03 November 2008

Hall Prove Too Strong For Students

Here's my match report for the UCC Express.

Douglas Hall 3 (Wilkinson 45, Rob Hourihan O.G. 71, O’Leary 80)
UCC 1 (Duggan pen. 14)

Munster Senior League, Sunday 2 November 2008.

By Joseph Sexton.

UCC have made a strong start to this season’s Munster Senior League campaign, and went into this game joint top alongside Blarney, with 8 points from four games. Unfortunately, an excellent second-half performance perennial title-challengers Douglas Hall showed that this promising College team are a long way from being the finished article.

It might have been a very different outcome had fortune not deserted the visitors at several key moments. College were more than a match for the hosts in the opening exchanges, and deservedly took the lead inside the quarter hour mark from Daniel Duggan’s spot-kick following a handball by Hall defender Seamus Long.

Hall’s only real chance in the opening exchanges came two minutes later, but James O’Leary’s snatched effort dribbled wide of Bambury’s goal. College displayed a willingness to get stuck-in, with Tommy Earls looking impressively solid at right-back. Ahead of him on the flank, Luke Burgess was more than willing to track back and lend a hand.

Burgess was turned by Hall’s Ronan Stanton just before the half-hour, and although O’Leary got a good head on the ball Bambury was at hand to make a smart save. College’s influential midfielder Duggan had gone down as the ball was played across though, and had to make way for Richard Ryan.

Although Hall created another few chances, most notably when O’Connell glanced a header wide, College were certainly not discouraged. They ought to have increased their lead seven minutes before the interval, but the match referee John Lyne inexplicably disallowed Barry Kirby’s headed goal following a Tommy Earls free-kick. Even the Douglas Hall manager accepted that the decision had been a real let-off for his team, and this proved the turning point in the game.

Although College continued to pin the hosts back, and indeed were unlucky again just moments later as McCarthy had a a header hacked clear of the line, Hall were beginning to regain their composure. That said, it was shockingly bad luck for College to concede in the final minute of the half. The goal came from a corner on the right, with defender Wilkinson getting in front of his marker to head home form the near post.

Hall were a vastly improved side after the interval, and College were forced onto the back-foot. Earls did have to make a goal-line clearance after 58 minutes, but they were coping admirably with the pressure until lady luck smiled upon the hosts again.

With 20 minutes remaining Hall’s Keith Stanton broke free on the right, and whipped in a low cross which evaded Bambury. Hourihan tried to to remove the danger but only succeeded in turning the ball in to this own net. It was a heartbreaking moment for the centre-back, who had given an exemplary performance up to that point.

College tried to pick themselves up, but were looking exposed as the hosts tried to ram their superiority home. The red-haired substitute Gerald O’Donovan, nicknamed Strachan by his colleagues, revelled in the space vacated as the visitors tried to push forward. Haring into space on the right, he played an inviting ball across the 6 yard box for James O’Leary to complete the scoring.

College’s manager Brendan Manley was in stoic humour at the final whistle, refusing to blame the referee for the defeat. “We did play extremely well in the first half, but Hall are an excellent team and they played some great stuff in the second half. We found it very hard once they got going. It was certainly a terrible decision to disallow [McCarthy’s] goal, and conceding just before the break really hurt us. But from the second half, there’s no doubt that Hall deserved their win”.

College will now look to regain their momentum away next Saturday to a St Mary’s team that have made an indifferent start to the season. Despite this defeat, they can take immense heart from the way they put it up to Hall in the opening period, and the potential is certainly there for the team to go on to have a successful campaign.

Douglas Hall

Adrian O’Donovan; Joe Mc Sorley (Gerald O’Donovan), Robert Brohan, Brian Wilkinson, Seamus Long; Ronan Stanton, David Moore, Keith Stanton, James O’Leary; Declan O’Connell (John McCarthy), Mark Murphy (David Hackett).


Mark Bambury; Simon Hedderman, Rob Hourihan, Michael McSweeney, Tommy Earls; Padraig O’Brien (Stephen O’Brien), Ciaran Forde, Daniel Duggan (Richard Ryan), Luke Burgess; Eoin McCarthy, Barry Kirby (Kieran Corbett).

Cork City win the Setanta Cup 2008

Here's my match report for ExtraTime.ie

Original article here

Turner's Cross, Saturday 1 November 2008

Cork City emerged victorious from an absolutely enthralling Setanta Cup final at Turner’s Cross tonight. Second-half goals from captain Dan Murray and wide man Liam Kearney turned the tie in the Leesiders’ favour after Kyle Neill had fired Glentoran into a first-half lead.

It was a full-blooded contest which threatened the boil over on more than one occasion, but the enthusiasm shown by both teams was a great credit to their respective managers. Both sides gave their all, and whilst City’s strong second-half showing was to prove decisive, the visitors exerted an awesome hold on proceedings in the first period.

Sadly, the tie was marred by some ugly scenes both inside and outside the ground. A local publican was reportedly hospitalised after an altercation with a group of visiting supporters, and on one more than one occasion a particular section of the Glentoran support were seen to be throwing objects in the direction of City players.

But despite all of that the true spirit of sportsmanship shone through, with both sets of fans taking turns in applauding their opposition as the medals were distributed after full time.

In a game played a frenetic pace for much of the 90 minutes the visitors opened by far the stronger. Their aggression, physicality and sheer bloody-mindedness clearly unnerved Cork during the opening period, and they deservedly took the lead inside the quarter hour mark.

With the ball moving rapidly from one end of the field to the other mistimed tackles were a frequent occurrence, with Cork’s Joe Gamble the first of five players to see yellow. With 12 minutes played, referee Ian Stokes awarded a free to the visitors just outside the area. Cork protested the decision furiously, but Kyle Neill showed a cool head as he stepped up and drilled the ball home into the bottom right hand corner of McNulty’s goal.

Try as they might, City struggled to break down the resolute Glens defence. Denied time and space on the ball in final third, Cork’s attempts to play around the visitors floundered as they found themselves aggressively hustled off the ball and forced into making hasty passes. When they tried to play a more direct game they found no further profit. Denis Behan may be used to bullying defenders in the Eircom League, but up against Philip Simpson and Sean Ward his physical presence was blunted. Lawrie Dudfield has proven as asset with his back to goal since his signing in July, but all too often he was left crowded out and isolated.

City’s best chance of the half came on 24 minutes from a lofted ball forward. Dudfield cushioned a header into the path of Liam Kearney, but Morris Elliott was down quickly to smother his shot. Two minutes later, City’s Pat Sullivan hacked the ball clear from the line after Neill’s free evaded everyone else.

A Danny Murphy foul on the touchline caused a melee seven minutes before the interval, with the Cork left-back foolishly being booked for dissent after matters had calmed down. Nothing much was going right for the hosts, but if there was any solace they could take from the opening half, it was the feeling that surely their part-time opponents would be unable to maintain the same level of intensity for the full 90 minutes.

It was also going to take a vastly improved second-half showing from the the Rebels and, from their point of view, whatever words Alan Matthews had to say in the dressing room appeared to have the desired effect. They opened brightly, playing with more poise and verve as they began to find their passing rhythm.

A clear telltale sign of the Belfast team’s increasing weariness was the in the incessant time-wasting of Elliott at goal-kicks. Looking leaden-legged as City moved the ball around at pace, they were forced to drop back deeper deeper. The threat posed on the break by Hamilton and Scullion diminished but their determined defending continued to frustrate the hosts.

Clearly, a game-breaking moment was required if City were to get back on terms and on 56 minutes Dan Murray duly obliged. After some tenacious work by Alan O’Connor on the byline, City won a corner on the right. Danny Murphy, taking over the kicking duties from Liam Kearney, whipped the ball across to the back post where his captain, unmarked, was perfectly positioned to prod the ball home. It was a hammer blow for the visitors, and they never quite recovered.

Glentoran tried to stem the tide, bringing on Waterworth and McGovern for Scullion and Halliday respectively. Kearney was in full flow, coming in for some rough treatment from his opponents. Dudfield too was beginning to figure more prominently, and after playing a couple of one-twos with Gamble, fed Behan who thundered an effort over from outside the area.

