Sovann ThidaAva has never met her parents. Born in the mid-2000s, she was found abandoned as a baby on the street in Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. She was taken in by a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) for disadvantaged children, where she was raised. "I have no idea where my mum went," says ThidaAva, who goes by the name Ava. Life in care was crowded and chaotic, but over the years she built up a close bond with the other girls there. "We were like sisters because we grew up together... we lived together in one group," she says. During playtime, the boys played football and volleyball, but the girls were not encouraged to join in. "The girls were encouraged to do dancing and art," Ava says. Despite being around large groups her entire life, Ava knew little beyond the walls of the organisation.
That all changed in 2018, when somebody offered to take her to a training session for a sport she'd never heard of - Gaelic football - at a club that was barely a year old.Cairde Khmer had been formed in 2017 by two Irishmen - Conor Wall and Paddy Campbell. "It was meant to be a bit of craic - go to Bangkok one time to check out a Gaelic tournament," says Ronan Sheehan, the club's chairman. The trip to Bangkok was a success and the decision was made to keep the club going. To begin with, Cairde Khmer was made up almost completely of Westerners. But in 2018, the club started seeing a small influx of Cambodian players turning up to training. Ava started playing around then, despite only being about 13. She initially found the rules confusing but soon became one of the team's best and most fearless players.
"She is absolutely vicious," Sheehan says. "Her tackling can be quite rough. I used to take great delight watching grown women in their 20s and 30s asking the referee to protect them from this rampaging 14-year-old. "Referees are always coming up to us and telling us she has to calm down. But we can't calm that out of her because it's a big part of her game. She plays it right on the edge." Soon a trickle of Cambodian players became a steady stream, as word started to spread. Vat Sreypov joined the team in 2019. As a child, Sreypov had always longed to play sports like the boys in her village, but was never given the chance. "I was not allowed to play football because my brother said it was not for women," Sreypov recalls. "Most women are not encouraged to play football in Cambodia. There are so many norms about women and how to behave - you are told not to walk fast and you should not be heard when you walk." Cairde Khmer was a breath of fresh air to her....
Kilkenny legend admits he encouraged it while coaching Ballyhale to All-Ireland win
"Henry Shefflin has welcomed the GAA crackdown on cynical fouling and admitted that as a manager, he encouraged it. Congress in February accepted on a trial basis awarding a penalty for infractions that deprive opponents of goal-scoring opportunities within the 20-metre line or its arc and sin binning the offending player...
"I've done it myself. I've talked about the All-Ireland semi-final against Slaughtneil where Evan Shefflin left the wing forward, I think it was Brendan Rogers, get in behind him at a critical stage in the game and I said to him after the match, 'Why didn't you stop him? You had a chance to stop him 40 yards out? You let him in, they scored a goal'...
Shefflin had been critical of calculated fouling in his role as pundit on the Sunday Game and he reiterated that criticism of his own county's Huw Lawlor for a foul on Galway's Niall Burke in last November's Leinster final. "It was completely cynical play in that he just yanked the hurl from him and what I didn't realise until after the event and even from the discussions since, is that that doesn't even warrant a yellow card so I think that rule needs to be definitely changed. "It's happened in a few incidents close to goal where a defender just knows he has to stop his player, come hell or high water. I'm sure the rules [committee] and CCCC will look at it later on this year because you might see an incident or two like that again and you'd imagine there'll be a lot of noise about it."
----- The impact that Jarly Óg Burns and Rian O'Neill have in their debut championship season for Armagh has been nothing short of sensational. You might think the Orchard County are fortunate that two such talented players have arrived on the scene together, but it would be wrong to put their emergence down to just luck. Both have come through the Orchard Academy, the coaching and development squad structure first put in place by Paul McGrane and Denis Hollywood back in 2012.
The Orchard Academy's mission statement is "to broaden participation levels while teaching the skills of the game in formative years and establishing holistic best practice around players in the 'Learn to Compete' phase of their development." McGrane and Hollywood recruited the best and brightest coaches in the county, many of them All-Ireland winners in 2002, including Diarmaid Marsden, Benny Tierney, Oisin McConville, John Toal, John McEntee, Paddy McKeever, Philly McEvoy, Cathal O Rourke, Stevie McDonnell and Aidan O Rourke to work with the players.
