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The masters of pure football against the masters of puke football and puke diving.

Signing in.

All Ireland is behind Kerry.

GAA Discussion / Venues
« on: July 25, 2015, 10:08:31 PM »
The fixing of venues for some championship matches is bizarre.

3,815 attended this evening's Cork v Kildare match. Why Thurles, why vast swathes of empty seats and terracing? There is no reason why this could not have been played at a more suitable venue, such as Nowlan Park, Portlaoise, or hell, even Nenagh or Kilmallock.

Longford played Kildare in Round 3. Longford should have had home advantage, but given that the capacity of Pearse Park was reduced to 8,000, the ground was deemed to be too small and the match was moved to Mullingar, thus depriving Longford of home advantage. 5,914 people turned up, which Pearse Park could easily have handled. Why did Longford not object to that match being moved, given that their already slim chance of victory was clearly lessened by the venue switch?

My favourite decision of this type was in 2002, when Wicklow drew Kerry at home in the qualifiers. Aughrim's 7,000 capacity was deemed to be insufficient for a match that was "bound to attract huge interest", so it was moved to Portlaoise, where it drew circa 1,200 people. What wonderful planning that was.

The public reaction to one of the GAA's occasional sensible venue decisions, to stage last year's Kerry-Mayo replay in Limerick, was also strange. The venue choice was heavily criticised, much of this criticism on the basis that the 45,000 capacity would prove insufficient to satisfy demand from the paying public. Yet only 36,000 people turned up.

I would advise those who dislike feeling lonely to stay away from Croke Park next Saturday. There will be tumbleweed blowing through the place. I hereby set the spread on the attendance at 11,003 and a half persons. 10/11 under, 10/11 over.

GAA Discussion / Football All-Stars 2014
« on: September 01, 2014, 07:10:45 PM »
My team as of 1/9/14

1. Paul Durcan (Donegal)
2. Keith Higgins (Mayo)
3. Neil McGee (Donegal)
4. Paddy McGrath (Donegal)
5. Colm Boyle (Mayo)
6. Peter Crowley (Kerry)
7. Frank McGlynn (Donegal)
8. David Moran (Kerry)
9. Odhran MacNiallis (Donegal)
10. Paul Flynn (Dublin)
11. Aidan O'Shea (Mayo)
12. Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)
13. Cillian O'Connor (Mayo)
14. Michael Murphy (Donegal)
15. James O'Donoghue (Kerry)

The Sour Grapes of Wrath

An Epic Tale of Gaelic Football Adventure in the Wild, Wild West

by John Maughanbeck

Once upon a time there was a family, the Joads, who lived on the Plain of the Yews, in the great state of Mayo. A harsh place, a barren place, but populated by resilient people, their lives shaped by the rocks and the stones that littered that plain. Life was tough for the people there, and for the Joads. But the people were stoic, learning to deal with the regular misfortunes that came their way.

Willie Joad, his son Billie Joad, and Ma Joad lived in a small house on the plain. Willie Joad was a farmer who worked the barren soil as best he could. A humble man, he worked every hour of the day that God would give him. He was a striking, handsome, man, with a moustache and a mane of hair as long as the ones on the odd wild horse that roamed around that plain. Willie Joad did his best for his family.

But then the great heatwave of '13 came, and the land could give no more. It shrunk, shrivelled, and eventually blew away, leaving just rocks and dust. September of '13 was the worst time. The weather forecast was set for rain. The people of the Plain waited expectedly for the drought to end. But the drought didn't end. The rain in Kiltane did not fall mainly on the plain, in fact it never fell at all. That winter was tough. The local Super Valu could only provide so much.

The summer of '14 came, and the people could take no more.

One day, word spread of a far off land, three states away, a land of oppurtunity, a place called Limerick - the promised land, where the mighty River Shannon made the soil rich and fertile and the only drought was that suffered by the Limerick hurlers. But the people of the Plain didn't want to go to Limerick. They wanted to go to the even more promised land - a place called Dublin. But even without maps, they soon learned that the road to the even more promised land would have to go through Limerick.

