Wednesday 26 September 2007

Ireland v Argentina

Good post here previewing the big game from an Argentinian point of view. Well said guys!

Six degrees of separation #11

Ok, the last one was rubbish. Could do it with one of a few single links. I went from Sam L. Jackson to John Cusack in 1408 and Cusack to Nic Cage in Con Air.
#12, hopefully a bit more challenging:

Ray Liotta to Michael Madsen

Monday 24 September 2007

Time for the Eddie bashers to back off.

I have never tried to argue that Eddie O'Sullivan has been blameless in the events of this World Cup. Of course the coach must take some responsibility for his team. The key word remains some.
It's time to stop this lynch-mob mentality and ask as many questions of the players as of the coach. The players themselves are doing so, as noted by Charlie Mulqueen in today's Examiner (click here to read).

Sunday 23 September 2007

Costly home draw

The good early start to the season for Liverpool, came to an abrupt halt yesterday, with a disappointing home draw against Birmingham. I have been very excited by the team's start to the season and I'm not changing my mind on their chances. They will be in the mix come March / April.
They struggled in Portugal mid-week, however and I think the doubts from that game carried on to yesterday's match. Tuesday's Carling Cup game against Reading should be a good chance for Rafa to start the fringe players and rest the more regular starters. They can get fresh and hit back against Wigan in the league next Saturday.
Draws like yesterday are the games which cost you the league when you look back in May. Let's regain the control we had in the early games.

Saturday 22 September 2007

Change it up Eddie

Following the French defeat, Eddie O'Sullivan has now no choice but to overhaul his struggling team. He could realistically make anything from 6 to 12 changes and he needs to, as his team looked tired and devoid of ideas last night. At least there was some heart and commitment on show, following the opening games.
The Argentinians will provide a very different challenge next week for the men in green. I think it's time to go horses for courses, keep the game tight in the first half and try to control the game better than they did last night. Essentially we need to do to the Pumas, what the French did to us.
For that I want a big, heavy pack to protect the ball (it will inevitably be slower ball) and backs to take the ball moving forward. Sheahan, S.Best, O'Kelly, Quinlan and N.Best to come in for Horan, Flannery, either lock could go and both flankers. In the backs take out Dempsey and D'arcy. Perhaps RoG needs a break too, but I worry about Wallace's lack of experience at #10, both for Ulster and Ireland.
That said my team is:
15. Murphy,
14. Carney, 13. O'Driscoll, 12. Horgan, 11. Trimble/ Hickie
10. O'Gara/ Wallace, 9. Reddan
8. Leamy, 7. N.Best, 6. Quinlan
5. O'Connell, 4. O'Kelly
3. Hayes, 2. Flannery, 1. S.Best
Subs ( big role to be played here):
16. R. Best, 17. Horan, 18. O'Callaghan, 19. Easterby
20. Stringer, 21. O'Gara/ Wallace, 22. Duffy

Friday 21 September 2007

Disappointing night for Irish

The France v Ireland pool match is just over and it made tough watching for fans of the team in green. The French were well worth their win although maybe not by 22 points. It finished 25-3 after two excellent tries from Vincent Clerc on the right wing.

I'm expecting to see lots of negativity on the forums and blogs tomorrow, and lots of calls for Eddie O'Sullivan's head. I'd like to see people be realistic though and accept that we were beaten by a better team. The only thing we could have done better was to keep our discipline and make a few better choices when we were within 30 yards of the French line (which was more than once). Eddie can't stop his players conceding penalties or making bad decisions, no matter what some will say.

Finally, I'll remind people that prior to the tournament the vast majority of people expected us to lose to France and beat Argentina to qualify from the group. While the Georgia and Namibia games have dented our confidence and chances (having missed a bonus point), lets wait until next weekend to make our final judgements.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

The land of the free, eh?!?

Look at this clip for an interesting take on the first amendment by police officers at Florida University. Officers use stun gun on a student who was questioning former Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry.
I'm sure the founding fathers would love to see how their constitution is being abused.
BTW, is this the kind of democracy the US wants to bring to Iraq?