Burns and O'Neill are two of the first graduates to come right through the system and there are many more promising young footballers snapping at their heels which bodes well for the future of Armagh football. Even more encouragingly if you're an Armagh supporter, the Orchard Academy is being constantly refined and is in a much stronger place now than it was when it was established seven years ago. A sponsor has recently come on board, Aidan Strain Electrical Engineering (ASEE), and last summer Armagh senior team manaer Kieran McGeeney initiated a review of the coaching pathway in the county
On the back of that, Aidan O'Rourke was appointed the Orchard Academy's new Manager this year, and is currently implementing a range of initiatives designed to make the county's underage coaching structures even more productive. "We basically reviewed everything that was going on in the county right from primary schools, clubs, our own development squads, et cetera, and we came back with recommendations to county management in February," O'Rourke told GAA.ie "They created a new working group for the Orchard Academy group and we rolled out a new programme of Primary School coaching and a revised approach to the development squads and how we bring players through. "From a performance pathway perspective we've moved away from the traditional model of trials and club nominations, et cetera.
"We have a unique environment in so far as we are a small county, but, for whatever reason, our secondary school system is very strong. We would have six schools carrying Armagh players who would compete at the highest level in Ulster, the MacRory Cup. "And, obviously in the other schools they would compete at all of the other levels as well so we are trying to build relationships with those key schools and support coaching there. "And then in the weaker schools we're trying to increase the quality of teams and player development within those schools so ultimately more Armagh players will benefit from increased exposure to quality coaching and competition."
Development squads have gotten an increasingly bad rap in recent years because they're deemed to be too elitist, but the Orchard Academy tries to cater for as large a number of players as possible.
"For us, it's about keeping the base as wide as you can and keeping as many involved as we can," said O'Rourke. "Obviously we're a small county with limited resources so that is difficult challenge and you're always looking at different angles to keep kids involved and not simply identify 30 or 40 kids at 13 or 14 years of age and say you're going to be the best players in this county at 17 and organise all your development opportunities around them. "It's well proven that that's very much a hit and miss approach, more of a miss approach. You try to educate as many people as you can, put these opportunities around them, and that's what our work-shops are for, they're fairly broad ones. "We had U-14 and U-15 coaching development work-shop on Saturday and there was 120 players at it across the two age-groups. "We want to take that batch of players at both age-groups moving forward and give them enough information and understanding about how to improve. "Because, ultimately, there's only so much we can do with them. The majority of their interaction is through their club and school. "We have very small windows with them so we have to try to inject small notions and ideas that can benefit them going forward in terms of educating them in terms of what they can bring back to their club and school."
Kieran McGeeney's record as Armagh manager, particularly in the Ulster Championship, has shipped some criticism over the course of the last five years. But what many may not appreciate is that in that time he's also put a lot of work into Armagh football at all levels away from the limelight and the benefits of that foresight and application are now becoming apparent.
"Kieran has always said from the outset that he wanted to leave Armagh in a more sustainable and better place and that probably the next man in would get the full benefit of the work he wanted to do, he said that from Day One," said O'Rourke. "Things are starting to come to fruition now and hopefully Kieran can continue to push that on himself. "We'd like to think there's a fair bit of work done in the background that will sustain the senior team challenging in the top tier at Division 1 level over a long period of time." "The senior team doing well now helps everything below it because young people are going around the county wearing orange jersies and want to go to matches. "I think we're in an environment now where there's a lot of choice. The best 13 or 14 gaelic footballers are also the best rugby players and soccer players. "There's an element of competition and I'm sure it's the same everywhere. When I was coming through you just wanted to play for your club and your county and nothing else, but things have changed."
When you look at the relatively youthful age profile of the current Armagh team and the swashbuckling brand of football they play, you'd have to say their short to medium term future looks bright. The likes of Jarly Óg Burns and Rian O'Neill may well just be the vanguard of a generation of talented footballers who have had their natural ability hot-housed in the well-run Orchard Academy.
"I'm cautiously optimistic about the senior team currently and I'd be optimistic about what I'd see coming through at the younger age-groups at the minute," said O'Rourke. "But there's always a warning sticker with all of that. There's just no legislating for a kid's development. Could I identify the best 10 U-14s in Armagh at the minute? Absolutely. "Is there a guarantee that any of those 10 will be in the top 10 U-17s in three years time? There's no guarantee. "I would hope the players who are outside that group currently would prove that wrong anyway. It's not an exact science by any means. "What we're trying to do is do as many things right and well as we can with the limited resources we have to try and uplift the quality of coaching in our development squads first of all. "We also want to uplift the quality of coaching in our clubs and schools to raise the level of competition at underage and above within the county. "You'd like to think it will have an overall impact on the senior team in the long run." -----
Retired inter-county referee Rory Hickey has suggested introducing two referees into the GAA, saying that the rule change "makes sense" for the sport. Hickey has opted to step away from officiating after missing out on a place in the national panel for 2019, following a 20-year career which included refereeing an All-Ireland minor football final and an All-Ireland club final. Bringing in two referees into GAA games has been suggested in the past and the Clare native has added his voice to that school of thought.
