What A Weekend That Was

That Sporting Weekend

What a weekend that was, wall to wall sport !! Unfortunately results didn’t go as planned and a weekend that promised so much delivered few memorable moments although the Ireland Women 7s did secure a spot on next year’s World Series they were beaten by Russia in the Cup Semi Final yesterday and with that defeat went there chance to compete in Rio in August. Instead of thinking what might have been , they tore into Kazakhstan and beat them 17-5 to make sure of 3rd spot. For that they must be commended.

They will be bitterly disappointed with the 19-10 defeat in that Semi Final though and will need to make some improvements if they are to make more strides forward in the next 12 months. The future of 7s in bright and this group can lead the charge.

Looking to France , It was a case of what might have been in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat to France. Pride and honour has been restored to the green shirt in the last week or so and we can at least take so comfort from that and also players like Hendrick , Brady , Mc Clean , Duffy and Coleman came of age , will Seamus Coleman hold the armband beyond the Euro’s one wonders , I have a sneaking suspicion he may just do that. All we ever ask in this country of our sports hero’s is an honest effort and determination in what they do and the last few weeks has proven that theory right and for that this author is very happy.

I was very much in the camp we would struggle in getting anything from Italy and progress to the last 16 but let me tell you I was more than happy to eat humble pie when they secured a 1-0 win and a passage to take on France yesterday. A terrific start to yesterday’s game with Mr Rizzoli giving a penalty after 2 minutes.

Shane Long going over in the box just as he was about to pull the trigger. As Ireland showed vs Italy when they do hold onto the ball they look like a side will create chances. Daryl Murphy and Shane Long look like a pairing that will create chances when the ball is played to them like Quinn and Keane did for many year’s.

Yesterday I think we got a glimpse of a future Ireland 11 and it looked good a composed. Whether the likes of Hoolahan , Whelan , Keane and O Shea will be around again remains to be seen but over the last two game others answered the call to arms. Roll on qualification for Russia in 2018.

To the Under 20s who faced old enemy England in Manchester on Saturday and were beaten by a far more physical England side. This team wasn’t expected this far after some mixed performances in the Six Nations although they defeated England away from home , they beat both Scotland and Italy in Donnybrook to finish the campaign on a high.

Players like James Ryan , Andrew Porter , Jacob Stockdale , Bill Johnson , Max Deegan and Stephen Kerins have bright futures ahead , plenty to look forward to in the next few years. Full credit to Nigel Carolan who looked after the Connacht academy before taking on the 20s job has done a great job and has a bright coaching future.

The Senior rugby team last there series in South Africa 2-1 and will have a few regrets coming home from the tour along with some with questions surrounding belief given that they pounded the South African line in the final 5 minutes but didn’t manage to break the door down in the 3rd test. A lack of scoring in the 2nd half of games has also begun to become an issue. 3 points on Saturday , No score in the second test and only 6points in the 1st test , that an issue that needs urgent attention alongside the mental side of the game , I feel we still after 3 years under Joe Schmidt we still a mentally fragile at crucial stages of games and this needs to change , that said a test win in South Africa can’t be sneezed at given it took New Zealand over 50 years to win a Test series there until 1996.

Finally, Supporters need to be thanked for all they do to source tickets for games in any code because again in recent times they have been commended for the way they followed Ireland in France.

 Irish fans do likewise in all sports not just football or rugby and that must be remembered as well. We must also remember we aren’t the only ones who follow our teams with passion and never ending belief , other nations do likewise.  It’s great to read about it and see all the footage and it gives all back home and abroad a real lift to see it but never forget we aren’t the only ones and we don’t own the patent on following teams.


Cian Mc Gibney


The Weekend Ahead

The weekend ahead

The weekend ahead promises so much with a host of Irish teams in action in various sports, Boxer Michael O Reilly will box for Gold after securing his place at the Rio Games. Ireland’s rugby teams will be out in force this weekend as the Women’s 7s side bid for Olympic qualification as they face 15 other teams in pursuit of the last remaining spot for Rio 2016. The men’s senior side go for a series win in South Africa with the series nicely poised at 1-1 and lastly the Under 20s are in action in the World Rugby Under 20 Championship Final at the AJ Bell Stadium with a 7pm kick off.

