Irish Eligibility

Irish Eligibility

So we have here again after 3 senior caps in non competitive friendlies , Declan Rice the West Ham player who has been capped at each level by the Republic Of Ireland since Under 16 level and is now in the words of Martin O Neill  “ Deliberating his international future” after some overtures from England , the country of his birth.

It’s a funny thing of course given that England finish fourth at this Summer’s World Cup and hey presto we are back talking about another player who doesn’t know where his loyalty lies. From Declan Rice’s perspective he has amble time to say no thanks to the Republic Of Ireland an work to gain selection for England but after 3 caps in three friendlies his debut in March and two caps in May.

Now conveniently, he is deliberating his future. He should not have the choice at this point to decide where his International career lies. The FAI have been here before with Jack Grelish , but at least he declined a call up in the hope of a call up by England.

Here we are again on the eve of the Nations League starting up and the focus in the aftermath of a squad announcement we are back talking about a player that is questioning his commitment to the cause. He can of course still turn out for England as his three caps came in three friendlies at not in a World Cup qualifier in that case his eligibility would not be in question.

This situation is happening far too often, with Liam Kelly the full back and Jack Grelish both declining call ups and the slight difference being that Rice has 3 caps. What do the FAI do in this situation, do they just cut him adrift, or do they wait for his decision or do they be bold and call him up anyway and force his hand either way.

The FAI and Martin O Neill need to do what is best for the squad as a whole and cannot be held to ransom by a player who may or may not turn out in the green of Ireland again, the jersey is supposed to be hard earned and cherished by the player in possession of said jersey.

Why Declan Rice didn’t just decline a call up earlier this year is a mystery if he felt so strongly drawn to pulling on an England jersey. Yes he is only 19 with still to be proven talent on a consistent basis. He will get plenty of stick from people over this situation and will need those who advise him to be very clear in how they handle this situation.

FIFA and UEFA need to clear up these rules and make it very clear to any player that if you represent a country in a friendly then that will tie you to that country in a competitive fixtures aswell and not have this grey area where you be capped in a friendly and still change allegiance afterward.

For now though it is important to focus on the squad that was selected for the Welsh game and the preparations for that game on September 8th. It is important we start the Nations League in the correct manner…..


Cian Mc Gibney


The Season Ahead 2018/2019

The Provinces Season Ahead

So the 2018/2019 season is just around the corner with all four provinces currently in pre season action with Leinster the current Pro 14 and Champions Cup holders completing their 2 game schedule  last Friday where they faced Newcastle Falcons and were beaten 42-17. They travelled to Montauban the previous week and held on for a narrow 18-17 win.

Senior Coach Stuart Lancaster has already admitted that both games have shown up the Leinster defence and he was not pleased having conceded a large number of tries late last season and in this pre season period.

With no game until they open there campaign away to Cardiff Blues on August 31st they can work on their defence and other aspects of their game plan that they may feel needs to be sharpened before that opening fixture.

How can Leinster achieve more than they did last year having won in Europe and in the Pro 14. The drive for 5 in Europe is well and truly alive now and Leo Cullen along with Stuart Lancaster will want to drive the standards further and further and achieve more and more. Bettering oneself must be high on the priority list.

Of course the chance of new young players stepping up to the mark is a real distinct possibility with guys like Harry Byrne and Will Connors and Caelan Doris hoping to get an early chance to show what they can do in the early weeks of the new campaign.

From a Leinster perspective, if they retain one of their trophies that will be seen as another success but you can be sure they will be hell bent on keeping a hold of both Pro 14 and the Champions Cup. Roll on the new campaign. My prediction for Leinster will be another Pro 14 win but they may lose the Champions Cup as I feel they will only get to a Semi Final.

Munster have invested in there playing group adding Tadgh Beirne , Neil Cronin , Mike Haley and Arno Botha. Those four players have been added to an already improving squad where Johan Van Graan has had a full pre season to get his ideas across to the group of players he will work with this year. Munster played in two Semi Finals last season and will really need to find the key for success to get past a Semi Final and get back to competing in Finals. My prediction for Munster will be that they will get to a Pro 14 Final and a bold prediction that they will get to a Champions Cup Final…

Ulster have Dan Mc Farland on board after the IRFU paid compensation to the SRU to have him released from his contract to take up his new role. The signing of Billy Burns could be hugely exciting for all in the Ulster set up along with all in the Irish set up as he is Irish qualified.

Will Addison is another Ulster addition who has already spent time in the Irish set up down in Australia and will hope now that some good early performances for Ulster will bring him into contention for an Irish squad place for the November Internationals.

My prediction for Ulster will be a Pro 14 Play off place and maybe with a strong start a knock out spot in the Champions Cup.

Connacht of course have a new coach in Andrew Friday and he will hope that he can bring back the good times to all involved with Connacht rugby after the Pro 12 win two season ago. Kieran Keane came in last year and tried to implement a new game plan that the Chiefs had brought in and that helped them win a Super Rugby title in 2013. It didn’t work out too well for Kieran Keane and he was sacked at the end of last season after only winning 7 games in the Pro 14 last year. Although the Challenge Cup challenge was ended by Gloucester, Connacht will feel that a successful Challenge Cup campaign could help them with domestic matters. My Prediction for Connacht will be a Challenge Cup Semi Final and maybe a Pro 14 play off place as well.

With a World Cup in late 2019, many players will think that they can put up some good performances to force Joe Schmidt into some squad changes as the November Internationals come along followed by the 2019 Six Nations. This is the year to put your hand up and be counted to maybe just maybe gain a spot in the plane to Japan…..


