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Topics - dec

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General discussion / Checkmate
« on: January 18, 2008, 01:57:49 PM »
Chess Master Bobby Fischer Dies at 64

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) Bobby Fischer, the reclusive chess genius who became a Cold War icon by dethroning the Soviet world champion in 1972 and later renounced his American citizenship, has died. He was 64.

Fisher died in a Reykjavik hospital on Thursday, his spokesman, Gardar Sverrisson, said Friday. There was no immediate word on cause of death....

General discussion / Irish News now free online ?
« on: January 11, 2008, 02:31:48 PM »
The Irish News now seem to be free online, I hadn't noticed any comments here about that, is this a recent development. They talk about "What's new" here but don't specifically say they are free and they still mention subscribers, but only in reference to PDFs.

I would love to see the Irish Times free on the web as well.

Sean Ban does U-turn over Galway job

Veteran Irish language broadcaster, Sean Ban Breathnach, has decided not to quit his position as Cultural and Irish Officer of the Galway County Board. At a meeting of the Galway County Board on Monday night, he expressed his disillusionment after increasing hostility to the use of Irish by players, officials and supporters.

"This is on playing pitches by managers and mentors and supporters and even to referees. I experienced it myself first hand during the summer," he said. "Every time these people hear Irish being spoken on the pitch they just seem to lose it."

Breathnach had been annoyed over what he perceived as a growing intolerance to the Irish language in Galway GAA circles. However, he was encouraged by the support he got from various clubs around the county and has taken a last minute U-turn and will continue to serve in his role for the foreseeable future.

General discussion / "Secret All-Ireland league talks at 'advanced' stage"
« on: December 11, 2007, 02:57:36 PM »
Indo story - ""

"Advanced discussions about the introduction of an All Ireland soccer league have taken place between clubs from both sides of the border and interested stakeholders, with the intention of drafting a New Year proposal that will be too good for the FAI and IFA to refuse. The Irish Independent has learned that top eircom League sides have been involved in secret talks with counterparts in the North and with the backing of significant third party encouragement in the hope of bringing the project to fruition. They have been given reason to believe that governments in the North and South would be receptive to the project and are confident that UEFA -- who have been informally sounded out -- and FIFA will give the necessary backing to the venture.

Now, they are looking to put an attractive final package together by January with the necessary levels of support and a business plan to convince the two football associations to give the green light to press forward. Their involvement is pivotal so that any league including the island's top clubs would be capable of gaining the places to compete in European competition.

"If the FAI and the IFA want to buy into it then everyone is happy," says one club source.
"It would be difficult to proceed without their support.
"There's a bigger picture here. Certainly, there are very professional people involved in this project and there is a lot of excitement about what can be achieved.
"This could be very big for football in this country and is capable of bringing it to the next level."

The origins of the initiative came from meetings between the six leading eircom League full time clubs -- Cork City, Drogheda United, Derry City, St Patrick's Athletic, Bohemians and Galway United -- to discuss grievances regarding their participation agreement with the FAI and the wage cap thats coming into place next season. However, those discussions have snowballed with other parties being sought out for advice and to ascertain their interest as the desire for a full time professional All-Ireland league emerged as the ultimate objective. Tentative discussions have taken place with a television company who are willing to offer their backing to the venture.

Other league members, who were not part of the original group of six, have now asked to be kept aware of developments as the project grows wings and some have been invited to subsequent gatherings. Regardless of the success of the plan, the 22 eircom League clubs are preparing to lobby the FAI for the re-drafting of the participation agreement amid widespread unhappiness at its implementation. "

General discussion / Cavan Cola
« on: November 29, 2007, 02:27:32 PM »
Have any of you ever drunk Cavan Cola

Campaign to bring back Cavan Cola

Fans of an Irish soft drink have launched a campaign to get it back onto shop shelves. Cavan Cola became a cult favourite during the 1980s and was stocked in stores across Ireland before being withdrawn. However, the drive to resurrect it has been given impetus with a new online campaign.

Cavan Cola first hit the shelves in County Cavan in 1984 and its popularity soon spread throughout Ireland. The dark cola had a frothy burnt brown head when poured and had a distinctive taste which apparently set it apart from similar drinks.

