November Test Series Squad 2018

My Irish Squad for November 2018

Forwards : Cian Healy , James Cronin , Peter Dooley , Tadgh Furlong , Finlay Bealham , Andrew Porter.

Sean Cronin, Rory Best, Dave Heffernan.

James Ryan, Devin Toner, Tadgh Beirne , Ultan Dillane.

CJ Stander , Peter O Mahony , Max Deegan , Sean O Brien , Sean Reidy. ( 18)

Backs : John Cooney , Luke Mc Grath , Kieran Marmion.

Jonathan Sexton, Joey Carbery , Jack Carty , Billy Burns.

Robbie Henshaw , Rory Scannell , Bundee Aki , Sam Arnold , Garry Ringrose.

Keith Earls, Andrew Conway, Darren Sweetnam , Craig Gilroy , Matt Healy.

Mike Haley , Will Addison , Tiernan O Halloran. (20)

Here is the 38 man squad I would select for the November Internationals this year. There are players named who may get injured in the coming few weeks but this is an initial squad with players that are currently available for selection.

Liam Miller Tribute Game

Liam Miller Tribute Game

I found myself in Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday for the Liam Miller Tribute game which saw some of the finest football talent grace the field in Pairc Ui Chaoimh all in honour of the late Liam Miller who represented Celtic, Manchester United and the Republic Of Ireland on 21 occasions.

The great and good of the game came out to support the Miller family with men like Roy Keane, Denis Irwin and also a few of his underage team mates as well namely Andy Reid and John O Shea. Some of the best players to play under Sir Alex Ferguson and Martin O Neill at Celtic and latterly with Ireland took to the pitch yesterday.

For so many children and a few adults I might add it was a chance to see the likes of Keane , Scholes , Neville , Irwin and Giggs, a number of key cogs in successful United sides over the last 25 years. It was also testament to the popularity of Liam Miller throughout the three teams he will be mostly associated with Manchester United, Celtic and Ireland that so many men made the trip to Cork to take part and show support for Liam’s family.

To everyone who worked tirelessly for the last few months to make sure the game went off without a hitch much take huge credit, the work that went into moving the game from Turners Cross to Pairc Ui Chaoimh this move of course caused a few headaches but once all issues were solved it let the organisers get to the job of putting on a day that people would remember and the Miller family could be proud of.

They did that and more and of course as has been mentioned the 90 minutes was secondary but the day as a whole was terrific and the decision to move the game certainly did not affect the atmosphere in any way.

It is also fair to say that Roy Keane is still idolised on Leeside, because as soon as he entered the game yesterday the roar that greeted his introduction put you in no doubt that he is still “Keano” the man that led United through a glorious period in the club’s history.

I was privileged to be part of the 42,000 souls that descended onto Leeside yesterday afternoon to pay tribute to Liam Miller footballer, son, husband, father, team mate and friend to many. Rest Easy Liam, it was an honour to get the opportunity to pay tribute to you yesterday in the presence of your family…

Interprovincial Derbies 2018/2019

Interprovincial Derbies 2018/2019

So the first Provincial derbies of this season take place this weekend where Connacht face Leinster in Galway at 5.15pm and then at 7.35pm Munster play Ulster in Thomond Park. All four teams have started their campaigns in good form with some good early season results. Over the last two weeks Leinster in particular have found there groove dispatching Edinburgh and Dragons in clinical fashion at home in the RDS.

They look like the side that conquered all last year in Europe and in the Pro 14. Jonathan Sexton looks back to his assured best as team captain and that will surely drive standards as the year goes on. Going to Galway will bring memories of last season back to Leinster where they were well beaten and had over 40 points put on them in the Sportsground. This game will have a slightly different 23 involved than that day for Leinster in particular who will have all available Irish Internationals at their disposal.

Connacht should have Bundee Aki , Kieran Marmion and others involved so that should even up the scales. Andy Friend is slowly changing the attacking pattern that Connacht used last year where the midfield axis of Aki and Farrell have worked wonders in the early part of the year. Jack Carty is also in a rich vein of form and this is helping Connacht reach the same levels as in 2016.

