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Friday November 15, 2019

McCarthy in the dark over All Whites

courtesy of RTE

Mick McCarthy speaking in Dublin this afternoon


In an era where teams, players and data seem to be studied to the last in order to get an insight into opposition, this week’s friendly with New Zealand in Dublin poses a problem of sorts for Mick McCarthy.

The Ireland manager has already said that Jack Byrne will get a further chance to impress, while Troy Parrott and Lee O’Connor will make their international bows for a game that is serving as an appetiser to the crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark on Monday night.

With so much on the line against the Danes, McCarthy could be forgiven for focusing his attentions on the second half of the double-header.

He has been at pains to stress that the game against the All Whites will be treated in a professional manner, but it can’t ignore the reality of the situation.

“We are going to treat them with the same respect [as Denmark], but quite clearly it doesn’t have the same importance and all the players know that,” he said. “I have been there as a player, I know that.”

A travelling New Zealand journalist asked McCarthy what he makes of Thursday’s opponents and what his scouting mission has entailed.

It was in fact a difficult question.

By the time New Zealand trot onto the pitch later this week, it will have been 525 days since their last competitive game, a 2-1 victory over India in Mumbai.

In the same period Ireland have played 14 games and changed manager, so McCarthy was understandably honest when asked what he knows about the southern hemisphere visitors.

“I don’t make anything of them and I haven’t [scouted them],” he said.

It’s been pretty difficult, there’s not much out there for us

“I can’t see them. Whatever stuff our analyst has got, we are going to look at it and see how they have played in the past and how we think they will play now, what players are in the squad.

“We’ll try to get some handle on how we think they are going to play.

“It’s been pretty difficult, there’s not much out there for us.”

One player who will be familiar to home fans is centre-forward Chris Wood. The Burnley man found the back of the net in the 3-0 win over West Ham United at the weekend and has plundered five goals in his last five league outings.

Whatever about the rest of the team, McCarthy is more than familiar with the 27-year-old, having brought him to Ipswich Town on loan in 2015 during his time in charge at Portman Road.

The then Leicester striker failed to find the target in eight appearances for the Tractor Boys, but has gone from strength to strength in the intervening four years.

“I had him on loan at Ipswich and he’s a terrific player. He’s in a good run of form as well, scoring goals and is a real handful.”

McCarthy will wrap Darren Randolph in cotton wool as he prepares for Monday’s vital Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark.

The 32-year-old Middlesbrough goalkeeper returned to action for his club in Saturday’s 2-2 Sky Bet Championship draw at QPR after a three-game absence with a thigh injury.

McCarthy is in no mood to take any risks with him.

The Ireland boss said: “Yes, we’ll be taking care of him.

I’m not bothered if he’s training, we just want him playing on Monday

“Anybody who has been injured, we discuss it with their medical team as well along with ours, and it’s no difference with [Ireland and Boro assistant manager] Robbie [Keane] and the management team as well.

“We’ll be making sure we look after him. I’m not bothered if he’s training, we just want him playing on Monday.”

Liverpool to use two squads for two games in 24 hours

courtesy of RTE

Caoimhin Kelleher helped Liverpool into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup

Liverpool’s Carabao Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa has been fixed for 17 December – just 24 hours before the Reds play in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.

The club will field two entirely different squads to cope with the unique challenge of playing two games, in two separate competitions, in the space of 24 hours.

“Liverpool Football Club can confirm our Carabao Cup quarter-final tie at Aston Villa will take place on Tuesday December 17, 2019,” the club said in a statement.

“As a result, we will be utilising two playing squads simultaneously, with one squad participating in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar and another in the Carabao Cup.

“The club would like to take this opportunity to underline that while this is not an ideal scenario, it is an outcome which was arrived at with the best interests of the competition, our fellow clubs and ourselves as the sole motivating factor.

“We would like to thank the EFL for their efforts to accommodate us and we can confirm alternative dates were discussed, but ultimately none were considered suitable without compromising the scheduling of the competition itself or placing an undue strain on our playing staff.”

Manager Jurgen Klopp had threatened to quit the Carabao Cup if the EFL did not accommodate his team’s packed fixture schedule.

The Champions League holders beat Arsenal on penalties in the last round of the competition, Corkman Caoimhin Kelleher making a match-winning save in the shootout, but celebrations were overshadowed by the prospect of a major festive pile-up.

“FIFA told us the Club World Cup will be there (Qatar) and we have to come there and we will do,” said Klopp at the time.

“The Premier League tells us we have to play in the Premier League, which we do obviously. The Carabao Cup, if they don’t find an appropriate place for us – not 3am on Christmas Day – then we don’t play it.