In the last 7 day’s two of our national sides went above and beyond in search of glory and delivered victories in style firstly the 20s dispatched a very wound up Argentina side in real style scoring an impressive 37-7 win and then on Wednesday evening the Irish football team did likewise seeing off Italy to secure a place in the last 16 at the Euro’s after dominating possession for most of the 90 minutes it took until the 84th minute for the deadlock to be broken with Wes Hoolahan delivering the killer pass for Robbie Brady to head past a despairing Italian keeper. Que pandemonium in the commentary box, studio, stands and in one million homes across the island.

This result meant that Ireland booked a place in the last 16 against the hosts France who we have some chequered history with to say the least. We have been told it won’t be brought up by the players , Its history , I very much doubt that… That will be used to motivate the team and fire them up all they can do on Sunday is try and play with the same intensity that we saw last Wednesday and by god they will run France very close.

The Women 7s side for their part have one shot at Olympic qualification in front of a vocal home crowd in UCD tomorrow from 10am. They have participated in the year’s World series finishing 12th of 14 competing team’s but with a good home support they will still feel they are in with a real shout to win this one….

The 20s for their part have beaten all before them and are one win away from being crowned World Champions and face England in the Final having beaten all before them, they are a game away from joining that famous Under 19 crew who won World Cup honours in 1998 in that side were Brian O Driscoll and Donnacha O Callaghan. Go for it boys immortality awaits you !!

So as people can see it will be a weekend of high drama and for once we won’t be the neutral in the corner of the bar, we will have to play a central role in most of this weekend’s sporting drama so here’s hoping all teams will gain wins and let the party continue because if the last few days has shown Irish people love a party so it’s over to the men and women of our National teams to see what happens. The floors all yours’s guys , shoot for the stars because the country is fully behind you……


Cian Mc Gibney


Ireland , Where to Now…

Ireland Where to Now

So Ireland have it all to do at Euro 2016 after a 3-0 defeat to Belgium. They can still qualify for the last 16 if they beat Italy and Belgium do the business against Sweden. Now the second part of that equation is far more achievable than Ireland getting a result vs Italy.

The defeat was a crushing blow to Ireland’s hopes of progressing. At Euro 2012, Ireland managed only one goal and thankfully they have matched that this year. Only time will tell to see can Ireland turn the tables on Italy and get the required result.

 Ireland are a team of hard working professionals that will give all for the cause but when we face a side full of real quality we always come up short bar one off results like the 1-0 win over Germany last October.

Yesterday they kept it tight for 45 minutes and managed to keep Belgium from scoring. But in the 47th minute that all changed as Kevin De Bruyne cut Ireland open and squared the ball for Romelu Lukaku to fire past Darren Randolph. Ireland struggled yet again yesterday to gain possession of the ball and keep the ball.

For all the guts and determination that Ireland have we don’t really have that real quality to threaten the top sides. It’s always the same work hard and maybe just maybe we might get a free kick or get lucky from a corner and score a goal and then it’s hold what you have and hope they opposition have an off day. That’s no way to play football.

 We seem to be happy to go from set piece to set piece and hope that we manage to sneak a goal. Plyers like Wes Hoolahan look great going forward but he needs help from other guys like James Mc Carthy and Glen Whelan who play Premier League football.

 I think the gulf in class between our squad and others is far too big to breach at this moment in time and it will take a real change in attitude from the people who run the game in Ireland for our results to change and for us to go from a team who plays one way to qualify for tournaments and then doesn’t have a plan B when we meet a Belgium, Germany or Spain.

These are three nations who have gone back to basics to change the way they play the game and also they have invested heavily at underage level and this has brought success at Under 21 level. We have a league in this country and it has produced a number of players  that took to the field yesterday namely Hoolahan , Long , Coleman to name three guys who cut their teeth in the League Of Ireland in there early years as professionals.

I am not for one minute suggesting that all will be solved overnight but defeats like yesterday would be far easier to take if we had more technically minded players other than guys who depend on heart, guts and determination, this will only get you to certain level but all the great sides need a plan B and even a plan C at times.

The give it a lash attitude has to change and yes I do realise that our players  for the most part play in the Championship in England where the long ball tactic in applauded and applied by most teams in the division.

For the most part when a side arrives in the Premier League which I must again say we are told is the greatest league in the world they struggle against most of the teams bar again maybe one or two big upsets. This has been proven by some poor performances by England.

