Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Galway v Wexford June 22

Galway 1-11 Wexford 2-8

Dominic McGill Clears the ball for Wexford.

Galway and Wexford played highly entertaining game of hurling with little separating the sides. Wexford looked to have the advantage for most of the game and early in the second half led by seven points, but some substitutions by Galway turned the tide back in their favour and the final minutes were cliff hanging as each side tried to press home for the winning score.
The first half was of a high standard with plenty of good hurling and commitment from each side. Galway opened their account with a point from free-taker Liam Kinsella,and Brian Geoghan added a second on five minutes. One minute later Wexford were level thanks to two quick points from Chris O’Connor. Wexford hit with a goal next, in a good move the ball made its way from Joe Clarke to Cillian Star who made no mistake from close range. Three more points followed for Wexford, one from O’Connor and two from Richie Kehoe. Galway now were six points behind, and truth be told it could have been further had Wexford not missed so many chances. Galway lifted their game to finish the half on three scores to one, two from Liam Kinsella and one from Geoghan, while Joe Clarke pointed for Wexford. 1-6 to 0-5 in Wexford’s favour at half time

Galway introduced several subs into the forward line to start the second half, and, having gone further behind thanks to a Chris O’Connor goal, ate into Wexford’s lead. Liam Kinsella, Brendan Morrissey and Evan Daniels each pointed before Michael Cooney goaled to put Galway within a point. After Kehoe put Wexford two to the good with a free, Galway leveled the scores for the first time since the sixth minute with back to bck points from Gary Burke. Wexford got their noses in front thanks to a lovely score from Austin Murphy on the left wing. Liam Kinsella evened it up again with a free. It was up and down the field for the last five minutes as each side attempted to get the game winning score, but neither side could make the breakthrough to take both points.

Wexford: E. Spruhan, B. Dalton, P. Holden, D. Redmond, D. McGill, D. Brennan, N. Qinlan, Richie Kehoe (0-3), Joe Clarke (0-1), P. Ryan, A. Murphy (0-1), Cillian Star (1-0), Chris O’Connor (1-3). Galway: D. Star, M. O’Donnell, J. Kinsella, E. Foley, S. Skelly, D. Brennan, P. Carey, Liam Kinsella (0-5), M. McMahon, N. O’Sullivan, J. Byrne, Brian Geoghan (0-2), F. Brennan. Subs: Brendan Morrissey (0-1), Evan Daniels (0-1), Gary Burke (0-2), Michael Cooney (1-0).

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, June 23, 2008

Donegal v Armagh-Notre Dame - June 22

Letterkenny man, Dualtach Molloy, looks for some help as Donegal go on the attack.

Donegal 3-9 Armagh-Notre Dame 2-11

In a highly anticipated encounter, Donegal and Armagh-Notre Dame played hotly contested 60 minutes of football. In a four-goal final quarter, it was Donegal who were still standing after both sides fought hard for the win.

The first half was evenly contested, one could have argued that Donegal had a slight advantage on the balance of play, but there was just the minimum separating the teams on the scoreboard all the way through. Donegal had to work hard in defence to keep a good Armagh-ND forward line in check, while the Donegal forward line could have done a little better with the possession that came their way. There were a few attacks that broke down due to overplaying the ball. Armagh-ND opened the scoring with points from Martin McStravog and Liam Morrow. Donegal got themselves on the board with a point from Keith Cunningham. After Martin Donaghy put a third over for the Brighton side, Donegal struck with a goal from Kieran Mulvihill. The Ballylongford man finished well from 20 yards out and just the keeper to beat. Donegal one point to the good with 11 minutes gone, and the Tir Chonaill men would stay ahead for the remainder of the half. The sides traded points, Dualtach Molloy and Mulvihill for Donegal and McStravog, Downs and Donaghy for the Orchard County. At the half Donegal led by a single point, 1-4 to 0-6.
Donegal started off the second half with a brace of scores to extend their lead to three points. Ronan McNeilis and Molloy pointed for Donegal; the northwesterners got their passing game together and translated their improved play into scores. The game started to get physical and there were some lengthy stoppages as a result of injuries and one or two scuffles. As the sides began to tire in the final quarter the goals came. Armagh-ND leveled the scores with a goal out of nothing, a high ball down the middle was not dealt with and Brendan Quinn found himself through with just the keeper to beat. Quinn sold a dummy and rounded the keeper to slot home. Almost immediately Donegal regained the lead with a somewhat fortunate penalty. Ronan McNeilis ran through and when challenged in the penalty area fell to the ground, and the whistle went for a penalty. Dualtach Molloy took the shot, which was saved, but Molloy volleyed the rebound into the back of the net.
Not to be undone, the Orchard county struck again with a second goal, again from Quinn. The ball found Quinn unmarked at the far post and the half forward sold the same dummy, and again finished into the empty net. The sides were level again going into the final five minutes. Brian Downs put the Orchard men one point ahead with a well taken free, but Donegal had a third goal in them. Donal McNulty leveled the scores with a Larry Bird-like steal as Armagh-ND were coming out of defence, and a minute later Keith Cunningham stole behind the Donegal defence from his half back position, was played through and with the keeper to beat, and did well to force the ball into the back of net. With time still left on the clock Armagh-ND brought the game back within a point. Colin Murphy saved well to deny Donaghy a goal and parry the ball over the bar and deny a possible winning goal to the Orchard county men. After a keenly contested 60 minutes of football, it was Donegal who emerged one-point victors.

