Katie Taylor – World Champion

Katie Taylor – World Champion

So Katie Taylor has reached the pinnacle of her sport in the professional ranks by winning her first World Title after a win in the Principality Stadium on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s World Title defence.

 Just over a year after Katie Taylor introduced herself to the World with an impressive win in her opening contest, she is a World Champion. Like every time she has gone into the ring, nothing broke her focus, not even the fact her opponent had missed the weight two different times which meant Taylor was the only one  that could have won that World title last night.

This brave Bray lady has done so much for her sport at amateur level and now in the professional game. She is the poster girl for the sport of boxing and although some people still cannot stomach the idea of a woman boxing or being involved in a physical sport, you cannot but be moved by this lady, her courage, honesty and desire along with her deep faith that has kept her in good stead for the challenges she has faced over the years.

She has of course received the congratulations of the nation from An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Michael D Higgins. She had ploughed a lonely furrow over the last 12 months slogging it out in different places and arenas along with the long hard hours of training that has led to this moment of glory in the Principality Stadium Cardiff.

 It may not have been a home venue in the conventional sense but in sport Ireland have achieved some historic moments in that city in recent years, winning a Grand Slam in 2009 and most recently making sure of a World Cup Playoff spot by beating Wales 1-0 in the nearby Cardiff City Stadium.  So the Welsh capital has been kind to Ireland.

So we now have the very distinct possibility of a homecoming bout sometime next year for Katie Taylor, her manager is Brian Peters and you can be sure he and promoter Eddie Hearn have a plan in mind for a homecoming fight in Dublin.

Given her pulling power it will be interesting to see where any possible fight would take place, The 3 Arena could be the ideal venue but I am sure they will explore every avenue to get the best venue for boxers, supporters and anyone else that may want to see a World title fight involving Ireland’s golden girl.

It was great to see Katie enjoying her victory with her family. Her Mom made her way into the ring and joined in the celebrations. Huge congratulations Katie on another fine victory, you again have highlighted women’s sport and how important it is. Onward to your next challenge now….


Cian Mc Gibney


Say Something Campaign

I have been asked to write a short piece about my battle with suicide and depression. I have struggled over the years with a battle that has been fought mostly in my head. I have always felt not good enough to be on this earth.

Three times I have contemplated suicide and on one occasion I was very close to following through on the promise of actually going through with my suicide plan. Only for my Mom figuring out there was something wrong with me and asking a relative to call me to see could he find out what was wrong with me.

I went to my grandparents home that evening and wrote 10 letters saying goodbye to groups of people. I sat there watching the Ireland women’s rugby team play England and contemplated life because only a few weeks earlier I lost my grandfather.

I felt totally useless as I sat there thinking about my next move which I thought was to throw myself off the pier down in Tarbert Island. Then the phone rang in my grandparent’s kitchen and it was a cousin of mine who claimed to be looking for my uncle but I found that very strange as my grandfather had just passed away and when you need to contact my uncle you call his mobile and not the home phone.

This call proved to be the call that saved my life because had that call not happened I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this piece.  I have battled with the demons in my head over the last 14 years and continue this battle on a daily basis.

Since September 2016 life has been very different that was when my Mam passed away and it took me the best part of 6 months to get my head straight to try and comprehend what had happened. In January of this year I started counselling and after 7 months of counselling I felt strong enough to step away from counselling and see how I could get on coping on my own.

Yes I have the support of my family but I still struggle on a daily basis with what happened on that faithful evening in September. The battle in my head has returned and has come back with vengeance but thankfully after 7 months of counselling I have the coping skills to recognise the signs of when things are getting tough and I know when to take a step back.

My reason for writing this short piece is to tell people that even when times are tough it is ok to stand up and say things are not ok. I spent far too long trying to deal with issues however big or small on my own and that particular way of doing things nearly cost me my life. Thankfully things have improved for me and I am on the way back…

When you see someone that may look like they are in need of help reach out to them and ask them how they are , the chance to talk and get it off their chest may just be the release valve that person needed…

 Always remember It is ok not to be ok…..

Cian Mc Gibney

Zebo Departs


Zebo Departs For Pastures New

Simon Zebo will leave Munster at the end of this season for pastures new after it was announced that despite discussions with the IRFU and the Munster Branch , a deal could not be brokered and he will be with a yet to be announced club from next season onward.

