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Are Amazon within their right to sell drunk Irish stereotype merchandise? – Irish Central

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Irish stereotype merchandise on Amazon

Irish stereotype merchandise on Amazon

Amazon has removed items from their store deemed offensive to Muslims, An American Irish group has requested they also removed offensive Irish products but is there an argument to the contrary?

Amazon’s recent decision to remove items deemed offensive to Muslim Americans was well noted by Irish groups who have asked the company to show similar respect to Irish heritage and remove goods perpetuating defaming Irish stereotypes. However, many Irish Americans may disagree.

The online retail giant removed up to a dozen products which included doormats, bath mats, and other items imprinted with Islamic calligraphy, references to the Prophet Muhammad and scripture.

Yet many Irish Americans wouldn’t be the slightest bit offended by these Irish drinking themed shirts.

In fact, the vast majority would view them as good-humored “craic” and the odd few would no doubt embrace them as a nod to our drinking prowesses.

Truth be told, you’ll likely find a lot of Irish people sporting these shirts themselves, especially on St. Patrick’s Day!

On the other hand, there are groups like Sober St. Patrick’s Day who do excellent work in detaching alcohol from Irish cultural celebrations.

Despite the work of this group and the various family, culture and arts-filled events, the truth remains that many are going to indulge in a pint or two come March 17.

To be sure, we as a society have a history of alcohol-related problems but we are still renowned drinkers. This is just a fact.

There’s seldom a city in the world absent a tranche of Irish bars or Irish themed bars.

That being said, shirts like, “Irish Car Bomb,” which Amazon also sell via  a third party, blatantly offend and can cause considerable distress, particularly to those from the north of Ireland who have been affected by the Troubles.

 

In 1997, complaints from CAIR led to Nike removing a product from sale because of claims the logo resembled the word ‘Allah’ written in Arabic script. CAIR threatened a mass boycott of Nike products around the world but called it off following Nike’s decision.

Is it because certain groups hold more sway over others or in this case, does Amazon fear a Charlie Hebdo style attack for facilitating the sales of such items whereas it wouldn’t with others? (That is not to say CAIR has advocated such violence).

When Dylann Roof walked into a church in South Carolina in 2015 and murdered nine people in a racially motivated crime, retailers across the US, including Wal-Mart, Sears, eBay, and Amazon, decided to stop selling merchandise depicting the US Confederate flag, deeming it a symbol of hate after investigators revealed Roof’s social media and forum accounts contained dozens of images of him wearing one.

confederate flag

How does a symbol become completely transformed?And at what point does Amazon choose to ban one offensively perceived item over another? Who in Amazon decides and on what basis?

Certain things will offend someone and won’t the other, once we start banning materials the question must be asked, at what point do we stop?

Should Israeli bodies demand “Free Palestine” T-shirts sold by Amazon be removed if they deem them anti-Semitic?

Free Palestine t-shirt for sale on Amazon
Free Palestine t-shirt for sale on Amazon

Should sex toys, lingerie or pornography be banned if say the Catholic Church advocated it?

Censoring free speech sets a slippery precedent and one which Amazon has opted to ride on.

Moreover, in the name of combating racism and bigotry, Amazon now stands accused of enabling that of which it has declared to oppose.

 

This article first appeared in IrishCentral.com on February 6th, 2019. To view the original version, click here.

Irish referendum on diaspora presidential vote gets go ahead for this fall – Irish Central

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Irish President Michael D Higgins (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Irish President Michael D Higgins (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Irish President Michael D Higgins (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Irish President Michael D Higgins (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Ireland is set to vote on extending presidential voting rights to the diaspora in October.

The vote had been long scheduled to coincide with local and European elections in May but has instead been postponed over continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

Irish citizens living abroad are currently unable to vote in presidential elections or in any referendum that takes place in Ireland.

If passed, it would mean Irish citizens living outside of Ireland would be able to cast their vote for the first time.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is facing an internal Fine Gael backlash over the referendum with an increasing number of Fine Gael Cabinet ministers understood to be opposed to the motion.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is facing an internal Fine Gael backlash over the referendum with an increasing number of Fine Gael Cabinet ministers understood to be opposed to the motion.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar told the Dáil (Irish Parliament) that extending the vote out to October will give the government more preparation time and a better chance to lay the groundwork for the vote.

“We want to win it,” he said, insisting the government has “a better chance of getting it passed,” if it takes place in the fall.

Nevertheless, Varadkar is facing an internal Fine Gael backlash with an increasing number of Fine Gael Cabinet ministers understood to be opposed to the motion over concerns about the impact it would have on other elections.

According to the Irish Independent, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed raised his objection to the referendum directly
with the Taoiseach at a cabinet meeting and other ministers said they privately agreed with Creed but did not speak up at the meeting.

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the idea of a referendum when he was in the United States
Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the idea of a referendum when he was in the United States

“It is a nonsense idea based on something Enda Kenny announced when he was on a visit to America,” a Cabinet minister said.

The growing resistance to the referendum within Fine Gael emerged despite the Cabinet agreeing to delay the controversial vote until October.

This article first appeared in IrishCentral.com on February 7, 2019. To view the original version, click here.

Ireland’s first Six Nations game takes place today – How you can watch it – Irish Central

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: The Ireland team celebrate with the NatWest Six Nations trophy and the Triple Crown Trophy after the NatWest Six Nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on March 17, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: The Ireland team celebrate with the NatWest Six Nations trophy and the Triple Crown Trophy after the NatWest Six Nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on March 17, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Ireland will kick-start their Six Nations title defense by hosting England at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Grand Slam champions Ireland will be looking to build on the nation’s most successful year ever, culminating in an outstanding victory over New Zealand in November.

In what is being billed as an early title decider, Ireland has never lost at home in the Six Nations under manager Joe Schmidt.

The Ireland rugby team will be looking to retain their Six Nations title when they face England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday. Getty Images
The Ireland rugby team will be looking to retain their Six Nations title when they face England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday. Getty Images

Despite finishing fifth last year, six-time champions England had a promising autumn spell but have not won in Dublin since 2013 and Schmidt’s side are short-priced favorites for the game.

Ireland’s final game in the competition is away to Wales on March 16th, the same day St. Patrick’s Day parades are celebrated in the US.

Ireland is ranked second in the world, two places higher than their visitors.

How to watch

The match kicks-off at 11:45 am EST (4.45pm GMT) on Saturday, February 2.

In the US, the game will be broadcast and streamed on NBC Sports Gold, coverage begins at 9:30 am EST.

For viewers in Ireland, Virgin Media One and Virgin Media Sport will show the match live, with coverage getting underway at 1 pm GMT taking in the meeting of Scotland and Italy.

For UK viewer’s the match will be live on ITV and streamed on the ITV Hub.

Some popular venues to watch the big game stateside:

New York
The Long Hall
58 E. 34th St. (between 5th & Madison Ave.)

Chicago
The Kerryman
661 N Clark St

Boston
Kinsale Irish Pub & Restaurant
2 Center Plaza

This article first appeared in IrishCentral.com on February 1st, 2019. To view the original version, click here.

This natural wonder has become Ireland’s second biggest tourist attraction – Irish Central

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Cliffs of Moher are Ireland's second largest tourist attraction. GETTY IMAGES

Cliffs of Moher are Ireland's second largest tourist attraction. GETTY IMAGES

Sculpted for over 300 million years by the Atlantic Ocean’s natural forces, the towering Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s second-biggest tourist attraction, accounting for 1.6 million visitors last year.

Runner-up to only the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the newly released figures show a 3.8% increase on the previous year.

The awe-inspiring sea cliffs on Irelands Wild Atlantic Way are located in the southwest region of Ireland and remain the countries most visited natural attraction.

They rise 390 feet (120 m) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and, five miles to the north, reach their maximum height of 702 feet (214 m) just north of O’Brien’s Tower.

Their impressive scale and size were used for a pivotal scene in the movie “Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince,” featuring the boy wizard and Professor Dumbledore.

The iconic cliffs have also played host to the cult classic “The Princess Bride” and to music videos by “Maroon 5” and “Westlife”.

The boost in numbers has been attributed to new pricing models for both visitors traveling on their own and coach tours.

55% of all visitors were from the Fully Independent Traveller or FIT market and the new pricing model allows individuals to get discounts of 50% for early and late visits when booked online.

Cliffs Of Moher In Ireland

Group visits and coach operators are also getting reduced admission prices for visits during off-peak periods to encourage the operators to stay longer in Co. Clare.

110 people are employed at the Cliffs visitor experience during the peak tourist season, with a further 50 in tenant companies selling gifts and serving food.

This article first appeared in IrishCentral.com on June 7, 2019. To view the original version, click here.

Theresa May’s government wins no confidence vote – Irish Central

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May has narrowly survived a House of Commons motion of no confidence in her government.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has narrowly survived a House of Commons motion of no confidence in her government.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has narrowly survived a House of Commons motion of no confidence in her government.

MPs voted 325 to 306 to support the government after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled the motion in response to yesterday’s Brexit deal defeat, arguing that May’s “zombie” administration had lost the right to govern.

Rebel Tory MPs and the DUP – who only 24 hours ago rejected May’s Brexit plan – voted to keep her in Downing Street.

Corbyn’s no-confidence motion was backed by all the opposition parties, including the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats.

Following the vote, May told MPs she would continue to work on the solemn promise given to the UK electorate to “deliver on the result of the referendum and leave the European Union.”

She invited leaders of all parties to have individual meetings with her on the way ahead for Brexit – starting tonight – but called on them to approach them with a “constructive spirit.”

“We must find solutions that are negotiable and command sufficient support in this House,” she added.

Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn. (Getty Images)

Corbyn, raising a point of order after the vote, said: “Last night the House rejected the government’s deal emphatically.

“A week ago the House voted to condemn the idea of a no-deal Brexit.

“Before there can be any positive discussions about the way forward, the government must remove clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would come as a result of that.”

The Labour party has not ruled out tabling further no-confidence motions – but Corbyn is under pressure from dozens of his own MPs to now get behind calls for a further EU referendum instead.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodd’s, whose small Northern Ireland party helps shore up May’s government said the result of the motion illustrates the importance of the British confidence and supply agreement, which he said is based on delivering Brexit “on the basis of shared priorities”.

 He said: “I’m always delighted when our opponents illustrate the strength of that relationship that we have, and what is delivering for Northern Ireland.

“When the people of Northern Ireland see the investment in education, in health and infrastructure they will thank this Parliament and this party and this government for that extra investment.”

A number of Labour MPs then held their hands in the air and rubbed their fingers together, in reference to the extra investment promised to Northern Ireland in exchange for the support of the DUP’s ten MPs.

He said the agreement was “built on delivering Brexit”, adding that he is looking forward to “working in the coming days to achieve that objective.”

He also said they “leave the EU as one country.”

