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