"We have to go", said Willie Joad. "The journey will be tough, we may not even survive it, but we have no choice. Nothing remains for us here."

And so Willie Joad, Billie Joad and Ma Joad set out in their wagon across the plains. As they travelled, they soon realised that there were other wagons, thousands of wagons, as far as the eye could see, all going the same way, making the same journey. Five, six, maybe seven thousand wagons, most painted green and red, many of the occupants of the wagons shouting, screaming wildly and honking strange horns.

The wagons made their way to the one track that could bring them to the promised land - the N17. Willie Joad drove the wagon slowly but made good progress at first. Good God-fearing folk, the Joad family stopped at the holy shrine of Knock, to give thanks and praise for what they had and for what they might have. And most of all, for a safe journey.

The line of wagons was long and slow, but it kept winding its way down that N17, past the stone walls and the grass so green. The journey was going well so far. And then the plains ended, and the Joads crossed into the state of Galway. This was hostile country where the natives were restless, and didn't like the people of the Plain travelling through. The Joads got past the outpost of Tuam. But as he tried to turn left at Claregalway, Willie Joad could feel a lump in his throat. What is it, Pa? asked Billie Joad.

"Wagons", replied Willie Joad, choking, "thousands and thousands of wagons". The scene was like a battlefield. A crowd of natives had blocked the way. The green and red hordes ground to a halt.

Willie Joad could take no more. He got out of the wagon and collapsed from exhaustion. "Pa", shouted Billie Joad. "You gotta get up." Ma Joad held Billie Joad back. "It's OK, son."

But it wasn't OK. "You have to go on without me", said Willie Joad, lokiing up at his son. "I won't make it to Limerick. But you'll make it to Limerick one day, son". And with that Willie Joad breathed his last breath.
Billie Joad sobbed and fell to his knees.  But Ma dragged him up. "We have to leave him here", said Ma. "We have to make it to Limerick."

By now the natives had dispersed and the way was clear again for the green and red wagon train. Ma drove while Billie Joad sat beside her.

As they passed Oranmore, Billie Joad cried. "Why did Pa have to die, Ma?" I thought you said you saw doctors. Could they not have helped him?"

"No, I was singing a song by the Saw Doctors", said Ma. "We have to go on." "But what about the sandwiches in the back?" asked Billie Joad. "Pa might have survived if he'd eaten some."
 "Oh yeah, I forgot about those", said Ma "We'll stop later and eat them. But we have to go on now. We don't have much time. We're already late as it is."

They reached Clarinbridge, and again the way was blocked. "What is it?", Billie Joad asked Ma. "It's that oyster festival. We have to stop. I have to try some", said Ma.

Ma got out and walked as far as the weir, Moran's On The Weir to be precise. "A dozen large and a half bottle of chardonnay, please." As Ma feasted on the oysters, Billie Joad asked her for some of the water she was drinking. "I'm thirsty, Ma."

"This is not water, son", said Ma, who devoured her fourth oyster before forgetting to take the shell off the fifth. It was too late, The shell had stuck in her throat. As she turned blue, a shade of sky blue that brought back bad memories of the drought of September '13, Ma could just about spit out the words to her son. "Billie Joad, you have to go back to the wagon. You have to make it to Limerick." And with that Ma Joad breathed her last breath.

None of the natives could help. None of the natives wanted to help the suddenly orphaned Billie Joad. But he knew what he had to do. He had to make it to Limerick. This was more important than life or death. He raced back to the wagon. As he did he was followed by a friendly young man with a shock of blond hair who was also from the Plain. "Hey lad, any chance of a lift? I'm after losing me buds down in the pub there. I'm the Mini-Mort, by the way, but you can call me Conor."

"I suppose so", said Billie Joad.

"It's fuckin' mental, isn't it, all these wagons?", said Conor. "Hey lad, where's your Ma and Pa?"