'Defines refreshment'

In the mid-1990s, owners Cavan Mineral Water began phasing out the drink, and by 2001 it had disappeared from most shops. Hundreds of people have now backed the 'Bring Back Cavan Cola' campaign. It is being spearheaded by Don Leahy on the social networking site Bebo. He said: "Cavan Cola is a forgotten symbol of what Cavan stood for - Cavan Cola defines refreshment, coolness and vintage Cavan culture. "It has been sorely missed. No more Cavan children should have to grow up not being able to drink Cavan Cola from the brown bottle with a bag of Tayto (crisps)."
The drink is also featured on online encyclopedia Wikipedia and T-shirts have been made backing the campaign.

General discussion / "Common Travel Area" to end
« on: October 24, 2007, 02:33:14 PM »
Irish will need passports to visit Britain from 2009

The Government has instructed senior officials to prepare a plan to deal with the ending of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and Britain, which has existed since the foundation of the State in 1922, writes Stephen Collins , Political Editor.

The move follows communication between the British and Irish authorities about the development of an electronic border control system by Britain by 2009.

It means that people travelling by air or sea between the two countries will be required to carry passports, so that information about their travel plans and movements will be available to the authorities in both states.

The British have decided to develop a so called e-border system in order to track the movements of terrorist suspects, criminals and illegal immigrants.

In response to the British decision to press ahead with the implementation of the system at the earliest possible date, the Government is preparing to establish a similar system. Officials have been instructed by the Cabinet to prepare a memorandum on the formation of an Irish Border Information System and to detail how it will work with its British counterpart.

It is expected that the Irish system would be broadly similar to the British one.

Passenger information will be collected by carriers and sent to an Irish border operations centre, where it will be screened against immigration, Garda and other watch-lists.

At its weekly meeting yesterday the Cabinet was informed of the British determination to press ahead with its e-border system and Ministers were told of the potential impact of the system on travel by Irish citizens to Britain and on the operation of the Common Travel Area.

Ministers were also informed of plans, already well advanced, for the development of an Irish Border Information System. The issues will be the subject of a detailed memorandum to Government in the near future.

The British e-border system is designed to operate by electronically collecting and analysing passenger information in advance of travel to or from the country. This procedure will result in an "alert" if the person travelling is on a watch-list.

Free movement of people between Ireland and Britain has existed for hundreds of years and the Common Travel Area survived Irish independence in 1922 and the declaration of a Republic in 1949. Throughout the period since independence, even during the second World War and the IRA terrorist campaign, travel has been possible without any identity document between the two states.

The British e-border system will automatically require all air and sea passengers to be in possession of a valid passport to facilitate a journey within the Common Travel Area.

While Ryanair has required air passengers between the two countries to carry photo ID since September 11th, 2001, it is still perfectly legal to travel between the two countries without a passport.

It does not appear that the British intend to apply the e-border to the land border between the Republic and the North, as that would be impossible to police.

However, the application of e-border controls in both countries with close co-operation between the respective authorities would effectively seal off the two islands.

In July the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, said the cabinet secretary had been asked to report by this month on how the e-border could be implemented "very soon".

Mr Brown said the electronic screening of all passengers checking in and out of the United Kingdom was a priority. Having a system of e-borders in place by 2009 and the introduction of biometric visas by March of next year were crucial parts of that plan.

General discussion / 'UK's greatest wit'
« on: October 16, 2007, 10:05:52 PM »
'UK's greatest wit'

1. Oscar Wilde
2. Spike Milligan

General discussion / Marion Jones Admits to Steroid Use
« on: October 05, 2007, 12:16:54 AM »

Track star Marion Jones has acknowledged using steroids as she prepared for the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney and plans to plead guilty tomorrow in New York to two counts of lying to federal agents about her drug use and an unrelated financial matter, according to a letter Jones sent to close family and friends.

Jones, who won five medals at the Sydney Olympics, said she took the steroid known as "the clear" for two years beginning in 1999, according to the letter, which was read to The Washington Post by a person who had been given a copy. A person familiar with Jones's legal situation who requested anonymity confirmed the relevant facts that were described in the letter.

Jones said her former coach, Trevor Graham, gave her the substance, telling her it was the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and saying she should take it by putting two drops under her tongue. Graham, contacted by telephone today, said he had no comment.

Jones's admissions could cost her the three gold and two bronze medals she won in Sydney. In December 2004, the International Olympic Committee opened an investigation into allegations surrounding performance-enhancing drug use by Jones, once considered the greatest female athlete in the world.

In the past, Jones has vehemently denied using steroids or any performance-enhancing drugs.

