Irish Sporting Weekend
The Irish sporting weekend saw Ireland find out who they will face in next summer’s European Championships, with Martin O Neill’s men drawing Sweden, Belgium and Italy. Not an easy group by any stretch of the imagination but one main difference between Trappatoni’s men in 2012 and O Neill’s crew of 2016 is that while the squad may have many faces from 2012 but the self-belief levels are now at an all-time high. Having beaten Germany 1-0 in Dublin to secure a third place finish where we faced down a well drilled Bosnia side led by Edin Dzeko. Goals from Robbie Brady in the away leg and a brace from Jon Walters in Dublin help send Ireland to France next summer. So now that O Neill and Keane know what they have to face they can plan accordingly.
Moving to UFC and the big fight between Conor Mc Gregor and Jose Aldo the undefeated Featherweight Champion. As I have stated before I am not a massive fan of UFC but you cannot but be impressed with what Conor Mc Gregor has achieved in UFC and also with his charisma is so infectious it is hard not to get carried away by all the hype but one major difference between his trash talk and some of the rest is that he backs everything he says up with action.
It took him 13 seconds to dispose of Aldo and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas went wild. Another major attraction that helps Mc Gregor is that he came from a simple back ground in Dublin and that to me would be a big help in drawing in fans. He has also got this ability to say the correct thing and the most opportune moment. His skills and fitness levels are incredible. To be able to master one discipline is something special but to combine three in one sport in truly remarkable. He has a coach in which he trusts and this particular link cannot be underestimated. Joe Kavanagh is a key cog in the Mc Gregor camp.
The support that Conor Mc Gregor has managed to garner in a short space of time in also a remarkable achievement. He has supporters that have shown they will travel anywhere in support of there “Hero”. He is now the man with the Belt so we wait with baited breath to see where the Mc Gregor roadshow will pull into next!!
The Champions Cup and Challenge Cups have moved onto the back to back fixtures that could make or break a team’s season. Ulster defeated Toulouse on Friday to reignite there challenge with a 38-0 win. They will now travel to France knowing that they will face an altogether different Toulouse side who will be stung from being niled. In the Challenge Cup, Connacht continued their recent good form with a 25-10 win over Newcastle Falcons. They are also in the middle of an injury crisis which makes any victory in Europe all the more impressive. Looking to Munster’s defeat at home to Leicester, Leicester will be pleased that they delivered another blow in Thomond Park.
Although Munster will point to a couple to key decisions that helped Leicester to victory. Munster will also need to be honest with themselves this week if they are to stand any chance of gaining a win in Welford Road. Leinster took on Toulon yesterday and were beaten 24-9 and that defeat coupled with the round one loss at home to Wasps has seen Leinster all but knocked out of Europe for this year. Irish rugby needs to steady the ship after a quarter final loss to Argentina. The Union needs to sit down with all of the Provinces coaches and CEO’s and come to a mutual agreement that will benefit both the Provinces and that National side.
For the last 15 years or so the model that the IRFU pioneered has worked and delivered trophies in both club and national competitions. It needs to be looked at before the club and national sides of the other nations overtake our club sides.It might be time the Union looked to outside investment to help fund the game in this country.
Cian Mc Gibney