Friday 14 September 2007

Six degrees of separation #10

So CK kicked my ass with a swift three move link on #9. Prince of Tides was a peach! The best I could do was four: 1. Barbara Streisand to Robert deNiro in Meet the Fockers; 2. de Niro to Sly Stallone in Copland; 3. Stallone to Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man; 4. Snipes to Diane Lane in Murder at 1600.

Shoddy! Ok should be an easy one this week.
#10: Samuel L. Jackson to Nicholas Cage

Thursday 13 September 2007

All Ireland Football Final build-up

Kerry have named an unchanged 15 for Sunday's final as they aim to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since their opponents, Cork, did it in 1989 and 1990. Cork meanwhile have had conflicting injury news. Anthony Lynch is almost certain to be out having broken his hand in training, while James Masters is set top return, just five weeks after suffering a broken jaw.
Whatever team Cork select I predict a fierce and close contest. In many ways it is set up as a forwards final. Both inside forward lines have the edge over their full backs lines.
This game may come down to who wins midfield and the quality of service they send in to sad forward lines, as well as the key battles between on one side, Donaghy v Canty, and on the other side, O'Se v Masters/ O'Connor.
Up the rebels!

Time Ticking for Sorry Stan

Painful! The only word an Irishman can use to describe the recent European Championships qualifiers. And again, the root cause of our woes has been the ineptitude of the FAI and their poor decisions regarding the management of the national team.
In 1996, as Big Jack stepped aside, having lead the country into a golden era of unprecedented success, they got it wrong by appointing Mick McCarthy his successor. McCarthy's only management history at that point was with Millwall, who were relegated under his leadership. A top player for us, but never the right man for the top job.
McCarthy's reign was patchy, failing to qualify for the 1998 and 2000 tournaments, yet gaining new contracts in spite of failure. I was anti-McCarthy from the outset and I still believe we could have been a force in 2002, had we had the right leadership. Even on his way out the door he managed to screw up our start to the 2004 European qualification campaign. A start we never recovered from.
So who next. Many names were bandied about. Some household, some international pedigree, but who do the FAI go for? The cheap option, again! Brian Kerr was a legend in Irish football for his success with under age teams and I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
When he failed, most notably during the Israel games, and we missed the 2006 World Cup, he got the sack. Harsh when you consider the rewards McCarthy received for his failures. I also think he had the less to work with of the last four men to hold the job.
Enter Stan and the ailing Bobby Robson. I recall the day they were unveiled and 'stunned silence' was the feeling from everyone I spoke to. "Great player, but what the f***?" was the general consensus.
Despite having a good bunch of players to pick from Stan has failed again and again to select the right 11 - it's the results that have suffered. Lots has been made of Duff's absence in recent months, but truth be told he - like Robbie Keane - save their best for their respective clubs.
The last two games summed up Stan's reign and I suspect (and hope) have ended it. Aidan McGeady, though hugely ineffective in both, played the vast majority of the games. Shane Long and Steve Hunt hardly got a look in, despite the fact they are playing premiership football week-in week-out. Hunt in particular has been a fixture in Steve Coppell's team, yet only injury got him on the pitch last night. I can guarantee he wouldn't have given up the chase in injury time in Slovakia on Saturday!
In defence, Stephen Kelly is a liability - he has no pace and despite a good year for Birmingham in the Championship, will be found out by the big boys this year. There is a reason he's not still at Spurs. Finnan was a huge lose and forced a re-shuffle, but surely Kilbane should have played left back (as he is with his club) and Hunt on the left side of midfield (yes, I did make this comment prior to the Slovakia game).
Ultimately there is only so much blame we can lay at Stan's feet. He is, I'm sure, doing his best, but I want to know why he was put in there. My beef in recent years is mostly with the FAI. While Delaney and co. are paying themselves top dollar, they are subjecting the country to a manager who has little or (in Stan's case) no real management experience. It's time to pay someone the big bucks, then we can reasonably expect to get the big results.
Until then, sadly, 45th in the world (or whatever we are ranked) is where we belong!