"They're dead, they died on the way", said Billie Joe.

"Ah, sorry to hear that, lad. Fair play to ya, yer one hardy buck to shtill be headin' down. Have ya got a marker? Oh wait, I have one meshelf", said Conor, as he took out the marker, lifted up his green and red top and wrote "RIP Ma and Pa Jaod" on his white t-shirt underneath.

"We have to make for Limerick", said Billie Joad. "Right you are", said Conor. "Full shtame ahead for Limerick. Tish' good road from here on in."

Billie Joad and Conor passed into the state of Clare, where the natives had no particular quarrel with the people of the Plain. Billie Joad was learning fast. The wagon picked up speed. "Hand me those sandwiches from the back, Conor", he said to his passenger.

"Right you are. Oh great. Ham salad with avocado. And a bag 'a Tayto. Me favourite" exclaimed Conor with delight. "Get that down ya, horsh. Tish' alright if I have a couple too?"

And so they approached Limerick. But a few miles from the promised land, the red and green wagon train ground to a halt again. "Ah f**k it", said Conor. "We'll have to leave the wagon on the side of the road and walk."

Empty wagons lay strewn across the land as far as the eye could see as the people of the Plain took to their feet and advanced the last few miles. Balls of tinfoil, flasks, straw hats and empty Tayto bags littered the landscape. Billie Joad and Conor walked, walked for miles.

Then Conor ran. "Sorry lad, I see me buds over there drinkin'. Thanks for the lift. Shmell ya later." And with that Conor was gone.

Billie Joad was now alone, but he was not alone. He knew he was near. As he crossed the River Shannon, the dividing line into the state of Limerick, with his people, he knew he had done it. He knew he had reached the promised land.

Suddenly, in front of him, a wall of strange people emerged in front of him. He could hear their conversations. "Where are you from, darling? Oooooh? Mayo? Saaauuucccy!!!"

An old man with a weather beaten face, an anorak and a green and red scarf gave one of these strange people a kick, and grabbed a hold of Billie Joad. "Why did you kick that man?", asked Billie Joad. "That washn't a kick at all", said the man. "If yeh call that a fuckin' kick this country's in a worsh shtate than I thought. The place is gone shoft. But anyway. Keep away from them, lad. They're quare. You don't want to be associatin' with those people. There's no way we're lettin' them put the Gayo in Mayo. What happened with the Roshe of Tralee wash bad enough."

"But you're wearing a scarf?", said Billie Joad. "I thought only the quares wore scarves?^

"It's a fuckin matchday", replied the old man. "The resht of us are allowed wear one on matchdays."

"D'ya remember me?" said the man. I'm yer Uncle Sam from Kiltimagh. I'm Willie Joad's brother. I came down from Dublin on the train. Where's yer Ma and Willie Joad?"

"They're dead", said Billie Joad.

"Ah for f**k's sake", said Uncle Sam. "Typical. I fuckin' knew this would happen. And it's the fuckin' GAA's fault, the bashtards. This fuckin' match should have been played in Dublin. It's a fuckin' insult to us. Here, come on, ye're after walkin pasht the shtadium on the way in. 'Tish back the other way."

And so the green and red hordes descended on the Gaelic Grounds, despite all the people they had lost along the way. packed in tighter than the sandwiches Ma Joad had made that morning were packed in tinfoil.

Billie Joad could hear the people talking. He loved the atmosphere. His Ma and Pa were but a distant memory now. "Tish not a bad 'oul shtadium, sham, is it?" "Grand shpot, bosh. Better craic than at Croke Park, way better. Full houshe an' all. I'm glad they played it here. Have ya' got any cansh left, horshe?"

The teams took the pitch and the people of the Plain roared. Mayo scored, and scored again, and scored again and again, as they mauled the rival green and gold army. Billie Joad was ecstatic as his Uncle Sam raised him on his shoulders.

