provinces have allowed Irish talent to develop and now it is coming to fruition for the and the national side. This has raised hopes of a strong 6 Nations and World Cup.

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Tennis

Players who can win the Australian Open

The first tennis Grand Slam of the year is fast approaching as the world’s top players battle for glory. Ivan Smyth picks the men in contention to lift the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

  1. Novak Djokovic

The Serbian enters this tournament as the favourite after an outstanding end to his 2018 season. The number one ranked player in the world returned from injury to win Wimbledon and the US Open. He suffered defeat in Doha last week, losing to an inspired Roberto Bautista Agut. The 5-set format suits his game and it is hard to see many players who could potentially upset the 14-time Grand Slam Champion. He is aiming to win a record seventh Australian Open title and he will have a major say in who reigns supreme in two weeks’ time.

Novak Djokovic
Can Novak Djokovic win a record seventh Australian Open title? Photo By: PA
  1. Roger Federer

The 20-time Grand Slam champion comes in to this tournament in impressive form after helping Switzerland secure the Hopman Cup. He was undefeated throughout the competition where he defeated Cameron Norrie, Stefanos Tsitsipas and rival Sascha Zverev. Federer is tied with Djokovic and Roy Emerson (who won six titles from 1961-1967) on six Australian Open victories. He struggled towards the end of last season but if he is physically fit then he can create further history.

Roger Federer
Can Roger Federer win three titles Australian Open titles in a row? Sourced Via: Sky Sports
  1. Marin Cilic

It seems like now or never for the 6ft 6in Croat to claim an elusive Astralian Open crown. He is a Grand Slam champion after winning the US Open in 2014. He reached the final last year where he lost out to Roger Federer in a classic final. The 30-year-old reached three Grand Slam quarter finals and helped Croatia to win the Davis Cup in 2018. The fast courts Down Under suit his hard-hitting game and nobody would begrudge him another Slam. He faces a tough first round against Bernard Tomic, but he can go deep once more.

 

  1. Rafael Nadal

The 32-year-old Spaniard will always enter a Grand Slam among the favourites. He has been disrupted by injuries since losing to Novak Djokovic in an epic semi-final at Wimbledon. He has yet to play a competitive game in 2019 which is far from ideal preparation. The 2009 Australian Open champion faces a tough draw in which he may have to face Alex Di Minaur, Kyle Edmund, Kevin Anderson, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to win his 18th Grand Slam title. It would be one of his most impressive Grand Slam victories if he could achieve the feat. If anyone can do it then Nadal can.

Rafael Nadal
Will Nadal win the first Grand Slam of the year? Photo By: Getty.
  1. Sascha Zverev

The talented German has yet to progress beyond the quarter final of a Slam. The 21-year-old is one of the biggest prospects in the game, but he needs to serve big and improve his forehand. Since 2005 only two players outside of Djokovic, Federer or Rafael Nadal have won the Australian Open. Zverev may well be the best bet to break those player’s hold on the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup. He has not yet progressed beyond the third round of this competition, but he beat both Djokovic and Federer and the ATP Tour Finals last November.

  1. Karen Khachanov

The Russian is an outside bet to win his first ever Grad Slam title. His big serve and large forehand are well suited to the Australian courts. He defeated four top 10 players to win the Paris Masters last November: John Isner, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. The no.10 seed has not progressed beyond the second round in this tournament before, but he should rectify that stat this year. He can beat any player on his day.

 

The Australian Open runs from 14-27th January. It promises to be a fantastic tournament with plenty of top-quality action in the men’s and women’s draws.

Boxing, Uncategorized

My Boxing Awards 2018

Fight of the Year: Canelo-Golovkin II

The Canelo-Golovkin rematch was the biggest fight of the year in my opinion. Often rematches fail to live up to the hype but tis fight was even better than the first bout. After the Mexican star failed a drugs test, the fight was pushed back until September. Golovkin was angered by the failed test but the fight went ahead. The pair produced 12 rounds filled with phenomenal intensity, character and huge punches. Canelo gained the decision and in the eyes of many is now the biggest star in boxing.

 

Canelo v GGG
Canelo lands a right hook on Gennady Golovkin in what was an epic rematch. Photo By: Al Bello’Getty Images.