Ireland will have to go back to basics if they are to stand any real chance of beating already qualified Italy. This mad notion that Italy will rest players and that will help Ireland is totally misguided for the simple reason that those players that will be brought in on wednesday evening will be out to impress and push for a starting spot in the Last 16.

There will have to be plenty of Novena’s said because Ireland will need all the help they can get to find a route to the Last 16. The supporters of course have been loyal in their support of the team and that won’t disappear on Wednesday. They like the rest of the country will get behind the team and hope for a result that will at least prolong Ireland’s involvement for another few days at least….


Cian Mc Gibney


Sporting Weekend

Sporting Weekend

Another huge sporting weekend is upon us where Ireland will face Belgium at Euro 2016, down in South Africa, Ireland take on the Springboks in the 2nd of three tests after a hard fought 26-20 win in the opening test.

Martin O Neill’s men face Belgium who will be looking to respond after their 2-0 defeat to Italy on Monday evening. Wes Hoolahan gave Ireland a 1-0 lead after 48 minutes which was just reward for a positive opening 45 minutes. Ireland will know they need the three points tomorrow to give themselves a real chance of making the last 16.

Over in South Africa Ireland lost CJ Stander to a red card in the first half and then lost Robbie Henshaw to a yellow card but with a new found resoluteness in defence and some clever play in attack they found a way around the might Boks to score tries through Conor Murray and a peach of an effort from Full Back Jared Payne.

The GAA has had a relatively slow start to its season with some rather poor games on offer with defences on top in both football and as Clare and Waterford proved Hurling is now beginning to fall foul of the “Blanket Defence “with both sides packing the half back line and mid field in the hope of gaining the upper hand.

Kilkenny of course restored faith in the game of hurling with a vintage display that saw a new name come to the fore with John Joe Farrell scoring some impressive points. Dublin had no real answer to the power of Kilkenny.

 In Munster football , the power houses of Cork and Kerry were expected to make another Munster Final in Killarney while Kerry made light work of Clare in Killarney , Tipperary were making history by defeating Cork in a high scoring game that saw Tipp advance to meet Kerry with only a few points to spare over a Cork team that will have to do a lot of soul searching before the qualifiers begin.

A number of Olympians have also secured there places in Rio with Shannon Mc Curley , Natalyla Coyle and Fiona Doyle among the latest group to secure there safe passage to Rio. Others like Arthur Lanigan O Keffee , Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche have also been confirmed as members of the Irish team that will compete in Rio next August.

There are currently 54 athletes that have been confirmed to compete in 11 sports with others to be added in the next few weeks. There is also a final chance for a number of our male boxers to earn a place on the plane to Rio.

As you can see while the summer was a quiet time in sport in times past we have a number of teams and athletes in competitive action in places like France, South Africa and our boxers are in Baku.

 In the last few weeks we have been regaled with tales of Irish supporters in France having the craic and enjoying themselves while other “ Supporters “ from places like England and Russia have been in running battles with Police. Fans from Northern Ireland and Wales have also been well behaved. Thoughts of course go out to the two Northern Irish supporters who died while following their team in France.

The Ireland under 20s rugby team have been quietly going about their business winning all three group games in Manchester and in turn securing a place in the Semi Finals this Monday against Argentina at 5.30pm. They also created a small bit of history by becoming the second Irish team to beat New Zealand after the women in 2014 out in France at the World Cup.

Tomorrow is a huge day for Irish sport with the football team facing Belgium at 2pm and the rugby team look to seal the deal against South Africa at 4pm. Book a seat on the couch early and strap in because it will be a huge day of sport and for god sake don’t forget to breathe…..


Cian Mc Gibney


Shannon Mc Curley

Hi Shannon, It is a pleasure to talk to you,

You were born in Australia, What prompted you to represent Ireland ?

 My parents and grand parents were a big factor in my decision to declare for Ireland,as all my family is Irish.

Can you explain the cycling discipline you are involved in at Rio ?

Racing in the Keirin it is a motor paced race which which the athletes sprint for victory following a speed-controlled start behind a motorised pacer after it pulls off after 5 and a half laps.
You are Ms Diversity, having tried out running , soccer , netball and Taekwondo until a knee injury saw you take to the exercise bike to recover , what was that recovery like ?