It had been a memorable day. Two dead parents, a discarded wagon, dehydrated, exhausted, but happy. The journey had been worth it for Billie Joad. The promised land had been reached, and he'd lived to tell the tale.

But the even more promised land lay somewhere over the rainbow. For now.

General discussion / Ann Summers launches new "ISIS" lingerie collection
« on: August 22, 2014, 05:40:05 PM »
Ann Summers has today launched its new "ISIS" lingerie range.

Apparently the garments "guarantee female genital mutilation or your money back".

No news as yet as to when they're releasing their new range of burqas.

GAA Discussion / Feng Shui "guru" the key to Dublin success
« on: August 20, 2014, 04:58:30 PM »
Feng Shui "guru" the key to Dublin success

by Whacker Keaveney, The Northside Shout, August 20th, 2014

It's generally accepted that the Dublin football team have taken preparation to a level unprecedented in GAA history, with fitness coaches, dietary experts, sports psychologists and an extensive team of statisticians all helping Jim Gavin's men achieve an optimum level of performance.

But what is perhaps less known is that Dublin have also been employing the services of world renowned Irish Feng Shui expert Dr. Diarmuid Couch. Better known for his work on BBC's "Changing Rooms", Couch is now revolutionising the area of pre-match preparation by literally changing Dublin's changing room. The Eastern philosophy of harmonisation of the body with the surrounding environment is being used by the men from the East as their secret weapon in their bid to retain the All-Ireland, and so far, it's working.

"I suppose it all began when my wife was hounding me to buy a new sofa for the sitting room and she made me watch "Changing Rooms", said manager Jim Gavin. "I was immediately impressed with Dr. Diarmuid's work. For us, it's about maximising our harmonisation in a balanced, holistic environment to achieve optimisation of resources within a framework of streamlined positivity, and Diarmuid is a key part of that."

"Diarmuid and myself have worked to translate the five elements of Feng Shui - metal, earth, fire, water and wood into a comprehensive philosophy that encompasses all elements of Gaelic football. Metal symbolises that we need to be hard. Earth tells us that we need to be grounded. Fire is what needs to be in our bellies going out onto the pitch. Water reminds us to always stay properly hydrated. Wood demonstrates, eh actually I'm not sure what that demonstrates, you'll have to ask him that."

Couch and his team move into the Croke Park changing rooms three days before each match to set it up exactly to his specifications. It's a logistical operation which is only slightly less complicated than that needed to set up the stage for large concerts at the venue.

"It's not cheap, but we believe it's absolutely worthwhile and all thanks to our sponsors AIG, Vodafone, Google, Microsoft, Shell Oil, Budweiser, Ford, Coca-Cola, and Paddy's Centra, Killester for making it possible", says Gavin.

Large framed prints of Dublin successes of yesteryear adorn the walls, which are painted in a pastel shade of blue with navy architraves and skirting, to match the Dublin colours. Each player is invited to bring an item from home, be it a cushion, a clock, or an ornament to make them feel comfortable - but each item must be below 50cm at its widest point so as to avoid clutter.

Couch's attention to detail shines through. "Everything has to be right, from the positioning of the pictures down to the position of the lampshades. Even though I like to use corner sofa units in my day to day work, I avoid this with Dublin, as we never want to be cornered. Each sofa the players sit on is made from the same material as an O'Neill's size 5. We want to feel comfortable with the ball, and the best way of promoting that is by feeling comfortable with the material its made from, even when not playing or training, and thanks to O'Neill's for letting us do that. Even the slightest misalignment of a picture frame can create negative energy. It's crucial to avoid that", says Couch, whose work has gained international acclaim.

"One is never more comfortable than when one is at home, and we want to literally create an atmosphere of home. This is Croke Park, this is our house, this is our territory. Although it's not our home venue obviously - that remains Parnell Park, despite us not playing a league or championship match there since 2010."