It appeared to be only matter of time before Cork would complete their turnaround, and the decisive moment came with 15 minutes remaining. A ball floated in from the right found the head of Behan. Dudfield didn’t make the best of connections, but up popped Kearney to turn the ball home. In the jubilant scenes that followed, several objects were hurled at the City players by Glens fans, with the Gardai having to move in to quell the unrest.

Not content to sit on their one goal lead, Cork continued to place Glentoran under severe pressure for the remainder of the game. Behan was desperately unlucky not to make it 3-1 five minutes from time, with Dudfield also coming close to extending the margin.

Kearney was eventually forced off injured in the final minute having become the target of the the visiting side’s frustration, but that mattered little in the end as the hosts coasted home to claim their first Setanta Sports Cup triumph. The final whistle sparked scenes not witnessed at the Cross since Cork’s dramatic last day title win over Derry in 2005.

Cork City 4-4-2: Mark McNulty; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray, Pat Sullivan, Danny Murphy; Alan O’Connor, Joe Gamble, Darren Murphy, Liam Kearney; Denis Behan, Lawrie Dudfield.
Substitutions: Darragh Ryan for Liam Kearney (89 minutes)
Not used: Michael Devine, Eoin Forde, Cillian Lordan, Gareth Cambridge, Timmy Kiely, Sean Kelly.
Booked: Gamble (11 Minutes); Danny Murphy (39 minutes); Darren Murphy (89 minutes).
Goals: Murray (56 minutes); Kearney (75 minutes).

Glentoran 4-4-2: Morris Elliott; Colin Nixon (Captain), Philip Simpson, Sean Ward, Johnny Taylor; David Scullion, Shane McCabe, Daryl Fordyce, Kyle Neill; Michael Halliday, Gary Hamilton.
Substitutions: Andy Waterworth for Scullion (60 minutes); Jamie McGovern for Halliday (70 Minutes); Dean Fitzgerald for Fordyce (78 minutes).
Not used: James Taylor, Darren Boyce, Grant Gardiner, Johnny Black.
Booked: Simpson (22 minutes); Hamilton (82 minutes).
Goals: Neill (13 minutes).

Referee: Ian Stokes

Official Man of the Match: Dan Murray.

Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Liam Kearney. Murray was certainty a strong contender for the man of the match gong, providing stout leadership and stepping up to score the all important equalising goal. But a large chunk of City’s improved second-half showing was down to the energy and invention of the impish Conna winger. A succession of tough challenged, some of which surely merited cautions, did little to dent Kearney’s enthusiasm and his winning goal was a fitting tribute to a marvellous second-half performance.

31 October 2008

Best Supporters in the World™

Here's an editorial piece I wrote for the UCC Express.

Ireland has long maintained a romantic self-image as a nation sports-lovers. And while it’s certainly true that GAA, rugby and soccer dominate chat in pubs up and down the nation, the question has to be asked: are we truly, utterly, madly in love with our sports, or is it just another example of us patting ourselves in the back in that “Ah sure, aren’t we great?” manner in which we excel at in so many other areas? Are we true supporters, or is our support merely a fickle, superficial diversion?

On the surface, the case can be made that Ireland has a vibrant and healthy supporter culture. Croke Park is the fifth largest stadium in Europe, for one. The national rugby team pack the rafters whenever the play. The soccer team, despite lean years, still bring in big numbers and are pitching their corporate packages at rates that would make even the greedy suits of the English FA blush. Munster are, well, a phenomenon at this stage, and even the Leinster ‘ladyboys’ are bringing in respectable numbers in these days. The GAA is part of the very social fabric of this nation, and inspires devotion to an unfathomable degree at every level.

So far, so good.

There is much debate as to which sporting code reigns supreme in this country, but I don’t think it’s presumptuous of me to draw a few rough assumptions. GAA, across both codes, must surely dwarf all others in playing numbers, support, and social penetration. Soccer, although always well supported at the international level, still benefits from the massive influx of ‘new’ support built on the success of the Charlton era. In a similar vein, Rugby has overcome its old, elitist status, and is now widely followed. As with soccer, the unprecedented success of Ireland and Munster has been the greatest contributing factor, along with a certain degree of social aspiration which went hand-in-hand with the rise of Celtic Tiger. And as with the Charlton success, its rise in popularity is sure to outlast the lean economic times ahead.

But this only tells part of the story.

It may be an inconvenient truth for many, but the provincial rugby sides are essentially franchises, which have excelled in responding to the radical changes brought about by professionalism. This is not in itself a bad thing; indeed the benefits for the national team are there for all to see. But, in the rush to greater success, the All Ireland League is dying a silent death. Attendance numbers are paltry. Of course the national league itself is something of a newcomer, having been inaugurated in 1990. But up and down the country every weekend, the core supporters of rugby, those who can remember the days of 5 Nations wooden spoons, where victories over England were a panacea and not mundane, are the only ones there- to support what has become a hugely popular sport- at its grassroots level. This is a far cry from the mid-1990s when Young Munster took on St. Mary’s in a title-decider in front of 25,000 spectators. We’ve all heard of Munster vanquishing the All Blacks in 1978, but in 1992 they also defeated then world champions, Australia; and far from there being queues around the block at Musgrave Park, your erudite narrator can remember ambling in, without difficulty, with ten minutes played. The standing of the provinces then and now brooks no comparison.

Nowadays, great names like Cork Con and Clontarf are no longer the big draw they were in the past. At junior club level crowd numbers have remained static- at best- in the last decade. Indeed a constant (and valid) criticism of this brave new provincial era is that even the mighty Munster have struggled to draw decent crowds to Magner’s League matches; indeed, you only have to go back a few years to find a time when HEC pool tickets weren’t too hard to come by. Is this the mark of supporters, or of event junkies?

Not even GAA is immune this bandwagoneering- contrast the annual struggle in acquiring tickets for the Munster hurling final with the pathetic attendance at this year’s Cork v Kerry football semi-final. (Don’t mention the league)

Soccer in this country, meanwhile, limps on. Not at international level; nor amongst the hordes who make their weekly pilgrimage across the channel to support bigger names. But beyond Cork City and Derry City, attendances at League of Ireland games remain abject. Strangely enough, it wasn’t always this way. The 1950s and 1970s were glory days for the national league, the likes of Shamrock Rovers, Drums, Bohs, Cork Hibs and Cork Celtic were regularly drawing in 20,000 gates. A combination of the increased availability of live English football and sheer administrative incompetence killed this era with a fraction of the effort it will take to ever repair the damage wrought.

Nobody in their right mind would claim that the clubs have their house in order off the field; financial implosion at several top sides (and lesser ones) since the advent of professionalism attests to this. But the football played is attractive, and Ireland remains a soccer-mad country. European results are improving. There are many other countries out there of a similar size, also sharing our mania for the polished sheen of the Premiership, where domestic football is thriving. Supporting a Premier League team and your local team need not be an either-or matter.

One only has to look at what Norway has achieved in the last 30 years, starting from a much lower base. This year the champions of Cyprus(!) have taken the champions League by storm. Two years ago, their champions exited at the first hurdle to a League of Ireland side. Scotland has punched well above its weight for decades because of its entrenched fan culture. With a few more thousand bums on seats, there is no reason why our own league can’t do the same.

Sport, as ever, is all about the big occasion. The last-minute All-Ireland final victory; triumphing at Cardiff in club rugby’s showpiece; beating Spain and Holland, and qualifying for World Cups. But support runs much deeper. It’s not about donning the latest kit, or urging everyone to hush down the pub for a vital conversion-kick. It’s about getting out there and cheering on your team, feeling the anguish of a windswept November afternoon and the joy of a glorious summer evening. It’s about making a connection and becoming part of something. This is the essence of fandom the world over, and it’s what makes those special days taste all the more sweet. So why not get out there and give it a try? You have nothing to lose, but your barstool- well, that and the guy to your right who cannot tell his offside from his backside!

