Monday 30 July 2007

Croker crackers

What a weekend of hurling! The All Ireland hurling quarter finals certainly didn't disappoint this weekend.
Two of the four went as expected - Kilkenny proving too strong for Galway and Cork/ Waterford with nothing between them. I can't wait for the replay next weekend and hope the GAA give them a Saturday in Thurles instead of sharing the Sunday with the first semi-final.
Limerick were on top form to beat the Banner, who have had a very disappointing season overall, but the shock of the round had to be Wexford beating Tipp thanks to a last minute Damien Fitzhenry free. In truth Tipp should have been well beaten by then but Wexford missed a hat full of goal chances in the first half.
Having beaten Cork Tipp were on a high but I think this is a realistic view of where they are, 'one swallow...' and all that.


For those of you out to find some top notch Caribbean food don't look past 'Bamboula', on Acre Lane in Brixton.
Arriving at just after 6pm on Saturday we were lucky to get a table in this small but very cosy restaurant. There are two sittings, at six and nine, and you need every bit of the three hours (we left at 9.05 passing a big queue on the way out!). Some might think the service slow, but you'd hardly notice amid the comfortable atmosphere.
The food is terrific and plentiful, the prices reasonable and overall it proved to be a fantastic dining experience.

Friday 27 July 2007

A language they will understand. Money.

The US 'authorities' are definitely a law unto themselves, as anyone who has gone through US customs in the past five years will attest to.
I enjoyed reading this article ( and seeing the independence of the US judiciary is still intact. Until Bush sacks the rest of the honest ones.

Tuesday 24 July 2007

Six degrees of separation #2

Last weeks challenge - Aidan Quinn to Jason Biggs, was a four move answer. 1. Quinn to Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall; 2. Pitt to Gwyneth Paltrow in Se7en; 3. Paltrow to Jack Black in Shallow Hal; and 4. Black to Jason Biggs in Evil Woman (Saving Silverman in the US).

#2: Selma Blair to David Duchovny

Good luck.

New season on the horizon

It's that time again, having survived the last two months with only the Copa America to entertain us, the new Premiership season is just around the corner. And I can't wait!
With most of the big clubs concluding their transfer activity and emails flying about setting up your fantasy team, the build-up has well and truly begun. All of the big teams seem to be getting in some good pre-season action, too - all the while trying to avoid injury before the first day of the season.
I think Liverpool are going to be much closer to the top two this year (I know! you've heard it all before) and might mount a real challenge. Arsenal will need some Wenger magic and players like van Persie and Fabregas to take the lead if they are to hang on to the coat-tails of the other three.
If they fail in this they could find themselves in an interesting battle with Spurs, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and maybe even Villa for the last Champions League place. Reading, West Ham, Blackburn, Pompey and Man City should be in the mid table positions.
Of the new boys, you have to think Sunderland are best equipped to do a Reading, but I think Derby and Birmingham will struggle and end up battling it out with Fulham, Wigan and possibly even Boro.
Sound good? I think so too!

Monday 23 July 2007

Sad news

It was very sad to see the news that Vanessa McGarry, the wife of Kilkenny hurler James McGarry, was killed in a road accident last week. The fact that the tragedy lead to the postponement of Sunday's All-Irelland quarter finals propelled the story to more than a by-line at the end of the news. With so many people dying on Irish roads I would hope that this can be a reminder for people to keep safety to the fore when they take the wheel in future.

What was that, Mr. Faldo?

I was delighted to see two Europeans at the top of the leader board at the the end of this weekend's Open championship in Carnoustie, especially after Nick Faldo's comments during the build-up. I was even more delighted that Padraig Harrington went on to lift his first major (first of many I hope).

Faldo's remarks that European players are "too nice" to win majors may have had a tinge of truth in it. The Americans, along with guys like Els, Goosen and Singh, have definitely had the upper hand in the majors. Their focus and drive down the stretch has been slightly superior. I'm not sure how much this relates to them being nice guys, or not, as it may be. I certainly don't think winning a major will make Padraig less of a nice guy - he is after all one of the nicest guys on the tour.

