Ruby – Reigns Supreme

The much vaunted career of Ruby Walsh drew to a successful conclusion yesterday evening after 24 years in the saddle where he steered Kemboy to victory in the 2019 Coral Punchestown Gold Cup. He had the chance to partner some of horse racing finest over that 24 years. Horse racing is not everyone’s cup of tea but Ruby’s career has to be recognised as he won 12 Irish Jockey Championships and won 59 races in Cheltenham, the Olympics of Jump racing.

He worked for 2 very powerful yards , namely Paul Nicholls in England and Willie Mullins in Ireland, combing both jobs for a large period of time in the mid 2000’s. He won the Aintree Grand National twice in 2000 and again in 2005.

I have had the pleasure of seeing this man use his skills at the famed September meeting in Listowel. He along with Sir Anthony Mc Coy, Barry Geraghty, Davy Russell and Richard Johnston in England are some of the best National Hunt Jockeys you will ever see. Forget this talk that Ruby was only good in his generation, he was one of the best ever.

Yes he didn’t always get his tactics spot on but such is life, we can’t always get things right. But to watch Ruby in action was always a pleasure and he and Willie Mullins made a formidable team at Cheltenham in particular where the opening day of the Festival had been nicknamed “Ruby Tuesday” such was his high success rate on the opening day.

He has managed to stay top of his game for such a long time is a testament to his skill and of course the calibre of horse he had at his disposal. To win Leading Jockey 11 times in Cheltenham in some achievement and yes many will say “but sure he had great horses, but they won’t go very far without the right pilot on board”.

He will now move onto new projects hinting that he may look to work with English based racing channel Racing TV and keep up his work with other well known brands. He has already stated that training won’t be his radar at the moment as he wants to try his hand at other things first.

Over the last 24 hours, many well known figures have heaped praise on him and what he has managed to do over 24 years. He will know most likely see his position taken by Paul Townend and Willie’s son Patrick along with his nephews Danny and David who will try and carry on the terrific work done by all at Willie Mullins base in Co Carlow.

This will not be an easy job to replace some one of Ruby’s calibre but Paul Townend has already shown he is more than capable of doing the job of winning on the big day and so have the three Mullins boys so Willie can take solace from that.

Congrats on a great career in the saddle Ruby, all the very best in the next chapter…… I’ll let you off the €20 you cost me at the 2018 Listowel Festival…..

Katrina Parrock Interview 2018

Hi Katrina, we first spoke in 2013 when your appearance as a Maor Uisce for Wexford during a Championship game sparked a unique response as to who was the mystery lady carrying water for them was….

Having won four Camogie All Ireland’s with Wexford, how did it feel to win the 2018 Continental Tyres FAI Cup in the Aviva Stadium which meant you completed a treble winning League, FAI Cup and Leinster Senior Cup medals, how did that feel after the win on Sunday ?

It was an amazing feeling.  It was so special as I had not played in the Aviva before and had been looking forward to it – then to come away with the win that’s what dreams are made of.

How did come to sign for Wexford Youths, what prompted the change in direction ?

 I had decided to take a year or so off from Camogie as I had found I had lost my appetite, there were days I went out and thought what am I doing!    My mam had been diagnosed with breast cancer and I continued playing so maybe that was the catalyst that made me evaluate where I was going.   So, my plan was to take time out.  But when it was announced I wouldn’t be playing camogie I was approached by the Wexford Ladies Football manager and the Wexford Youths manager to sign for them.    The rest is history, I decided that maybe a change of code was just what I needed.

What was it like playing in the Champions League earlier this year, can you explain the format of how the group phase was played as it was played over a week in Belfast ?

 The Champions League was such a learning curve from my perspective. You learn so much participating in such a prestigious tournament against professional teams.

The format was ten group winners and the two runners-up with the best record against the sides first and third in their section proceeded to the 17th August draw for the round of 32 to join the 20 teams given byes.  Wexford Youths were in Group 1 with Ajax (NED), Thor/KA (ISL) and Linfield (NIR hosts)

Having moved from GAA to Soccer, have you any future plans to move to any other sports ?