Tuesday 11 September 2007

Six degrees of separation #9

Tough little one, even though it only took 3 moves. 1. Jeff Bridges to Joan Allen in The Contender; 2. Allen to James Marsden in The Notebook; 3. Marsden to Famke Janssen in the X-men trilogy.

Two ladies next; #9:
Barbara Streisand to Diane Lane

Monday 10 September 2007

Sorry Ireland add to Northern hemisphere woes

All six of the major northern hemisphere teams have a lot to do, following an awful opening weekend in the 2007 rugby world cup. Scotland Wales and England all managed less than convincing wins following the defeat of France by the hungry Pumas.
Seeing Argentina beat the hosts should have been a tonic for the boys in green, but instead they were arguably the worst of the lot - England might just nick that award for failing to gain a bonus point versus the USA.
Eddie O'Sullivan was frank as always in his assessment and while the buck often stops with the coach I disagree in this instance. No coach should be held responsible for his team - of supposed professionals - being incapable of even holding the ball. I lost count of the number of Irish knock-ons early in the second half.
This team knows how to play and knows how to win. It is inexplicable how they could perform so badly against a team of part-timers.
I think a number of changes are needed for the Georgia game for two reasons; 1. to rest up the key men before playing France and Argentina in consecutive weeks and 2. to give the reserves a chance to stake their claim and raise the competition for places within the squad.
I'd bring in Flannery who I still think is our best hooker, S. Best at prop, N.Best and Quinlan in the back row. The pack will still be strong at this.
In the backs, Murphy at FB, Horgan and Carney in the three-quarters, but most importantly a run out for a new half back combination. Wallace needs a game under his belt or he'll struggle if he has to replace RoG at short notice, also I'd play Reddan. He's a Heineken Cup winner and the natural successor to Stringer.
That said my 15 for the Georgia game:
15. Murphy
14. Carney
13. Horgan
12. D'Arcy
11. Trimble
10. Wallace
9. Reddan
8. Leamy
7. Quinlan
6. N.Best
5. O'Connell
4. O'Kelly
3. Hayes
2. Flannery
1. S.Best

Friday 7 September 2007

I don't think so, Charlie

I am truly gripped by World Cup fever at this point. I just read an article in the Irish Examiner by Charlie Mulqueen, entitled 'Eddie’s decision to start with big guns a cause for concern'. I must disagree, but not entirely.
Charlie claims that playing the big names in the first two games is a mistake by Eddie O'Sullivan and that it will result in lots of our best players being involved in games 5+ weeks in a row.
My feeling is that we need to play our best team in the opener and rest them for the second game, to maximise both sharpness and freshness heading into the crucial France and Argentina games.
My reasoning:
  • The Irish and European seasons have been over for some time and players have not had a lot of competitive rugby.
  • Players returning from injury - O'Driscoll, Wallace, Horgan - need some game time, so they are not going in to the big games 'cold'.
  • Points difference could be crucial and our starting fifteen are undoubtedly more dangerous than our reserves.

I would agree with Charlie in so far as I wouldn't want the big names playing all of both. With seven subs capable of playing 20-30 minutes, no one should have to play more than 90-120 minutes of rugby in those two games. Over a two week period with a controlled training regime I don't see that being a problem for any of the squad.

I'm not staying in the office to add any more to this, so c'mon Ireland!