Cian Mc Gibney


Set In Stone

Set In Stone

The phrase “set in stone” didn’t mean very much to me until recently when my Mum’s headstone was put up. It was only then it really set in that you can’t turn the clock back and get her back. Mum of course passed away in 2016 at the age of 49.

It is only when the subject of the headstone came up that I really began to think of what the saying “ Set In Stone” meant. When the book containing the different types of headstones and wording was produced I braced myself for the task at hand and between the 3 of us we came up with the wording which would adorn her headstone for future generations of the family and her friends of course.

It truly only is when you have to do that job yourself of picking a headstone and then the wording to follow you really get a taste of the finality of the whole situation.

For me though I was able to draw a line in the sand because as many people will know I was extremely close to Mam and that week in September 2016 changed the way I look at life and the way I approach situations.

I do feel it was easier to take a first look at the completed headstone because I am still at home and was fully immersed in the whole job from start to finish. It has been a testing two years for my family.

Looking to the future, we can now give out to a headstone if so wish also we can tell her about different things happening in our lives. Life is defiantly different now but all we can do is adjust and see where that will take us.

Mam’s  2ND anniversary Mass takes place on Saturday  8th of September at 6pm…..


Cian Mc Gibney


Weekend Sport Review

Weekend Sport Review

What weekend of sport we have witnessed with numerous Irish sports stars in action across many sports. Whether it was athletics, GAA, football, hockey and any other sport that took place this weekend, you would have been well catered for.

Hockey has burst into the public conscience over the last few weeks with the terrific performances of the Irish team in England at the World Cup. The display of Graham Shaw’s squad has brought much needed attention to another minority sport.

The march to the World Cup Final was made all the more special by the fact that the squad are amateur and are in day jobs or they are in college. Like many amateur sides they make many unknown sacrifices to make their dreams possible.

In Game 1 they defeated the USA 3-1 and got there campaign off to the best possible start from there they beat India 1-0 and in the Final group game they were beaten by the World Cup host’s England 1-0. In the quarter final they beat India 3-1 on penalties after a 0-0 draw, in the semi final they defeated Spain 3-2 on Penalties after an exciting 1-1 draw. Then cue massive celebrations, Ireland made a first ever World Cup Final in any sport male or female.

This is unfortunately where the fairytale results ended with the Netherlands crushing Ireland 6-0 in the Final to win a ninth World Crown. This of course should not take away from what has been a great two weeks for this team.

They came into this tournament dreaming of some big results and stunning some of the so called bigger nations, they did that and more over the last two weeks. The questions of funding and other issues will be highlighted over the coming days with large amounts media coverage from home and abroad.

Let’s hope that the decision makers at Sports Ireland will now sit up and take note of the achievements and at least this may now put there issues to the powers that be and they may just be able to air some grievances. The last two weeks has put the sporting imbalance back to the forefront of people’s minds.

Of course the European Championships are taking place since last Friday in Glasgow and Berlin, they will continue until this Friday. 7 sporting organisations have come together to make this Championship work.  It is another chance for our athletes to win medals. Shane Ryan won European bronze in the Pool over the weekend, The O Donovan brothers won European silver in the double skulls.

Over the last few days, many Irish athletes have achieved what they set out to achieve along with the Hockey side who will admit while they would have hoped to achieve certain goals they certainly did that and more by winning World Silver.

Looking to the next few days our athletes will get ready for track action and they will hope to make in impact like the hockey side has just done. It is now defiantly time for the so called “minority” sports in Ireland to rise up and make a statement of intent for the future…..

The weekend belongs to the Hurlers of Galway , camogie players of Tipperary and Galway , the Hockey stars who won Silver in London , the O Donovans who also won Silver and Shane Ryan who won Bronze in the swimming pool… These are the moments in sport we as followers dream of so drink it in, because these days are few and far between….


Cian Mc Gibney


Aoife Mahony – American Dream

Aoife Mahony – American Dream

Local athlete Aoife Mahony will begin the trip of a lifetime in the next few weeks when she takes up an opportunity in the USA. After spending the last year in UCC, Aoife will now travel to Florida to take up a 4 year scholarship where she will train along with studying Social Work.

Her training will take place at 6am each morning after which she will attend strength and conditioning sessions and then head off to spend a few hours in lectures. Aoife competes in a number of disciplines namely the 400m, 800m, 1500m and Cross Country running also where she will concentrate on the 5km. Her preference is the 800m.

One of her main goals over the next few years will be to qualify for an Ireland Under 23 team as her days as juvenile athlete are coming to an end. She hopes that the next few years will help her achieve this ambition.

She hopes to help her new College into the Division 2 NCAA Finals. This particular goal will be difficult to achieve but you can be certain that Aoife will do her all to achieve this goal.

One of her hopes for the future may be to come home and join An Garda Siochana on the completion of her 4 years in the USA. This is a backup plan for Aoife if things do not work on the athletics front.

Having made contact with former Irish athlete Laura Tobin, who herself is in the US in her final year studying Business in Saint Leo University Tampa Florida.

This connection helped Aoife put some plans in place where she also made contact with her coach Kent Reiber with whom she finalised arrangements and she also used Facetime to keep him abreast of her college work, training schedules and results throughout the year.

All the very best to Aoife in her time State side and having kept a close eye on her progress in the last 18 months , You can be sure Aoife will give this opportunity her very best shot…..


Cian Mc Gibney