 I got on a bike for recovery to get my body moving again and then I got back into aths only then to try triathlons and realised I was quite strong on a bike. So I raced both cycling and athletics for another year until I made the full switch to Cycling in u15s

Did you realise straight away that you liked the bike ?

 I realised straight away I was quite dominant on the bike compared to aths. My first Australian championships I placed 4th after only 4months of cycling compared to years of athletics where my best planing at a nationals was 5th in the 800m.

Harry your Grandad is a big inspiration for you , can you tell about him and how he helped you out ?

My granddads always been a big inspiration still now we love talking about my racing and up
Coming events and my travel and I just wanna do them proud while they can still be around to watch me. It’s hard as they can’t travel the world to watch me race at there age anymore. But my favourite photo I have is of me crossing the finish line after winning a race with one arm in the air and his face in the crowd right at the line.

What does a training day involve ?

 It’s varies alot at the moment. But a normal day is gym in the early morning followed by a 2hr drive to Melbourne to train on the track for 3hours and then drive home and crawl into bed haha it’s quite tiring.
You are based in Gippsland and then you travel to Melbourne to train in a Velodrome? Does all the travelling not take it out of you? It takes it out of me so much. The final 5week block in Portugal will be very beneficial for me to cut out that travel time.

You have already secured your place in Rio, what’s the aim now that your there ?

 I’m hoping to have strong race. I haven’t made a semi final at a qualifying event before my best result at a World Cup was 13th so I’m wanting a semi final and top 12 result for sure. Once your through to the semis anything can happen then.

Are you glad you chose to represent Ireland over the country of your birth Australia ?

 Yeah defiantly. All my family’s Irish.

What the difference between Road racing and Track cycling ?

 Track cycling is all single gear so gear selection before your race is vital as you can’t change it out there and we have no breaks so that makes it fun haha.

How do you like to get away from training, what do you do to relax ?

 Sleep hahaha I love sleep. If I never had to get out of bed I wouldn’t. Early morning gym sessions are the hardest for this reason!
Will you continue to train in Australia after Rio or would you consider a move to Europe ? I’ll be based both in Europe and Aus. I’ve got my coach here and some amazing Malaysian training partners who I work hard with in Melbourne.

Lastly Shannon , What are your plans for after Rio ?

After rio it doesn’t stop. That’s my season. I have my first race in October so I don’t get much break to chill after the Olympics so for me it’s all go from October right through to April.
Thank you so much for taking time out to talk to me. All the very best in Rio , I’ll be watching closely….

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali has passed away and one of the World’s best boxer’s has exited stage left. He has spent the last 32 years battling Parkinson’s disease and in that time he campaigned tirelessly about the effects of the disease.

He was the first boxer ever to win the Heavyweight World Title on three separate occasions. He was sports first true showman and backed up all trash talk with many victories.  Like so many that will write and speak about “The Greatest “is the next few days we didn’t see Ali in all his pomp and glory.

He was of course more than just a boxer , He was a man that stood up for what he believed in , He converted to Islam and changed his name from Clayus Clay to Muhammad Ali. He also didn’t join up with the US Army during the war in Vietnam. For this reason he divided the nation

He won an Olympic Gold medal in 1960 at the age of 18 in Rome at Light Heavyweight. He turned Pro in the early 60s and went on to have a fine career that saw him hold the World Heavyweight Title on three times.

Looking at what Ali meant to people, he was a symbol for standing up in what you believe in , he had unwavering self-belief.  He was a classy boxer that could throw a flurry of punches and dance around the ring avoiding anything that his opponent may throw at him. He said he could “ Fly like a butterfly and Sting like a Bee”.

Like many of the stars of World Sport like Usain Bolt , Lionel Messi , Michael Jordan all you need to do is mention their names and it can get people talking and talking about all they achieved. Back to Ali , he really was “ The Greatest “ and although a small number of people may have though he was arrogant and all he ever did was trash talk but he backed up most of that trash talk with victories.

Ali died yesterday and after 74 years on this planet he leaves an incredible legacy that has gone far beyond the Boxing world. He lit the Olympic Flame during the opening ceremony at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Muhammad Ali will never be forgotten and his achievements may never be equalled. He was a showman and entertainer and while many have imitated what he did few if any will ever do things and say things the way he did. He really was “The Greatest “.


Cian Mc Gibney