Donegal: C. Murphy, S. Lee, P. Witherow, Keith Cunningham (1-1), C. Bonnar, S. McEwain, Donal McNulty (0-1), Ronan McNeilis (0-1), Ronan Diver (0-1), E. Murphy, K. Curran, Kieran Mulvhill (1-1), Dualtach Molloy (1-4). Armagh-ND: K. McKerr, J. Taggart, M. Digney, Liam Morrow (0-1), F. Meehan, S. O’Donnell, P. Mulpeter, J. Kielt, A. Blake, Brendan Quinn (2-0), Martin McStravog (0-2), Martin Donaghy (0-5), Brian Downes (0-3).
By Rory O'Donnell

Tir na nOg v Roscommon - June 22

Roscommon's Erin McGirr gets tied up by the Tir na nOg defenders.

Tir na nOg 2-15 Roscommon 0-10

With the rain threatening to come down Roscommon and Tir na nOg met on a humid Sunday afternoon. Tir na nOg held a four point advantage at the end of the first half, but the way the game was going, it seemed like it would be all to play for in the second period. Tir na nOg, however, took control of the game after the restart thanks to some excellent play at both ends of the field. In defence and in attack the Brighton side outplayed their opponents and deservedly ran out winners.

The game opened with a flurry of scores from both teams. Within 5 minutes Tir na nOg held a two point edge over their opponents. A goal from Ciara O’Higgins separated the sides in the early going. Roscommon played some good football to get back into the game and even things up. Points from Caroline Benson, Imelda McNulty, and Karen Maloney evened the scores. Towards the end of the half Tir na nOg reestablished their lead. Starting with some sound defence, the Brighton side ended the half with a goal and two points to put themselves in good position for the second. The goal came courtesy of Lisa McAleer. Maria Keane’d free dropped short and McAleer was on hand to fist the rebound home. Grainne McClean and Colleen Barrett each pointed to give their side the advantage going into the second 30.

Tir na nOg took over in the second half and scored seven points on the trot. Roscommon could not find their way past a resolute Tir na nOg back line, and the Tir na nOg forwards put some lovely scores over the bar. Maria Keane scored what was probably the best score of the day. Colleen Barrett made a great run down the wing, found center forward Katie Murphy inside her, who in turn passed to the open Keane who slotted over from 25 yards. At the other end of the field Fiona Gohery denied Roscommon on two occasions with point blank saves. Angie Monaghan also put in a great display in the full forward line for Tir na nOg and rounded out the scoring for the game. Roscommon did have the two goal chances and also hit the crossbar, but had they pulled anything from the game would consider themselves to have stolen it. Roscommon are zero for two, but also got off to a bad start last year and ended up champions.