Jones said she "trusted [Graham] and never thought for one second" she was using a performance-enhancing drug until after she left Graham's Raleigh, N.C.-based training camp at the end of 2002. "Red flags should have been raised when he told me not to tell anyone about" the supplement program, she said in the letter. She also said she noticed changes in how her body felt and how she was able to recover from workouts.

The clear, also known as THG, is a powerful steroid that was found to be at the center of the performance-enhancing drugs scandal known as Balco. More than a dozen track and field athletes have faced punishments for their use of the clear, which drug-testing authorities could not detect until Graham sent a sample of it to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in 2003.

Baseball players Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi admitted during grand jury testimony to using the clear, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Barry Bonds also admitted using a substance that he had been told by his personal trainer was flaxseed oil, the Chronicle reported.

The federal probe surrounding Balco, a nutritional supplements company based in Burlingame, Calif., has resulted in five criminal convictions. Jones's coach, Graham, was indicted last November on three counts of lying to federal agents connected to the investigation. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is scheduled for next month.

The head of Balco, Victor Conte, has repeatedly and publicly accused Jones of using drugs.

Jones, who recently married former sprinter Obadele Thompson, said in her letter that she planned to fly from her home in Austin and meet her mother in New York to enter the plea. She said she faced up to six months in jail and would be sentenced in three months. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a maximum of five years in prison for one count of lying to federal agents.

"I want to apologize for all of this," she said, according to the person reading the letter, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I am sorry for disappointing you all in so many ways."

Reached at their Austin home, Thompson declined to comment on the letter, portions of which were read to him, saying "the process has to go through before you can make any comments. . . . I'm sure at the appropriate time, all necessary comments will be made." He did not dispute the contents of the letter.

The letter says that when Jones was questioned in 2003 by federal agents investigating Balco, she lied about using the clear even though agents presented her with a sample and she immediately recognized it as what she had taken at Graham's behest. The letter says she lied because she panicked and wanted to protect herself and her coach.

Jones also said in the letter that she lied about a $25,000 check given to her by track athlete Tim Montgomery, the father of her young son. Montgomery pleaded guilty in New York this year for his part in a multimillion-dollar bank fraud and money-laundering scheme.

Jones said she told investigators she knew nothing about the deposit, even though Montgomery told her it was from the 2005 sale of a refurbished vehicle and was partial payment for $50,000 she had lent him.

"Once again, I panicked," she wrote. "I did not want my name associated with this mess. I wanted to stay as far away as possible."

General discussion / Who is letting the side down ?
« on: August 30, 2007, 10:00:30 PM »
My goodness: Nigeria overtakes Ireland in Guinness sales

Nigeria has overtaken Ireland as the second-largest market for Guinness as Diageo pushes the black stuff internationally.

Although the world's biggest drinks company did not reveal precise numbers, it said net sales of Guinness in the year ending June 30 were up 18% in Nigeria.

Strong growth across Africa helped to make up for a decline in Britain - the stout's biggest market - and Ireland. Guinness sales fell 7% in Ireland and the volume drunk fell by 9%. In Britain, sales fell 4% as consumption dropped 6%.

General discussion / Wanna bet ?
« on: August 20, 2007, 09:56:24 PM »

United Ireland?
**A United Ireland is defined as - One parliament governing North (Northern Ireland) and South (The Republic), and Northern Ireland no longer part of the UK in any shape or form.

United Ireland by 2012    25 - 1
United Ireland by 2017    20 - 1
United Ireland by 2022    14 - 1
United Ireland by 2027    10 - 1

GAA Discussion / Widening the back door
« on: February 16, 2007, 02:08:21 AM »

Pressure mounts to widen the back door

PRESSURE is mounting to change the All-Ireland football championship format so that provincial champions get a second chance if they lose at the quarter-final stage.

Ulster Council secretary Danny Murphy wants provincial champions treated the same as teams who lose earlier on by granting them a reprieve if they lose a quarter-final. He is supported by Armagh manager Joe Kernan, who claimed the current system is loaded against provincial winners.

Murphy has proposed a new format whereby the four provincial winners play off against each other with the two winners advancing directly to the All-Ireland semi-finals, while the losers get a second chance against two survivors from the qualifiers.

Under the current system, provincial winners face four qualifiers in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. It means that where provincial winners lose quarter-finals they are eliminated from the All-Ireland race, without getting a second chance.

Writing in his annual report, which will go before the Ulster Convention on Saturday week, Murphy said that they had engaged in preliminary discussions on a new proposal that may go before Congress in April. That involves giving beaten provincial winners a second chance.