This article first appeared in Irish Central on January 16, 2019. To see the original version, click here

Confirmed: Katie Taylor world-title unification clash against Rose Volante on St. Patricks Weekend

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Katie Taylor celebrates her victory with her team. Photograph: Emily Harney/Inpho
Katie Taylor celebrates her victory with her team. Photograph: Emily Harney/Inpho

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed that Katie Taylor will fight Rose Volante for the unified WBO lightweight belt in Philadelphia on St Patrick’s weekend.

Taylor will seek to add Volante’s WBO title to her WBA and IBF straps in her bid to become the undisputed lightweight world champion in 2019.

The Bray native is eager to join Ryan Burnett and Carl Frampton as the third Irish boxer to accomplish the feat of unifying her division.

Hearn, confirmed that contracts had been signed for the long-awaited clash, which was thrown into doubt when Volante’s team initially turned down an offer worth almost 15 times more than the 36-year-old’s career-highest purse to date.

According to the42.ie’s Gavan Casey, Saturday, March 16th is the likely date for the showdown between the two undefeated champions, which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in Ireland and the UK as well as DAZN in the States.

Taylor [12-0, 5KOs] produced a career-best performance in a scintillating shutout win over former amateur rival Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden in December, while Volante [14-0, 8KOs] took just three rounds to dispose of Colombian veteran Yolis Marrugo Franco in Praia Grande three months prior.

The Sao Paulo native has fought just once outside of her homeland, in neighbouring Argentina, while March’s unification clash will make for Taylor’s sixth outing on American soil.

WBO champion Volante has been in Taylor’s sights for some time and, up until now, she had been frustrated in her efforts to line up a fight against either the Brazilian or WBC belt holder Delfine Persoon.

Volante has held the WBO title since December 2017, however, all but one of her 14 professional fights have taken place in her home country, Brazil.

Taylor called out both Volante and Persoon last month, saying: “To call themselves world champions, they have to fight the best. It’s their responsibility as professional fighters to fight the best.

“[Rose] Volante has a WBO belt and Delfine Persoon has a WBC belt. The only fights that really make sense for me is one of them next. I want to become the undisputed champion.”

News of the fight with Volante is the second major boost for Taylor this week as on Thursday, BoxRec, the sports official record keeper, confirmed that she is now rated as the pound for pound female professional boxer in the world.

The 32-year-old Irish icon is due to be joined by a host of compatriots on Eddie Hearn and Matchroom’s Patrick’s weekend bill as former Irish team-mate and fellow 2012 Olympic medalist John Joe Nevin [11-0, 4KOs] is in line for a step-up bout on the night, colourful Dub Jono Carroll [16-0-1, 3KOs] is set to face Matchroom stablemate Tevin Farmer [28-4-1, 6KOs] for the IBF World super-featherweight title.

In the era of four major titles per weight division, no Irish fighter has ever held more than two simultaneously. Taylor would become the first if she was to overcome Volante, which would leave only the formidable figure of WBC queen Delfine Persoon [42-1, 17KOs] stood in her way on the path toward undisputed champion status.

Belgium’s Persoon defends her belt at home against the teak-tough and talented Melissa St Vil a week before Taylor-Volante, but is unofficially pencilled in to meet Taylor for all the belts in the summer provided both women emerge unscathed.

Weekend Preview 12th / 13th January 2019

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Charbel and David Bass (right) still leading Altior in the 2017 Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival
Charbel and David Bass (right) still leading Altior in the 2017 Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival
Charbel and David Bass (right) still leading Altior in the 2017 Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival
Charbel and David Bass (right) still leading Altior in the 2017 Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival

Michael Dorgan looks ahead to this weekends racing action in the UK and Ireland

Heading into 2019s second weekend racing fixtures the main talking point remains the persistent dry spell and the unseasonal fast ground which is playing havoc with trainers. The Cheltenham Festival is only nine weeks away and ordinarily, most trainer’s hopefuls would have had a few runs behind them. Champion trainer Willie Mullins yard is no different and a lot of his runners have been well below form first time out simply because they have been raced later than usual but also because the sod in Closutton too isn’t ideal or safe to train in. Patrick Mullins gave a very insightful interview on this issue to On The Ball last week which I implore everyone to listen to.

Looking ahead to the weekend’s action the feature race in the UK is the Lanzarote Hurdle the Unibet Lanzarote Hurdle, which takes place at Kempton on Saturday and is often won by classy hurdlers who go on to bigger and better things. Three of the last five winners carried over 11 stone, including two top-weights, with the roll call of winners including the likes of Saphir du Rheu (2014), Tea For Two (2015) and Yala Enki (2016).

15 runners head to post for this year’s renewal which is as competitive as ever with Kloud Gate (Jamie Moore/Gary Moore) and Darling Maltaix (Lorcan Williams (5)/Paul Nicholls) heading the market.

As ever, I tend to steer clear of these big field handicaps when it comes to punting.

In the 32Red Casino Chase (Listed) | 2m4½f, last year’s winner Waiting Patiently is another victim to the inclement weather and misses the race as trainer Ruth Jefferson’s waits for some rain, this is a high-quality field.

Still, this looks a cracking race with little to choose between Charbel and Top Notch who both head the market. The former was back to form with a bang this season running Politologue to half a length at Ascot before routing some decent opposition on the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon last month. Noel Fehily got the leg up that day and the two really clicked in what was an impressive front running win from KiBailey’sys charge.

Nicky Henderson’s Top Notch won the rerouted Peterborough at Taunton in December 2017 and added the Oaksey Chase at Sandown on the final day of a lucrative season, one in which his results going right-handed read 1141.

His first run back this season was in the Grade 1 JLT Hurdle, where he was far from disgraced when third behind Paisley Park and the winning of this race will be between these two, howev,er I’m not prepared to get involved.

The race I’m most excited about this weekend is the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m5f over at Warwick where Nicky Henderson’s Birchdale 7/4 heads a high class field of seven. Tidal Flow, was impressive at Newbury last time out when he defeated Downtown Getaway.

Ex Irish point to pointer Beakstown seems overpriced at 10/1 and I think his defeat to 50/1 shot Ask Ben at Newcastle wasn’t a true reflection of Dan Skelton’s scopey six year old and I’m prepared to forgive him for that.

 

The Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m at Punchestown is the highlight Sunday and Willie Mullins has dominated this race in recent years, sending out seven of the last ten winners, among them subsequent Cheltenham Festival-winning novice hurdlers Mikael D’Haguenet, Vautour and Douvan.

Min in 2016 and Getabird a year ago also landed the prize, and this time Ireland’s champion trainer is represented by Harrie and Buildmeupbuttercup as he bids to continue his excellent record in the race.

Neither horse heads into this with the same lofty reputations as the above and with the ground posing clear problems this season for Team Mullins it makes finding the winner that bit more complicated.

Ruby Walsh partners Tramore maiden winner Harrie, with Paul Townend on Buildmeupbuttercup, who won a 29-runner maiden at Navan last month on her debut for the yard. Harrie heads the market at 5-2 leader on Saturday, with his stablemate 7-2 third favourite.

Felix Desjy, a dual bumper winner last season, when he also performed creditably in the Grade 1 bumpers at Cheltenham and Punchestown, has failed to build on his ten-length hurdling debut win at Galway in October.

Jetez, winner of a handicap over this trip at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, and Jan Maat, who finished sixth in the same race, complete the line-up.

First Visit To Aqueduct Racetrack

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Aqueduct Racetrack

Having moved to New York in September, I finally got a chance to go horse racing yesterday when I visited Aqueduct Racetrack in the South Ozone Park and Jamaica neighbourhoods of Queens, which is about an hour’s commute from where I live.Aqueduct Racetrack

What struck me first on this bright but chilly Sunday race day was the sheer size of the facility. It’s not only a racetrack with a large spectators stand but also doubles up as New York City’s only casino – “Resorts World Casino New York City” which caters for over 10 million guests annually. It’s mostly slot machines with video poker and roulette machines requiring no dealers and the third-floor hosts major entertainment events.

A similar type of complex with a 6,000 sq m casino was touted a couple of years ago in Tipperary but ultimately never came to fruition after it was opposed by some local residents and conservation body An Taisce, which said that it is “ill-conceived” and added that its location would require the redirection of 750m of river waters. The project also faced further hurdles with the introduction of newer gambling legislation.

It was just a regular weekend meet at Aqueduct but there was still a small but solid crowd indoors and the casino was much busier. The track has seating capacity of 17,000 and a total capacity of 40,000 and entry was free which is always a good thing!

One noticeable difference when comparing racing in Ireland to the US is the lack of outdoor betting stalls. While the relevance and size of betting stalls have been declining in the UK and Ireland due to the ever-increasing influence of online betting, they still hold a prominent place at racetracks adding to the intrigue and excitement of the race day atmosphere. Coupling that fact with the cold weather, patrons were much more content staying indoors than venturing out to the track. That being said I’m looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere at bigger meets in the future.

Aqueduct Racetrack Stand
Aqueduct Racetrack Grandstand

The parade ring too at Aqueduct is quite unique. Craftily designed and situated in front of the grandstand below ground level, it allows for virtually all spectators to look down and view horses before they head out to post. The only downside of this is you can’t get up close and personal as you can in a lot of Irish and UK tracks.

Jumps or national hunt racing is all but non-existent in the US, and racing yesterday at Aqueduct (as always) was on “the flat” and on the “dirt” track with the going described as “muddy” – something you would never hear at home!

Another difference is the big emphasis on sectional times in the US which makes for confusing reading of race cards, I’m much more accustomed to reading worded descriptions of the form book. That being said I don’t think it would have helped me locating the 60/1 winner in the penultimate race!

All in all an interesting experience and I’ll be sure to visit again!

Weekend Racing Preview January 5th/6th 2019

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The headline act on Saturday is at Sandown where the Willie Mullins trained Laurina is the short priced favourite in the Unibet Mares' Hurdle (Listed)
The headline act on Saturday is at Sandown where the Willie Mullins trained Laurina is the short priced favourite in the Unibet Mares' Hurdle (Listed)
The headline act on Saturday is at Sandown where the Willie Mullins trained Laurina is the short priced favourite in the Unibet Mares' Hurdle (Listed)
The headline act Saturday is at Sandown where the Willie Mullins trained Laurina is the short-priced favourite in the Unibet Mares’ Hurdle

After a bookie bashing Christmas, punters are looking to recharge their batteries and start the New Year off on a high over the first weekend fixtures of 2019.

The headline act on Saturday is at Sandown where the Willie Mullins trained Laurina is the short-priced favourite in the Unibet Mares’ Hurdle (Listed).

The French recruit swept all before her against her own sex last season, an easy winner in the Dawn Run at the Cheltenham Festival in March was followed up by Grade 1 honours at Fairyhouse next time out in April.

Connections have been waiting for the ground to turn softer all season, which she gets here, and it would be disappointing were she unable to stamp her authority over this vastly inferior four-runner field.

Sensulano has progressed nicely in two starts this term, winning at Ascot and Cheltenham, while Got Away may prove happier back over hurdles after pulling up at Carlisle last month.