This will come as a real blow to Munster who have already seen Donnacha Ryan leave for Racing 92 although Ryan is coming toward the end of his playing career, Simon Zebo is at the peak of his powers at 27. He has a family to support and he has in recent months made no secret of the fact that one day he wanted to move onto pastures new.

His destination has not been announced at this point but as the season moves on I am sure we will be made aware of his destination. He will of course forfeit his chances of playing for Ireland unless like Jonathan Sexton he can work a release clause into his next contract. He is an important player in an Irish context and Joe Schmidt will you can be certain do his utmost to keep him involved with Ireland between next season and the next World Cup in 2019.

Munster will now be in the market for a back three player to try and replace the undoubted quality that Simon Zebo possesses. They have real quality in the squad at this current moment with the likes of Ronan O Mahony and Darren Sweetnam along with Stephen Fitzgerald who has made a number of senior appearances for Munster, he was at full back last Friday for Munster A down in Cork when they took on Nottingham.

 This news will annoy the Munster faithful who will no doubt feel hard done by once more by the IRFU after last season where they saw Donnacha Ryan agree to join Racing 92. This author can understand Simon Zebo’s position to a certain degree, he is 27 and wants to make the most of his playing career both on the field and also in financial terms as well.

He has been very honest in recent months so for that reason you feel that supporters while they may be angry for a short period they will understand his reasons for leaving at this point and who knows in a few seasons “Zeebs” could make a welcome return to the Munster colours in a few seasons time.

Enjoy the next chapter of your career Simon but for now as he has said himself he has plenty of unfinished business with Munster and Ireland for this year. Roll on Connacht next Friday so….


Cian Mc Gibney


Women’s Head Coach

Irish Women’s Rugby New Coach

So the Ireland women’s team are on the lookout for a new head coach, only instead of a full time coach on this occasion, the successful candidate will only have a 6 month part time deal on the table.  

This does seem to be a very strange call to make at this moment in time. Going back to a part time 15s coach when there will be a full time 7s programme working alongside it. Anthony Eddy will continue in his role as 7s head coach while also working to further develop the player pool in both the 15s and 7s codes.

A number of players have already decided to hang up their boots in the aftermath of the World Cup , players like Marie Louise Reilly and Nora Stapleton have retired from playing and now in the wake of this decision one would fear that more players that may be sitting on the fence waiting to see what the IRFU do next may well just say in the wake of this , “ To hell with this I am off “ This may not be the case for the majority but you can be sure 1 or 2 players will be thinking this way.

The IRFU may decide at the end of the 6 month period to appoint a full time coach after the 2018 Six Nations, whatever the outcome of the 2018 Six Nations, Irish women’s rugby is at a very important crossroads, no games in November unlike 12 months ago thus no opportunity to see if any new players can be found and a new game plan tried out before the players who are selected for the 2018 Six Nations come together for a number of weekend training camps over the coming months.

Heady times ahead for all involved with the women’s game in this country be they coaches, players, administrators and any other volunteers involved up and down the country. Big decisions are coming for the people in charge of the women’s game in the IRFU headquarters over the next few months.

This is also an awfully uncertain time for all the players who have given of their time in green in the last few years. Some will feel let down by this, more will feel just pure anger and frustration. On the day that one of ladies GAA greatest players signed a professional deal to play in the newly formed Ladies AFL. The IRFU have taken a backward step in giving the new head coach whoever he or she may be only a part time deal.

Whatever move they make beyond this point will be watched by all who care for the game very carefully, the ball is now in the court of the IRFU again, think very carefully about your next move , because the future of the game in this country may just depend on your next call…


Cian Mc Gibney


November 2017 Squad

My Ireland Squad For November

Forwards : Props- Cian Healy , Liam O Connor , Jack Mc Grath , Tadgh Furlong , John Ryan , Findlay Bealham

Second Row – James Ryan , Devin Toner , Iain Henderson , Kieran Treadwell , Billy Holland

Hookers – James Tracy , Sean Cronin , Niall Scannell

Back Row/No 8 – CJ Stander , Josh Van Der Flier , Tommy O Donnell , Rhys Ruddock , Sean O Brien , Peter O Mahony  (20)

Scrum Half – Conor Murray , John Cooney , Luke Mc Grath

Out Half – Jonathan Sexton , JJ Hanrahan , Jack Carty

Centre – Robbie Henshaw , Rory Scannell , Stuart Mc Closkey , Rory O Loughlin , Bundee Aki

Back Three/Full Back – Keith Earls , Simon Zebo , Andrew Conway , Darren Sweetnam , Joey Carbery , Adam Byrne , Matt Healy. (18)

This is the 38 man squad I would select for the three November Internationals against , South Africa , Argentina and Fiji.