Rugby World Cup 2007

The rugby World Cup kicks off tonight with an exciting clash between France and Argentina in Paris. This is a crucial game in the ‘pool of death’ which sees 3 of the world’s top 6 (add Ireland) battling it out for 2 QF places. An upset tonight would really through the cat among the pigeons, although I can’t see it happening. France are always good but they are virtually unbeatable on their home sod.
Going into these finals it is difficult to see the winner not coming from the big 3 southern hemisphere nations. Home advantage will bring France closer to Australia and South Africa, but I still can’t look past the All Blacks. New Zealand have been hurt by recent World Cup failures and will be eager to rectify matters. I think their preparation over the past couple of years has been superb and, while they have won tri-nations and beaten the Lions in that period, the focus has never shifted from the Webb Ellis trophy.
As an Irishman I go into this tournament with cautious optimism. We have a 15 to match any in the world, but the Kiwis have 30 players as good as each other, while the other big teams have 22-25 they can call on. Ireland have a couple of good reserves, notably Neil Best at flanker and Geordan Murphy at full-back, but a number of crucial positions have not got the same amount of cover.
I have read a number of articles – including one by Zinzan Brooke on – which mentions O’Driscoll, Darcy and O’Connell, who are all key men. He missed one name however, Ronan O’Gara. Rog is, in my opinion, the best fly-half in the world when it comes to kicking from hand and he uses it to control games, out the opposition on the back foot and move the pack into good field positions.
My fear is that he or O’Driscoll are going to be targeted and possibly taken out of the tournament.
Everyone remembers the spear tackle incident from the 2005 Lions tour, and lets not forget the vicious assault on O’Gara by Duncan McRae in the 2001 tour (click here for a reminder).
That said, not making the quarter finals is unacceptable. If we face New Zealand, as runners up in our group, and lose, then we will have played the best team in the world. If we top the group we will likely face Italy or Scootland and should definitely be making the semis. From there, who knows….
For me it’s a New Zealand V France final according to me head and a New Zealand V Ireland final according to my heart!

Thursday 6 September 2007

Beastie Boys

New York's finest, Beastie Boys, rocked the Brixton Academy last night with the middle of their three London gigs. Mix Master Mike opened the show with a mesmerising display of scratching before the three MCs bounded on stage.

Mike D was on top form belting out classics such as Body Movin' and No Sleep Till Brooklyn, before they settled into a number of instrumental tracks from their new album. MCA brought out the upright bass and Ad-Rock switched between keyboards and guitar. Very funky stuff. They are playing an all-instrumental gig at the Roundhouse in Camden tonight.
Mix Master started off the encore also, which included Intergalactic and Sabotage, finishing off an excellent 90 minute set.
I have never been a massive fan, but they are definitely one of those must see acts and venues like the Academy are tailor made for them.

Tuesday 4 September 2007

Six degrees of separation #8

Last week's links took me a little while, as tends to happen with a relatively new actor like Paul Rudd. In the end it took me four moves and about 20 minutes.
1. Paul Rudd to Brittany Murphy in Clueless; 2. Murphy to Sean Bean in Don't say a word; 3. Bean to Brad Pitt in Troy; and 4. Pitt to James Gandolfini in True Romance.

#8: Jeff Bridges to Famke Janssen

Monday 3 September 2007

Sly cats win #30

Kilkenny cruised to a 30th All-Ireland hurling title yesterday, dispatching a game Limerick side at Croke Park, by 2-19 to 1-15. Truth be told the game was settled after 12 minutes as the Cats had racked up an impressive 2-3 to no score lead. Limerick managed three unanswered points in the next five minutes but the rest of the half was fairly even, meaning the cats lead by double scores at the half.
It could all have been so different though. I for one did not particularly agree with Ger Loughnane’s suggestion that Kilkenny are a dirty team. By in large I think they go out to hurl – unlike some teams Loughnane managed. In the opening exchanges of yesterday’s final however, he was proved right.
Eddie Brennan – who went on to score 1-5 and claim 'man of the match' – should have been sent off in those opening moments for the dangerous and callous use of the stick on Limerick full back Stephen Lucey. Shortly after, he also connected with corner-back Seamus Hickey. Again, he went unpunished.
Though little was made of this at the time, it could have been a major turning point in the game.
From there however, the game was done and those incidents aside the Cats were deserving winners, adding a nice touch by dedicating the win to the memory of Vanessa McGarry.
30 each for Cork and Kilkenny – Odds on that final next year???