Tir na nOg: F. Gohery, B. Dunkan, L. Brick, G. Treanor, S. Bourke, S. Crampsie, A. Molloy, J. Moran, Andrea. McDaid (0-1), Colleen Barrett (0-3), Katie Murphy (0-1), Ciara O’Higgins (1-0), Lisa McAleer (1-0), Angie Monaghan (0-3), Maria Keane (0-6). Subs: Grainne McClean (0-1) Ros: N. Kavanagh, P. Bourke, L. Burns, G. Halloran, J. Mulligan, J. Rogers, M. Fox, R. Finnegan, Erin McGirr (0-1), Sharon McGovern (0-2), Karen Maloney (0-2), L. Morris, Caroline Benson (0-1), Imel;da McNulty (0-2), Fiona Claffey (0-2).

By Rory O'Donnell

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Aiden McAnespies v Wolfe Tones June 15

Wolfe Tones 0-11 Aiden McAnespies 2-12
McAnespies put in a scintillating first 30 minutes, and were unfortunate not to have been further ahead than the five point advantage that they held at half time. A goal got the northerners off to a great start. David Conway got around his marker and slid the ball home low under the advancing keeper. The Tones responded with three points; Marty Farrell, Willie Milner, and Jamie Murphy each pointed and after 10 minutes the sides were level again. McAnespies turned things up a notch or two from that point on. Johnny Laverty was in fine form at center forward, full of running and covering a lot of ground in the forward line, and McAnespies midfield of Declan Lally and Danny McBride had a distinct edge in that area of the field. Laverty scored two lovely points from play and followed with a third from a free. Sean McVeigh stemmed the tide with a nice point from play but David Conway put two over the bar, and Laverty a fourth for himself before the half time whistle. The Tones breathed a sigh of relief on at least two occasions as McAnespies looked to have a goal on. Wille O’Dowd did well to put David Conway’s shot out for a 50, and another chance went wide of the posts as the first half wound down.

The Tones opened the second half with a brace of points to raise their spirits. Former Kerry Under-21,Eamon Hickson, and then Willie Milner pointed for the Tones to reduce the gap to a single score, but McAnespies replied with two points of their own from Colm McCrory and Johnny Laverty. The Tones threatened to make a comeback on a couple of occasions, but did not follow through. Joey Farrell got the deficit down to four points with a point from a free, but the Conway/Laverty scoring duet each put one over in response. Marty Farrell and Sean McVeigh again got it back to four, but this time the response from McAnespies was a point from Colm McCrory and then a goal from David Conway. A Wolfe Tones attack broke down and the ball was worked down the other end of the field until Conway had just the keeper to beat and the Laois man duly obliged. With just over ten minutes to go and the way the game was going, that seemed to end the contest.

Marty Farrell and Michael O’Brien each pointed to level the scores on points, but the goals on the scoreboard, and a point from a late David Conway free, proved to be the difference between the teams.

McAnespies: D. Traynor, C. Lynch, S. Magill, D. Donegan, M. Stanbrook, A. Feeney, D. Lally, D. McBride, M. Gottsche, Johnny Laverty (0-6), Colm McCrory (0-2), S. McGettigan, David Conway (2-3). Tones: W. O’Dowd, Mike O’Brien (0-1), P. Holland, Jamie Murphy (0-1), D. Scullane, Eamon Hickson (0-1), Sean McVeigh (0-2), J. Farrell, K. Gorham, C. Farrell, Willie Milner (0-2), S. O’Brien, Marty Farrell (0-4).

By Rory O'Donnell

Friday, June 20, 2008

June 15 - Tipp v Wexford

Wexford 1-15 Tipperary –0-13

While Dublin and Wexford played to a draw in the Leinster senior hurling championship Saturday evening, 2 players who might have faced each other in that game had circumstances been different, ended up facing each other in Canton on Sunday afternoon. Tipp fielded with Dublin and Craobh Ciaran hurler Alan McCrabbe at wing forward, while Richie Kehoe, who was on the Wexford panel fielded for Wexford in the middle of the field. In the end it was Wexford and Kehoe who took the spoils with a good display of hurling.
Wexford owned the first half, which included a strong display from Kehoe. Wexford seemed to be better at supporting the play and the man with the ball, and picked up most of the breaks. Wexford had 4 points on the board before Tipp recorded a score. Cillian Starr, Kehoe (2), and Peter Ryan notched up points before Phillip Donnellan put one over for Tipp. The sides traded scores for the remainder of the half. Tipp kept in touch through the free-taking of McCrabbe, while Wexford recorded scores from Christopher O’Connor, and Kehoe. With Tipp needing a score before half time to put them in position to try and turn the tables in the second half, it was Wexford that struck with a goal. Kehoe took the first shot that was parried by Mark Daly in goal for Tipp, and Cillian Starr was on hand to put the rebound into the net. At the half Wexford held a seven point advantage.