 

Fighter of the Year: Oleksandr Usyk

The Ukrainian boxer enjoyed a sensational 2018 as he became unified Cruiserweight champion of the world. He defeated Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev in the World Boxing Super Series to win the WBC, WBA (Super), IBF, the Ring and lineal Cruiserweight title alongside the WBO title he already held. For the first time in British boxing history, all four cruiserweight titles were on the line. Usyk’s  knock out win against Bellew as he won all three of his fights in his opponent’s back yard. He is planning to move to heavyweight and add some extra spice to the division. Other contenders included Naoya Inoue, Mikey Garcia, Vasyl Lomachenko and Canelo Alvarez.

Usyk
Oleksandr Usyk enjoyed a stellar 2018. Photo By: WBSS

Knockout of the Year: Whyte-Browne

This was a tough category to pick a winner but the devastating knockout that Dillian Whyte inflicted on outclassed Lucas Browne gets my nod. The Brit dominated his opponent before a sensational left hook ended the Aussie’s night. Other contenders for this award were Alexander Povetkin’s knockout of David Price, Usyk’s finish of Tony Bellew while Naoya Inoue’s KO of Juan Carlos Payano was very close to winning the award.

Dillian Whyte
Dillian Whyte celebrates his victory against Dereck Chisora. Photo By: Getty.

Comeback of the Year: Tyson Fury

This was a relatively simple category to pick a winner as Tyson Fury came back from over two years of inactivity and mental health difficulties to challenge Deontay Wilder in a heavyweight classic. Fury shed 10 stone and won two comeback fights. He fought the Bronze Bomber for the WBC Heavyweight Championship of the World in what was an epic contest. The Gypsy King looked to be knocked out in the 12th round but he defied the odds to get up just as he proved the doubters wrong by coming back from the lowest point of his life. A deserving winner.

Round of the Year: Fury v Wilder Round 12

The final round of the Fury-Wilder contest is my pick for the best round of the year. The Bronze Bomber landed a devastating three punch combination to knock Fury down. Wilder celebrated as he thought he had won his 41st fight with 40 knockouts. Instead Fury somehow got to his feet and survived the onslaught from the heaviest puncher in boxing today. It looks as if we will get a rematch in what should be another epic contest.

Fury Wilder
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder produced an epic fight and an exhilarating twelfth round. Photo By: Showtime Boxing.

2018 was an excellent year for boxing with some epic fight staking place. Next year promises to be exciting with plenty of big fights taking place. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and feel free to comment on your suggestions for winners in the above categories. I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best for 2019!!

 

 

 

Boxing, Uncategorized

The Weekend of Boxing – Warrington wins an epic, Whyte earns a title shot and Edwards pulls off an upset

Warrington finally getting the recognition he deserves

Josh Warrington entered his fight with Carl “The Jackal” Frampton as an underdog. The Leeds Warrior was defending his IBF featherweight title after his surprise victory against Lee Selby earlier in the year. He applied constant pressure to the three time world champion throughout this classic contest. Warrington is now getting the recognition he deserves and there are few British fighters who have enjoyed a better year. He is looking to unify the division and there are plenty of exciting fights to be made.

Josh Warrington
Josh Warrington defeated Carl Frampton to defend his IBF World Featherweight belt. Photo By: Getty

The end of the road for Frampton?

Carl Frampton has enjoyed a remarkable career and is one of if not the best fighter to ever be produced on the island of Ireland. The Belfast native was a two weight world champion and has held three different world championship belts during his career. The Jackal contributed greatly to an epic contest but as in his loss to Leo Santa Cruz, a slow start proved his downfall. He says that he will take time to make a decision on retirement but no matter his decision, he has done himself proud.

Dillian Whyte deserves his shot

With all the talk surrounding Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, it is easy to forget Dillian Whyte. The Body Snatcher knocked out Dereck Chisora in another brutal slugfest. He called out Joshua after the fight with the champion not impressed by Whyte’s actions. Whyte has enjoyed an excellent 2018 as he defeated Joseph Parker, Lucas Browne and Chisora. He has responded to his only defeat, which was inflicted by AJ in 2015. With Wilder and Fury set for a rematch, Whyte should finally get a world title shot.

Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua. Source via: Sky Sports.

Whyte’s boxing skills improving

Whyte-Chisora II was an all action fight but Dillian Whyte’s boxing skills improved greatly from the first fight. Chisora tried to apply incessant pressure but Whyte’s jab and boxing IQ helped him to wear his fellow Brit down. Chisora was winning on two of the three judges’ scorecards at the time of the knockdown but Whyte was turning the screw. The Body Snatcher has an excellent jab and will need all his artillery to claim a world title.