Of course it is too early in the season to make any bold predictions but in all fairness to all in Connacht they are playing really well in the last two weeks and will know like last April that this is a golden chance to pick up a big win over an Interprovincial derby rival and gain vital league points at the same time.

Andy Friend knows only too well how quick things can change, they need to find a level of consistency that will get them winning the big games along with the games they would expect to win.

Looking to Leinster, they have started the season like lightening only for a slip in Wales vs Scarlets they would be 4 out of 4 heading into to the game with Connacht this weekend. The partnership of Ringrose and Henshaw is flourishing like last year. This will in no doubt help the cause. Having Dan Leavy and Sean O Brien back will strengthen the back row and will help them over the busy period of the next few weeks. Not to mention the addition of Caelan Doris, Josh Murphy two men who have slipped in unnoticed in the opening weeks of the year.

Moving to Limerick at 7.35pm , Munster will want to bounce back from a heavy defeat in Cardiff on Friday evening when they face Ulster in Thomond Park on Saturday night under lights. The Munster squad should welcome back Keith Earls to the fold and he will be the last addition of an Irish International to the side.

Men like Mike Haley and Sam Arnold should also be back in contention for selection after getting a rest last weekend. Munster will need to sharpen up all over the field to get the better of an Ulster side that has played some great attacking rugby with guys like Angus Kernohan , Angus Curtis and new signing Billy Burns showing some deft touches in the first few weeks of the year.

John Cooney is defiantly pushing to do more than just play well for Ulster, one senses he is sniffing out the opportunity to get ahead of Marmion and Mc Grath to be understudy to Conor Murray , although the latter’s return to action is delayed while he recovers from an neck injury. Munster are missing his influence at 9 alongside new man Joey Carbery. Carbery has shown real signs of quality and Munster will benefit from his influence in the long term. They will really need to starting firing soon and get there maul game going and start using some strike plays from first phase ball to see can that crack a defence earlier than they are doing at the moment. Ulster will attack off 10 this weekend and will also use Stuart Mc Closkey if selected to get over the gain line. It will be a physical encounter and Johan Van Graan will need his squad to be ready from the off this weekend.

Joe Schmidt will get a first chance to see his men in action in club colours this weekend with squad selection for November fresh in his mind. Men like John Cooney , Finlay Bealham , Tom Farrell and Craig Gilroy keen to take the chance to shine against men they are in direction competition with for squad places. This weekend signals to ending of friendly fire , the serious stuff starts now…..

Jenny Kavanagh


Hi Jenny, It’s a pleasure to chat to you,

Many people might remember you for your role in Fair City where you played Cleo Collins, can you tell us about what you are currently doing out in the South of France ?


Thank you, finally, we get to do this! It’s been so hectic this year I can’t describe. So currently I’m sat in my apartment overlooking the bay of Cannes… how lucky do I feel saying that? But I am living down here working in marketing and still building a personal training and lifestyle business


How did you get started as a personal trainer ?


I was always “into” fitness for my body and mind. In 2010 I climbed Mount Everest with some fellow personalities let’s say for a charity called the HOPE foundation.


After that I moved to London and my boyfriend then was really into his fitness so I gained more knowledge and understanding, it was a goal of mine to understand for me, but a couple of years later I was studying personal training and nutrition with a goal to help people in a world of fads and fake messages sustain healthy balanced lifestyles.


What is it like to work in France and how did you find it trying to set up a business in France, was the language an issue ?


Setting up a business anywhere is tough and it will have its highs and lows.


I moved here and got onto the expat scene fast because that was where I could meet friends and clients, identify, learn and grow. So no, the language wasn’t an issue from that side.


But I live in France, I want to speak better french than I do, I take a lot of lessons and it continues to improve but I try! C’est difficile.


Would you like to set up a business back home in Ireland in the near future ?