23 September 2008

Interview with Stevie G for ExtraTime.ie

Here's an interview where Stevie G chatted about Cork City for ExtraTime.ie

Original article here

Extratime with ... DJ Stevie G

By Joseph Sexton

Red FM presenter and club DJ Stevie G is a well-known figure on Leeside. Known as the Godfather of the Cork hip-hop scene after his long residency in Sir Henry’s, Stevie has been very active in recent years, organising musical workshops for youngsters and supporting the music community. Although famous for his support of Manchester United, Stevie is a fixture in the stands at Turner’s Cross for Cork City’s home games. ExtraTime.ie caught up with him last week to talk about City’s past and present, as well as its future prospects.

Q: How long have you been going to see Cork City?

Well, I’m old enough to remember the first couple of games. I would have been 8 or 9 back then. Now at that time there hadn’t been any team in Cork for a while. We’d all heard about the heyday at Flower Lodge back in the 70’s, but already by that stage I was already a big [Manchester] United fan. I always loved my soccer, and I went down to the games a lot during the 80’s. Of course it’s a big thing these days, it’s almost as if it has to be one thing or the other when it comes to following the national League or English football, but we never saw it like that. If anything, the two were complementary. I’d follow the Cork hurling and football teams, as well as the national team, and I went to a lot of games in 80’s. Like a lot of people, I found my interest waned during the Bishopstown era, but I still went to games regularly enough. Work commitments have got in the way at times, but for the last few years now I’ve been able to get down to see every home game. I’ll never claim to be a die-hard City fan, of course, but I’ve always followed the club’s progress throughout the years.

Q: Can you remember the first game you went to?

I can’t remember because I was so young at the time. I can remember there being a great buzz around the Lodge back around 1983, when Cobh had a good cup run. But my first City memory would be a cup game against Derry. The exact year escapes me, but I can remember it being a huge thing at the time. They brought a massive crowd down with them, as they always do. The game looked to be petering out towards the end, and then City nicked a goal in the last few minutes. I’ll never forget it. It could be nostalgia, but I remember it being absolutely packed down there that day- maybe more than 10,000. It was madness; people were already leaving, and they had to rush back in. That would be my first real memory anyway.

Q: Who would be your favourite City player over the years?

I’ve always liked strikers, so I’d have to mention Pat Morley. Everyone remembers Dave Barry of course; he was a great player over the years, pulling the strings from midfield. I’d have a lot of time for John Caulfield too, another good, honest forward. Of course, there have been some great defenders down through the years, but I’d always be inclined to go for the front men, or those in the middle.

Q: And what about the current City team? Who would be your favourite?

These days it’s hard because you get attached to players, and then they’re gone. I thought Mooney was unbelievable in the short time he was at the club, but for me it’s got to be Joe Gamble. He’s got great energy levels. It’s great to see Colin Healy playing here too, but for me Joe Gamble epitomises the last few years. I know he was close to leaving recently, but he’s been here now for a while and I hope he stays put as the team rebuild.

Q. What would be the highlight for you in the history of Cork City FC to date?

Obviously, there’s the Bayern Munich home game [UEFA Cup in 1991], and the away game too. Galatasaray also [1993]; being a United fan as well, United ended up losing to them just weeks later. City ran them close, and could have gone through, and that was great. You only have to look at what those Galatasaray players went on to do in later years. Then we had those great Euro runs in recent years, but for me it’s got to be winning the league in 1993 and 2005. I know they’ve won a couple of cups, but I just don’t find it to be the same thing. Winning leagues is the ultimate test for any side, so I’d have to go with those.

Q. What are your thoughts on the present uncertainty surrounding the club?

It’s unfortunate, but there’s so much good feeling towards the club. Of course, there is a fantastic hardcore support, but we do need bring in the wider public in Cork. I know there’s a huge ‘barstool’ thing; people go on about the bandwagon, and I know some people don’t want them. I can understand that. If you look at Munster, they were getting really low crowds even just a couple of year’s back, despite reaching European finals. We’ve seen situations with very low numbers heading up to follow the football side in All Ireland semi-finals, and then everyone’s looking for a ticket when they make the final. Even hurling, the real top dog for support, isn’t immune to this. City will have to look to draw in part of this element to grow. It’s important to keep the community thing going, and the hardcore is already there. Even through the last few months, the attendance has remained solidly above 3,000 a game.

I think the raw materials are there. With a bit more acumen, with a bit more support from the business community and some stability, the club can come through and improve in the future. The supporters trust is a massive thing; it’s great to see the fans pulling together. Maybe the club will end up following the Barcelona model, maybe not; but I don’t see the club going to the wall. Rumour has it that there are one or two people with muscle and ability looking to step in too, and I’d welcome that. These people apparently welcome the idea of getting [supporters trust] FORAS on board, which would be great. I’m sure it will all work out one way or another. Let’s not forget the mess Ramblers are in though- I think the FAI and the league have got to look after things a bit better but it can be done.

Q. Finally Stevie, what does Cork City mean to you?

It’s our local team. It’s the community. As I’ve said, the way it happened for me by the time Cork City came along, I’d already been crying when [Manchester] United lost. There was no City, there was hurling and football, and the stories of the great days of Cork soccer in the 1970s, Miah Dennehy and the like. So while I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t already formed the allegiance to United in my formative years, I’ve never had time for the whole barstooling thing. I can’t watch games in pubs myself, it does my head in. But what City means to me is the local banter. I’ve travelled to Old Trafford for years, but when it’s in your own town it’s just that extra bit special. You can’t beat that. We’re a sporting town, and it’s soccer right in the middle of town. Turner’s Cross is the place to be, I don’t think it was ever going to work in Bishopstown. It’s about local soccer, and the players we’ve seen especially in the last couple of years, but even going right back.

There are ignorant people out there who’ll say, ‘oh, I went there and the quality was crap’, but it’s not a bit like that. There’s better quality than a lot of top level soccer, all these hyped-up games on Sky and internationals; games with teams dogging it out for 120 minutes to get to penalties. Most teams in the league play good football now. Sure, there were times back in the day where there was a bit of hoofing, but sometimes you’ve got to hoof it too! But there’s quality football down there and a good vibe and I would encourage anyone to try it out. It’s fantastic. The Friday night thing is great also. For me it means that even with work I can make it down. It’s the perfect way to kick off the weekend. But most of all it’s about going down and getting behind your local team.

Stevie's Blog can be found here.

Cork City v Dungannon Swifts Match Report (22/09/2008)

Here's my match report for ExtraTime.ie

Original article here

There were no surprises at Turner’s Cross as Cork City emerged with a fairly comfortable 4-1 victory over Dungannon Swifts in tonight’s Setanta Sports Cup encounter. City led by two at the break, with goals from Darren Murphy and Liam Kearney doing little justice to a game which resembled a training match for the hosts throughout most of the half. It was a much improved performance from the visitors after halt-time, however; indeed, they had the Leesiders on the ropes for a short spell early in the second period. But on balance, Cork will believe, with some justification that they ought to have won by a greater margin. But the result, combined with Drogheda’s 2-0 victory over Cliftonville means that Alan Matthews’ side will have to be content with an away tie in the next round.

The hosts started brightly, with Lawrie Dudfield volleying narrowly wide from an acute angle in the third minute. Just two minutes later Darren Peden made a last minute lunge to hook the ball clear from the goal line. The clearance only went as far as Joe Gamble who teed the ball up for Denis Behan, but the big striker’s effort crashed back off the bar.

In the 8th minute, Behan produced a cool finish from a Lawrie Dudfield cut-back, but the assistant referee signaled for offside. It was a marginal call, and a couple of minutes later City were unlucky again. This time, a miscued cross from Alan O’Connor had Swifts’ keeper Nelson in all sorts of trouble. As the ball came back off the angle of the goal frame, Dudfield pushed it the wrong side of the post.

Behan came close with a beautifully struck volley following a Kearney corner, but it took until the 24th minute before the hosts finally translated their overwhelming superiority into a goal. Danny Murphy curled a glorious free kick in from the right and Darren Murphy stepped across the line unmarked to glance his header home past the stranded Nelson.

On 39 minutes, Cork caught the dozing Dungannon defence with a training ground corner routine on the right. Kearney played the ball short to Sullivan, and as the Swifts defence stepped forward, he played it back on to the sprightly winger. Kearney carried the ball into the area, beating Nelson at his far post with a placed finish.