Not at the moment, I’m really enjoying my soccer. But I would love to give Rugby a go before my playing career is over. Just love the physical aspect of rugby.

Have you any burning ambitions you’d like to achieve while playing for Wexford Youths ?

 Retaining everything we have achieved this year and going further in the Champions league would be a burning ambition.

 

 

How do you find the change between different sports, did you find it easy to make the switch between one to the other ?

 I had always played soccer in the winter months to keep me fit for camogie -but not at the level of Wexford Youths.   I received an Ireland Cap for U19 when I was 16 but had chosen camogie at that stage.    The first year with Youths was difficult, the girls were streets ahead of me in fitness and skill level.  I worked hard to bring my game up and compete for a place on the team – I did a lot of gym work to get myself fitter and stronger.

 

If the chance to turn professional was offered like signing for a AWFL side in Australia like Cora Staunton has done and others, would you consider the move ?

 I don’t think so but never say never.   I’m a bit of a home bird

 

How do you like to relax and get away from Sport ?

 I don’t think I relax much.   I love gardening, so I find that relaxing even though it can be physical.    I like walking and have recently got more into hill/mountain walks.   We have an amazing country and its lovely to get out there and enjoy it.  Of course being in Wexford surrounded by beaches I love taking the dogs down for a run.

 

Who are the people you to for support when times get tough on the field of play or in life ?

 My mam & dad, my brother Kieran & sister Sinead, my grandad has such a wise head and gives me great advice   My best friend Roisin is always there for me, so I have a wonderful support system.  My team mates we are such a tight knitted unit (family) and are always there for each other.

 

Who were your heroes growing up ?

 Una O’Dwyer Camogie Player Tipperary

The Rock

Paul Scholes

Have you any plans for the future ?

I am hoping to apply for the garda in their next recruitment drive.

 

 

Thanks Katrina for taking time out to chat with me… All the best in the future….

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….

By

Cian Mc Gibney

06/08/2018

World Cup 2018

Sporting Rivalry

Over the past week I have been surprised by the animosity toward the England football team, moving from the usual banter to the more spiteful. Every few years this continuing talk of what sport is the best on the Planet bring everyone out of the woodwork. Everybody has an opinion about what sport is the best.

England had no real pressure on them in this tournament and although you can be sure there was internal pressure from within the squad. Most pundits were surprised by how far England managed to get by getting to a first Semi Final since 1990. This squad didn’t have as much collective talent as the squads since 1990.

We have seen many people across social media channels giving there opinions on the England performance , many people saying that they wouldn’t follow England because they are Irish  , although if you took a poll , most of those “ Fans “ would follow an English club side. I myself am an Arsenal supporter. It was good to see England finally throw off the shackles and get as far as they did, although they were beaten by a terrific Croatian team that will give France plenty to think about in Moscow.

Back to sporting rivalry, we in this country have no issue playing up to the gallery saying we have the greatest fans in the world in any sport be that Football followers , rugby supporters and any other followers of the numerous sports we participate in.

It is very easy to sit back and scoff at the achievements of England in the 2018 World Cup but we in this country should use it as a motivational tool to see can we put in the same type of performances in try to qualify for Euro 2020 which will of course be held across many cities including Dublin.

It is time we stopped all  the one up man ship and get behind every team that is involved in competition. It seems to be very easy for people to have a pop at certain sports. Rugby is the prime example and although some pundits claim that rugby is now the sport of the people in Ireland which isn’t true at all and never will be the case given that the GAA and Football still hold sway over other minority sports.

Rugby is played in only a small number of countries whereas, Football is played all over the world. Rugby has done plenty of work through the shortened version of the game in 7s, it still will need time to get places. It will never have the same appeal as Football has in a worldwide context.

Let’s hope that the achievements of the past few weeks by the England team will not be lost and from the FA’s position they will give Gareth Southgate more time to continue his work trying to change the way his squad do things.

A World Cup Semi Final was achieved with no expectations , now the challenge will be to try and better that achievement starting with Nations League starting this September in place of Friendlies and hopefully culminating in a place at the 2020 European Championships….

By

Cian Mc Gibney

13/07/2018