Dillian Whyte
Dillian Whyte celebrates his victory against Dereck Chisora. Photo By: Getty.

Edwards pulls off a shock

On the Whyte-Chisora undercard, Charlie Edwards surprised Cristofer Rosalesto claim the WBC World Flyweight title. Edwards boxed superbly to win all three judges scorecards: 118-110 117-111, 116-112. In 2016, he lost to Johnriel Casimero for the IBF flyweight tile but this was his sixth victory on the bounce. The images of him presenting his mother with his belt is heartwarming and he has an exciting future ahead. He may defend his title against Lee Selby in what would be an exciting British fight. Edwards should savour this victory as 2019 will be a busy year for him.

 

 

Premier League, Uncategorized

Premier League Round Up:Liverpool extend their lead while Spurs make a statement

Everton 2-6 Spurs

Spurs in the title race

Tottenham demolished Everton in what was the best team performance by any team in the premier league this weekend. After progressing to the Champions League knockout stages, they have carried that momentum in defeating North London rivals Arsenal while this victory has moved them within two points of Man City. They are in red ht form away from home also, winning 8 of their 10 way games. This was a decisive victory in laying down a marker. Now they must back this performance up.

Harry Kane 1
Harry Kane scored twice against Everton. Source: Getty Images.

 

Man United 5-1 Cardiff City

United up the pace

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of his first match as Man United interim coach. It could not have gone much better as they thrashed Cardiff City 5-1. United played more attacking football as their front three of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford all got on the scoresheet. It was the first time this season that United outran their opponents in the Premier League. They also made their highest number of forward passes in a game in the league this season. It is too early to judge Solskjaer’s reign but the signs are promising!!

 

Arsenal 3 – 1 Burnley

Kolasinac outstanding in wing back role

Arsenal defeated Burnley 3-1 in Saturday’s early kick off.  The Gunners came in to this game after back to back defeats to Southampton in the league and Spurs in the Carabao Cup. They suffered further defnsive woe with Nacho Monreal limping off but the performance of Sead Kolasinac at left wing back is encouraging. He suffered when deployed in a back four against Wolves and since then Unai Emery has deployed a back three. He got an assist and played a key role in the second. Arsenal need him to stay fit amid their defensive crisis.

Arsenal v Burnley

Arsenal responded to two defeats in a row to defeat Burnley. Photo via: http://www.arsenal.com

 

Huddersfield 1-3 Southampton

Hasenhuttl has got Saints scoring

Ralph Hassenhuttl has enjoyed an excellent start to life as Southampton manager. They have won consecutive premier league games for the first time since April 2017. The Saints have also scored 3 goals in consecutive games. Danny Ings, Charlie Austin and Michael Obafemi have all scored uder their new boss while Shane Long had a goal ruled out for offside against Arsenal. Their fans can now enjoy Christms outside the relegation zone.

 

Chelsea 0-1 Leicester City

Leicester enjoy the rub of the green

Crystal Palace defeating the reigning Premier League champions meant that Leicester’s victory against Chelsea was almost forgotten. The Foxes set up with a bank of four and a bank of five as they frustrated the Blues and Eden Hazard. It was their best result of the season but had Marcos Alonso’s injury time strike gone in instead of striking the post and rolling across goal, then they would have not gained the three points. Sometimes you earn your own luck and Leicester’s tigerish performance saw them grab all three points.

Giroud v Southampton
Chelsea had little cause for celebration after a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City. Photo by: Reuters

Crystal Palace 3 – 2 Man City

A Coming of Age Performance for Wan-Bisaka

Crystal Palace deserve immense praise for their shock victory against Man City. Roy Hodgson got his tactics spot on while Palace scored three goals from three shots on target as they were ruthless in front of goal. No player typified Palace’s grit and determination more than 21 year old right back Aaron Wan-Bisaka. The defender faced in form Leroy Sané but nullified the talented German while providing an outlet for the counter attack. He is far from the finished article but based on this performance, he has a bright future.

 

Crystal Palace v Leicester
Crystal Palace had cause for celebration after pulling off the upset of the season so far.  Source via: talkSPORT.
Uncategorized

US Open Tennis Talking Points

The US Open ended and with it the 2018 Grand Slams came to a conclusion. One of the most controversial tennis tournaments in living memory saw Naomi Osaka claim her first Slam while Novak Djokovic claimed his 14th. Here I discuss the key talking points from a fantastic Grand Slam.