Behan and Darren Murphy both came close for City following a brace of early second half corners, but the visitors switch to 4-4-2 was giving them an extra dimension in attack. With 52 minutes on the clock, Michael Hegarty’s chipped free-kick found Aaron Baker in acres of space. The hosts were still contesting the decision when Baker lifted the ball over the onrushing McNulty with ball dropping inches wide of the goal.

If there was a lesson to be learned about the pace of the Swifts front men the home defence seemed to be especially slow of learning. Baker was again on hand, skinning Corks defenders following a lightning break by McGerrigan. Once again, the striker’s effort dropped agonisingly wide.

Within seconds, it proved third time lucky for the visiting side. McGerrigan burst clear of the defence and with McNulty failing miserably to smother the ball on the edge of the area was left with a tap in. Suddenly it appeared a very different game. Cork were now looking shambolic in the face of Dungannon’s increased intensity.

With Sean Kelly injured, Alan Matthews brought on Darragh Ryan and moved Danny Murphy across to centre-back. With Dungannon playing it on the ground, the upshot was that Murphy's pace helped negate Dungannon’s attempts to break through the middle.

63 minutes in, City were awarded a penalty after McMinn wrestled Dudfield to the ground. Behan stepped up to the spot and made no mistake, dispatching the ball home with ease.

A few minutes later, Nelson caught his studs in the turf clearing the ball and looked to be in serious trouble. He tried his best to play on but it was clear that he was in no position to continue. On 69 minutes he rushed out, blocking a shot from Liam Kearney with his hands. Inexplicably, match referee Alan Kelly waved play on; Nelson had been a good 7 yards outside of his own area. By now, the keeper was visibly struggling; and as Gamble broke into the area on the right, he was left rooted to the spot as the ball reached the far post. Substitute Ryan was left was the simplest of tap-ins. Nelson was immediately re-placed by Brandon Regan.

That took the wind of the Swifts’ sails, and City now pushed on hoping to complete the rout. Kearney was give licence to roam and was causing consternation in the visitors’ ranks.

In the 78th minute, he played a wonderfully measured pass to Dudfield in the area. With the former Notts County man ready to pull the trigger he had the ball lifted off his toe by a visiting defender. Two minutes later, the winger was at it again. Collecting a throw in from the left, he burst into the area and cut the ball back for Ryan. This time, the full-back couldn’t keep his shot down.

With 7 minutes remaining, Kearney played another great ball from the left, this time picking out Alan O’Connor. The ball fell to O’Connor’s weaker foot though, his leaden touch sending the ball straight back out to the wing.

Further chances were to follow, with City’s Behan again hitting the bar and Dungannon having an effort cleared off the line, but neither side were able to add to their tally and the game finished 4-1.

Cork City (4-4-2) Mark McNulty; Pat Sullivan, Dan Murray, Sean Kelly, Danny Murphy; Liam Kearney, Joe Gamble, Darren Murphy, Alan O’Connor; Lawrie Dudfield, Denis Behan.

Subs: Darragh Ryan for Sean Kelly (61 mins); Gareth Cambridge for Joe Gamble (84 mins); Timmy Kiely for Lawrie Dudfield (88 mins).
Not used: Michael Devine, Neal Horgan. Billy Woods, Cillian Lordan.
Booked: Murray (76 mins).
Goals: Darren Murphy (23 mins); Kearney (39 mins); Behan (63 mins); Ryan (70 mins).

Dungannon Swifts (4-5-1) Dwayne Nelson; Ryan Mullan, Adam McMinn, Darragh Peden, Joe McKee; Jamie Tomelty, Michael Hegarty, Fergal McAliskey, Darren Murphy, Shea McGerrigan; Aaron Baker.

Subs: Aaron McIlwee for Darren Murphy (61 mins); Brandon Regan for Dwayne Nelson (64 mins); Timmy Adamson for Michael Hegarty (86 mins).
Not used: Rodney McAree.
Booked: McMinn (63 mins).
Goals: McGerrigan (54 mins).

Referee: Alan Kelly.

Man of the match: Liam Kearney.

Photo nicked from CorkCityFC.ie

23 August 2008

Cork City v Bray Wanderers Match Report (22/08/08)

Here's my match report for ExtraTime.ie

Original article here

On an emotional night at Turner’s Cross, the home side’s dismantling of Bray Wanderers seemed a mere side-show to the 3,800 strong home support’s show of defiance amidst Cork’s mounting financial problems. Shorn of their leading goal-scorer, City made light of Dave Mooney’s €250,000 move to Championship side Reading as they romped home to a three nil victory against Eddie Gormley’s side.

The atmosphere was more that of a vigil than a game of football with the chant “we’re in the wrong hands” reverberating around the ground for much of the second half. Lest their message be unclear, the hardcore shed support unfurled a banner which read “Arkaga Rot In Hell”.

Official man of the match Denis Behan stepped in to fill a Dave Mooney sized gap in the home attack, scoring twice and creating another, as well as rattling the woodwork. But it was Joe Gamble, recently retained despite the interest of St Patrick’s Athletic, who stole the show with a typically gutsy performance, capped off by a very untypical goal.

The former Reading man opened the scoring in the 15th minute, lifting the ball over the onrushing Alan Gough after a back post flick-on by Behan from Pat Sullivan’s cross.

In truth, it was a lacklustre opening period. City controlled proceedings without ever creating too many genuine openings. Bray were game as they sought to to play on the counter, but their neat triangular passing floundered whenever they reached the final third.

It was Behan who came closest to extending the home side’s lead on 31 minutes. Having collected a sensational Liam Kearney ball from deep in City’s own half, he cut inside the defence before slamming the ball against the bar.

Immediately after the interval, City came close as Gough pushed a Colin Healy free-kick into the path on Lawrie Dudfield. Unfortunately for home side, the recent recruit from Notts County couldn’t turn the ball home under pressure from the visiting defence.

Dudfield was desperately unlucky in the 66th minute with a diving header from Cillian Lordan’s cross, drawing a fine reflex save from Gough. Five minutes later, he header narrowly wide from a Danny Murphy corner.

With 76 minutes played and the Cork crowd’s protest now in full voice, City struck again. Danny Murphy swung an inch-perfect cross in from the left wing, and Denis Behan powered an unstoppable header past Gough at the far post.

Bray introduced Andy Myler and Gareth Coughlan for Aidan O’Keefe and Colm Tresson at the restart, but 5 minutes later the game was ended as a contest. Cork won a free-kick on the edge of the Bray area, and Danny Murphy’s effort was adjudged to have been handled by the referee. Denis Behan stepped up and slipped the ball home confidently to make it 3-0. An already standing crowd offered Dudfield a standing ovation as he left the fray to make way for John O’Flynn.

As the game wore on Cork toyed with the visitors, and Behan came close to completing his hat-trick in added time, shooting narrowly over as he burst into the area.

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the very existence of Alan Matthews side. At the full-time whistle, the home players lingered to pay their respects to home followers in a poignant display of solidarity. Some ten minutes later, the banners began to fall as the home support filed disconsolately out of the ground, which speculation rife as to what the future may hold for Leeside club.

Cork City (4-4-2) Michael Devine; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray, Pat Sullivan, Danny Murphy; Liam Kearney, Joe Gamble, Colin Healy, Cillian Lordan; Lawrie Dudfield, Denis Behan.
Subs: John O’Flynn for Dudfield (83 mins); Darren Murphy for Healy (85 mins); Darragh Ryan for Kearney (89 mins),
Not used: Mark McNulty, Sean Kelly.
Booked: Danny Murphy (57 mins); Pat Sullivan (58 mins); Dan Murray (68 mins).
Goals: Gamble (15 mins); Behan (76 mins; 81 mins, pen).

Bray Wanderers (4-4-2) Alan Gough; Derek Pender, Derek Foran, Colm Tresson, Gary Cronin; Gavin Whelan, Daryl Robson, Mark Duggan, Paddy Kavanagh; Ger Rowe, Aidan O’Keefe.
Subs: Jake Kelly for Tresson (76 mins); Gareth Coughlan for Aidan O’Keefe (76 mins); Andy Myler for Ger Rowe (89 mins).
Not used: Gabriel Sava, David Webster.
Booked: Derek Foran (81 mins).
Referee: M. Gough.