"We arrange the room slightly differently according to the opponent, but the players are always uppermost in our minds when we go about this. We encourage players to use the Feng Shui philosophy at home too, drawing up a tailored training plan for each squad member, according to each player's position. So for the match against Donegal, for example, we've encouraged Diamuid Connolly and Bernard Brogan to pile up 13 chairs in front of each door and try to get through the door without touching any of them. For Ger Brennan, we've just said "sit down and relax, as you're not going to be getting up off the bench for this match."

"We've had total buy in from the players", says Couch. "We took our lead from them in the development of the master plan for the room and they had some really interesting insights into how they thought it should be arranged. I see myself merely as a facilitator. What myself, Jim and the rest of the backroom team are very much about is a player-centric approach to Feng Shui. And I'd like to think we've achieved that. We have, I think."

The players certainly appear to be happy with the set up. "Yeah, they're lovely couches - very comfy", says midfielder Michael Darragh McAuley.

For Couch and Dublin, it's a case of sofa, so good.

GAA Discussion / The Paranoid Dublin Fan Thread
« on: August 11, 2014, 12:35:01 PM »
The paranoid Dublin fan loves nothing better than to take offence. He has made taking offence an art form. He stands there in the pub, just waiting to overhear somebody from another county make a reasonable point, and then, BANG, he goes, he blows, butting in, with his foghorn voice. And you won't get rid of him.

Paranoid Dublin Fan (PDF) is firm in his opinions, sorry, his facts. And here are some of them.

Croke Park is NOT, I repeat, NOT Dublin's home venue, even though Dublin play all their matches there. Parnell Park is Dublin's home ground, despite Dublin not having played a league or championship match there since 2010.

Money, is NOT, I repeat, NOT, a factor in Dublin's success, even though vast amounts of money have been pumped into Dublin GAA for coaching and player development (all done in a holistic manner).

Population is NOT, I repeat, NOT, a factor in Dublin's success. You can only put 15 players on the pitch.

Referees do NOT, I repeat, NOT, favour Dublin, despite them continually getting ridiculously soft frees in every match.

The Dublin team is the cleanest and fairest in the game, despite all these biting incidents.

The Dublin team would NEVER play defensively, despite all that pulling and dragging down of opponents towards the end of the 2013 All-Ireland final.

Paranid Dublin Fan remembers Seamus Aldridge, and Gerry Kinneavy, and Paddy Russell, and John Gough, and Joe McQuillan. Especially Joe McQuillan and how he screwed Dublin time and again, with his anti-Dublin agenda,

Paranoid Dublin Fan knows the whole of the media has an agenda against Dublin. That McStay, that O'Rourke, and especially that Brolly. They hate Dublin, every one of them.

Paranoid Dublin Fan will always have the last word. Never, ever question him. Just say you're going to the toilet, and run.

General discussion / BBC and RTE Sports Personalities of the Year 2014
« on: August 11, 2014, 11:49:17 AM »
We're well into August and it's time to start thinking about who'll win these prestigious awards.

As far as the BBC award is concerned, I think Rory McIlpube is a certainty.

Henry Shefflin will probably win the RTE Sports Personality despite doing nothing of note all year.

Who would be your picks?

This is not a debate about which team won more All-Irelands - it's a debate about which had more talented players.

For me it's the 2000-2009 team.

The 1975-1986 team came up against few real challenges, because the set-up in nearly every county was a joke. Only Dublin, Offaly and Cork provided any challenge to Kerry during this period.

The Kerry team of 2000-2009 faced far stiffer opposition. The Tyrone, Armagh, Meath and Galway teams of the era were better than anything the 1975-1986 faced, in my view, bar maybe the Dublin 1976-77 team, and Tyrone of the 2000s were definitely better than that Dublin team.

The general level of competition in Gaelic football in the 2000s amongst the non-All-Ireland challenging counties was also well ahead of what the 1975-86 team faced.