I have no idea. I think Ireland will always be home and where my heart feels most full. But I’m an adventurous person. I would love to come back to work, maybe I will come back and do some workshops… if I get enough call for it I would be honored. That would be amazing!


What sort of people come to you looking for nutritional advice or personal training ?


Everyone. Who doesn’t need guidance? Even I need guidance from another trainer.


We live in a world where it is very easy to fall down and a  good trainers role in your life is to take your hand and pull you up… teach you ways to break down your own blocks and live a life that you want! It’s individual, and it’s about health and wellness.


Everyone needs this knowledge- it is power, and so my goal has always been to make it accessible.


Did you enjoy being on “Irish In Wonderland last year ?


It was a fantastic experience. Random, I hadn’t played in a casino down here before, and of course it was lovely to be on irish tv again.


In the future, would you like to go back to acting if the right role came along ?


Of course, acting is in your DNA. It’s my make up. It’s a tough industry and so to endure it, it has to be part of you. My journey has never once involved a retirement or a door shut on acting- I have gone where my gut and my heart needed to be and so if I was offered a role that felt right, absolutely. I do miss it.


What sort of training regime do you follow to stay fit ?


I go to the gym, there I do weights and a little cardio. I do like high intensity so it is short and not so sweet but it’s done and I feel the endorphins, and go. I live on a hill so I use that a lot and I have weights and TRX straps here that I do core exercises with.


Do you have anyone working with you ?


I collaborate a lot. My newest venture will be with a PT friend of mine in the UK- Matt Purnell, we met in college and became the best of friends. He’s like a brother. So he is a very talented trainer and has competed in body building competitions. He has a different training technique to me and has a different skill set and knowledge to me. So we are combining forces to create online training.


I have also collaborated with @goevoapp and I do the workouts and some recipes on that. A fantastic app for weightloss and guidance on a lifestyle change through a mindset.

And finally, one of the creators of the @goevoapp and I will be running a podcast series on all things healthy mind/body, lifestyle and motivation and empowerment. Again, the belief here is that fitness is so much more than lifting a weight and weight loss is so much more than being hungry. Finding a way to understand how it all works and how it can work for an individuals lifestyle is what we want to do.


Do you work with anyone overseas, in Europe or America ?


Yes, all over, and hopefully continuing to grow once the training program is available online


Have you any advice for people who may want to make some changes in their lives ?


Yep- add me on Instagram @jennylukavanagh or the Facebook page Jenset training… I offer all kinds of tips and tricks and recipes.


My motto is always a little change daily accumulates into big changes. So make a positive achievable change and daily and keep going.


Lastly Jenny, what plans have you got for the future ?


Lots, and going with the flow. I make plans but then I see what happens. I think what I’ve told you is lots of them and hopefully they will go well but who knows, I just keep trying new things. You’ve got me thinking I would love to do workshops at home, so maybe that a plan I will visit.


Thank you Jenny for taking time out to speak with me…

My pleasure, see you soon I hope!

Wales 4-1 Ireland – Nations League

Wales 4-1 Ireland

The UEFA Nations League started last night for Ireland and Wales in Cardiff, Ryan Giggs managed Wales in a first competitive match after playing in a Tournament in China over the summer. Wales for their part may have had revenge in mind although that particular notion was dismissed quickly in the build up to last night’s game.

For Martin O Neill and Roy Keane, the game was a welcome distraction after a week of off field issues dominated the build up with players withdrawing for varying reasons and a number of key strikers in particular missing out through injury. Men like Shane Long, Scott Hogan, Sean Maguire were all marked absent last night which saw Jonathan Walters who recently rejoined Ipswich Town on loan from Burnley lead the line. He is 35 now. You were asking him to lead the line against a side that had youth in abundance in their 11 last night.

The four goals were of real quality but the Irish defence was very poor on each occasion , in particular for the Gareth Bale goal , where Ben Davies sprayed a cross field ball into the path of Gareth Bale who in turn turned inside and fired past a despairing dive from Darren Randolph. The back four had three Premier league based players, Shane Duffy of Brighton, Ciaran Clarke of Newcastle United, Stephen Ward of Burnley with Cyrus Christie of Derby County.