Official man of the match: Denis Behan.
Extratime’s man of the match: Joe Gamble.

Pics nicked from CorkCityFC.ie

21 August 2008

South Ossetia Isn't Kosovo

I had to steal this rather excellent piece by Christopher Hitchens from The Slate.

Original article here

Whatever Moscow says, there are at least six significant differences between the two situations.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Aug. 18, 2008, at 12:00 PM ET

While it is almost certainly true that Moscow's action in the Ossetian and (for good measure) the Abkhazian enclave of Georgia has been, in a real sense, the revenge for the independence of Kosovo (on Feb. 14 Vladimir Putin said publicly that Western recognition of Kosovar independence would be met by intensified Russian support for irredentism in South Ossetia), it is extremely important to bear in mind that this observation does not permit us the moral sloth of allowing any equivalence between the two dramas.

Perhaps one could mention just some of the more salient differences?

1. Russia had never expressed any interest in Ossetian or Abkhazian micronationalisms, while Georgia was an integral part of the Soviet Union. It is thus impossible to avoid the suspicion that these small peoples are being used as "strategic minorities" to negate the independence of the larger Georgian republic and to warn all those with pro-Russian populations on their soil of what may, in turn, befall them. This is like nothing so much as Turkish imperialism in Cyprus and Thrace and Iraq, where local minorities can be turned on and off like a faucet according to the needs of the local superpower.

2. Kosovo, which was legally part of Yugoslavia but not of Serbia was never manipulated as part of the partition or intervention plan of another country—the United States, in fact, spent far too long on the pretense that the Yugoslav federation could be saved—and, for a lengthy period, pursued its majority-rule claims by passive resistance and other nonviolent means. NATO intervention occurred only when Serbian forces had resorted to mass deportation and full-dress ethnic "cleansing." Whatever may be said of Georgia's incautious policy toward secessionism within its own internationally recognized borders, it does not deserve comparison with the lawless and criminal behavior of the Slobodan Milosevic regime. And in any case, it is unwise for Moscow to be making the analogy, since it supported Milosevic at the time and has excused him since on the less-than-adorable grounds (barely even disguised in Russian propaganda) of Christian Orthodox solidarity. It also armed and incited the most extreme and least pacifist forces in Ossetia and Abkhazia.

3. Does anybody remember the speeches in which the Russian ambassador to the United Nations asked the General Assembly or Security Council to endorse his country's plan to send land, air, and sea forces deep into the territory and waters of a former colony that is now a U.N. member state? I thought not. I look at the newspaper editorials every day, waiting to see who will be the first to use the word unilateral in the same sentence as the name Russia. Nothing so far. Yet U.N. Resolution 1441, warning Saddam Hussein of serious consequences, was the fruit of years of thwarted diplomacy and was passed without a dissenting vote.

4. The six former constituent republics of Yugoslavia, which all exercised their pre-existing constitutional right to secede from rule by Belgrade, are seated as members of the United Nations, as, indeed, is Georgia. Twenty out of 27 states of the European Union have also recognized the government of Kosovo as an entity de jure as well as de facto. The Kosovar population is estimated at 1.8 million, which makes it larger than that of some existing E.U. member states. Does anyone seriously imagine that Russia ever even remotely intends to sponsor any statehood claims for the tiny local populations of Ossetia and Abkhazia? On the contrary, these peoples will be reassimilated into the Russian empire. So any comparison with Kosovo would have to be not to its breaking away but to its potential absorption and annexation by Albania. And nobody has even proposed this, let alone countenanced the unilateral stationing of Albanian armed forces on Kosovar soil.

5. Heartbreakingly difficult though the task has been, and remains, the whole emphasis of Western policy in the Balkans has been on de-emphasizing ethnic divisions; subsidizing cities and communities that practice reconciliation; and encouraging, for example, Serbs and Albanians to cooperate in Kosovo. One need not romanticize this policy, but it would nonetheless stand up to any comparison with Russian behavior in the Caucasus (and indeed the Balkans), which is explicitly based on an outright appeal to sectarianism, nationalism, and—even worse—confessionalism.

6. The fans of moral equivalence may or may not have noticed this, but the obviously long-meditated and coordinated Russian military intervention in Georgia comes in the same month as explicit threats to the sovereignty of Poland and Ukraine, and hard on the heels of a Russian obstruction of any U.N. action in the case of Zimbabwe. Those who like to describe Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev as reacting to an "encirclement" of Russia may wish to spill some geopolitical ink on explaining how Kosovo forms part of this menacing ring of steel—or how the repression of the people of Zimbabwe can assist in Moscow's breakout strategy from it.

If it matters, I agree with the critics who say that the Bush administration garnered the worst of both worlds by giving the Georgians the impression of U.S. support and then defaulting at the push-comes-to-shove moment. The Clintonoids made exactly that mistake with Serbian aggression a decade and more ago, giving the Bosnians hope and then letting them be slaughtered until the position became untenable—and then astoundingly, and even after the Dayton Accords, repeating the same series of dithering errors in the case of Kosovo. The longer the moment of truth was postponed, the worse things became. But this in itself argues quite convincingly that there was no deliberate imperial design involved. Will anyone say the same about Putin's undisguised plan for the forcible restoration of Russian hegemony all around his empire's periphery? It would be nice to think that there was a consistent response to this from Washington, but I would not even bet someone else's house on the idea, which is what President Bush has given the strong impression of doing in the low farce and frivolity of the last two weeks.

09 August 2008

Cork City v Bohemians Match Report

Here's my match report for ExtraTime.ie

Original article here

A classic smash-and-grab raid at Turner’s Cross saw league leaders Bohemians move a step closer to securing their first title since the advent of summer football. With the hosts having battered the visitors for much of preceding 75 minutes, Cork’s supporters were left stunned by Glen Crowe’s cool finish.

It could easily have been very different, for the hosts unleashed a hurricane upon Bohemians in the opening 45 minutes. Within 20 seconds, Dave Mooney managed to get on the end of Denis Behan’s knock-down, forcing Bohs custodian Brian Murphy into a full-stretch save.

Two minutes later, after a clearance ricocheted back towards the danger zone, Mooney charged down Brian Murphy’s attempt to clear and again the Bohemians keeper was forced to make a sharp intervention to deny Denis Behan. The ball again broke to the burly Cork centre forward, but his failure to react quickly enough gave the besieged visiting defence some welcome respite.

City kept up the pressure, willed on by a crowd numbering close to 4,300. On 20 minutes, and as the ball fizzed around the Bohemians area, captain Dan Murray headed narrowly over from Danny Murphy’s cross.

Liam Kearney was popping up everywhere for City, cutting inside at will to test the visitors’ ponderous central defence. Their hesitancy in that area was badly exposed by the winger on 34 minutes, when his through ball found Dave Mooney. The former Longford man slipped a low shot past the advancing keeper, but Anthony Murphy intervened at the crucial moment to prevent the striker’s effort from crossing the line. Following the resultant corner kick, Colin Healy struck a powerful volley over the bar.

A further scare when Brian Murphy cleared a hospital pass from Thomas Heary just in time to deny Behan left the Bohs keeper in need of attention from the physio, and a few minutes later his own erratic clearance spread further panic amongst his defenders. Clearly, the half-time whistle couldn’t come a moment too soon for the visiting side.

Regardless of what Pat Fenlon said to his charges at half-time, it was again City who opened the half with more purpose. Behan had a volley saved, and Joe Gamble had a shot blocked down before the home side had their first real scare of the match. A ball from Mark Rossiter caught Liam Kearney in two minds and he almost turned a header into his own goal. Bohs failed to capitalise on this rare foray forward though, as Devine pushed Killian Brennan’s corner kick clear with ease.

But Bohemians were slowly beginning to get a grip on the game, and began to pose an increasing threat on the break. On 57 minutes, Neale Fenn made a clever run to collect a ball over the top from Jason Byrne. The former City favourite drew a fine reflex save from Devine before Murray turned the ball behind for a corner. A minute later, Fenn played a cross to the back post which Brennan headed over uncontested from the 6 yard line.