Compare the two teams on a head to head basis.
The 2000-2009 team had
Maurice Fitzgerald
Colm Cooper
Seamus Moynihan
Darragh O'Se
Tomas O'Se
Marc O'Se
Tom O'Sullivan
Michael Francis Russell
Johnny Crowley
Tommy Walsh
Eoin Brosnan
Liam Hassett
Darran O'Sullivan
Paul Galvin
Declan O'Sullivan
Michael McCarthy

In my view almost all of those players are at least as good as, and in the majority of cases, better, than their equivalents on the 1975-86 team.

So in my view, the 2000-2009 team may have less medals, but had more talent.

GAA Discussion / The Patronising Dublin Fan Thread
« on: August 09, 2014, 11:19:27 PM »
I thought Monaghan got some lovely scores today. Conor McManus's point that made it 0-3 apiece was as good a score as you'll see all year. Credit to Monaghan's defence who kept it really tight for the first 20 minutes. And in fairness to them, they never gave up in the second half despite the scoreline. Drew Wylie was a picture of determination all through, a warrior, and any team would love to have a player like that.

So I'd just like to say, all credit to the Monaghan team and their supporters, thanks for the game, and best of luck for next year.

Armagh assistant manager Kieran McGeeney has smashed the county's self-imposed media ban by launching an astonishing attack of trash talking against Jim McGuinness, Donegal, and every other team left in this year's championship.

When I exclusively asked McGeeney for his thoughts on Armagh's chances against the 2012 All-Ireland champions, he was blunt.

"On Saturday we're going to rip Donegal's heads clean off, and especially Jim McGuinness and his little pea head. Jim thinks it's all talk but when he wakes up with his nose plastered on the other side of his face he's gonna know it's not all talk. You ask me where my confidence comes from? My confidence comes from looking in the mirror and knowing that I am the one, the only, the "Notorious KMG" I am a God."

Given the shock hostility against McGuinness, I felt it only fair to ask McGeeney if McGuinness had insulted him personally.

"Don't get me wrong  - I like the kid - but he's a pathetic little hillbilly from the back arse of nowhere. You know I've nothing against the guy, you know what I mean? But I'm sure he grew up in a circus or a fair as a kid - his cousin's probably named Cletus or something, but his chin is going to be cracked, and cracked early, by me and my arms of granite. He'll know pretty early that he's in over his head. He'll wake up, and he'll bow before me and my God-like physique."

McGeeney clearly smells blood.

"Too f**king right I do. All you gotta do is look at Donegal's last couple of matches. Antrim are an Ulster Championship reject, and Donegal still got wobbled about 40 times.  In their last match they played a tough reject that had them on the ropes. After this they'll be more punch drunk than Jim McDaid when he drove down the wrong side of the Naas Road after 15 pints. A gust of wind and they'll be doing the chicken dance. It's going to be a KO that makes what Mayo did to them last year look like a punch from a starving Gazan child  - we're going to win by 30, no, 40 points - mark my words."

Asked if he was being a bit presumptuous given Armagh's status as rank outsiders of the six teams left, McGeeney was defiant.

"If you think we're going to celebrate getting into the last six, you're highly mistaken, my friend.  I don't give a shit about being in the top six, I only give a shit about being number one. As far as I'm concerned, we're number one, and everybody else is gonna know that come September 21st, and when the heads of Michael Murphy, Bernard Brogan and James O'Donoghue clatter off the canvas when Ciaran McKeever runs into them, they'll know it too - but not until they recover consciousness - which could take a very long time. "

Today threw into contrast the two sides of Cork GAA. We saw Donal Og O'Croinin in action today. A name and a player who, like fellow Cork football stalwarts Fachtna Hodnett, Tadhg Og Harrington and Jeremiah Jer O'Sullivan, perfectly sums up the tireless, frantic, passionate, yet ultimately lonely and futile nature of West Cork football-biased gaeldom. As honest as a June day is long, Donal Og O'Croinin does all the things that a manager would want. He loves training. He eats up the spuds, the steak, the fruit and the vegetables. He's a joy for a manager to work with. Donal Og O'Croinin will work his socks off for the Cork cause, but has a problem. He can't kick the ball properly. He is permanently destined to be on the end of 20 point thrashings by Kerry in Croke Park, because ultimately, like most of the rest of the Cork team, he's a carthorse.