The Closutton trainer has made no secret of the high regard in which he holds the six year old and she is already being compared to former Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power and the multiple Festival winner Quevega,

Laurina is potentially top class and cannot be opposed, simply sit back and watch!

 

At Wincanton Tedham is a very interesting recruit to the handicapping sphere for Jonjo O Neill having caught the eye when third in a big-field bumper at Warwick in April and shaping well in all 3 starts over hurdles, keeping on for second to Getaway Trump at Exeter on his latest outing.

This step up in trip to 2 miles 5f for this Lengthen The Odds With BetVictor Handicap Hurdle is sure to suit and there has already been a significant market move for the 125 rated five year old having opened up at 7/1, he has halved in price to 7/2.

The opening Women’s Little Christmas Lunch Rated Novice Hurdle  at Cork looks like a cracking race with the in-form Noel Meade trained Laverteen heading the market having gotten off the mark on his return over C&D back in November.

Joseph O Brien fields the promising Ballyneety who made a successful hurdling debut at Gowran and started a short-priced favourite at Punchestown but finished last after weakening quickly from the final flight. He wears a hood for the first time today.

The prolific recent winner Court Maid is another who has to be respected, the Tom Mullins’ mare won over 2m4f here then a 3m Punchestown handicap although she may be at her best over further than this. The softer it gets the better for her and she may just prove the value bet here.

 

On Sunday all roads lead to Naas where a cracking version of the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) takes center stage.

Willie Mullins has won four of the last five of these and has three entered this time. Ruby Walsh chooses to ride Tornado Flyer, a Grade 1-winning bumper performer, who he steered to victory on his hurdling debut over this trip at Punchestown and with conditions in his favour he looks the one to beat.

He is joined at the top of the market by the unbeaten Battleoverdoyen who demolished the opposition at Navan over 2m on his hurdling debut and everything about that performance suggested he would be more at home stepping up in trip.

The claims of Commander Of Fleet who lost his unbeaten record in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse should not be discounted lightly as Aramon, who finished just in front of him, easily won the Future Champions at Leopardstown last week. The Gordon Elliott trained five year old may be the value each way option for punters unwilling to take short prices on the market leaders

Come To Me and Lone Wolf both have the potential for further improvement following their maiden hurdle successes last month.

 

WATCH: Anthony Joshua visits Katie Taylor’s dressing at Madison Square Garden

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Promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua congratulate Katie Taylor after her win at Madison Square Garden on December 15 2018 - Photo by Michael Dorgan
Promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua congratulate Katie Taylor after her win at Madison Square Garden on December 15 2018 - Photo by Michael Dorgan

World Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua visits Katie Taylor’s dressing room after Taylor defeated Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden on December 2018 to retain her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles.

I was covering the bout for the Irish Times and Irish Examiner and recorded and edited this video after the fight.

See my full report below.

“The perfect end to a perfect year,” was how Katie Taylor described her Fairytale on Seventh Avenue as she successfully retained her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles at a sold out Madison Square Garden last Saturday night.

By Michael Dorgan in New York

The five-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist defeated Finland’s Eva Wahlstrom by unanimous decision in what was an outstanding advertisement for women’s boxing.

Both fighters displayed inspirational courage, skill, and tenacity in a memorable contest — the Bray native finishing the 10, two-minute rounds on a 100-90 tally on all three judges’ scorecards.

Billed as her toughest professional fight to date, Taylor was simply sensational, out-landing Wahlstrom almost two to one in the shots count and is now the only Irish boxer to defend world titles in the “world’s most famous arena” — extending her professional undefeated streak to 12 in the process.

“I said from the beginning this is going to be a great showcase for the sport, it was one of the best fights in women’s boxing, it was fantastic,” said the champion immediately afterward.

Taylor nonchalantly approached the ring in a plain black robe, intermittently banging her gloves to the soothing opening verse of The Pogues classic ‘Fairytale of New York’.

By the time she entered the ring the sombre mood in ‘The Garden’ was transformed by the rapturous crowd now on their feet singing along to the chorus.

Taylor’s ringside attire donned fewer gold trimmings than usual, her stunning display of rapid-fire combination punches throughout the contest doing the sparkling instead.

The Irish fighter set her usual fast tempo from the opening bell, a strong right followed by a powerful hit to the chest had the crowd chanting “olé olé”.

Wahlstrom, the current WBC super-featherweight world champion, came into the contest with an unbeaten 23-fight professional record and tried valiantly to engage Taylor but was quickly overpowered by the Irish woman’s repertoire.

The tattooed and braided 38-year old came out aggressively in the second round but was quickly knocked back a peg by Taylor, who pummelled the Finn with impressive midsection combos.

By round four both fighters opened up, the crowd embracing what was developing into a top-class contest as Wahlstrom became more offensive — but in doing so allowed a sharp Taylor to land a four-shot combo to the head.

Taylor began punishing Wahlstrom a lot more by the fifth, her feet appearing wobbly as she backed away from a thunderous right hand.

However, Wahlstrom refocused in the sixth and threw some strong jabs herself, but Taylor’s flurry of punches went on.

Wahlstrom went for broke in the eighth, but she was met with a three-punch combo from Taylor to the body and then the head.

Taylor looked for the finisher in round 9 but Wahlstrom was intelligent enough to engage her opponent leading to one of the night’s highlights — a breathtaking multitude of high octane punches to Wahlstrom’s midsection which had fans gasping and commentators comparing Taylor to Sugar Ray Leonard.

At the final bell, Wahlstrom instantly embraced Taylor — a show of mutual respect for the former amateur foes — and she lost little in defeat but it was Katie’s’ night to shine.

“I think it was good going up and down from body to head and I thought it was a solid performance overall. I took my time at the start.

“I opened things up and a good solid performance against an undefeated performer,” said Taylor.

“It was such a privilege to fight here in Madison Square Garden in front of so many Irish people, so thank you so much for the support.”

“The difference between this and the Serrano fight was that tonight she stepped on the gas,” said promoter Eddie Hearn.

“She threw like 30 body punches consecutively; I mean the crowd were going mad; she’s a star.

 

“Every time she fights she steals the show and the reception was incredible before and after.”

The win sets Taylor up for a blockbuster 2019 where she hopes to win all four belts in the division, beginning with a likely clash against Brazil’s WBO World lightweight champion Rose Volante, in Philadelphia next March.

There’s also the much-touted clash with Amanda Serrano in the pipeline.

“The goal is to be the undisputed lightweight champion of the world.

“Obviously one of the biggest fighters out there is Amanda Serrano, and that’s a huge, huge fight,” said Hearn.

In Boston last October, it was Conor McGregor lining up outside Taylor’s dressing room to offer congratulations. Last Saturday, it was World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, such is Taylor’s global appeal and the strides she is making in the sport.

“Katie’s changing the game,” said manager Brian Peters afterward.

“You see Anthony Joshua, Julio Caesar Chavez and Sugar Ray Leonards and you know that’s what’s going to change the game and Katie’s changing the game, and little by little it’s changing and certainly 2019 will be even bigger.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua congratulate Katie Taylor after her win at Madison Square Garden on December 15 2018 - Photo by Michael Dorgan
Promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua congratulate Katie Taylor after her win at Madison Square Garden on December 15, 2018 – Photo by Michael Dorgan

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner on December 17, 2018. To see the original version, click here

Perfect end to perfect year’ as everything rosy in Garden for Katie Taylor – Irish Examiner

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Katie Taylor lands a right cross with her opponent, Eva Wahlstrom, on the ropes during their WBA and IBF World Lightweight Championship fight at Madison Square Garden, New York. The win sets Taylor up for a blockbuster 2019 where she hopes to win all four belts in the division. Picture: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA via Sportsfile
Katie Taylor lands a right cross with her opponent, Eva Wahlstrom, on the ropes during their WBA and IBF World Lightweight Championship fight at Madison Square Garden, New York. The win sets Taylor up for a blockbuster 2019 where she hopes to win all four belts in the division. Picture: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA via Sportsfile

“The perfect end to a perfect year,” was how Katie Taylor described her Fairytale on Seventh Avenue as she successfully retained her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles at a sold out Madison Square Garden last Saturday night.

By Michael Dorgan in New York

The five-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist defeated Finland’s Eva Wahlstrom by unanimous decision in what was an outstanding advertisement for women’s boxing.

Both fighters displayed inspirational courage, skill, and tenacity in a memorable contest — the Bray native finishing the 10, two-minute rounds on a 100-90 tally on all three judges’ scorecards.

Billed as her toughest professional fight to date, Taylor was simply sensational, out-landing Wahlstrom almost two to one in the shots count and is now the only Irish boxer to defend world titles in the “world’s most famous arena” — extending her professional undefeated streak to 12 in the process.

“I said from the beginning this is going to be a great showcase for the sport, it was one of the best fights in women’s boxing, it was fantastic,” said the champion immediately afterward.

 

Taylor nonchalantly approached the ring in a plain black robe, intermittently banging her gloves to the soothing opening verse of The Pogues classic ‘Fairytale of New York’.

By the time she entered the ring the sombre mood in ‘The Garden’ was transformed by the rapturous crowd now on their feet singing along to the chorus.

Taylor’s ringside attire donned fewer gold trimmings than usual, her stunning display of rapid-fire combination punches throughout the contest doing the sparkling instead.

The Irish fighter set her usual fast tempo from the opening bell, a strong right followed by a powerful hit to the chest had the crowd chanting “olé olé”.

Wahlstrom, the current WBC super-featherweight world champion, came into the contest with an unbeaten 23-fight professional record and tried valiantly to engage Taylor but was quickly overpowered by the Irish woman’s repertoire.

The tattooed and braided 38-year old came out aggressively in the second round but was quickly knocked back a peg by Taylor, who pummelled the Finn with impressive midsection combos.

By round four both fighters opened up, the crowd embracing what was developing into a top-class contest as Wahlstrom became more offensive — but in doing so allowed a sharp Taylor to land a four-shot combo to the head.

Taylor began punishing Wahlstrom a lot more by the fifth, her feet appearing wobbly as she backed away from a thunderous right hand.

However, Wahlstrom refocused in the sixth and threw some strong jabs herself, but Taylor’s flurry of punches went on.

Wahlstrom went for broke in the eighth, but she was met with a three-punch combo from Taylor to the body and then the head.

Taylor looked for the finisher in round 9 but Wahlstrom was intelligent enough to engage her opponent leading to one of the night’s highlights — a breathtaking multitude of high octane punches to Wahlstrom’s midsection which had fans gasping and commentators comparing Taylor to Sugar Ray Leonard.

At the final bell, Wahlstrom instantly embraced Taylor — a show of mutual respect for the former amateur foes — and she lost little in defeat but it was Katie’s’ night to shine.

“I think it was good going up and down from body to head and I thought it was a solid performance overall. I took my time at the start.

“I opened things up and a good solid performance against an undefeated performer,” said Taylor.

“It was such a privilege to fight here in Madison Square Garden in front of so many Irish people, so thank you so much for the support.”