Eight years without a European major winner was too long, but during that time a lot of young golfers have been building up their game. Europe has had an iron grip on the Ryder Cup, and Europeans have been having some good success on the US PGA tour through the likes of Harrington, Garcia, Donald et al.

As for Sergio, his time will come. It's easy to commiserate with him when you consider some of his near misses, but he needs to look at his two-over-par final round of 73 and know that's where he lost it, not in the play-off. I don't' have the stats to hand but I remember reading that he has a poor record in the final round of majors. Once he sorts that out I'm sure he'll win his fair share.

But kudos to Harrington. Many would have folded following two trips to Barry Burn. He didn't. He held his nerve and deserved his win. I can't wait to see how he kicks on from this and I'd love to see him win at Augusta next year.

Friday 20 July 2007

What summer?

I don't know about anyone else but this so-called summer we are having in London is nothing short of laughable. Despite the fact that there is now sun coming through the office window I can't believe the extent of the storm this morning. Visibility was less than 100 yards and the thunder and lightning extensive.
Any meteorological experts out there willing to lend an explanation?

Thursday 19 July 2007

Simpsons fun

If like me you are long-running fan of the Simpsons, check out the website for the movie at
It allows you to create yourself as a Simpsons character. At last!!!

Wednesday 18 July 2007

2007 Hurling Championship

So who's going to win the coveted Liam McCarthy this year? There are eight teams left in the championship and I'm counting them down in reverse order of most likely to win (as I see it of course).
8th - Wexford. Up against a rejuvenated Tipp in the quarters will be too much. I think the premier will end yellow belly hopes in a comfortable fashion.

7th - Galway. A soft match against Antrim last week will be no preparation for facing the #1 team in the country. I suspect Kilkenny will repeat the demolition job of a couple of years ago.

T-5th - Limerick and Clare. Limerick are unlucky not to be Munster champions after showing a huge improvement this season and face a physical test against the banner. Neither of these will be able to top Cork or Waterford in the semi though.

4th - Tipperary. Beating Cork has turned this into a good year for the Premier. How easy the farce of the 3-match Munster semi-final is forgotten. The cats will beat them in the semi after they get past Wexford.

T-2nd - Cork and Waterford. The winner of this QF will win through on this side of the draw. Waterford will be high on confidence as Munster and League champions, but if Cork are back at full strength Waterford will need to improve their points tally, as they won't get five goals again. Key battles: Niall McCarthy (if fit to return) on Ken McGrath; Dan Shanahan and Sean Og or the Rock and Brian Murphy (again if fit) on the dangerous John Mullane.

1st - Kilkenny. Who can look past the cats? Strong from front to back and spurred on by the talismanic Henry Shefflin. Have to be hot favourites.

My prediction, Kilkenny will face the winner of Cork and Waterford on September 2nd.

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Movie reviews

I have recently linked up to blog of a friend (which he co-contributes with a couple of others) on which he writes a lot of movie reviews. I was mighty impressed by the comments. If Empire get wind of him he may get a job offer he can't refuse.
Movie fans, check out the link to "Dossing Times" on the left.

Monday 16 July 2007

Water, water everywhere...

...and not a drop to water the plants or wash your car with!
I hope Thames Water etc. have been busy in the past few weeks. Given the levels of rain-fall and flooding I'd be very disappointed (but not surprised) if two weeks of sun in August led to another hosepipe ban.
Sort it out, guys!

Ordem e progresso

"Order and Progress" is the translation of the text on the Brazilian flag. Not what you generally expect from Brazil on the football pitch, but certainly what was in use last night as they beat Argentina 3-0 to retain the Copa America title.
Dunga will be waking up with a big smile on his face this morning. Just a few weeks ago he was the most unpopular man in Brazil and his team weren't expected to do particularly well in the tournament.
Without the flair of Kaka and Ronaldihno - who thought a holiday was more important than the national team - the flat-topped one produced a coaching masterclass in organisation and discipline and reaped his reward.
I suspect Roberto Ayala will want to forget the night but once Baptista shot past him from the opener and Riquelme hit the post, his o.g. sealed the fate of the Argentinians. I doubt too many would argue that the best team on the night - if not through the tournament - won out.