And nobody in the parts of Cork where civilisation has touched cares.

Contrast that to his happy go lucky, cheeky chappy cornerboy Cork hurling equivalent, Seanie McCarthy/Horgan/Crowley/Mulcahy/O'Connor/O'Sullivan/O'Mahony, the streetwise, thin as a whippet, cute as a hoor corner forward from the backstreets of Mayfield. Seanie hates training, rarely ate his dinner as a kid because he preferred crisps, never grew much, but loves the Glen, loves Ringy, loves Jimmy Barry, loves an 'oul bag of chips and a Mars bar and still likes to play an odd game of marbles or conkers, when he's not wrecking his teeth on gobstoppers. And he loves Liverpool, glorying in his nickname of "Suarez".

Seanie's razor sharp wit makes him great craic, a real joker, a rogue, liked by everybody, loved, even, especially the girls. He's a real Northsider, city to the core, a charmer. If he was a comic book character, he'd be Sidney from the Bash Street Kids. But rarely has there been a poacher to match him. You'll recognise Seanie from the knowing grin on his face as hangs around the goal whistling "The Boys of Fairhill", waiting to pounce on a mistake by a defender, and boy does he pounce when the mistake inevitably comes, as his four All-Ireland medals shows.

Seanie never gets nervous before matches. Seanie's all about the fun of it. Seanie loves to play to the Cork crowd, particularly the ones on the Town End in Thurles. He loves Thurles. He loves a sneaky smoke after a match and is always good for a quote for Jim Carney in the dressing-room after an All-Ireland victory, followed by an 'oul nod, a wink and a grin.

Seanie is proof that an ounce of breeding will always beat a ton of feeding.

Stay tuned for some adventures with Seanie**.

*There's also a fat Seanie who's just as the same as skinny Seanie, except that he's fat.

**There may be no adventures with Seanie.

General discussion / What makes a BIG club?
« on: March 23, 2014, 12:51:52 AM »
1. At least five European Cups.

GAA Discussion / Canice Picklington - A Kilkenny Hurling Legend Speaks
« on: October 28, 2013, 10:48:11 PM »
He's the man that makes the greatest team of all-time tick. A man with a reputation for being one of the game's real characters. Considered by some to be the most naturally talented hurler of all-time, Kilkenny's Canice Picklington is a folk hero in his native county. Today the now nine-times All-Ireland medallist talks exclusively to me about what makes the man behind the face mask, just a few days after after a trademark Picklington performance put paid to Galway's hopes of winning back the McCarthy Cup.

And as I'm sure you'll agree, he has some very interesting things to say.

Me: Tell us a bit about yourself Canice:

Canice: Ah there wouldn't really be too much to tell now. I'm a hurling man, I suppose.

Me: Tell us a bit about your family:

Canice: Ah yeah, myself and Rachel have been married for five years now. We're very happy with what we have. All the lads went to the wedding and they made a guard of honour with hurleys, which was a nice touch, as we all play hurling, like. Rachel goes out to a neighbour's house in the evenings a lot. She doesn't tell me what she's doing but I suppose everybody is entitled to their little secrets. That gives me time to stay at home and mind our three kids, Harry, Janice and Canice Junior.

Me: Do you enjoy music?

Canice: I like a bit of Coldplay. They're a very good band. The Script as well, it's good to see an Irish band doing well as it's good for the country. And of course U2, they're great for the country too and I really respect Bono for all his charity work.

Me: Have you any hobbies?

Canice: Hurling I suppose. 'Tis difficult to get time to do much else. I like to relax by watching a bit of television. Grey's Anatomy is very good, and Friends, I think that's very funny, especially Joey. I love films as well.  I have a DVD of The Shawshank Redemption. I've seen it ten times now. Brian Cody gave me a lend of Nightmare on Elm Street but I haven't seen it yet. It's supposed to be very good.