“The difference between this and the Serrano fight was that tonight she stepped on the gas,” said promoter Eddie Hearn.

“She threw like 30 body punches consecutively; I mean the crowd were going mad; she’s a star.

 

“Every time she fights she steals the show and the reception was incredible before and after.”

The win sets Taylor up for a blockbuster 2019 where she hopes to win all four belts in the division, beginning with a likely clash against Brazil’s WBO World lightweight champion Rose Volante, in Philadelphia next March.

There’s also the much-touted clash with Amanda Serrano in the pipeline.

“The goal is to be the undisputed lightweight champion of the world.

“Obviously one of the biggest fighters out there is Amanda Serrano, and that’s a huge, huge fight,” said Hearn.

In Boston last October, it was Conor McGregor lining up outside Taylor’s dressing room to offer congratulations. Last Saturday, it was World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, such is Taylor’s global appeal and the strides she is making in the sport.

“Katie’s changing the game,” said manager Brian Peters afterward.

“You see Anthony Joshua, Julio Caesar Chavez and Sugar Ray Leonards and you know that’s what’s going to change the game and Katie’s changing the game, and little by little it’s changing and certainly 2019 will be even bigger.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua congratulate Katie Taylor after her win at Madison Square Garden on December 15 2018 - Photo by Michael Dorgan
Promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua congratulate Katie Taylor after her win at Madison Square Garden on December 15, 2018 – Photo by Michael Dorgan

 

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner on December 17, 2018. To see the original version, click here

Katie Taylor takes another step towards world dominance

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Katie Taylor lands a punch to the face of Eva Wahlstrom during their WBA and IBF lightweight world title bout at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday night.
Katie Taylor lands a punch to the face of Eva Wahlstrom during their WBA and IBF lightweight world title bout at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday night.
Katie Taylor lands a punch to the face of Eva Wahlstrom during their WBA and IBF lightweight world title bout at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday night.
Katie Taylor lands a punch to the face of Eva Wahlstrom during their WBA and IBF lightweight world title bout at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday night.

 

Michael Dorgan in New York

 

Katie Taylor’s march towards global domination took another major step forward last Saturday night after she emphatically retained her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles at a soldout Madison Square Garden.

In what was a career-topping performance the Bray native defeated Finland’s Eva Wahlstrom by unanimous decision in what Taylor described afterward as “one of the best fights in women’s boxing”.

The five-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist outsmarted and outclassed her 38-year-old opponent from the opening bell, finishing the 10, two-minute rounds on a 100-90 tally on all three judges’ scorecards setting her up for a blockbuster 2019 as she navigates her path to become the undisputed world champion, and then some.

To give some context to Taylor’s accomplishment, Wahlstrom came into the contest as the current WBC super-featherweight world champion with an unbeaten 23-fight professional record.

In Boston last October it was Conor McGregor lining up outside Taylor’s dressing room, heaping praise on the 32-year-old.

On Saturday it was world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua who came knocking on Taylor’s door such is her global appeal and the strides she is making in the sport.

“Katie’s changing the game,” said manager Brian Peters afterward. “You see Anthony Joshua, Julio Caesar Chavez and Sugar Ray Leonard and you know that’s what’s going to change the game and Katie’s changing the game and little by little it’s changing and certainly 2019 will be even bigger”.

Katie Taylor on her way to victory over Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden, New York City
Katie Taylor on her way to victory over Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden, New York City

Billed as her toughest professional fight to date, Taylor was simply sensational, out-landing Wahlstrom almost two to one in the shots count and is now the only Irish boxer to defend world titles in “the World’s Most Famous Arena” – extending her professional undefeated streak to 12 in the process.

Dressed in a plain black robe, Taylor approached the ring to The Pogues classic Fairytale of New York – “one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time for one of the greatest boxers of all time”, said Peters.

“The Garden” soon erupted as she entered the squared circle to a rapturous crowd now on their feet singing along to the chorus.

Taylor’s ringside attire sported fewer gold trimmings than usual, her stunning display of rapid-fire combination punches throughout the contest would do the sparkling instead. Taylor set off on her usual fast tempo, a strong right hand followed by a powerful hit to the chest had the crowd chanting “olé olé”.

Knocked back

The tattooed and braided 38-year old came out aggressively in the second round but was quickly knocked back a peg by Taylor, who pummelled the Finn with impressive midsection combos.

By round four both fighters opened up, the crowd embracing what was developing into a top-class contest as Wahlstrom became more offensive – but in doing so allowed a sharp Taylor to land a four-shot combo to the head.

Taylor tactics of negating Wahlstrom’s jab worked to perfection and she began punishing the Finn a lot more by the fifth, her feet appearing weary as she backed away from a throbbing right hand.

Wahlstrom regrouped in the sixth and contributed some strong jabs herself, but Taylor’s war of attrition never looked like abating. Wahlstrom went for broke in the eight, but she was met with a three-punch combo from Taylor to the chest and then the head.

Promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua congratulate Katie Taylor after her win at Madison Square Garden on December 15 2018 - Photo by Michael Dorgan
Promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua congratulate Katie Taylor after her win at Madison Square Garden on December 15 2018 – Photo by Michael Dorgan

Taylor looked for the finisher in round nine but Wahlstrom was intelligent enough to engage her opponent leading to one of the night highlights; a breath-taking multitude of high octane punches to Wahlstrom’s midsection which had fans gasping and commentators comparing Taylor to Sugar Ray Leonard.

The two-minute rounds worked to Wahlstrom’s favour, preventing Taylor building the necessary momentum for a stoppage.

At the final Bell Wahlstrom instantly embraced Taylor – a show of mutual appreciation and respect for the former amateur foes, she lost little in defeat and played her part in what was an outstanding advertisement for women’s boxing.

“I thought it was a solid performance overall, I took my time at the start I opened things up and a good solid performance against an undefeated performer,” said Taylor.

The difference between this and the Serrano fight was that tonight she stepped on the gas,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “She threw like 30 body punches consecutively I mean the crowd were going mad she’s a star.

Every time she fights she steals the show and the reception was incredible before and after.

The win sets Taylor up for a blockbuster 2019 where she hopes to win all four belts in the division beginning with a likely clash against Brazil’s WBO World lightweight champion Rose Volante in Philadelphia next March.

There’s also the much-touted clash with Amanda Serrano in the pipeline.

“The goal is to be the undisputed lightweight champion of the world. Obviously one of the biggest fighters out there is Amanda Serrano, and that’s a huge, huge fight.”

This article first appeared in the Irish Times on December 17, 2018. To see the original version, click here

Stakes a lot higher this time as Taylor faces familiar foe – Irish Times

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Katie Taylor: the reigning IBF and WBA World Lightweight champion faces WBC World super-featherweight champion Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden. Photograph: Emily Harney/Inpho
Katie Taylor: the reigning IBF and WBA World Lightweight champion faces WBC World super-featherweight champion Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden. Photograph: Emily Harney/Inpho
Katie Taylor: the reigning IBF and WBA World Lightweight champion faces WBC World super-featherweight champion Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden. Photograph: Emily Harney/Inpho
Katie Taylor: the reigning IBF and WBA World Lightweight champion faces WBC World super-featherweight champion Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden.

World title belts on the line but Bray boxer confident she has Wahlstrom’s measure

Michael Dorgan 

Katie Taylor and Eva Wahlstrom have clashed on three separate occasions in major tournaments, with the Wicklow native coming out on top every single time.

Much has changed since those amateur days and tonight Taylor puts her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles on the line against WBC World super-featherweight champion Wahlstrom, in what will be their first clash as professionals.

“It’s definitely my biggest test to date but I feel well prepared for this type of challenge and I’ve been training hard over the last few months,” said the five-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist Taylor.

“Since the Cindy Serrano fight I just went into camp for this fight so I’m definitely ready, these are the kind of fights that I want, these are the challenges I want and I think on Saturday night you’re going to see the best of women’s boxing which is going to be huge.”

It also marks the first time either competitor has fought at the “mecca” of boxing, Madison Square Garden. Yet Wahlstrom remains unfazed about the magnitude of the challenge which lies ahead.

“I feel good about it, I try not to think about it. I try to think about the fight but not about the setting, how big it is, I just focus on Katie and me,” said Wahlstrom after Fridays weigh-in.

Taylor is long odds-on to defeat her former sparring partner which relieves Wahlstrom of the favourites tag and the pressures associated with it – something she gladly embraces.

“I think the pressure is on Katie. It’s really good to be a challenger this time, this is the first time that I am the challenger so I can be just relaxed and do my thing”, she said.

The 38-year-old Finn admittedly struggled to step up in weight for the bout tipping the scales at 133.5lbs with Taylor coming in at 134.25lbs. In taking the fight Wahlstrom also puts her unbeaten professional record on the line but it’s something she’s not overly concerned about.

“It’s not to be unbeaten or beaten, I want to pick the hardest fights. I want to fight the hardest fights and it’s not about winning and losing for me it’s about the toughest fights and making memories in boxing.

A stoppage

For promoter Eddie Hearn, the fight will once again showcase the ever-increasing popularity of women’s sport and moreover the talents of Katie Taylor.

“Katie’s never boxed on a card where she hasn’t stole the show, every fight she’s been in people have left going, ‘wow, that Katie Taylor is something else’,” he said.

“I think Katie’s the exact same as she always is, she takes it very seriously, she’s not very big on media, appearances, she’s all about business. Wahlstrom looks in unbelievable condition, very impressive and it’s going to be a very tough fight.

“In women’s boxing you don’t see that many knockouts and Wahlstrom is very tough, it all depends on what Wahlstrom does, if she does come to fight then there could be a stoppage, if she looks to survive there probably won’t be one.

Wahlstrom’s dilemma remains how to overcome such an intensive opponent as the 32-year-old Bray native? Taylor’s last opponent Cindy Serrano came to the fight with the intention of putting it up to the Taylor but quickly reverted to total defence tactics.

“Opponents have got to come to fight and I think Eva will, I think she’ll be trying to win, said Hearne. “If she tries to win it will be a great fight, if she just boxes then it still will be a good fight. But why would you come all this way and not try and win and I believe Eva Wahlstrom will be trying to win.

“I think Katie will stop her late actually. I don’t normally predict that for women’s boxing but it’s because I see appetite from Eva Wahlstrom. I think she’s going to really try, she’s going to take chances and if you take chances against Katie Taylor, it’s very very dangerous. But you’ve got to take chances to beat her, otherwise you can’t beat her.

The fight features on the Canelo Alvarez v Rocky Fielding undercard, part of “Canelo’s” 5-year, 11-fight deal worth $365 million with “overt-the-top” video streaming service DAZN.

The card will be live on Sky Sports Main Event for UK and Irish customers from 11pm.

This article first appeared in the Irish Times on December 15, 2018. To see the original version, click here.