“If you have a fixture list where one team cannot be part of all the games, then you have to think about the fixture list.

“Hopefully it starts now. I really think that’s fair, and this problem is obvious now.”

Ruthless Springboks crush England to win the World Cup

courtesy of RTE

Siya Kolisi of South Africa lifts the Web Ellis Cup


Wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe scored South Africa’s first tries in a World Cup final as the Springboks out-gunned England 32-12 to win the trophy for the third time and reassert the supremacy of the southern hemisphere .


Superb game management, set-piece dominance, brutal defence and almost flawless place-kicking looked like being enough to see off an England side that had dismantled the double defending champion All Blacks in the semi-finals last week.

Mapimpi has been in prolific form this year, however, and he showed the South Africans can play a bit with ball in hand too when he finished off a try created by his own chip-through in the 66th minute.

Kolbe added the second try eight minutes later, skipping past the tackle of Owen Farrell on the wing and racing away to touch down to the delight of the South Africans in the crowd of 70,103.

Out-half Handre Pollard had already given the South Africans a clear lead from six penalties and he added the two conversions to take his match tally to 22.

While tactics were as traditional as the dark green Springbok shirt, the team was far more representative of a multi-racial nation than those of 1995 and 2007 and Siya Kolisi is the first black captain to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

England came into the match with huge expectations after the New Zealand win but only offered flashes of the brilliant all-pitch game which undid the All Blacks last week.

Head coach Eddie Jones, who was in charge of Australia when England won their only World Cup in 2003, becomes the first coach to lose two finals.

Out-half Farrell kicked four penalties for England but they were chasing the match all evening and hanging on doggedly trying to contain the rampant Springboks by the end.

The English suffered a huge blow when prop Kyle Sinckler went off with concussion in the third minute leaving their scrum all but uncompetitive against the Springbok pack.

South Africa made the most of the weakness, winning a string of scrum penalties and building a foundation that enabled their wingers to seal the victory in the last 15 minutes.

How it happened: England 12-32 South Africa

The Springboks became the first team to lose a pool match at a World Cup and go on to win it, having lost to the All Blacks in their tournament opener at the same Yokohama International Stadium.

Tipperary hurlers lead the way with seven All-Stars

courtesy of RTE

Brothers and All-Stars Ronan (L) and Padraic Maher lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup

All-Ireland hurling champions Tipperary lead the way with seven places on the PwC All-Stars team as Pádraic Maher equals a county record with his sixth award.

The Thurles Sarsfields clubman equals the mark of Premier Legends Nicky English and Eoin Kelly and is joined by brother Ronan, who collects his second award.

The Liam MacCarthy winners are represented in every line of the field, with goalkeeper Brian Hogan, defenders Cathal Barrett and Brendan Maher, midfielder Noel McGrath and forward Séamus Callanan all recognised.

In all, five counties are represented. All-Ireland final runners-up Kilkenny earn three, Limerick and Wexford win two apiece and Cork complete the line up with marksman Patrick Horgan.

Wexford’s haul means they receive their first awarda since 2004 when Damien Fitzhenry was honoured.

2019 PwC Hurling All-Stars


1 Brian Hogan (Tipperary) (1st All-Star)

Hogan (23) follows in the footsteps of his father Ken’s win in 1987 by claiming the goalkeeper’s spot after his breakthrough season. In becoming the first ever Tipperary father/son winners, they join the Larkins and Powers (Kilkenny) but become the first ever duo to win the hurling award in the same position.

The 6’4 cúl báire made some important saves, keeping clean sheets in four of eight Championship games, and his accuracy from puckouts was key to Tipp reclaiming the Liam MacCarthy Cup.


2 Seán Finn (Limerick) (2nd)

A disappointing end to the season for the 2018 champions and 2019 League winners but the 23-year-old Bruff man was a standout performer at the back, and particularly dominant in the Munster final win over Tipperary.

3 Ronan Maher (Tipperary) (2nd)

Padraic’s younger brother (24) was a colossus at the back for Tipperary, and chipped in with several scores from distance as well. Maher’s aerial ability came to the fore in the All-Ireland final when he restricted Colin Fennelly to one point from play. Like his sibling, he as adept at starting attacks with long angled passes.

4 Cathal Barrett (Tipperary) (2nd)

The Holycross-Ballycahill man’s county career looked in serious jeopardy when he was dropped from the panel for disciplinary reasons in 2017. However, he knuckled down and became a mainstay again under Liam Sheedy, whose faith he repaid. Quick, tenacious and skilful, Barrett (26) made hay as Tipp’s spare man in the second half of the All-Ireland final after Richie Hogan was sent off for a high tackle on him.