By now Cork were lacking the incisiveness that had characterised their earlier play, and manager Alan Matthews made a bold call when hauling off Darren Murphy for John O’Flynn in 67 minutes. Just as they seemed to be regaining their gusto, disaster struck. Colin Healy’s late tackle on the recently introduced John Paul Kelly almost resulted in some ugly scenes, with the visitors incensed by the challenge. Tempers had barely cooled when Anthony Murphy’s free-kick found the home defence napping. Killian Brennan headed the ball to find an unmarked Glen Crowe, who lifted the past Devine to the disbelief of the home support.

With the home side already flagging, Matthews introduced new signing Lawrie Dudfield for Liam Kearney. But Cork never looked like recovering from Crowe’s body blow as Fenlon’s side coasted home to what may well prove an invaluable three points in their title quest.

Cork City (4-4-2) Michael Devine; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray, Pat Sullivan, Danny Murphy; Liam Kearney, Joe Gamble, Colin Healy, Darren Murphy; Dave Mooney, Denis Behan.
Subs: John O’Flynn for Behan (67 mins); Lawrie Dudfield for Kearney (83 mins).
Not used: Darragh Ryan, Cillian Lordan, Mark McNulty.
Booked: Colin Healy (75 mins).

Bohemians (4-4-2) Brian Murphy; Mark Rossiter, Thomas Heary, Owen Heary, Anthony Murphy; Killian Brennan, Stephen O’Donnell, Gary Deegan, Jason Byrne; Neale Fenn, Glen Crowe.
Subs: John Paul Kelly for Fenn (70 mins); Mindaugas Kalonas for Byrne (84 mins).
Not used: Chris Konopka, Conor Powell, Sean Byrne.
Booked: Killian Brennan (37 mins); Stephen O’Donnell (78 mins).
Goals: Glen Crowe (76 mins).

Referee: Ian Stokes.
Man of the match: Brian Murphy.

Pics nicked off CorkCityFC.ie

28 July 2008

Cork City v St Patrick's Athletic Match Report

Here's my match report for ExtraTime.ie

Original article here.

A lively encounter at Turner’s Cross between Cork City and St Patrick’s Athletic ended in a scoreless draw on Sunday evening. With both sides keen to make ground on leaders Bohemians neither will be entirely happy with the outcome, but perhaps St Patrick’s will be the happier having been under the cosh for much of the opening hour.

The 3900 supporters in attendance were in good voice on this fine summer’s night, no doubt buoyed by Cork’s success in the afternoon’s hurling quarter-final.

Denis Behan started up front alongside Dave Mooney, who was looking to continue his remarkable run of goals, and the hosts also had Joe Gamble back from suspension. The visitors started with Jamie Harris paired with Ryan Guy up front, with new signing Jason Gavin starting at the back, and were quite content to park the bus in the first half.

In a game played with good tempo and spirit, remarkably few clear chances were created. Mooney had a couple of half-chances early on, and on 17 minutes Joe O’Cearuill just diverted the ball away from Denis Behan after Darren Murphy tried to find the striker at the back post. On 29 minutes, Joe Gamble came close with a shot from outside the area which went just wide of Barry Ryan’s right-hand post.

A minute later, as City began to exert greater control over the game, Neal Horgan caught the St Patrick’s defence napping with a superb ball over the top to Dave Mooney. However, having timed his run to perfection and controlled the ball well with his first touch, the former Longford man will have every reason to disappointed with his meek finish.

St Patrick’s rarely threatened, and might well have made better use of Ryan Guy’s willingness to run at the home defence.

The best chance came the hosts’ way four minutes before the interval. Danny Murphy whipped in an inviting free-kick from the right, but captain Dan Murray couldn’t take advantage of a free header from 2 yards out.

In the opening phase of the second half, City upped the tempo further and were virtually camped in the visitors’ half for long periods. During this siege, Gavin’s presence and leadership at the back proved vital to the visitors. The former Drogheda man gave a flawless performance, dominant in the air, and impeccable in timing his tackles. On this evidence, his €20,000 move looks to be a shrewd piece of business for the Inchicore side.

The closest that City came to translating their overwhelming territorial superiority came on 58 minutes. First, Dave Mooney made a great run to latch onto Denis Behan’s flick-on, and protested that he had been brought down by the visiting keeper. From the resulting corner, Darren Murphy headed narrowly over at the back post after another great delivery from his namesake Danny.

John McDonnell moved to stem the green tide with a tactical reshuffle, and this soon paid dividends. Having taken O’Cearuill for Glen Fitzpatrick on 56 minutes, he brought on Bobby Ryan for Derek O’Brien with 25 minutes remaining. Guy moved out to the left, with Damien Lynch moving back to right back, and soon City found themselves pegged back in their own half.

Winning every 50/50 ball in the middle of the park, Pat’s made things difficult for the hosts but failed to create much of note. Harris had the ball in the net in the 83rd minute, but the whistle had already gone for offside.

Right at the death, both sides came close to breaking the deadlock. In the final minute, with the hosts piling forward, Darren Murphy drew a fine save from close range from the Pat’s keeper. As the ball pin-balled round the area, Behan’s shot was blocked for a corner.

In added time Pat’s had their best chance as they broke away, but Keith Fahey dragged a decent effort just wide of Devine’s left post.

Cork City (4-4-2): Michael Devine; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray (Captain), Pat Sullivan, Danny Murphy; Liam Kearney, Colin Healy, Joe Gamble, Darren Murphy; Denis Behan, David Mooney.
Subs (all unused): Darragh Ryan, Dave Mulcahy, Cillian Lordan, Mark McNulty, Alan O’Connor.

St Patrick’s Athletic (4-4-2): Barry Ryan; Des Byrne, Jason Gavin, Stephen Paisley, Joe O’Cearuill; Derek O’Brien, Gary Dempsey, Keith Fahey, Damien Lynch; Jamie Harris, Ryan Guy.
Subs: Glen Fitzpatrick for Joe O’Cearuill (55 mins); Bobby Ryan for Derek O’Brien (65 mins).
Not used: Brendan Clarke, Dave Rogers, Stephen Brennan.

Referee: David McKeon.
Official man of the match: Pat Sullivan
Extratime’s choice: Jason Gavin.

(Photograph 'borrowed' from Cork City's website)

21 June 2008

Cork City v Cobh Ramblers Match Report

Here's my match report for ExtraTime.ie

Cork City romped home to a 5-0 victory over local rivals Cobh Ramblers on a fine June evening at Turner’s Cross, with Sunderland boss Roy Keane amongst the 3,900 in attendance. Braces for Liam Kearney and top scorer Dave Mooney followed John O’Flynn’s 24th minute opener, with the home side barely having to get out of second gear in a match which they controlled from start to finish in the absence of suspended midfielder George O’Callaghan.

The Leesiders’ only real scare came during the scrappy opening minutes. Gavin O’Neill tapped the ball home for the visitors, but Brian McCarthy was adjudged to have pushed City captain Dan Murray from the preceding corner.

In truth, it was poor fare throughout the first half, with City dominating the territory without creating too many clear-cut openings. The opener came after a fine ball played in from the right by Joe Gamble, with John O’Flynn hitting a first time effort to beat James McCarthy at his far post. Just minutes later, Dave Mooney came close as he stretched to meet a Darren Murphy cross.

In the 35th minute, City were denied what seemed a clear penalty, with Liam Kearney bundled to the ground inside the area. The referee was unimpressed however, and booked the winger for protesting.

With the game petering out five minutes before the interval, Dave Mooney burst into the area, jinking past two defenders before slotting home after being played through by the irrepressible Kearney.

City opened the second half playing with greater tempo and purpose. On 52 minutes, Darren Murphy’s header was cleared off the line by Ramblers’ Captain Alan Carey. It was during this period of sustained pressure that the hosts made the game safe. Just two minutes later, Liam Kearney got on the end of a through pass as the keeper charged out, and despite a clumsy first touch still had the presence of mind to slot the ball home cooly from the left hand side of the goal.