Irish bar ‘completely destroyed’ by fire in New York – Irish Examiner

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Sidetracks Fire, Sunnyside, Queens, New York December 18, 2018
Sidetracks Fire, Sunnyside, Queens, New York December 18, 2018

A well-known Irish bar and restaurant in the heart of Queens, New York, was part of a group of businesses which were “completely destroyed” by a massive fire in the early hours of Thursday.

Sidetracks, owned by Meath man, Bernard Reilly, was a popular destination for both Irish immigrants and locals since opening its doors in 1987. The bar had only undergone extensive refurbishments last year.

Firefighters say the flames appear to have started just after 2 am inside the New York Style Eats diner, three doors down from Sidetracks.

Firefighters attending the scene of a large fire on Sunnyside ,Queens New York City, which completely destroyed several businesses including Irish bar Sidetracks
Firefighters attending the scene of a large fire on Sunnyside, Queens, New York City, which completely destroyed several businesses including Irish bar Sidetracks. Photo by Michael Dorgan

It tore through several commercial storefronts on Queens Boulevard between 45th and 46th streets in Sunnyside injuring 12 people including seven firefighters.

The injuries are not considered to be life-threatening although a Sidetracks workers suffered a fractured elbow.

Firefighters dodged a frightening backdraught that ripped through the Sidetracks building at around 3am, sending them scrambling to Queens Boulevard for safety as the fire grew to five alarms – the highest category used by fire departments in the United States, requiring the assistance of 200 emergency personnel.

It was brought under control at 8am, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Firefighters said the flames appeared to have started somewhere on the first floor in the diner and quickly spread.

Then an explosion collapsed one of the buildings; video captured a blast of smoke billowing into the street, as firefighters disappeared in the smoke.

“We felt it shake and we could certainly hear it,” said neighbour, Gabby Goldstein.

“It was pretty alarming.”

Sidetracks had been standing at the Queens Boulevard site for more than 30 years, and had gone through significant changes over the years, including renovations just in 2017.

Sarah Riney, a local Irish American said it is terrible news for the community.

“Sidetracks was the go-to place for Irish people living in the area. It was a real modern and comfortable place to meet up. In fact, my family were visiting last week and we all met there for drinks.

“The staff there were excellent and it’s just so disappointing for everyone associated with the pub and the other businesses – especially before Christmas.”

Those thoughts were echoed by Beth Gratzer who has lived in the area all her life: “Sidetracks was like an institution for people living in Sunnyside, it’s such a shame for everyone involved.”

Councilman Jimmy van Bramer said about 70 people in total have lost their jobs as a result of the fire.

 This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner on December 14, 2018. To see the original version, click here.

Katie Taylor knows ‘someone’s O has got to go’ in Eva Wahlstrom clash – Irish Times

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Irish fighter puts her IBF and WBA Lightweight crowns on the line at Madison Square Garden

Michael Dorgan 

Katie Taylor says the defence of her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles against current WBC World super-featherweight champion Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night is part of a journey to “forge a legacy in women’s boxing”.

Five-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist Taylor (11-0, 5KOs) was victorious three times against her 38-year-old Finnish opponent in the amateur ranks yet Wahlstrom (22-0-1, 3KOs] is set to be Taylor’s toughest professional assignment to date.

The undefeated Wahlstrom steps up to lightweight to clash with the 32-year-old Bray native and is aiming to become a two-weight world champion. She accepted the fight on short notice having originally been scheduled to fight in Russia this month only for her opponent to pull out through injury.

“I’m really blessed, truly blessed to box here where so many great fights have taken place”, said Taylor at the Madison Square Garden press conference on Thursday.

“I know Eva from the amateur days, we shared the ring on many occasions. Someone’s 0 has got to go and I can’t wait to fight at this iconic venue.”

The fight marks Taylor’s 12th professional bout, her third in New York but her first at “The Garden” and features on the Canelo Alvarez v Rocky Fielding undercard, part of “Canelo’s” five-year, 11-fight deal worth $365 million with “over-the-top” video streaming service DAZN.

“I’ve been lucky enough to fight in some iconic venues since turning pro two years ago but I’m not sure there’s any more iconic in a boxing sense than Madison Square Garden. I think every fighter dreams about stepping in the ring there and I’m no different,” said Taylor, who is now based in Connecticut.

“To get the opportunity to defend my world titles there is really very exciting.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn described Taylor as a “special talent” as she looks to sign the year off on a high, teeing her up for what could potentially be a blockbuster year for women’s boxing in 2019.

Taylor is touted to face Brazil’s WBO World Lightweight champion Rose Volante in the US in March before turning her attention to WBC queen Delfine Persoon of Belgium in the summer, which would see her become the undisputed world lightweight champion.

Taylor would then square off with Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano, whose sister Taylor defeated in October, and then possibly a mouth-watering clash against Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus, the undisputed world welterweight champion who is unbeaten in 35 bouts.

A long and exciting road awaits, but first the ‘Bray Bomber’ must overcome former sparring partner Wahlstrom who will be no pushover.

The card will be live on Sky Sports Main Event for UK and Irish customers from 11pm.

 

This article first appeared in the Irish Times on December 13, 2018. To see the original version, click here

Is Modric really the best football player in the world? – Evening Echo

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Image result for luka modric ballon d'or

Real Madrid and Croatia star Luka Modric was the unanimous victor of the 2018 Ballon d’Or, but do the stats back it up?

 

Michael Dorgan

Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric scooped the 2018 Ballon d’Or this week ending the Cristiano Ronaldo/ Lionel Messi monopoly of the award since 2008 but was it justified?

The award is given out each year by France Football to honour the world’s best player and the magazine selects one journalist from each country to give their top five players for the calendar year. 180 journalists took part in the vote rankings by allocating a player with either, six, four, three, two or one points and the Real Madrid midfielder came out comfortably on top with 753 points.

Ronaldo filled the runner-up spot on 476 points with France’s Antoine Griezmann just behind him in third on 414 points and Messi back in 5th on 280 points.

While there’s no doubt Modric had an outstanding season winning his third successive Champions League trophy in May before helping Croatia to a first World Cup final, whether he did enough to scoop the award so easily is open to serious examination.

Real Madrid’s Ronaldo found his stride in the latter part of last season but made up for his slow start by bagging 26 goals in 27 league games, and a further 15 in 13 Champions League appearances, finishing as the tournament’s top scorer for the sixth consecutive season. His blistering form helped Los Blanco’s secure their third consecutive European Cup (alongside Modric) and his fifth as a player.

In 2018 he also bagged La Liga hat-trick number 34 (another record), became the only player to score in 11 consecutive Champions League games and became the only player to score in eight consecutive major international tournaments: the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 editions of the European Championship; and the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 editions of the World Cup. He scored four goals in four games for Portugal in this year’s World Cup, single handily dragging the reigning European champions into the last 16.

Now stats aren’t everything in football and without context, one can often obfuscate what’s in plain sight. Further, Modric has never been renowned for his goalscoring prowesses. That being said the 33-year-olds figures pale in comparison to Ronaldo’s. A return of one goal and six assists in 26 league games and a further 11 Champions League games yielded a single goal and one assist. While he came away with the ‘Golden Ball’ award at the World Cup, he scored one goal from play and had just one assist. Are these the statistics of the world’s best player?

A case can even be made for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi deserving a sixth Ballon d’Or after another successful campaign which saw him win a domestic double in La Liga and the Copa Del Rey. In the 2017-18 season, Messi was the leading scorer in La Liga with 34 goals, cementing his place as the league’s all-time top scorer and shared top spot on the assist chart with 12.

Perhaps it has been the extraordinary standards both Ronaldo and Messi have set over the past decade that has made us expect the extraordinary. We are always looking for a new star or have perhaps become too acquainted with the same old faces.

Then again, as Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle, wrote in The Boscombe Valley Mystery, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

This article first appeared in the Evening Echo on December 8, 2018. 

 

Update – Ronaldo speaks out claims ‘numbers do not lie’ after Luka Modric wins Ballon d’Or

From Sky Sports on December 10, 2018

Cristiano Ronaldo says he was disappointed not to win the Ballon d’Or and claimed the “numbers do not lie” after being beaten to the award by Luka Modric.

The 33-year-old, who joined Juventus in the summer for a fee in the region of £105m, finished second in the voting behind his former Real Madrid team-mate.

Ronaldo has won the award five times, the same as Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, and picked up the prize in 2016 and 2017.

However, Modric was named this year’s winner after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League last season and guiding Croatia to the World Cup final in the summer, but Ronaldo believes he deserved to win it for a sixth time.

“Of course I’m disappointed, but life goes on and I will continue to work hard,” he told the Italian press.

“On the pitch I’ve done everything to win the Ballon d’Or, numbers do not lie, but I’m no less happy if I do not win, I have wonderful friends and a family, I play in one of the best clubs.

“Congratulations to Modric, who has earned the award, but next year we will meet again and I will do everything to win the prize again.

“Do you think I’m going home and crying?”

Modric also received the best men’s player prize at the FIFA Best awards in September.

Ronaldo has scored 11 goals in all competitions this season for Juventus, bringing his career total to 584.

 

Katie Taylor v Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden Confirmed

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Irelands Katie Taylor will defend her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles against former amateur rival and current WBC World super-featherweight champion, Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden on December 15th – the bout featuring on the Canelo Alvarez. VS. Rocky Fielding undercard.
Irelands Katie Taylor will defend her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles against former amateur rival and current WBC World super-featherweight champion, Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden on December 15th – the bout featuring on the Canelo Alvarez. VS. Rocky Fielding undercard.

Irelands Katie Taylor will defend her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles against former amateur rival and current WBC World super-featherweight champion, Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden on December 15th – the bout featuring on the Canelo Alvarez. VS. Rocky Fielding undercard.

Katie Taylor will fight Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden on December 15th – the bout featuring on the Canelo Alvarez. VS. Rocky Fielding undercard

 

Michael Dorgan in New York

 

Irelands Katie Taylor will defend her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles against former amateur rival and current WBC World super-featherweight champion, Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden on December 15th – the bout featuring on the Canelo Alvarez. VS. Rocky Fielding undercard.

Five-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist Taylor [11-0, 5KOs], was victorious three times against her 38-year-old Finnish opponent in the amateur ranks yet Wahlstrom [22-0-1, 3KOs] is set to be Taylor’s toughest professional assignment to date since turning pro two years ago.

The undefeated Wahlstrom steps up to lightweight to clash with 32-year-old Taylor and is aiming to become a two-weight world champion. She also accepts the fight on short notice having originally been scheduled to fight in Russia this month only for her opponent to pull out through injury.

“Eva is someone I know very well from our time in the amateurs,” said the Connecticut based Taylor.

“I was actually drawn against her in my very first international competition back in 2004 and it seemed like every time I turned up to a major competition after that she was in the draw!

“She was always a really tough opponent so it’s no surprise that she’s gone on to have a great professional career. I think this fight will really showcase the best that women’s boxing has to offer and I’m really looking forward to it.”

The fight marks Taylor’s 12th professional bout, her third bout in New York but her first at Madison Square Garden.