Tennis Slams
We have had a great set of Grand Slams in men’s and women’s tennis this year. Photo Via: Bank Exams Today

Umpires draw controversy

Mohamad Lahyani’s mid match pep talk to Nick Kyrgios led to fierce criticism in some quarters. Umpires are not permitted to encourage players. The US Tennis Association defended the well respected umpire but Lahyani should have known better. This controversy is largely forgotten due to Carlos Ramos giving Serena Williams three code violations in the women’s final. By the letter of the law his decision was correct but it is a rule that is rarely applied. Some players feel they are treated differently and these controversies do not help.

Next Gen close but not close enough

The future stars of the men’s game did not win a breakthrough Grand Slam but there are signs of hope. Karen Khachanov lost an eipc four set contest to Rafael Nadal while Dominic Thiem lost in a fifth set tie break to the Spanish maestro. Alex De Minaur took Marin Cilic to five sets while Denis Shapovalov did likewise with Kevin Anderson. Sascha Zverev suffered another early Grand Slam exit. This year’s semi-finalists had an average age of 30 years old. There’s no substitute for experience in Grand Slam tennis.

Kei Nishikori take two
Kei Nishikori was the youngest US Open semi-finalist at age 28. Photo By: Getty

Osaka can win more Slams

After the controversy surrounding Serena Williams and Carlos Ramos’ altercation, it is easy to forget that Naomi Osaka at age 20 has won her first Grand Slam. Her heavy hitting and slick movement saw her comfortably beat the 23 time Grand Slam champion. She played the big points exceptionally well throughout the tournament and held her nerve in the final. If she can keep herself grounded then this will not e the lat we hear of the Japanese sensation.

Naomi Osaka.jpg

Players need weather protection

This year’s tournament was played in stifling hot and humid weather conditions with many players complaining that the conditions were unfair to play in. We saw similar complaints. Temperatures at the Australian Open in January reached 40 degrees with players feeling the strain. Tournament organisers need to consider the ill effects that players can feel and although it may frustrate fans, players should not have to pull out of matches due to extreme weather.

A Special Era for Men’s Tennis

Novak Djokovic won his 14th Slam as he equaled Pete Sampras’ on the all time Grand Slam winners list. He is now only three behind Rafael Nadal and six behind Roger Federer. Age is on his side while he is back at the peak of his powers. As tennis fans we have been privileged to watch Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and Federer trade blows for the best part of a decade. Since Roland Garros in 2005, they have won 50 out of 55 Grand Slams. Simply incredible.


Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic won back-to-back Slams. Photo By: PA
Uncategorized

Premier League Talking Points: Spurs slip up while the rest of the top 6 win. Talking Points from an exciting Premier League week

This weekend of Premier League action saw wins for five of the ‘Top 6’  as Spurs slipped to an away defeat to Watford. The Hornets rise to third place as the Premier League takes a break with international games being played. Here I discuss the key points from the weekend’s action.

Emery must sub Cech or alter his plans

Petr Cech endured an uncomfortable afternoon as he continues to struggle with Unai Emery’s passing out from the back system. He has looked uncomfortable with the ball at is feet all season, almost scoring a comical own goal at Man City. He has made decent saves so far but he does not fit the style of play Emery demands. Emery must change his tactics or his keeper as it is hard to see Cech turning into Ederson any time soon.

Arsenal v Burnley
Arsenal beat Cardiff 3-2 but Petr Cech’s performance will worry Unai Emery. Photo via: http://www.arsenal.com

Another milestone for James Milner

James Milner assisted Roberto Firmino’s goal against Leicester in Saturday’s early kick-off. That was his 80th Premier League assist, equalling David Beckham’s total assists in the league. The lack of glamour in his game means he will more than likely not go down as one of the all-time great Premier League midfielders but his performances and stats show he has enjoyed a stellar career.

Chelsea adjusting to Sarri-Ball

Chelsea maintained their 100% record under Maurizio Sarri as they beat Bournemouth 2-0. The last time they won their first four games was in 2014-15 and they won the title that season. Sarri wants Chelsea to press the ball high up the pitch while he demands that defenders move the ball forward quickly instead of waiting for the right pass. The Blues look a settled side while Eden Hazard is impressed with Sarri’s style of play. A promising start now can they maintain it?