Injuries are again causing issues with team selections, but the performance last night was one of the worst from an Irish team in recent years. Yes they were players missing but again a lack of ideas along with some shambolic defending will have people again questioning why Roy Keane and Steve Guppy are in Martin O Neill’s back room team. They seem to be just sitting on the bench and every so often offering ideas to O ‘Neill at certain points of a game.

The performance last night was very poor and players in my humble opinion can’t keep coming out in the aftermath of a game and saying we must try and do better but yet again we can’t even keep possession when we have the ball and the players just look devoid of ideas and they don’t seem to be getting much helping in coaching terms.

Up to a few months ago one could say we were water tight at the back and with that situation you can try and move from there but now having conceding four goals last night inside 55 minutes without troubling Wayne Hennessey at the other end the Irish squad and management have plenty to work on when they face Poland next Tuesday before facing Wales and Denmark next month in the Nations League.

There doesn’t seem to be any sort of appetite from the FAI to try and start to solve the many issues that are surrounding the Irish National side. They do not seem to play in a particular style or seem to understand how to defend after two extremely poor performances where they have conceded 9 goals in two games.

Straight away, the first thing that will be mentioned would be to replace O Neill and put someone in place that will get the players playing with style but these issues go deeper and will really need to be addressed from the FAI down. It will take some tough decisions from the FAI and like most long term projects, this issue will take time and patience to solve. They are two things that most supporters in any sport do not have as we live in the era of instant success or else.

We have been here before and knowing the way things have worked in recent times we are likely to be here again in the future as the FAI are highly unlikely to take any drastic action in the short term but drastic action is what is required at all levels.

People can continue to give out we do not have the same quality of player as we had in the 80s or 90s , those days are long gone and people really need to move into the 21st century. Yes we are struggling currently but with the correct action plan, the good days could return over the next 5 to 10 years.

Starting again with all underage sides get them playing a certain style and then get all underage sides to adopt the same or similar style and with that small change we could see some positive results in the short term into the long term.

For now though for the squad, it’s time to focus on Poland and move from there…..


Cian Mc Gibney


Mam 2018 , 2 years on

I felt compelled to put a few feelings down on paper again as I approach Mam’s 2nd anniversary. Jesus even writing that down is strange, 2 years on. Much has changed and some stuff has stayed the same. The headstone went up and that was another huge milestone to get over and that was done with a huge amount of certainty and a little trepidation.

As the 2nd anniversary approaches, I feel far more in control of my emotions than 12 months ago. That is not to say by the weekend I won’t be a mess and I will get over that hurdle if it arises. I still have plenty to learn but I feel like I am a much better person than I was 2 years ago. I don’t get as tense or worked up about the small stuff as I did in previous years.

It may not look like it to people on the outside but I am much more at peace with where I am in life and in my 28 years I haven’t been able to say that too often. I have so many people to say thank you to for listening to me at certain stages over the past 2 years. To those people, you will never know how grateful I truly am for every small thing that has been done for me over the years. I won’t embarrass those people but they know who they are…

I have spent the last few years getting my head right and just have realised how many sacrifices people made for me , in particular both my parents. I just hope that wherever Mam is, she is happy with how I have conducted myself since September 7th 2016.

Mam and Dad gave me tools to conduct myself in a certain way, I looked to Mam in particular for support and the courage to drive on with life when things got tough. She has looked over me since Saturday September 10th 2016. I have been moody , cranky , happy , sad , nearly driven to distraction by certain moments since that day but that is life I suppose.

To anyone who has lost a family member , friend or someone close to them in the last 12 months , my sincere condolences to you and your family…… I was always told to do things in a efficient manner, many times I heard those immortal words “ Work and Story “ Those words still reverberate in my mind on a daily basis.

Mam , you will be in my mind all week as you have been since the moment they switched off the machine that faithful day in 2016.

Rest easy as always Mam…


Cian Mc Gibney