I’ve been lucky enough to fight in some iconic venues since turning pro two years ago but I’m not sure there’s any more iconic in a boxing sense than Madison Square Garden. I think every fighter dreams about stepping in the ring there and I’m no different.

“To get the opportunity to defend my World titles there is really very exciting.”

Meanwhile, Wahlstrom believes the fight it will be the toughest of her career.

“I have stated for a long time that I am ready and I want to engage in the toughest fights available,” she said.

“This is the ultimate, biggest and toughest fight anywhere. I lost to Katie a few times in my amateur days but I am sure I won her respect anyway. Now in a 10-round pro fight, it will be a totally different game with all new avenues to avenge those defeats.”

“This is an amazing opportunity for Katie to fight at MSG,” said promoter Eddie Hearn.

“This is by far the toughest fight of her career so far and hugely important moving into 2019.

“There will be great Irish support in New York and she adds even more superstar status to this brilliant night of boxing on DAZN.”

Ballon d’Or ceremony an own goal for equality – Daily National

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Norway’s 23-year-old Ada Hegerberg was asked if her if she knew how to ‘twerk’, live on stage after receiving her Women’s Ballon d’Or
Norway’s 23-year-old Ada Hegerberg was asked if her if she knew how to ‘twerk’, live on stage after receiving her Women’s Ballon d’Or

Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg brushes off sexist ‘twerking’ storm and says she does not want it to overshadow the progress of women’s football

 

Michael Dorgan in New York

 

Last night’s Ballon d’Or award ceremony was supposed to be a milestone for equality in world football with the inaugural presentation of the women’s version of the award – instead, it descended into an uncomfortable own goal played out across TV screens around the globe.

Norway’s 23-year-old Ada Hegerberg had the honor of being awarded the first women’s Ballon d’Or for her outstanding achievements last season, winning her third Champions League trophy and breaking the record for the most goals in a Champions League season with her club Lyon – matching Cristiano Ronaldo on 15.

Hegerberg found herself immersed in a sexism row as French presenter, DJ Martin Solveig, asked her if she knew how to ‘twerk’, live on stage after receiving her award.

Hegerberg politely replied “No”, but that didn’t stop an online firestorm of criticism levied against Solveig.

The incident overshadowed what was a remarkable achievement for the hugely talented player who became the first winner of the women’s Ballon D’Or, which has been handed to men since 1956.

The striker also scored 33 goals in 21 games for her fourth league title with Lyon and has also picked up the UEFA Best Player Award in 2016, the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2017.

Hegerberg, played down the controversy and said it hadn’t marred her evening but you have to wonder if the young woman was deflecting to keep herself away from the ensuing uproar and quite rightfully shift the focus to her on-the-field accomplishments.

Before the ceremony, Hegerberg told The Guardian that she found it “really frustrating” that sport remains “such a man’s world.”

“Sometimes it’s really frustrating, I must say. Sometimes you have episodes or situations where you feel like, damn, we’re in such a man’s world,” she said in an interview.

Yet after what was clearly an embarrassing incident (she initially walked away and the returned), she said afterward:
“I didn’t feel it was like that at all, to be honest and I am sad if people thought about the situation like that,” adding that Solveig later apologized.

She added: “He came to see me after and apologized. The Ballon d’Or is the most important thing.” Wise and mature words for someone so young and she handled the situation with real panache and decency. This was her moment and one fool’s joke wasn’t going to rob her of her moment.

In fairness, the uproar doesn’t do justice to real football fans and people who are fighting for equality by bringing more exposure to women’s football. Solveig is after all a musician and radio host and not directly involved in the game.

Perhaps the reaction from PSGs Kylian Mbappe was more in toe with genuine football people, not entertainers like Solveig.

Solveig for his part said he was “astonished” at the reaction and took to social media shortly after.

“Guys I’m a little bit amazed, astonished by what I’m reading on the internet,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

“Of course I didn’t want to offend anyone … This was a joke, probably a bad one and I want to apologize for the one I may have offended.”

This article first appeared in the Daily National on December 7, 2018. To see the original version click here

Weekend Racing Review

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Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai (13/2) was the surprise winner of the Betfair Chase Saturday
Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai (13/2) was the surprise winner of the Betfair Chase Saturday
Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai (13/2) was the surprise winner of the Betfair Chase Saturday
Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai (13/2) was the surprise winner of the Betfair Chase Saturday

A look back on the weekends National Hunt racing where Bristol De Mai stormed to his second Betfair Chase win at Haydock

Saturday

Bristol De Mai Wins Second Betfair Chase

Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai (13/2) was the surprise winner of the Betfair Chase despite obliterating the field in the same event last year. In 2018, however, the grey got the better of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River (5/2) and runner-up Might Bite, the evens money favourite. The Nicky Henderson trained runner was mightily disappointing, finishing a floundering last and one wonders what mental damage last March’s epic defeat to Native River has left on the 2017 King George winner.

Build up to this year’s race surrounded the top two in the betting due to the widely held view that Bristol De Mai was overly dependant on soft or heavy ground but the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained runner, ridden by Daryl Jacob was arguably more impressive this year owing to the talent behind him. Former Stayers Hurdle and King George VI winner Thistlecrack was a very respectable third and only for some poor jumping would have been a lot closer. For now, he looks likely to stay chasing and the Colid Tizzard trained gelding will be aimed at regaining his King George crown on Boxing Day.

It was the fourth win out of four runs at the Merseyside track for the seven-year-old Bristol De Mai, the grey had a wind operation last winter and was second behind Might Bite in the Betway Bowl Chase at Aintree in April on his return.

This time, Jacob brought him to the head of the field from the start but the other four runners were never too far away. Turning for home, all five runners were still in with a chance of winning but Bristol De Mai jumped into a decisive lead with two fences to go and extended his advantage to win by four lengths.

‘Difficult to keep right’

Afterward, Jacob said that the Twiston-Davies yard had always believed in the winner.

“Everybody was building this up as a two-horse race, but our camp had different ideas,” he said. “It obviously was a disadvantage it not being soft ground, but at this track, there’s something about it he just loves and he feels a lot better. They were big fences and took some jumping. I got him into a lovely rhythm. He jumped super and you needed to jump today to win and that’s exactly what this lad did.”

Twiston-Davies added: “He wins everywhere when he’s right. He’s difficult to keep right. First and second time out last season he was superb, then he started getting his aches and pains and taking a few lame steps. Hopefully, second time out this year will be at Kempton and we’ll give them a hard time there.

“We don’t mind being the underdog. We were discussing on the way up here how it reminded us of Imperial Commander taking on Kauto Star and Denman in the Gold Cup. We were totally the underdog and then you go and stuff them like that!

“What we’ve got to do is bring this horse fit and keep him right.”

King George VI Chase odds 

Elsewhere on the Haydock card, Vintage Clouds (100/30) was the game-winner of the Better Value On The Betfair Exchange Handicap Chase, beating Takingrisks (11/2) by half a length

Ascot

The Paul Nicholls trained Politologue (5/4 favourite) fended off Charbel (5/2) to win the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot and lay claims on the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The grey booked his ticket for the Christmas showpiece giving Charbel 6lb and a half-length beating over two miles five furlongs and Nicholls is confident that Politologue has the necessary stamina for the 32Red sponsored event, where he is now best priced @ 9/1. The Ditcheat based trained told ITV Nicholls said: “He will go for the King George, and he will not go for anything else bar that now.

“We will then aim for something after Christmas – but we won’t run in the Cotswold Chase, because that is the last race I would want to run him in, in a bog. Three and a quarter miles around Cheltenham in January is not what he wants. The Ascot Chase would suit him well after Christmas – but I said to John (Hales, owner) ‘let’s just worry about one race’, and he will go to the King George fit and well. You have got to stay round Kempton, but he stayed at Ascot over the two- miles-five. He has never run over three, but he has won over two-five now, and I’ve got no reason to see why he won’t stay.”

“Ascot is a stiff track. He travels well and tends to idle in front, but I was thrilled with him on Saturday.

Paul Nicholls’ charge looked set to record a comfortable success when mastering the freewheeling Gold Present turning for home and going to the front on the bridle. However, he got in close to both the second last and final fence and the eventual runner-up Charbel gained momentum, closing all the way to the line.

Meanwhile, Kim Bailey, trainer of the runner-up, said: “I am delighted with him. I’m just annoyed he got it wrong at the last, but he had to go for a long one and he didn’t get it and it was as simple as that.

“I long to step him up and I will step him up as three miles is where we want to go. I’m now regretting I didn’t make an entry in the King George, but that is easy in hindsight.

Sunday

There was top-class racing at Navan Sunday as local trainer Noel Meade claimed the feature Grade B Ladbrokes Troytown Chase with Tout Est Permis (9/1) for Gigginstown Stud under Sean Flanagan, denying Gordon Elliot a record-breaking 5-in-a-row. The Grand National and Gold Cup-winning trainer sent out 11 of the 25 runners.

Meade was last successful in the Troytown with Heist back in 1997 and he was thrilled to land the main prize for owners Gigginstown House Stud. He said: “Eddie (O’Leary, racing manager for Gigginstown) said to me the other morning ‘Are you not going to run the other two in it?’ and I said ‘No – you can only win it once’. I was very sweet on him, and he worked a bomb the other day. I felt if we just kept him together from then until Sunday, he’d win.

“Everything went according to plan, apart from nearly getting wiped out over the far side. He travelled and jumped brilliant. It’s the biggest race here, and a huge race to win. Sean is a big help to me both at home and on the track. He says things as they are, and is very constructive in his comments. He’s riding very well.”

 

The Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle went to Easy Game (11/2) for trainer Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh and the Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle went to Put The Kettle (11/4) on for Henry De Bromhead and David Mullins who stole a march on the short-priced favourite Gypsy Island (Evens). De Bromhead said: “David said he wanted to make it a bit of a test and use her jumping and it all worked well in the end.

“She’s only a frame of a mare and will fill out, so we won’t be too hard on her. She’s had three quick runs, so we might have one more and put her away for the spring.”

 

Walk To Freedom highlighted a 471-1 treble for Jessica Harrington at Navan as he triumphed at odds of 20-1 in the Proudstown Handicap Hurdle. The eight-year-old only returned to action earlier this month after an absence of more than 480 days and was completing a double for Power and Harrington after the earlier success of Jetz (4-1). Grade One-placed as a novice hurdler last term, Jetz had unshipped Power on his chasing bow at this track earlier in November, however, he made no mistakes in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase – coming home half a length in front of Duca De Thaix, with odds-on favourite Paloma Blue well beaten in fourth.

Power added: “They went a stronger gallop today, and I was flat to the boards leaving the back straight – but it’s a stiff two mile and one around here, and his stamina kicked in at the end of the day. He’ll be stepping up in trip from now on.

Barrington Court (7-2) then rounded off Harrington’s hat-trick with an impressive success in the ‘bumper’, the Listed Coolmore N.H. Sires Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race. Partnered by Mark O’Hare, Barrington Court fairly flew home in the final furlong to win by 10 lengths from Two Shoe Tom.