Sunday 15 July 2007

Six degrees of separation #1

I'm a bit addicted to the Kevin Bacon game. To the extent that my fiance built me a version! So I'm going to do one every week and give a shout out to whoever gives the best answer in the comments. No cheating though!

#1: Aidan Quinn to Jason Biggs.

Good luck!

Thursday 12 July 2007

Shameless Ken, absolutely shameless.

I must say I was absolutely disgusted to see that Ken Bates successfully bought Leeds United back from administrators KPMG. I have already stated my opinion of the situation in what was my first ever post ('Robbing the poor to pay the Bates'', 15/5/2007).
It seems as if no one care about the fans, who collectively, are a significant creditor to the Yorkshire club and - as with all clubs, lest we forget - its most valuable asset.
For Ken it's just one big game. Football would be better off without him.

End of the road for the PDs?

After over twenty years in the Irish political landscape the writing looks to be on the wall for the PDs, following Tom Parlon's resignation from the party . The party has been through a tumultuous time in the past few months. The general election in May saw the party lose six of eight seats - most notably that of Tanaiste Michael McDowell and senior minister Liz O'Donnell. Both of these figures have since hung up their political boots.
The decision of Mr. Parlon has come as quite a shock as he had been widely tipped to be the next leader of the party. His addition to the PD line-up in 2002, was seen as a major coup and he romped to a seat in Laois-Offaly before taking up a position as Minister for State in that government.
Former leader and founding member Mary Harney is acting leader at present, but one has to wonder if re-merging with Fianna Fail - the party from whom they split in 1985 - is the most likely scenario. It would certainly make sense given that Harney has retained her position as Minister for Health, but there may be personal or historic reasons which mitigate against this.
It is evident from the past three coalition governments that the PDs and Fianna Fail are politically compatible. So why not?

One step forward, two steps back!

The nuclear proliferation debate has been pretty much omni-present in the news for the past few years. I was delighted to see North Korea change their stance on the admittance of IAEA inspectors. While I don't think the nuclear question in Korea is going to be solved in a hurry, I do think it's an important step forward.
Unfortunately this improvement in relations has coincided with further complications in Iran, where satellite images suggest a large tunnel is being built next to a key nuclear complex. A tunnel based nuclear complex would greatly reduce the impact of a preemptive air strike against the state's burgeoning nuclear capabilities.
It is still to be established whether there is need for military action against Iran (at present you would have to say no), but if this tunnel complex is for nuclear development purposes, maybe they do have something to hide.

Tuesday 3 July 2007

What Law? He's the President.

George W. Bush in his infinite wisdom has chosen to commute the prison sentence of former White House aide, Lewis Libby. If only we all had as influential friends when we did something wrong. This is an outrageous decision by Mr. Bush and one that will not be soon forgotten. I suspect the Republican primary candidates are less than pleased at this latest act, which I'm sure will only serve to unify the left come election time.
The statement which I find most interesting was Mr. Bush's comment that: "I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence is excessive." Yes sir, perjury is a mere misdemeanour. What else does he think is beyond punishment - drink driving!

I find this a convenient time to make judgement calls surrounding the law. A couple of years ago a college classmate of mine left Shannon airport for a holiday in Boston. He was a fun-loving chap and sometimes a bit overly boisterous, but law abiding none the less. His 'crime' of going on holiday earned him an arrest on the tarmac in Logan, 12 hours in a holding cell, interrogation by US customs officials and a police escort back to Ireland.

Do you think that was fair treatment, Mr. President? Don't worry (as if), no one has been holding their breath for an apology.