Cian Mc Gibney


Munster Get There Man

Munster Get There Man

So Munster have finally confirmed that Johan Van Graan will take over from Johan “Rassie” Erasmus in late November. He will take over after signing a two and a half year deal until June 2020. This piece of news will come as a welcome relief to supporters, management and anyone else involved in Munster Rugby.

 This issue caused some trouble over the summer as Munster were landed with a situation where they needed to go in search of a new head coach after only one year of a three year deal. Rassie Erasmus has stated that this opportunity to take on a role within the SARU was a long held ambition and he will take Jaques Nienber back with him.

Munster will finally now have stability for two years heading into a World Cup in late 2019. Now that Munster have dealt with the elephant in the room they can get back to playing rugby in the Pro 14 and in the Champions Cup.

After the Leinster defeat last week, there have been questions asked of the squad and they have assured themselves that with some tweaks in terms of discipline and aggression they may be able to find the answers against Castres next Sunday.

Munster can now fully focus on what is in front of them for the rest of the year and really get into teams in the safe knowledge that all the questions about who will take on the head coaching role will now stop. Erasmus and his charges can now solely focus on winning games and see where that will leave them for the takeover period that will see Van Graan will over from Erasmus.

Johan Van Graan is a highly rated coach within the South African set up and has also been a huge help to The Bulls when they won Super Rugby titles in 2009 and 2010. He was defence coach and also attack coach with them.

 He will bring a fresh voice to the Munster dressing room over the next two years and stability is the key word for Munster now. They can now fully concentrate on trying to better what was achieved last year with a Pro 12 Final appearance and a European Semi Final also.

It is now Johan Van Graan‘s time to shine so the best advice he can be given him is enjoy every minute and to the supporters , give the man time to bed in and here’s hoping the results won’t be long in coming around.

Welcome Johan and enjoy your time in Ireland and in charge of Munster…


Cian Mc Gibney


Play Off Secured

Ireland Play Off Secured

Ireland have secured a playoff spot after a heart stopping 1-0 win after a James Mc Clean strike in the 57th minute. It was not pretty for the most part but again it was effective and although it was hard to stomach at times , Ireland have secured a playoff spot after a strange campaign that started really well and dipped in the middle but the two desired results came at the tail end of the group.

 Ireland will now go into the draw for the play offs next week with huge confidence and will be a match for any of the other 7 sides that will make up the play off draw. People will give out about the way Ireland play but they always seem to get the desired result when it matters most.

The expectancy on Wes Hoolahan needs to stop although he is 35 years of age and won’t be around for long more. Jeff Hendrick and Harry Arthur worked very hard in attack and defence this evening. Shane Duffy was Paul Mc Grath in disguise along with Ciaran Clark. Both Cyrus Christie and Stephen Ward worked hard in the 2nd half.

The performance will be forgotten in the 1st half but they will need to be real improvement in the midfield because knocking the ball long won’t work if they get beyond the play offs and make it to Russia 2018.

Tonight is not the night for pointing out the faults we have to applaud what has been achieved by defeating a team who in the summer of 2016 almost made the Final of Euro 2016. Yes Wales did not have Gareth Bale this evening and that dented things they wanted to do but Ireland were without Jon Walters, Shane Long and Skipper Seamus Coleman. Three men who may well have started this vital fixture.

Looking to what has been achieved this evening James Mc Clean has done it for a 2nd time, a crucial goal in Vienna and tonight a peach of a strike in the Cardiff City Stadium. Looking to what is now on the horizon , It will be the play offs again in November  and who knows what can be done in that 2 legged affair. David Myler will miss out in the 1st leg but I am sure he will be replaced by someone hungry for work maybe Callum O Dowda or Wes Hoolahan.

Yet again this squad has found a way to win and defied the odds to secure an unlikely play off place. Time now to focus on what is about to come. Again this performance was full of pride, passion , aggression with the odd moment of brilliance ala Harry Arthur stepping over the ball to let Mc Clean in for that massive strike.