 

Elsewhere Defi Bleu justified strong market confidence (13/8 overnight into 4/6) for Gordon Elliott owner in the www.navanracecourse.ie Maiden Hurdle running out a deserved winner proving the step up to 2 and a half miles was very much in his favour.

He triumphed by two and three-quarter lengths for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell, with Gigginstown horses filling the first five places. Elliott said: “He’s a horse for next year to go chasing, and I’d say he probably even wants three miles at this stage of his life. The further he went the better he got, and he jumped well.”

 

Catch all the Navan Highlights from www.goracing.ie below.

 

Meyler: Next season will be hugely competitive – Evening Echo

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John Meyler and his players in the dressing room at Fenway Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
John Meyler and his players in the dressing room at Fenway Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
John Meyler and his players in the dressing room at Fenway Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
John Meyler and his players in the dressing room at Fenway Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

PERHAPS the 80-minute wait to face Limerick in the final of the 2018 Fenway Hurling Classic on Sunday was what ultimately decided the destination of the Players’ Champions Cup in Boston on Sunday?

It took Cork 10 minutes to register their first score and at that stage, the Rebels had accumulated a 21-point deficit to the All-Ireland champions, who had disposed of Wexford in the earlier second semi-final, having trailed for much of that contest but ended strongly.

Cork were first on the pitch having edged Clare in the first semi-final yet the Treaty County used their momentum to build up an unassailable lead against the Rebels.

“Yeah I think the same thing happened last year if, you go back, Limerick got a 21 point start on us, something like that, they got a fast start on us and that really killed us, they were coming through the middle and Cian Lynch was controlling midfield,” said Cork manager John Meyler.

Those thoughts were echoed by forward Conor Lehane. “We were really sluggish coming out, I know there was a gap in between games but we weren’t self-aware enough, it kind of caught us, in the end, we weren’t that far behind, probably two goals would have done us.”

Nickie Quaid of Limerick in action against Conor Lehane. Picture Piaras Ó MídheachSportsfile
Nickie Quaid of Limerick in action against Conor Lehane. Picture Piaras Ó MídheachSportsfile

Yet it was the experience and building towards the 2019 Munster Championship which superseded any result in Eastern America.

“It’s the start of the year and to get ready for the start 2019 and the Munster Championship, it’s going to be really competitive next year so it’s all aimed at that really.

“The timing is just about right just to finish up the season really and then to kick-start the new season because we go back on December 1 officially, it’s a way of gelling the gang together, it’s a bit of fun and that you know and it’s a bit of a holiday.”

Meyler has no qualms either about the new championship structure either.

“It’s just incredible, four games for supporters and it puts a lot of pressure on players and managers, you know it was a really good format last year and it’s really competitive, Tipperary and Waterford have two new managers and Limerick are All-Ireland Champions and Clare are semi-finalist and ourselves,” he said.

Meyler also believes the new format makes the emphasis on the league even more important now.

“You really need to find strength in depth that’s what Limerick showed last year, that was the one key thing like, when they brought on Shane Dowling and those lads at the end like it really made the difference so the league will be far more important again this year to try and find one or two new players.”

Picture Piaras Ó Mídheach Sportsfile
Picture Piaras Ó Mídheach Sportsfile

 

This article first appeared in the Evening Echo on October 22, 2018. To see the original version, click here.

Cork fail to break Treaty in Boston despite Nash showing his class – Evening Echo

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Limerick player being tackled by two Cork defenders in the Fenway Hurling Classic at Fenway Park Boston on Sunday November 18th 2018

The third edition of the Fenway Hurling Classic ‘Super 11’s’ took place in Bostons Fenway Park Stadium on Sunday. Cork, Clare, Wexford, and All-Ireland hurling champions Limerick faced off in a modified rules, 11-a-side hurling tournament where only goals counted.

Limerick player being tackled by two Cork defenders in the Fenway Hurling Classic at Fenway Park Boston on Sunday November 18th 2018

Limerick 38

Cork 30

Michael Dorgan in Boston

ALL-IRELAND hurling champions Limerick ran out deserving winners of the Aer Lingus Fenway Hurling Classic at a cold Fenway Park in Boston yesterday, beating Cork by eight points.

Just as they finished their semi-final win over Wexford, Limerick started the final in dominant fashion, an opening eight-minute deluge seeing them notch up a 21-0 lead over the Rebels.

A last minute penalty goal against Clare from All-Star forward Patrick Horgan had sealed Cork’s place in the ‘Super 11’s’ final and perhaps the long wait around was to blame for the lacklustre start by John Meyler’s men in this modified rules match, where only goals counted.

Patrick Horgan gets away from Richie English last night. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Patrick Horgan gets away from Richie English last night. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Tomás Morrissey opened the scoring for Limerick with a neat three-pointer in the first minute which was quickly followed by a penalty corner from Barry Murphy. Murphy doubled his tally three minutes later and Morrissey chipped in again with another close-range goal as Limerick continued to pound the Cork defence.

Hurler of the Year, Cian Lynch, then showed the near 13,000 Bostonians in attendance why he was recently voted Ireland’s top player with an outstanding long-range goal finished to the top right-hand corner of Anthony Nash’s net.

The score would have been a lot worse had it not been for the Kanturk net minders heroics, Nash undoubtedly Cork’s best player over the two games coming to their rescue time and time again with spectacular saves.

Podge Collins of Clare is tackled by Anthony Nash. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Podge Collins of Clare is tackled by Anthony Nash. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The Limerick onslaught was finally abated when Horgan got the Cork scoreboard ticking after 10 minutes with a five-point penalty corner. After striking Nicky Quaid’s post the Glen man added a rebounded three-pointer soon after and Cork ended the half with a bit of momentum as a blistering long-range Shane Kingston goal had the scoreboard reading 24-13 in Limericks favour.

Tom Morrissey and Bill Cooper exchanged three-pointers after the restart and when Horgan cut the deficit to eight points with a brilliantly batted goal Cork looked to be back in touch.

However, another long-distance strike from Lynch was followed by an Andrew La Touche Cosgrave five-pointer to all but end the contest as the Treaty County led 35-19 with 10 minutes remaining.

Conor Lehane and Cooper rallied for Cork reducing the margin to 10 points but a few wayward passes and with McQuaid also in top form, Barry Murphy hit back for Limerick to seal the win and add the Players’ Champions Cup to Liam MacCarthy in the Shannonsiders trophy cabinet.

Scorers for Limerick: B Murphy (13), C Lynch (10), T Morrissey (9), K Hayes (3), A La Touche Cosgrave.

Cork: P Horgan (16), B Cooper (6), S Kingston (5), C Lehane (3).

LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Hickey, R English, S Finn, D Byrnes, D Hannon, D Morrissey, P Ryan, B Nash, G Hegarty, K Hayes, B Hennessy, A La Touche Cosgrave, O O’Reilly, A Gillane, B Murphy, P O’Loughlin, L Lyons, W O’Meara, D Reidy, C Ryan.

CORK: A Nash; S O’Donoghue, D Cahalane, C Spillane, C Joyce, E Cadogan, M Coleman, B Cooper, D Fitzgibbon, D Kearney, C Lehane, S Kingston, L Meade, T O’ Mahony, P Horgan, J O’Connor, E Murphy, R O’Flynn, W Kearney, D Brosnan, D Griffin, D Browne, J Coughlan, M Collins, C Twomey, S Murphy.

Referee: S Cleary (Kilkenny)

 This article first appeared in the Evening Echo on October 22, 2018. To see the original version, click here.

Irish-American Partnership breakfast

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Irish American partnership chief executive Mary Sugrue with New York based journalist Michael Dorgan at the Partnerships breakfast gathering at Clune Construction, New York, USA
Irish American partnership chief executive Mary Sugrue with New York based journalist Michael Dorgan at the Partnerships breakfast gathering at Clune Construction, New York, USA
Irish American partnership chief executive Mary Sugrue with New York based journalist Michael Dorgan at the Partnerships breakfast gathering at Clune Construction, New York, USA
Irish American partnership Chief Executive Mary Sugrue with NewYork-based journalist Michael Dorgan at the Partnerships breakfast gathering at Clune Construction, New York, USA

 

I had the privilege of attending the Irish American Partnership’s breakfast gathering at Clune Construction here in New York recently to learn about the great work Mary Sugrue and her team are doing to support educational initiatives and community development programmes in Ireland.

I got a real insight into the history, governance, programmes, and activities carried out by the Partnership through a very well delivered presentation by Mary.

Mary detailed the Partnership’s core programmes: direct grants to schools, science education, university access scholarship, job training, and community development, and explained their impact through videos and testimony.

These programmes are having a tremendous impact on communities in Ireland and are greatly appreciated by students, teachers, and parents.

They are regarded not only as a means to upgrade school materials, help disadvantaged students through university, or train unemployed individuals in marketable tech skills—but an affirmation of Irish America’s commitment to Ireland.

Mary also asked I serve on the Host Committee for the April 19, 2019 Business Leaders Breakfast featuring keynote speaker Bernie Brennan, President of the RDS Dublin, held at the Union League Club of New York.

If you are interested in attending this event please visit the link below:

https://lnkd.in/gidumyh

Democrats Midterm Dilemma – Trumps Success

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US President Donald Trump’s name may not be on the ballot in today’s midterm elections but his policies are a crucial factor with voters and that remains the Democrat Party’s biggest dilemma – Trump’s significant accomplishments as president.

Trump’s opponents on the Left were sure his hard stance on trade and America First policies which included withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be disastrous economically, instead, the Trump economy has broken almost all records.

The October economic data released last Friday showed that U.S. employers added 250,000 jobs during the past month and unemployment remained at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent. More people entered the labor force and wages made their biggest gains since 2009.

Trump also surprised many both at home and abroad in his foreign policy exploits, most notably meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and gaining a commitment to Pyongyang’s denuclearization program.

Yet for all that success, Trump appears to have made illegal immigration his primary rallying call to supporters

Ignoring the advice of those around him to focus on the strong US economy, the president instead stoked fears over the approaching migrant caravan, warning that the Democrats were weak on illegal immigration and border security, a strategic risk by the 45th president of the United States but one in which he seeks to reinvigorate his base.

Trump has forced Democrats more to the left and a loss could see a major split in the party yet the polls show The Democrats will gain control of the House with the Senate remaining in the hands of the GOP.

Democrats need to flip 23 Republican-held seats to win control of the House of Representatives

If Trump were to retain he and his supporters will see it as ja ustification of his policies. For the Dems, they would be perilously close to crisis.

Since the Roosevelt era, the President’s Party has only gained seats in the House and Senate during the midterm elections twice — in 1934 and 2002. Those gains were relatively meagre, with Bush II gaining 8 seats in the House and 2 seats in the Senate in 2002, and FDR gaining 9 seats in the House and 9 seats in the Senate in 1934. Bush II’s 2002 mid-term election stands out as a particular anomaly, since the country was still emotionally recovering from 9/11, and the Republican Party was able to capitalize and brand the party as synonymous with patriotism.