Oddly, going a third goal down seemed to liberate the visitors somewhat, as they began the push more men forward in search of a consolation strike. Mulconroy was replaced by Conor Meade, and Gareth Cambridge came on for Alan Kearney, but City clearly had the wind in their sails and began to pick holes in the visiting defence. Gamble played Mooney through on 63 minutes, and the former Longford man produced a smart finish only to have the goal disallowed for offside.

It was a poor decision from the linesman, but the vibrant home support didn’t have to wait too long for number four. With 67 minutes on the clock, a clever ball dinked over the top by Kearney had Mooney through on keeper. Having looked to have taken the ball too far wide, he blasted home from the left with the defence haring back to take his tally for the season to 11 in all competitions.

Now looking for his hat-trick, Mooney blasted a long range effort over the bar three minutes later. Cillian Lordan replaced Neal Horgan, and Joe Gamble picked up a yellow card for a stiff tackle on John Kearney, which means he now faces further suspension. Mooney came close again with thirteen minutes remaining, putting the ball wide of the near post after an excellent ball from John O’Flynn.

Mooney turned provider on 85 minutes, cutting the ball back from the right for onrushing Liam Kearney to complete Ramblers’ misery. The result leaves goal-shy Cobh mired in the lower reaches of the table, but for the hosts the season is beginning to look more positive as they now lie seven points off the top of the table.

Cork City (4-4-2): Michael Devine; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray, Pat Sullivan, Danny Murphy; Liam Kearney, Colin Healy, Joe Gamble, Darren Murphy; John O’Flynn, Dave Mooney.

Subs: Cillian Lordan for Neal Horgan (73 mins); Dave Meyler for Darren Murphy (81 mins); Denis Behan for John O’Flynn (86 mins).

Not used: Mark McNulty, Alan O’Connor.

Booked: Liam Kearney (35 mins); Joe Gamble (76 mins)

Goals: O’Flynn (24), Kearney (40, 54), Mooney (40, 67)

Cobh Ramblers (4-5-1) James McCarthy; Alan Carey, Johnny Meade, Brian McCarthy, Shane Guthrie, Davin O’Neill, Michael Mulconroy, Mikey O’Shea, John Kearney, Alan Kearney, Gareth Cummins

Subs: Conor Meade for Michael Mulconroy (50 minutes), Gareth Cambridge for Alan Kearney (64 minutes).

Not used: Kenny Coleman, Shane Barrett, Ray Lally.

Booked: John Kearny (9 mins)

Referee: A Kelly

Man of the match: Dave Mooney

(Photo shamelessly thieved from RTE)

04 June 2008

Ireland: perverse argument

Here's an article of mine which got published in the Index on Censorship:

Original article here.

Gay sex, moral crusades and Desperate Dan: the Mayo Echo row has it all, writes String

A popular community-based website in the west of Ireland was forced to cease operating last week in the fallout that followed the publication of an inflammatory article in a local newpaper attacking alleged gay ‘perverts’.

The article, penned by Tony Geraghty, editor and proprietor of local free freesheet, the Mayo Echo, provoked widespread debate on Irish web forums. This quite startling front-page article, which reads like a bad Onion spoof, told the story of a recreational area in Castlebar, Co Mayo being transformed into a latter day Sodom, with hundreds of men visiting on a weekly basis to have anonymous sex with strangers, propositioning young boys, and getting their rocks off whilst thumbing through children’s magazines. Perhaps most horrifying, the article described ‘drooling perverts getting off whilst watching children’ playing at an adjacent playground.

‘Castlebar lake attracts hundreds of perverts’, read the headline. Mr Geraghty’s appeal to outrage, spread across several pages, contained terrifying conclusions, noting these sordid shenanigans ‘might lead to sexual attacks in the future’. Not content with such bristling polemic, Mr Geraghty decided that the public interest would best be served by the publications of photographs, which included one of an alleged ‘pervert’; a car, which, lest the reader be short of sight, was accompanied by a close up of its registration plate; and the truly gruesome sight, sure to shock befuddled of Ballinasloe, of discarded condoms and tissues lying close to pages from a ‘boys’ magazine’.

Men, the reader was informed, were travelling from as far afield as Galway and Donegal, to cavort in the bushes in broad daylight, just yards away from a playground, in the west of Ireland’s number one cruising spot. The Irish police force, the Garda Siochana, we were told, had been conducting an undercover operation for many months, leading to several recent arrests, and had received numerous complaints (although clearly not as many as our intrepid reporter). But more on this later.

Castlebar.ie was a tremendously popular local website, receiving as many as three million hits per month - or at least it did up until last Saturday, when the site announced on its main page that it had been ‘forced to cease operation after more than 10 years of publication [due to] threats of legal action received from a commercial publication based in Castlebar’, which it identified as the Mayo Echo. Editor Geraghty had objected to critcism of his article, and him, on the site’s very active forum. Indeed, an email from Mr Geraghty, previously available on Castlebar.ie, read:

‘I would like to express my utter disgust at postings placed on your website www.castlebar.ie on the ‘Online Forum’… There is lengthy discussion of an article published in the Mayo Echo this week, and some of the comments are completely unacceptable, untrue, and completely defamatory to myself…

‘I am completely in favour of the principle of a free press, freedom of expression, and the free exchange of ideas, but with such rights come responsibilities, both legal and moral.

‘I hereby formally call on you to ensure the following:

‘That the offending postings are removed immediately.

‘That at the first opportunity, a mutually agreed full and unequivocal apology be made to myself, and to the Mayo Echo, admitting that the comments made are unsubstantiated, untrue and are withdrawn forthwith.

‘I am also seeking any information or data that might identify those persons that contributed these postings, IP address etc. I am also requesting the identities of the moderators that monitor and vet the postings.’

The offending posts were removed, and, it is understood that the website issued an ‘unreserved and unequivocal apology’ - the first time in its history it had done so. But the unremitting cloud of legal threats finally forced that site administrator’s hand into shutting the site down entirely.

RTE’s Liveline, presented by Joe Duffy, is one of the most the most popular radio shows in Ireland, offering a platform to the indignant and the irritable to vent their spleen. Covering issues from Spanish exchange students conversing too loudly on buses, to more serious matters like political corruption, fraudulent trading, and medical malpractice scandal, the show has long been compulsory listening. Tuesday’s show opened with Mr Geraghty, in bullish form, reiterating his allegations and attempting to copper fasten his new found fame as a zealous crusader for public morality.

A flood of calls followed.

One of the first to respond was Frank O’Grady, a representative of regional gay rights group OutWest. Earlier in the week, his organisation had issued a statement claiming that Mr Geraghty’s allegations were ‘unfounded’. We didn’t just have to take Mr O’Grady’s word for it, however, because O’Grady had taken the eminently sensible step of making official contact with the Garda Siochana. A superintendent had confirmed to OutWest that, not only had no arrests been, but there was no ongoing operation regarding the matter. In fact, the GardaĆ­ had not received a single complaint.

A local councillor, Michael Kilcoyne, went on the record stating that he was appalled by the allegations, ‘which [have] no basis in fact whatsoever’. Several further callers, many locals, both gay and straight, called to register their disgust at the article and its casual linking of homosexuality to paedophilia. One caller, who claimed to live a ’stone’s throw away’ from the lake, expressed his disbelief at the allegations. Councillor Brendan Hennigan was particularly scathing in his criticism, claiming that the allegations were ‘outrageous’, and had scared local people away from their recreational area. When he pushed Mr Geraghty on the matter of the photographs, the editor’s excuse for publishing the registration number bordered on the absurd; claiming that the type of car was ‘rare enough’, but many people drove similar cars in the area, and he feared reprisals against their innocent owners. More incredible still was Mr Geraghty’s claim that it was his duty to ensure that families should ‘be aware of what their fathers and brothers’ were up to.

There were isolated expressions of support for Mr Geraghty’s bravery, although tellingly, none of these came from Castlebar natives. The majority were more or less united in objecting to the shrill nature of the piece, labelling it as incitement to hatred. One elderly caller spoke of his sadness at having his community site, a window to the world and a source of business, closed down by the legal threats. Another caller forced Mr Geraghty into furious backtracking regarding the nature of the images from ‘boys’ magazines’ found at the site, which turned out to be nothing more malign than the Dandy, home of Desperate Dan and Beryl the Peril. Nonetheless, Mr Geraghty made the bizarre claim that the comic had been used for ’sexual gratification’.