"Provincial champions should have the opportunity of a clear route to the All-Ireland semi-finals and this can be best achieved by having the provincial champions play each other, with the winners advancing to the semi-finals.

The defeated provincial champions would get a second chance against two teams emerging from the qualifier series. I believe that this will ensure a more appropriate and consistently competitive championship," writes Murphy.


His remarks come at a time when it's being mooted that hurling plans to return to a system whereby the Leinster and Munster champions qualify for the All-Ireland semi-finals.

However, there will be opposition at official level to any proposal to change the football system if it involves extra fixtures.

Paraic Duffy, the new Players' Welfare Officer, who previously chaired committees that proposed the introduction of the 'back door' in 2001 and its slightly amended version which comes into effect this year, said that any change involving more fixtures would be detrimental to clubs.

"If you create a mechanism to allow provincial winners who lose their next game back into the All-Ireland race, it will take at least one extra weekend.

"That would have a negative impact on the club scene which is already an area of serious concern. My own personal view is that we should be very reluctant to add an extra round," he said.

Duffy concedes that it's frustrating for provincial winners who lose All-Ireland quarter-finals to find themselves totally eliminated whereas their conquerors, who lost a game earlier on, head into the semi-finals.

"When we designed the 'back door' system back in 2001, it was on the basis that there were two ways of qualifying for the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Provincial winners qualified automatically and were joined by the four remaining qualifiers.

"In effect, we treated the provincial and All-Ireland championships as two separate competitions. We also proposed that the provincial winners would have home advantage in the quarter-finals but that never happened. Central Council didn't think it was practical in terms of ground capacity and it also emerged that counties wanted quarter-finals in Croke Park if possible," he said.

Joe Kernan, whose Armagh side lost All-Ireland quarter-finals in 2004 and 2006 after winning the Ulster title, said that it wasn't fair that some teams got second chances whereas others didn't.

The records show that of the 24 provincial champions crowned since 2001, ten have been beaten in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

"A team that does everything right and wins the provincial title have the safety net pulled from under them, whereas a team that loses in the provinces are welcomed back in through the qualifiers. We benefited from that in Armagh in 2003 and went on to beat Leinster champions Laois in the quarter-finals, so we have experience of both sides.


"Look at what happened us last year. We won the Ulster title on July 9 but didn't play Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final until August 5. Kerry had two games in that period which left them that bit sharper than us," he said.

Had Danny Murphy's proposed system been in operation last year, Armagh, Mayo, Dublin and Cork would have played off with the two winners entering the semi-finals and the two losers heading for quarter-finals.

Up to now, four qualifiers reach the quarter-finals but under the new system it would be reduced to two. In 2006 that would have meant a further qualifying round involving Westmeath, Kerry, Laois and Donegal.

They would have played off down to two for the right to beat the losers from the provincial champions play-offs.

"A change in the system might mean one extra weekend but surely it should be possible to find it," added Kernan. "In the interests of fairness, it should be tried because there's a blatant anomaly in the current system."

Martin Breheny

I don't think this is a good idea. It adds an extra round and you still have the situation of a zero loss team versus a one loss team this time in the semi finals.

Here is a list of the provincial champions that have lost to a backdoor team in the quarter finals. There are only two cases where a clear underdog won Donegal 03 and Fermanagh 04. In the other cases the winning teams were at least the equal of the provincial champions that they beat.
Roscommon (beaten by Galway)
Tyrone (beaten by Derry)

Galway (beaten by Kerry)

Galway (beaten by Donegal)
Laois (beaten by Armagh)

Westmeath (beaten by Derry)
Armagh (beaten by Fermanagh).

Galway (beaten by Cork)
Dublin (beaten by Tyrone)

Armagh (beaten by Kerry).

GAA Discussion / Rankings in Football - from Irish Independent
« on: December 11, 2006, 04:15:33 PM »

A fairly predictable list

1 Kerry
2 Tyrone
3 Armagh
4 Mayo
5 Dublin
6 Cork
7 Galway
8 Laois
9 Donegal
10 Derry
11 Offaly
12 Wexford
13 Fermanagh
14 Meath
15 Westmeath
16 Kildare
17 Down
18 Monaghan
19 Louth
20 Limerick
21 Roscommon
22 Cavan
23 Longford
24 Sligo
25 Leitrim
26 Clare
27 Tipperary
28 Antrim
29 Carlow
30 Wicklow
31 Waterford
32 London

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