Clinton’s 1998 Democrats gained 5 seats in the House while losing none in the Senate. But excluding the midterm election following 9/11, the President’s party only gained seats in both chambers once since Roosevelt.

Midterm losses are far more common and tend to be massive, especially in the House. For instance, Roosevelt lost 71 seats in the House in the 1938 midterms, which is the biggest loss of House seats since. Roosevelt lost 55 House seats in 1942. Eisenhower lost 48 House seats in 1958. Lyndon B. Johnson lost 47 House seats in 1966. Bush II ended up losing 30 House seats in 2006, after escaping midterm losses directly after 9/11. Midterm losses aren’t just common, they are the rule.

Bar the few ardent opponents of Trump, most Democratic candidates remained focused on the party’s core issue: health care, in particular maintaining a federal requirement that insurance companies cover pre-existing medical conditions.

For Trump and the GOP it’s a case of ‘Promises made, promises kept’, but the voters will have the say on that.

GPA and LGPA on same wavelength – Evening Echo

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GPA CEO Paul Flynn and WGPA Chairperson spoke at the GPA Dinner in New Yorks Capitale building recently
GPA CEO Paul Flynn and WGPA Chairperson spoke at the GPA Dinner in New Yorks Capitale building recently
GPA CEO Paul Flynn and WGPA Chairperson spoke at the GPA Dinner in New Yorks Capitale building recently
GPA CEO Paul Flynn and WGPA Chairperson spoke at the GPA Dinner in New Yorks Capitale building recently

Michael Dorgan in New York

“The services we are providing are life-changing interventions”, those were the compelling words of recently appointed Gaelic Athletic Players Association (GPA) Executive Officer Paul Flynn when he spoke at the Ireland-US Gaelic Heritage Awards and Dinner Gala in New York earlier this month.

“There are players that for whatever reason come under difficult times and they know that we’re there to support them and we have been there to support them and they’ve been very outspoken with the fact that the GPA has in many ways saved their lives and changed their lives for the better”.

The fundraiser, now in its eight-year, celebrates the contribution Gaelic players make to the cultural and social fabric of Ireland and has been a successful revenue generator for the player’s body as it continues to grow in size and influence. The event continues to enjoy sponsorship from Tipperary-born Declan Kelly’s, Teneo Holdings, an international consulting company based in New York City and brought together some of the country’s top male and female players including Declan Hannon, Jack McCaffrey, Seamus Hickey, Aoife Murray & Sinead Aherne.

RTEs Marty Morrissey hosted the event in front of 300 attendees at the magnificent ‘Capitale’ building in Lower Manhattan which also included an auction, Q & A session as well as an encapsulating solo performance by Finbar Fuery who was honoured with the GPAs Lifetime Achievement Award.

“We have delivered over 10,000 programmes, a record 1,500 programmes delivered this year which is remarkable and life-changing in many ways for our players and this year we’ve had an unprecedented demand we can’t even keep up with the demand for our services at the moment”, said Flynn.

The Dublin All-Ireland winning footballer also highlighted a recent study published by the ESRI and commissioned by the GAA and GPA which established the demands of playing at inter-county level.

“Our players on average are committing 31 hours (per week) of their time to their inter-county preparation. That’s on top of their careers, their personal lives, it’s remarkable and our players, they don’t give out about it, (they’re keen to do it) and we’re there to support them.

But one telling statistic for me was the reaction to the question, ‘Who would you feel most comfortable approaching if you had an emotional or mental difficulty?’ And the GPA was number one by a margin – ‘That’s powerful to me’.

So for me, if we do nothing else as an organisation that’s enough, but we don’t, we do so much more.”

Those thoughts were echoed by Limericks All-Ireland winning hurling captain Declan Hannon:

“It was probably the standout thing for me when I was in college that the GPA were there to help you and you know without them a lot of people would have struggled, in terms of finance and a lot of mental health issues as well with different people and different teams that you would never hear about so the GPA are always there to give a dig out no matter what it is, little or small or large or whatever, they are always there and they’ll listen and they’ll try and help you out as best they can.

You’ll hear from the latest report that people go to the GPA to talk about issues rather than going to family at some stages as well so that’s how trusting players are in the GPA and it’s continuing to grow and I suppose just to get more awareness out there from players that they know what the GPA have to offer and it’s not just a grant like there’s a lot more that they can do for you as well.”

Limericks All-Ireland winning hurling captain Declan Hannon spoke to Michael Dorgan at the GPA Dinner at the 'Capitale' in New York recently
Limericks All-Ireland winning hurling captain Declan Hannon spoke to Michael Dorgan at the GPA Dinner at the ‘Capitale’ in New York recently

 

The GPA offers members undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships, personal development programmes, business start-up and career programmes amongst other services and the Irish American partnership have announced they are committed to providing $100,000 to the GPAs scholarship fund, that’s going to support players that are studying to become teachers over the next three years.

“The people are great here in their contributions that they have given to the GAA and the GPA over the last number of years,” says Hannon.

A rare but wonderful sight served as the backdrop to the night’s proceedings. Displayed side by side were the Liam McCarthy (hurling), O’ Duffy (camogie), Brendan Martin (ladies football) and Sam Maguire cups (football) representing the equality between the codes which was reinforced by Women’s Gaelic Players Association Chairperson Aoife Lane.

Women’s Gaelic Players Association Chairperson Aoife Lane
Women’s Gaelic Players Association Chairperson Aoife Lane

 

“The Ethos of the GAA is about family, it’s about community, and it’s about inclusion,” said the lecturer and Head of Department of Sport and Health Science at Athlone IT.

“And what that means from my perspective is that boys and girls or men and women, they can have the exact same dream, there’s no glass ceiling for women in Gaelic games, they achieve the same thing, and its incidental for Sinead Aherne and Jack McCaffrey that when they put on the Dublin jersey, that they are a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter for them it’s the exact same sense of pride, the same sense of honour and if you talk to them tonight you’ll realise it’s the same commitment, the same resilience, the same sacrifices that they give to their games.

For me and for society, it’s really important that for a young girl in Ireland knows that she can achieve the exact same thing as he brother or her friend in her classroom.

“The GPA and WGPA have the same principal, we feel that we can do things together, we do the joint sponsorship programmes, joint leadership programmes and we get our players involved in shared social responsibly programmes initiatives as well, around homelessness and around equality.

My hope is that it becomes incidental that an All-Ireland winning captain are great players are great captains, are great teams are men or women. That we don’t talk about that anymore, what we talk about is their skills, their abilities their experiences their resilience and that that’s how we differentiate individuals rather than men or women.”

 

Finbar Fuery playing the banjo at the GPA Dinner in New York

 

New York City life goes on despite bomb scare

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Time Warner Centre, home of CNN, where a package containing a live explosive and an envelope with white powder were sent.
Time Warner Centre, home of CNN, where a package containing a live explosive and an envelope with white powder were sent.
Time Warner Centre, home of CNN, where a package containing a live explosive and an envelope with white powder was sent.

Michael Dorgan in New York

It’s the ‘city that never sleeps’, and on Wednesday it was very much the city that never stops, even in light of the evacuation of Time Warner Centre, home of CNN, where a package containing a live explosive and an envelope with white powder were sent.

The action came as state and federal agents investigated packages mailed to Democratic figures around the country, including the Clintons in Chappaqua and former President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., as well as former Attorney General Eric Holder and California Rep. Maxine Waters.

Situated in Midtown Manhattan on Central Parks south-west corner, the beautifully designed 750 foot twin glass-clad towered structure, and self-proclaimed “city within a building” due to it eclectic mix of houses, retail stores, restaurants, performance venues, offices, as well as luxury hotel rooms was the first major building to be completed in Manhattan after the September 11 attacks. And although construction had begun prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center, Time Warner Center was seen very much at the time as a statement of resilience by New Yorkers, that the show goes on and the show must go on.

Yet, for those in the immediate vicinity of the area last week, memories of that fateful day came rushing back.

Georgie Guerrero, a worker in the Museum of Arts and design, a stone through away on 8th Avenue said, “It brings back memories of 9/11 definitely, we don’t know what’s going to happen at any day so it’s crazy”.

It was a beautiful, clear and crisp autumn morning, when at around 10 am the alarm was raised and Time Warner Centres occupants were hurried out onto 58th street to the adjoining 8th Avenue and convened at their Central Park entrance assembly point.

“It was very scary, our team met at Central Park and waited for our managers but I think the people around here are used to it you know because this is always a target”, said restaurant worker Ethan Ramagomi.

Now situated between evacuees and their building was Columbus Circle, a heavily trafficked intersection that stretches to six lanes wide where a 76-foot monument of Christopher Columbus stands at its center, serving as a quick dichotomy of two very different worlds.

Time Warner Centre, home of CNN, where a package containing a live explosive and an envelope with white powder were sent.
Time Warner Centre, home of CNN, where a package containing a live explosive and an envelope with white powder were sent.

A heavy New York City Police Department team immediately cordoned off the four-lane wide 58th Street to the public with yellow tape and metal barriers as international TV crews quickly gained vantage points to broadcast. So too did CNN and its presenter Chris Cuomo, (the brother of New York Governor Andrew) who reported live outside a building he usually looks out from.

“We waited there until about 12:30 before we were told to go back inside”, remarked Ramagomi.

NYPD and its bomb squad had taken the materials off site and had the situation under control pretty swiftly.

For the most part, passers-by glanced up and kept walking, unperturbed by the morning’s events. Some had no idea at all that they were at the epicentre of the day’s main breaking international news story. Others had received mobile phone alerts and save for the odd subway delay it was a case of “as you were” in the Big Apple.

Perhaps it was the sense this was likely an act of domestic terror or a lone nut, the previous fear and grande threat of Muslim extremism seems to have abated somewhat.

Shops directly across from Time Warner Center remained open and bar being shut off for two and a half hours, there was no problem walking up along its sidewalk as a lone NYPD helicopter hovered overhead throughout the day.

Nevertheless, there was a sense by some that the current political climate has borne this as inevitable.

“I think if there’s crazy people in the world, someone’s going to do something stupid,” remarked Eddie Slevin, a lifelong New Yorker.

“It’s very amateurish and it doesn’t reflect all of society, but naaah, there was no fear or anything like that, I don’t think anyone pays attention. But when you see people throwing things at people and you say it’s not a mob, eventually someone’s going to come back”, alluding to reported incidents of violence or threats against GOP candidates and volunteers recently.

“Look most people they don’t get involved but you’ll get some nut that’s gonna say I’ve had enough of this and I gotta fight them and certainly Trump instigates it,” he said.

A local store manager displeased he lost his morning customers remarked, “It’s all for nothing”. Still I wouldn’t go that far.

There seem to be two very distinct worlds; a biosphere of incessant media hysteria versus an on-the-ground calmness, borderline dismissiveness.

That being said, there is certainly something in the air.