"I was involved in a couple of the Compromise Rules Series as linesman, umpire and stuff," Hickey began when pitching this idea on RTÉ's Sunday Sport. "The Australian lads would come over - one would be in one half of the field and the Irish guy would be in the other half. I thought it worked out great. "If you look at inter-county hurling now, the Clare full-back David McInerney, if he catches the ball on the '21 and the referee is standing beside him, David McInerney has the potential to land the ball on the other 13 metre line. "There's no way in the world the referee is going to make it up to the other end, but if there was a referee in each half, it'd take the workload off the referee. The other guy would be able to cut out a lot of the stuff that goes on off the ball when the play is down at the other end. "I attended a couple of championship matches last year and you wouldn't believe the stuff that goes on off the ball while the referee is at the other end of the field. Two refs makes sense. "It's an easy move, why not?"
The constant scrutiny and criticism directed at referees also came up during the interview with the Eire Óg clubman. He recounted one particular incident during the 2009 Munster football final between Cork and Limerick which resulted in him featuring in newspaper articles and receiving hate mail. "I gave a penalty to Cork during that game. Whether I was right or wrong, I gave the penalty anyway and stood by my decision. I'll let your listeners decide [if I was right or wrong]," he jokes. "Cork won the game [and] Limerick weren't too happy. I got a lot of attention after that. It was more the written word that time [in newspapers]. There was no Twitter or any of that craic. "[It was] tough going. Limerick were on the brink of history and I gave what I thought was a penalty. When you look, yeah it was soft. The name Rory Hickey was up in lights in places where I didn't think it would be. "The papers all had the same story that there was no way it was a penalty. I think one journalist described me as Robin Hood after 'robbing Limerick'. "People were at that game and they just don't forget for a while." Hickey went on to describe the vile letters which were sent to his original home address where he wasn't living at the time. "One guy actually went out of his way to cut newspaper clippings and get words stuck onto the page. This guy was a real professional. My mother opened that and it's not nice for someone to be reading that."
Hickey also touched on the standard of fitness and physical conditioning that referees must meet in order to perform the role in the modern game. Illustrating the difference between refereeing at club level and inter-county level, he explained that a match official can "tip away between the two '45s and you'll be fine" while taking charge of a club game. "If you try that in an inter-county match, you'll be found out fairly quick. For me and my former colleagues, you'd want to be in nearly tip-top condition for inter-county football at the minute."
My US based in-laws will be staying in Ireland for about six months. There is no land line in the house where they will be staying, they will rely on a mobile phone. They have a laptop, what would be a good way to get internet access for about six months (they don't want to sign a long term contract). This would be just for email, browsing news websites etc. no heavy bandwidth video streaming or downloading.
Do the any of the mobile phone companies have wifi hotspot devices that would allow this?
"Prince Charles launches National Poetry Day with Heaney poem
The Prince of Wales has been heard reading Seamus Heaney's poem The Shipping Forecast poem to mark National Poetry Day. The recording was broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today as part of the annual nationwide poetry celebration..."
If only he had read Heaney's "An Open Letter"
Be advised my passport's green. No glass of ours was ever raised to toast the Queen.
Sir Anthony O'Reilly declared bankrupt by court in Bahamas Cliff Taylor, Lamech Johnson Last Updated: Saturday, November 21, 2015, 09:35
Sir Anthony O'Reilly has been declared bankrupt by a court in the Bahamas and given the go-ahead to file for a personal insolvency arrangement.
The move will give him protection from creditors under Bahamian bankruptcy law, despite objections by AIB, one of his creditors. He will now be able to apply for a formal deal with creditors, know as a composition, which would involve the sale of assets and the distribution of the proceeds to creditors.
Sir Anthony had asked the court to grant his application for insolvency under Bahamian law. In court yesterday, AIB opposed the application and asked the court to refuse to approve an arrangement that would offer Sir Anthony protection from creditors, in return for an agreement to sell off assets and repay the proceeds raised as a final settlement.
The former billionaire's lawyer, John Delaney QC, told Justice Milton Evans that the claims of AIB that the proper guidelines for the filing of the application were not followed by Sir Anthony were not correct.
Mr Delaney said the guidelines were followed to the 'T' , except for registering his client's notion of motion to the Bahamas' Supreme Court Registrar. He said it was due to the dispute with AIB, the only unsecured creditor opposing the application.