5 Brendan Maher (Tipperary) (3rd)

Tipperary’s All-Ireland winning captain of 2016 and Mr Versatile returned from a year of rehab on a torn cruciate ligament to play a vital role alongside his namesakes in the Premier defence. A tireless tackler, dogged man marker and intelligent distributor of the ball.

6 Pádraig Walsh (Kilkenny) (2nd)

Now that Eoin Larkin is no longer around to put him in head-locks in training, the Tullaroan defender (27) can concentrate on what he does best: inspirational ball-winning, ferocious tackling and the skill to get forward and take his score. Just like elder brother Tommy, never gives up, even in the face of a lost cause.

7 Pádraic Maher (Tipperary) (6th)

Six of the best for the inspirational 30-year-old, whose ability to pluck a ball from the air, swerve an opponent or win a free and celebrate with a fist bump always rouses his county’s fans. As well as snuffing out danger at the back, he kept Walter Walsh (0-01) quiet in the final, can usually be counted on for a long-range score or two as well.


8 Noel McGrath (Tipperary) (3rd)

Since he announced himself on the national stage as a 19-year-old with two goals in Tipperary’s 2010 All-Ireland triumph, the Loughmore-Castleiney man has consistently been one of the most skilful hurlers around. Frequently demonstrated his unparalleled ability to find space, deliver an incisive flick or pick a pass, which Tipp used to devastating effect from midfield. Man of the match in the All-Ireland final and arguably unlucky not to be nominated for Hurler of the Year. Hurler of the Month in August.

9 Diarmuid O’Keeffe (Wexford) (1st)

One of the driving forces behind Wexford’s run to the All-Ireland semi-finals and first Leinster title since 2004. Epitomising the all-action style of Davy Fitz’s team, the 27-year-old scored in all but one of their Championship appearances, including four from play in the round-robin draw with the Cats that secured their progress. Named Hurler of the Month in July.


10 Lee Chin (Wexford) (1st)

Wexford’s talisman, whose superbly taken goal against Tipp in the semi-final seemed sure to herald a place in the final. Was ultra consistent from frees after a patchy 2018, most notably in helping to lead the fightback to earn a draw in the wind in Salthill. The definition of the modern hard-working half-forward and led by example as co-captain along with Matthew O’Hanlo

Correctly identified as the danger man by opponents for the closing stages of the Championship and mostly restricted to scores from placed balls but that didn’t stop the year’s top scorer (98 points) providing a constant flow of assists for team-mates and being almost flawless from frees. Scored five goals in Leinster (two penalties) and his dummy against Kevin Foley in the Leinster final was a thing of beauty. One of the nominees for Hurler of the Year.

The teak-tough forward (30) was in superb form from early in the year when he scored 2-04, including an acrobatic finish in Ballyhale’s club triumph. Carried that into the county colours, scoring 3-11 from play over the course of the summer despite injuring his hamstring and being forced off injured against Carlow. If teams don’t mark him closely enough, he fills his boots. If they do, he still has the ability to win ball in the air and lay it off or bring others into the game such as his super interplay to set up Reid for a goal against Dublin

Started the year as he finished the last with the Hurler of the Month award in April, awarded after he hit 1-55 from play in Limerick’s victorious Allianz League campaign. The goal was a stunning flick in the final win over Waterford. Scored two more in Munster, against Waterford and Clare, and even when occasionally isolated up front was a handful for any defence

A goal in every single Championship game for the Drom & Inch sharpshooter, who capped a superb summer by lifting Liam MacCarthy as Tipperary captain. The team were less reliant on him than previous seasons but freed from the burden of free-taking he still racked up 8-17 from play, the highest of any player. Scored 1-02 in the semi-final against Wexford, the goal a sumptuous first-time half-volley, and the same in the final as well as setting up John O’Dwyer’s goal. Nominated for Hurler of the Year and favourite to win having missed out in 2016.)

Now that Joe Canning has an All-Ireland medal, Horgan would be be the popular choice of ‘best current player yet to win Liam MacCarthy’. The Championship’s second top scorer from play (6-16) and second overall behind Reid, his dead-ball prowess and ability to pluck a goal out of thin air kickstarted Cork’s season in the win over Limerick and gave them hope in the quarter-final defeat to Kilkenny. In that game he scored a stunning 3-10, including a memorable goal from his knees. Hurler of the Month in May and July and nominee for Hurler of the Year.16 people are talking about this
Watch the All-Stars live on RTÉ One from 7pm on Friday to discover the football selection and the announcement of the Hurler and Footballer of the Year awards.