Roll on the two games in November as Ireland have shown what can be achieved with desire , hunger , passion now if they could only marry that with keeping the ball for sustained periods god know what can be done. Bring on whoever , I doubt it will matter to this squad who they need to beat to get to Russia 2018…..


Cian Mc Gibney


Ireland – Qualifying Hopes

Ireland – Qualifying Hopes

So Ireland head into the final two World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales and Ireland are still in a position to get to Russia 2018. Two wins look like being enough to secure a play off place.  This seemed a long way off after 3 draws in the last few games. Ireland have blown a strong position in this group and are now fighting against the tide to secure a spot in Russia.

After there was confirmation yesterday of a verbal agreement between Martin O Neill and the FAI that he has agreed to stay on for the Euro 2020 campaign. The timing of the announcement is very strange given that O Neill and his squad face two make or break games in the space of 4 days.

The IRFU and FAI have previous in this regard, Eddie O Sullivan was given an extension before the 2007 World Cup and now Martin O Neill has given verbal agreement to a new deal less than 48 hours before two vital fixtures.

This is not good practice because it is my understanding that you have to achieve your goals before you’re rewarded and how will the FAI look next week if they do not at least secure a playoff spot for Russia. The Moldova game is first up this evening at the Aviva Stadium and if they successfully negotiate that test, they will go forward to face a Wales side minus Gareth Bale next week.

A number of Irish players are one booking away from suspension with both James Mc Clean and Robbie Brady absent from the Moldova game this evening. This situation will of course open the door for other players to see can they break into the first team for both games. 

All available players have trained well all week and will be in contention to start tonight with the questions being who will start up front and in midfield. The back four looks like it picks itself and then it’s Hobson’s choice in other areas with Sean Maguire pushing for inclusion up front after a impressive start to life in the English Championship.

These two games will have a massive effect on how many players may stick around beyond the current campaign, Wes Hoolahan , John O Shea and even Jon Walters may feel that father time has crept up on them and this could be there swansong only time will tell of course. Those questions will be answered in due course.

 For now though it is full steam ahead for the last two games in a campaign has had it all , wins , draws , goals and no end of big moments. For now it is time we get behind the team and see where that takes us. You never what could happen over the next few days….


Cian Mc Gibney


Munster – Coaching Situation

Munster – Coaching Situation

So nearly 4 months after Rassie Erasmus confirmed he would be taking up a position with the South African Rugby Football Union, Munster are no closer to bringing in a replacement. We have heard the names of David Wessels and also Johan Van Graan who is currently involved with South Africa , Wessels has signed a deal to take over the Melbourne Rebels from old Munster boss Tony Mc Gahan.

Looking at the current state of play we have one coaching team set to depart in late December with no ready replacement about to step in at a crucial point of the year.  Yes Munster have just completed the signing of Tadgh Beirne on a two year deal from the start of next season.

That was a was a tidy piece of business done and dusted in timely fashion and one has to question why the coaching question is being left dangly there with no signs of a solution being found.

 I may be completely wrong in my reading of the situation and Munster may just be waiting for the right moment to announce their new head man but there doesn’t seem to be any right moment to clear up all this uncertainty and I implore both the IRFU and Munster Branch to make a announcement whether it is that they are promoting from within or there is a man coming in from outside to take on the job for the next few years because what Munster need is certainty at this moment in time.

Over the last year it has been a coaching merry go round after the untimely passing of Anthony Foley this time 12 months ago. It has been a hell of a journey since the opening round of Champions Cup fixtures last year. Munster were due to face Racing 92 in France but that fixture was postponed.

Since all that upheaval both Erasmus and Nienber have taken up the slack along with Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones and led Munster to the Pro 12 Final and the Champions Cup Semi Final versus Saracens last April.

Whatever solution Munster have come to at this stage would be better than this saga of when is he leaving and also who is the replacement!! Munster could end up losing out on signings for next season if they cannot sort this current impasse.

The Munster faithful deserve some honesty in this case because, there were a number of stories surrounding this at the end of last year and it was confirmed in June of 2017 that Erasmus was leaving after 1 year of a 3 year deal. The least all parties can do now is bring whatever discussions they are having with relevant parties to a conclusion and make an announcement.

Munster has gone through a rough 12 months off the field and they really need to bring in a good quality coach on a long term deal and reset the clock and start again. Erasmus has put in very strong foundations now it needs somebody to pick up the baton and carry on the good work….


Cian Mc Gibney