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.