Ratoath overcome Summerhill to win first ever Meath SFC crown

courtesy of RTE


Ratoath's Eamon Wallace celebrates after a late point


Ratoath 3-15 Summerhill 2-13

There’s a new name on Meath’s Keegan Cup after first-time finalists Ratoath surged to a maiden county SFC success with a power packed display in Navan.

Inspired by county man Bryan McMahon and ex-county forwards Eamon and Joey Wallace, the Davy Byrne managed outfit capped a remarkable rise up through the ranks with a historic title.

Ratoath won the junior championship in Meath as recently as 2012 and only turned senior for the first time after their 2015 intermediate triumph yet cruised to a comfortable win.

All three goals, courtesy of Eamon Wallace, Meath U-20 Daithi McGowan and Conor Rooney, arrived in the first-half as Summerhill slipped to an agonising third final defeat in a row.

Ratoath also had All-Star nominee Conor McGill in their ranks while county U-20 captain Connell Ahearne came on as they romped to a five-point win that flattered Summerhill who clipped 1-02 in injury-time.

Ratoath’s reward for the breakthrough success is a Leinster club quarter-final clash with Westmeath champions Garrycastle on 10 November.

Despite it being Ratoath’s first taste of county senior final action they looked like the seasoned crew of experienced campaigners with absolutely no sign of nerves.

They did admittedly concede a goal just seconds into the contest when Summerhill, beaten in the 2017 and 2018 deciders, seized possession from the throw in and worked a move that led to Kevin Ryan thumping to the net.

But Eamon Wallace cancelled it out after just four minutes from the penalty spot following a foul on Daithi McGowan and Joey Wallace put Ratoath ahead with a fifth minute point.

Summerhill failed in their quest for a first title since 2013
It was a lead the east-Meath outfit would hold onto and emboss with two more goals before the game was even 30 minutes old.

Rooney fired Ratoath’s second goal in the 10th minute after a defence splitting hand-pass from the right by McMahon and McGowan drilled their third just before the interval.

Joey Wallace finished the half with three points from play as Ratoath picked up from where they left off in the semi-final when they blitzed Gaeil Colmcille with a strong second-half.

Summerhill, to their credit, looked threatening any time they attacked and the game opened out into an intriguing head to head though Ratoath possessed the greater firepower.

Barry Dardis, who started the 2019 season in goals for the Meath senior team, played in attack for Summerhill and led their scoring with 0-07 overall for the 2013 winners.

Ratoath led 3-07 to 1-06 at half-time and stretched the gap to nine points with points from McGowan and the excellent McMahon immediately after the restart.

Summerhill looked in real trouble though reeled off four points in a row – three of them from free-taker Dardis – between the 35th and 39th minutes to make a game of it.

A five-point margin remained between the teams with 15 minutes to go but Eamon Wallace’s 45th point was significant, opening up a six-point lead again and the influential forward punched the air in delight.

Summerhill never recovered and points from McMahon and Eamon Wallace left Ratoath sitting pretty and on the cusp of a famous win.

Summerhill needed a miracle at that stage but it never arrived as Ratoath hammered home their authority with more scores from McGowan and Rooney.

Byrne rolled in the Ratoath subs late on and Summerhill briefly rallied with 1-02 in injury-time, the goal bundled in from Ross Ryan, but it was too little, far too late.

Ratoath: Shane Duffy; Ciaran O Fearraigh, Conor McGill, Sean Brazil; Ben Wyer, Gavin McGowan, Jack Gillespie; Keith McCabe, Ben McGowan; Conor Rooney (1-02), Daithi McGowan (1-02, 0-02f), Eamon Wallace (1-03, 1-00 pen); Cian O’Brien, Bryan McMahon (0-05, 0-03f), Joey Wallace (0-03).

Subs: Emmet Boyle for O Fearraigh (43, black card), Darragh Kelly for Ben McGowan (46), Brian O’Connor for Daithi McGowan (53), Jack McGowan for O’Brien (57), Connell Ahearne for Rooney (57), Andrew Gerard for Gavin McGowan (59), Emmet Boyle (65, black card, not replaced).

Summerhill: Tony McDonnell; Padraig Jennings, Ronan Ryan, John Lavelle; John Keane, Ross Ryan (1-00), Padhraig Geraghty (0-01); Diarmuid McCabe (0-01), David Dalton; David Larkin (0-01), Paul Larkin, Kevin Ryan (1-01); Liam Shaw (0-01), Barry Dardis (0-07, 0-06f), Sean Dalton (0-01).

Subs: Micheal Byrne for Ryan (31), Conor Frayne for Shaw (41), William Ryan for Paul Larkin (46).

Referee: David Gough (Slane).

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