As it stands, Castlebar.ie is still offline. Meanwhile, in this week’s edition of the Mayo Echo, Geraghty has treated us to a further two-page polemic concerning the response to last week’s sensational piece of journalism. ‘One of the principles of good journalism is that the journalist should not become the story,’ it begins. With an apparent absence of irony, he pontificates further on the issue of free speech, before railing at the injustice of it all:

‘It seems in this modern day that there are certain groups we simply are not alloyed [sic] to discuss. When we talk about issues of concern with some members of the travelling community, we are immediately labelled as anti-traveller, despite the issues raised being completely true, and of legitimate concern to the public. When we raise some societal challenges being faced due to the sudden influx of foreigners (almost a no-go word in itself), we are accused of being racist. And when we raise issues clearly of concern to our own community concerning a practice among some members of the gay community, we are accused of being anti-gay. In this era of over-the-top political correctness, it seems the only acceptable topic for discussion is the weather, and GAA.’

Cork City v Shamrock Rovers Match Report

This match report was done for League of Ireland news site, ExtraTime.

Original article here.

Cork City supporters were left shaking their heads at another two points squandered, as Sean O’Connor’s 81st minute strike secured what had seemed an unlikely draw for Shamrock Rovers.

Credit must be given to the visitors for their tremendous work-rate throughout, but with City controlling the game for most of a wet evening at Turner’s Cross, Liam Kearney’s opener looked to have provided the home side with a strong basis to take the three points.

The Cork leg of Munster’s Heineken Cup coming certainly took its toll on the attendance, with only 2,500 supporters turning up for a game that has traditionally proved a big draw. The Leesiders fielded an unchanged eleven after their comfortable win at Bray, which meant that Joe Gamble, just back from suspension, had to be content with a place on the bench.

From the beginning, the home side looked the more lively, with Pat Scully’s side content to close down the space and hope to catch the hosts on the break. The match referee, Richie Winter put down an early marker on dissent, having words with Rovers’ Stephen Rice as early as the fourth minute.

Chances were few and far between in the opening stages, with City playing at a high tempo but being frequently let down by their final ball. In particular, Danny Murphy was guilty of being wasteful on several occasions, the full-back being all to eager to hit quick ball forward when a more structured approach might have proved more profitable. Rovers actually did have the ball in the back of the net after 10 minutes, but Padraig Amond had already been flagged offside by the time he collected Alan Murphy’s through ball.

As Rovers dropped deeper, City created a series of openings, most notably in the 34th minute when a speculative ball from Danny Murphy looked to have John O’Flynn through on the edge of the area. The slightest of tugs from Aidan Price led to yellow card for the Rovers defender and George O’Callaghan came close from the resulting free, with the ball dipping just wide of Barry Murphy’s right-hand post.

For the most part though, Rovers reduced their opponents to half-chances, with their defence remaining as disciplined as the opposing attack was erratic. Liam Kearney went close on a couple of occasions, and Barry Murphy was down quickly after spilling a long rang effort from Colin Healy on the stroke of half-time to ensure matters remained level at the interval.

City almost made the breakthrough in the 49th minute, when O’Callaghan was desperately unlucky to see a superb free-kick come back off the bar from 25 yards. Just four minutes later, Rovers’ Murphy scooped a John O’Flynn effort off the line to the disbelief of the home crowd.

The elusive goal came after 58 minutes, with Liam Kearney tucking away a diving header at the far post following a Dave Mooney flick-on from Pat Sullivan’s throw-in.
City now upped the tempo, pegging Rovers back on the edge of their own area for long spell, with the impressive Darren Murphy flashing a header across the face of the goal on 63 minutes. Rovers made their second substitution of the night, David Tyrell replacing Aidan Price, as they sought to stem the flow. As it was, now pressing higher up the pitch, they struck a peach of a breakaway goal. Just moments after Dave Mooney had struck the base of the post, having been played through by O’Callaghan, Sean O’Connor found the back of the net from just inside the area, after Alan Murphy’s pass caught the City defence napping.

With just three minutes of regulation time remaining Alan Matthews replaced Kearney with Denis Behan, switching to 4-3-3, but in the end his side were left to rue earlier misses as the game fizzled out to a one-all draw.

Cork City (4-4-2): Michael Devine; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray, Pat Sullivan, Danny Murphy; Liam Kearney, Darren Murphy, Colin Healy, George O’Callaghan; Dave Mooney, John O’Flynn.

Subs: Denis Behan for Liam Kearney (87 mins)

Not used: Joe Gamble, Cillian Lordan, Mark McNulty, Alan O’Connor.

Booked: Behan (45).

Goals: Kearney (58).

Shamrock Rovers (4-4-2):Barry Murphy; Danny O’Connor, Corey Tracey, Aidan Price, Barry Ferguson; Darragh Maguire, Eoin Doyle, Stephen Rice, Alan Murphy; Padraig Amonda. Seam O’Connor.

Subs: Tadhg Purcell for Eoin Doyle (50 mins), David Tyrell for Aidan Price (69 mins).
Not used: Mark Langtry, Darren Stapleton, Karl Coleman.

Booked: Price (34), Doyle (43), Maguire (48).
Goals: Sean O’Connor (81).

Referee: Richie Winter
Man of the match: Darren Murphy.

24 April 2008

A bitter disappointment

Awful, awful, awful game.

Unfortunately, Ferguson did exactly what I suspected he might which was to play it cagey and see how things went. Even allowing for that, it was absolutely shocking to see how deep the defence were at times. The selection was wrong. Fair enough about Vidic, but Ronaldo up top was a big mistake. He was isolated for the entire game, had no support, and no decoy runners to create space to move into. I can see the logic of playing Park in a tie like this, but it didn't work and he should have been taken off at half-time for Nani. The RTE panel raved about Scholes, but I think he just did what you would expect from someone in that role- maybe it's because it's the wrong role for him and he still did well, but when it came to the things you usually expect of him, he didn't do it. His passing wasn't up to scratch, although the team was so poorly set-up it made little difference.

United should have approached this game on the front foot- with their record in home second legs, 0-0 is not a good result. Barca have been awful of late, and a score draw (at the minimum) should have been the aim. a 2-1 or 3-2 loss would have been fine also. Instead, they made a shambolic Barcelona look decent. As it happened, they just didn't have the ability or the confidence to do to United what they deserved. One thing you can say is the defence performed brilliantly, maintaining their concentration throughout, and restricted the opposition to a handful of half-chances. Scholes and Carrick should been pressing much higher up the field though, in the end they just ended up inviting too much pressure on the defence and were too far away from the frontmen when they did get posession to create anything. They relied upon, and might have profited better from, lapses in concentration from the opposition- but the problem with that is that when the other side in controlling the game, there is a far greater likelihood that you'll be the team to make the mistake. Risky stuff. Even the Italians don't play like that anymore.

As for Barca, I thought they were pretty poor as well. For a team that had 62% of the ball, they did nothing. Messi did alright; Xavi played well; Deco, for me, was fantastic- anyone (and there are many, it would seem) who doesn't recognise what he brings to the table knows nothing about the game. As for the others? Eto'o- poor; Iniesta- looked out of place so far up the pitch. Abidal was poor also, Zambrotta put in a good shift though. Henry, I think, should have come on earlier, and in place of Eto'o. As it was, I thought he did reasonably well, in that position which he doesn't enjoy much.

As for next week, it's a tough call. If United play anything like they did last night, they'll be poxed if they get through; if they play it as if it's a premiership game, and get the selection right, they'll cream them. Anderson and Nani have to start. Ronaldo must be allowed to run from deep. I think the whole Rooney thing is a red herring. He can start up front, play off Tevez, or come in from the left. What matters is that the deeper lying midfielders can link up with the attack, and that Evra can overlap. It's all about the attitude- fuck playing chess. Play football.

(Photography shamelessly stolen from http://football.guardian.co.uk )