Justice Evans ruled that Sir Anthony should now be adjudged bankrupt and allowed file for personal insolvency, or a composition, under Bahamian bankruptcy law. A written judgment is expected on Tuesday, but it is a landmark in Sir Anthony's attempts to find a way out of the massive personal debts he faced. It is not clear whether AIB has any legal route to dispute the judgment.
Composition Sir Anthony had filed a notice of motion in petition for bankruptcy subject to section 97 of the Bahamas Bankruptcy Act. He has been seeking a so-called composition with creditors.
Having held meetings with his creditors, Sir Anthony was seeking, as part of the arrangement, protection of his property from being accessed or seized, the approval of the composition with creditors and its official registration and the appointment of a trustee of his assets and affairs. The trustee would be responsible for the sale of assets and distribution of the proceeds.
He has also asked that the protections extend to the US and Ireland, meaning creditors such as AIB could not take further action to seize his assets on foot of money owed.
At the hearing in the Ansbacher House courtroom, Sophia Rolle, one of three lawyers representing AIB, asked Justice Evans to strike out the original and amended petitions of Sir Anthony on the basis that the proceedings were not properly placed before the court and that it had a lack of inherent jurisdiction.
She focused on the provisions of section 97 of the Bahamas Bankruptcy Act, the 1871 Bankruptcy Rules and referenced affidavits in support of her argument. For Sir Anthony, Mr Delaney argued that the application should be granted and that it had the support of the bulk of creditors.
AIB, which has also secured judgments in Ireland, has long signalled its opposition to Sir Anthony's plan to strike a deal with creditors in the Bahamas.
In essence, it is a a battle over who will get what when his assets are sold off. It appears AIB would prefer to continue action through the Irish courts to try to maximise its return on the sale of assets, but the court in the Bahamas has accepted that Sir Anthony should be allowed to avail of the bankruptcy proceedings there.
The composition procedure requires an approval by a majority of creditors by number, and these creditors must represent more than three-quarters of total debts owed. A trustee takes control of the assets of the person involved and sells them off, distributing the proceeds to creditors on an agreed basis.
Selling assets Sir Anthony, pushed by his creditors, has already started selling assets, disposing of his properties on Dublin's Fitzwilliam Square, Glandore in Cork and Castlemartin in Kildare, sold to media mogul John Malone for €28 million last year.
O'Reilly's debts are substantial, and under the proposal creditors would take a significant cut on what they are owed. Information before the Irish High Court suggested last year that his total debts stood at €195 million. This figure is believed to have since reduced significantly, possibly to somewhere closer to €100 million.
Sir Anthony owed money to about 10 banks in total, but AIB has been the most aggressive in pursuing its debts through the court, appearing to steal a march on some of the others through its actions.
By mid-2014 AIB had judgments totalling €45 million, including a judgment for €22.5 million against Sir Anthony personally and the remainder against a number of his companies. Its move ended a forbearance arrangement under which his creditor banks had allowed him time to sell assets and formulate a repayment plan.
The matter has come back before the courts sporadically since, most recently last month, when Sir Anthony was told to produce further information to AIB in relation to his assets, ahead of the court hearing under way yesterday.
The bank said in court that his total indebtedness to it at that stage stood at €15 million.
International banks Previous court actions had shown that other international banks were also major creditors , including BNYMellon and EFG Bank and Trust (Bahamas), and Ulster Bank, ACC, Lloyds TSB, Bank of Ireland and Lone Star.
AIB's objections in court yesterday were a continuation of its previous contention that Sir Anthony had made procedural errors in his application before the courts in the Bahamas and also that the courts there did not have proper jurisdiction to make the decision, despite Sir Anthony's residence there.
The story of how it all came to this is now well familiar – the then Tony O'Reilly's rise from marketing success in Ireland to head Heinz in the US, and then investments back home in Independent News & Media and Waterford Wedgwood.
A former Irish and Lions rugby star, he was the leading business figure of his day. However, his two big Irish investments were eventually to prove his financial downfall. First the collapse of Waterford Wedgwood, and then the loss from the share price drop of Independent News & Media – followed by a fierce battle with businessman Denis O'Brien – destroyed Sir Anthony's finances.
By 2009 he was borrowing from Irish banks, gambling that he could somehow restore his finances, perhaps via a shareholding in Providence Resources. In the end it all unravelled, leaving the former billionaire to apply for what is in effect a personal insolvency arrangement. It now appears the way is clear to do this, though further legal action cannot be ruled out.