Maurizio Sarri
Maurizio Sarri. Photo By: Getty

Optimism fades for pointless West Ham

West Ham are currently bottom of the table with four defeats in their first four games. The last time they lost their first four games was in the 2010-11 season when they suffered relegation. Despite spending £100 million on new recruits, the Hammers’ midfield lacks drive and defensive nous while there was a lack of penetration in attack. Their new signings are yet to gel while Carlos Sanchez’s mistake led to Wolves’ late winner. They simply must improve when the league returns otherwise they are in for a long season.

Marko Arnautovic
Marko Arnautovic has not had much reason to celebrate this season. Photo By: Getty

Murray crucial for Brighton

Glenn Murray in some ways typifies Chris Hughton’s Brighton side: tigerish, tenacious and workmanlike. Murray scored twice as The Seagulls drew 2-2 with Fulham. The centre forward put himself about, knocking defenders off the ball and causing havoc for the Fulham defence. His first goal was well taken while his second was an emphatic penalty. He rose through the leagues and is an example for all lower league players.

 

Uncategorized

Talking Points ahead of US Open Men’s Tournament

Tennis’ final Grand Slam starts tomorrow as the best players battle it out to become US Open champion. Here I preview the action in what promises to be an action packed two weeks of tennis.

Nadal gets a favourable draw

Although Nadal will not admit it, he must be quietly pleased with his draw for the tournament. Te defending champion is on the opposite side of the draw to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. He may have to face Karen Khachanov, Kyle Edmund and Kevin Anderson or Dominic Thiem. Nadal will feel that he can outlast those opponents and he will be determined to defend the US Open for the first time.

Rafael Nadal
Will Nadal win his second Grand Slam of the year? Photo By: Getty

Tough Draw for Federer

Roger Federer has not enjoyed a happy few months of tennis by his own high standards. He was knocked out of Wimbledon by Kevin Anderson and was comfortably beaten by Novak Djokovic in the final of the Cincinnati Open. The 20 time Grand Slam champion is projected to face Benoit Paire in round 2, Nick Kyrgios in round 3 and Hyeon Chung or Fabio Fognini in the last 16. That is before a potential semi-final with Djokovic. A tough draw indeed.

Novak Djokovic
Can Djokovic win back to back Grand Slams? Photo By: PA

How far can Murray go?

Andy Murray will play his first Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon 2017. Murray’s return is great to see but question marks remain over his movement as a result of his hip injury. Murray is keen to quash any talk of him being a dark horse but if he is fully fit then he could be a dark horse. He could face Juan martin Del Potro in round 3 in what could be a titanic tussle.

Dimitrov v Wawrinka Part II

Grigor Dimitrov and Stan Wawrinka were paired together for the second Grand Slam in succession after being drawn in the opening round of Wimbledon earlier this year. The unseeded Wawrinka won that day and he has enjoyed an excellent hard court season – reaching the quarter finals in Cincinnati. Dimitrov has endured a difficult season but a win here could reignite his season.

Britain Wimbledon Tennis
Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland plays a return to Taylor Fritz of the U.S during their men’s singles match on day two of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Can Zverev make the breakthrough?

Alexander Zverev is a force to be reckoned with but he has not proved himself on the major stage yet. He reached the quarter finals at Roland Garros this year. He holds three Masters 1000 titles but if he is to progress deep in this tournament then he will need to show greater mental fortitude than he has in previous Slams. To his credit he managed to win five set matches on the French clay but he faces a tough draw. He has the potential to beat anyone as he has one more chance to go deep in a Slam in 2018.

The 2018 US Open promises to be an action packed tournament filled with drama. May the best player win.

Uncategorized

Galway v Clare Talking Points as the Tribesmen march on to final showdown with Limerick

Galway reached their second All-Ireland final in a row after overcoming a stubborn Clare side in another excellent game. Here we discuss the key talking points as Limerick discovered their All Ireland final opponents.

A Carbon Copy of Last Week

The replay was similar to the first game as Galway started strongly and surged into an early lead before Clare came roaring back. The Tribesmen were 1-9 to 0-3 ahead after 20 minutes but Clare ultimately left themselves too much to do. The wide count for both teams was high, similar to last week while Galway once again lost a big lead. It contributed to another cracking game of hurling in the summer that keeps on giving.