Me: What do you work at?

Canice: I work inside in the city selling agricultural insurance. It's important to have insurance as you can never be too careful about things that can happen. I'd help out the odd time at my father TJ's farm as well. My brothers Walter, Henry, Nigel and PJ help out too. It keeps you grounded. The job is good because they give me a car. It's a silver Toyota Yaris. Rachel has a silver Yaris too. 'Tis a lovely car. I think I'll get another silver Yaris when I'm finished with this one.

Me: What's your favourite colour?:

Canice: Jeez, that's a good question. I suppose I'd have to say black or amber because they're the Kilkenny colours. Although I like green as well because it reminds me of the green grass of a hurling pitch.

Me; Do you follow any other sports?

Canice: Ah, I wouldn't have much time now, I suppose, but I'd watch the odd rugby match. I like to see the Irish teams do well as it's good for the country.

Me: Do you take an interest in politics?

Canice: Ah I wouldn't have any strong views, I suppose, although I've great time for our local TDs here, and I'd always be willing to help out if Phil Hogan or John McGuinness needed a bit of a hand. Phil is a good hurling man, although he says he doesn't have the time to get to many matches these days, and I'd never see him stuck. He was talking to me recently about the European referendum which is coming up in a couple of months and asked if I'd be able to say a few words in support of it for a video the government is putting together. I don't really know very much about it, but I was glad to say yes, as it's very important for the country, I suppose.

I've been sounded out about carrying the torch for the Commonwealth Games when it passes through Kilkenny in a couple of years time. I'd like to do that as it sounds interesting. The Queen was a very nice woman too when I met her last year.

Me: Have you any superstitions on match day?

Canice: Ah yeah, I suppose I'd always go to mass, like. Even though I'm Church of Ireland, I always like to go to mass as it's good luck. I always wear the black glove that DJ gave me after he retired on my left hand as well.

Me: What's the toughest match you've ever played?

Canice: Definitely any of the A v B games in training. Savage intensity, like.

Me: With the drawn game against Galway level in the dying minutes, was Henry right to go for a point from the penalty?

Canice: Ah, yeah, I think so, like. I'd always be of the opinion that you should take the points and the goals will come.

Me: Tell us a bit about the rest of the Kilkenny team:

Canice: Ah, I couldn't say too much about them, but they're all a great bunch of lads. There'd be some fierce characters I suppose. Welshy, Taggy, Cha and Jackie are all a good laugh and we have the craic together. People say we're dull but I can tell you that's definitely not the case. I mean I like to have the craic as much as anybody. I mean I had four pints on the Tuesday afternoon after the All-Ireland this year.

Me: I notice you refer to some other players by their nicknames. Have you got a nickname yourself?

Canice; No.

Me: What do you think of people who say that Kilkenny are the greatest team of all-time?

Canice: Ah that's not up to me to say, I suppose. 'Tis nice to get a bit of praise, but you can't let it go to your head. We know the bitter pain of defeat as much as anybody after losing to Cork in 1999. I suppose that's what drives us on. I mean you're only as good as your last game. There's always teams who have the ability to beat you.

Like, any time we play Wexford it's always a 50-50 game. Offaly too. Dublin have improved an awful lot. I suppose every game is 50-50. We don't have any time to think about it anyway as we have the club championship now which I know all the lads will be aiming to give a right go.

Me: Thanks, Canice. It's been rivetting.

General discussion / Who will you support in the World Cup?
« on: October 17, 2013, 10:49:55 AM »
ENGLAND for me.

It would be amazing for our domestic game if we can do it.

With Stevie and Lamps bossing the centre, Jags and Joles shutting out opposition attacks, and Roo-mania rampant, we'll be living it up in Rio like Ronnie Biggs.

I know all four home nations will be getting behind our British Isles representatives.

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