Lamech Johnson is a journalist with The Tribune in Nassau
Dublin footballers will play their first championship match outside Croke Park since 2006 when they face either Laois or Wicklow in Kilkenny's Nowlan Park next summer. The decision to take the All-Ireland champions out of the capital for the Leinster Championship quarter-final was made at a meeting of the Leinster Council this evening. Laois and Wicklow meet in a Leinster first-round clash, with the winner awarded the dubious honour of facing Dublin, who will be seeking their sixth provincial title in a row.
Calls for the Dubs to forego what has been seen as their unfair home advantage at Croke Park have been growing in recent years. Earlier, GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail echoed those calls when he said he believes it is "important" Dublin are taken out of Croke Park to spread the game and boost provincial venues across Leinster.
In Sunday's New York Times there was an article on Hurling on the front page of the sports section and continued inside (title in the print edition "An Irish Sport, All Its Own" the title of the online article is "A Passion for Hurling, the All-Ireland Game"). The main focus is an Inverin vs Kinvara match in Galway but it touches a few other areas and there is slide show of photos online as well.
GAA: Players from the football and hurling teams of the millennium have been inducted into a new GAA Hall of Fame, along with Offaly footballer Tony McTague and Limerick hurler Eamon Cregan.
The Hall of Fame, which will be housed in the GAA Museum at Croke Park, will have two players inducted on an annual basis.
"Former players have a special place in the history of the GAA and nowhere is this captured better than in the GAA Museum where their achievements are highlighted and revered," GAA president Liam O'Neill said this afternoon.
"This new facility will serve as a permanent reminder to the greatness of the players who adorned our game at the highest level. It is important that these players are remembered not only by those who were lucky enough to see them, but crucially by those who did not have that privilege.
"This is one way of assisting in that process and I congratulate them and their families."
Football team of the millennium: Dan O'Keeffe (Kerry); Enda Colleran (Galway), Joe Keohane (Kerry) Seán Flanagan (Mayo); Sean Murphy (Kerry) JJ O'Reilly (Cavan), Martin O'Connell (Meath); Mick O'Connell (Kerry), Tommy Murphy (Laois); Seán O'Neill (Down), Sean Purcell (Galway), Pat Spillane (Kerry); Mikey Sheehy (Kerry), Tommy Langan (Mayo), Kevin Heffernan (Dublin).
Hurling team of the millennium: Tony Reddin (Tipperary); John Doyle (Tipperary), Nick O'Donnell (Wexford), Bobby Rackard (Wexford); Paddy Phelan (Kilkenny), John Keane (Waterford), Brian Whelahan (Offaly); Jack Lynch (Cork), Lory Meagher (Kilkenny); Christy Ring (Cork), Mick Mackey (Limerick), Jim Langton (Kilkenny); Eddie Keher (Kilkenny), Ray Cummins (Cork), Jimmy Doyle (Tipperary). ---
People caught with alcohol on a hired vehicle going to a major sporting event could be jailed for three months under new laws. The same sentence could apply to those caught with flares or fireworks inside stadia at major matches. The new provisions mean anyone involved in sectarian chanting, throwing missiles on the pitch or invading the playing area can be fined up to £1000.
The justice minister said the new laws will make sport more family friendly. "The three sporting associations - rugby, football and the GAA - have invested a great deal in making their major sporting events memorable for all the right reasons," David Ford added. "However there still can be times when the actions of a few can spoil it for the majority of fans and this new legislation allows the law to deal with those individuals."
For football, the new laws apply to international matches, IFA Premiership and Championship matches. They also apply to Football Association of Ireland Premier League and First Division matches played in Northern Ireland. For gaelic games, they apply to matches played at any ground which requires a safety certificate under the Safety of Sports Grounds (NI) Order 2006. For rugby, they apply to matches played at Ravenhill.
A new GAA trophy has been named after the founding father of unionism.
Competitors in the first hurling event in the Stormont estate in Belfast will be playing for the Edward Carson trophy.
On face value, the Dubliner who led the campaign against Irish independence a century ago is an unusual choice for anyone looking to christen a prize for the nationalist sport.
But Sinn Fein MP Gerry Adams, who has helped organise the inaugural 'Poc ar an Cnoc' (Puck on the Hill) which will take place below Carson's famous statue in Stormont next month, thought otherwise.
"I discovered, much to my surprise, that Carson was a hurler in his days at Trinity College (Dublin)," he explained at Parliament Buildings yesterday.
He added: "He got an honourable mention in the Irish Sportsman (journal of the day) as having distinguished himself on the field, so we thought it would be a great idea to have an Edward Carson trophy."
The Poc Fada (long puck) will see hurlers hitting sliotars (hurling balls) up the mile-long Prince of Wales Avenue.