Micheál Donoghue gets his tactics right

Galway were caught cold tactically in the drawn match but Micheál Donoghue and his management team got their tactics right, especially in the opening period.  Galway varied their puckout strategy which reaped a rich reward especially when Joseph Cooney collected James Skehill’s short puckout and drove the ball into Johnny Glynn who slotted home Galway’s goal. Conor Whelan played a roving centre-forward role which freed up space down the middle for Canning and David Burke.

Micheál Donoghue
Michel Donoghue got his tactics right against Clare. Photo By: James Crombie/INPHO

Clare miss their chance

The Banner men showed terrific character throughout this Championship but their Achilles heel of poor shot selection was their downfall. They shot 19 wides while Peter Duggan missed a relatively straight forward free to draw the game level. Aron Shanagher missed a double goal chance when he scooped the ball onto the post after James Skehill saved his first shot. Clare will be left to ponder what could have been. It really is a game of inches.

Aron Shanagher hits the post late on
Aron Shanagher missed a glorious gal chance. Photo By: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Quality Goals

After the epic All-Ireland semi-finals last weekend, some complained that goals were becoming too rare. The three goals scored in this game were top class finishes. Johnny Glynn’s one handed finish was excellent while Peter Duggan’s goal was top class. Shane O’Donnell hit the goal of the year so far as he withstood fierce pressure from Daithi Burke and John Hanbury before dummying a shot and then striking it on the half volley. The Championship has lacked goals but these three were worth the wait.

Shane O’Donnell celebrates scoring a goal
Shane O’Donnell celebrates his epic goal on Sunday. Photo By: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Galway get extra motivation from the doubts

Joe Canning made some interesting comments immediately after Galway’s victory. Speaking to Sky Sports, the Portumna man remarked that he felt his men were not given enough respect coming into the replay.

“We felt as a group, we didn’t get too much respect. Clare only led last week for only one time in the match, and they didn’t lead at all today. We had five of our key players missing in extra-time last week as well, and they couldn’t finish it off. We thought ourselves that we didn’t get enough respect coming into today.” Galway and Canning used this perceived injustice as motivation.

Boxing, Uncategorized

Boxing Greats that fought past their prime Part 2

Érik Morales (52-9)

Érik Morales is a Mexican former professional boxer who was the first Mexican-born boxer in history to win world titles in four weight classes. He won titles in the super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight and bantamweight divisions. He was a warrior who beat 15 world champions throughout his career. After losing his second fight to Marco Antonio Barrera, he lost 7 of his last 12 fights. A true warrior.

Erik Morales
Mexican warrior Érik Morales. Photo By: Getty Images

Julio César Chávez (107-6-2)

Julio Cesar Chavez is considered by many to be the greatest Mexican boxer of all time and one of the all time great boxers. He fought from 1998 to 2005. He was 89-0-1 when he suffered his first defeat although the cracks began to appear against Meldrick Taylor and Pernell Whitaker. He lost his light welterweight title to Oscar De La Hoya in 1996 and he was never able to reclaim a major belt afterwards.

Julio Cesar Chavez prepares for battle. Photo by: Richard Mackson/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Sugar Ray Leonard (36-3-1)

Leonard retired multiple times during his stellar career. He initially retired after suffering from a detached retina but returned to beat Marvin Hagler and become welterweight champion. He retired after that fight but came back to defeat Danny Lalonde while drawing with Thomas Hearns and beating Roberto Duran. He lost his last two fights and suffered a TKO to Hector Camacho as he should have retired before that.

Sugar Ray Robinson (173-19-6)

Sugar Ray Robinson competed from 1940 to 1965 and is widely considered the greatest pound for pound fighter of all time. He went 91 fights unbeaten in the middle of his career, the third longest in history while he won the middleweight title 5 times, becoming the only person to ever do so. He was unable to win a wold title in his last five years as a professional, losing five of his last 11 fights and he wasn’t the same fighter after coming back from retirement.

Mike Tyson (50-6)

Mike Tyson is one of the most recognisable boxers on the planet. The aptly nicknamed “Baddest Man on the Planet” became heavyweight champion of the world at aged 20. The death of trainer Cus D’Amato impacted on Tyson as he suffered a shock loss to buster Douglas in 1990. He was sent to prison in 1992 and although he returned to the ring, he lost twice to Evander Holyfield, suffering a DQ in the second fight while he lost three of his last four fights as he became slow and weary.

Mike Tyson knocked out Trevor Berbick to become the youngest ever heavyweight world champion at the age of 20. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I completed part one a month earlier. Keep an eye out for more boxing content and for other sports also. Thanks for reading.