Tipp introduced a few subs in the second half in an effort to raise their game, and it worked to a certain extent. Tipp worked harder and displayed a greater sense of urgency, but could not eat into Wexford’s lead. McCrabbe, Niall McCormack, and Cronan Dempsey pointed for Tipp, but Wexford maintained their advantage through the scoring of Christopher O’Connor, Cillian Starr, and a massive booming point from Kehoe. Towards the end of the game Tipp went in search of a much-needed goal, but the Wexford defence held out. Two points for Wexford as they embark on their defence of the Boston championship.

Wexford: E. Spruhan, B. Dalton, P. Holden, D. Redmond, D. McGill (0-2), D. Brennan, N. Quinlan, Richie Kehoe (0-8), J. Clarke, Peter Ryan (0-1), A. Murphy, Cillian Star (1-2), Christopher O’Connor (0-2). Tipp: M. Daly, D. O’Driscoll, J. McGrath, J. O’Sullivan, J. Coughlan, C. O’Mahoney, M. Jordan, S. Power, P. Donnellan (0-3), Cronan Dempsey (0-3), Alan McCrabbe (0-5), D. Buckley, Niall McCormack (0-2).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Boston GAA Report June 8, 2008 - Galway v Tom's

Fr. Tom Burke’s 1-9 Galway 2-15

Western rivals Tom’s and Galway met in the baking heat that came a little earlier than usual this year. The Sheehan Cup holders seemed unable to raise their performance to that of their opponents. Galway fielded a team where there were many new faces and at least one old. Paul Carey, who last played for Galway seven years ago, returned to the side recently. Galway were ahead of their opponents in pretty much all facets of the game. Steadier at the back and sharper up front, Galway were full value for their win. Tom’s seemed to find it hard to get some fire into their game, whether it was the curse of the cup or the heavy weather is hard to tell.

Galway may not have significantly outplayed Tom’s in the opening period, but they certainly outscored their opponents. After almost a third of the game played, Galway led by a goal and five points, with Tom’s yet to score. Galway were steadier at the back and cleared what they should have, while Tom’s suffered a lapse or two. Tom’s hit three or four scoreable chances wide of the mark before Eoin Moran opened their account after 18 minutes with a point from play. Galway had made the most of their forays into the Tom’s back line. Liam Kinsella, Niall O’Sullivan, and Brian Geoghan (2) each pointed before a goal came from the aforementioned Sullivan. Sullivan was probably surprised to find himself through on goal as Tom’s should really have cleared their lines, but the sliothar found it’s way past the Tom’s defenders and O’Sullivan finished neatly into the far corner of the net. Derek Fitzgerald followed with a point that again he may have been fortunate to find himself in a position to take.

Tom’s pulled themselves back in the game in the latter stages of the half. Four points on the trot from Moran, Trevor Kelly, Ciaran Moore and Eoin Larkin put Tom’s back within four points. Eoin Foley and Brian Geoghan bookended the half with two scores for Galway to put the tribesmen six points to the good heading into the dressing room.

Tom’s relied on the free taking of Eoin Moran to keep them in touch for much of the second half. The Round Towers clubman accounted for all of Tom’s five points, while Galway maintained the edge with scores from Evan Daniels, Niall O’Sullivan, and Liam Kinsella. James Kinsella put the best score of the game over with a fine point. Kinsella came out to meet a ball coming into the Galway defence and fired over the bar from almost half way out. Mid way through the half David Brennan put the game away for Galway with a goal. Brennan slipped behind the defence and hit low under the keeper to put Galway seven points to the good. With Tom’s struggling to make an impression up front the result seemed in little doubt. Tom’s snatched a goal in the dying minutes from Trevor Kelly, but Galway finished it out with points from Niall O’Sullivan and John Byrne.

Tom’s: D. Hession, M. Moore, J. Dowling, N. Callinan, D. Moore, D. Finneran, Eoin Moran (0-6), P. Nyhan, S. Moore, Trevor Kelly (1-1), D. Bowe, Ciaran Moore (0-1), Eoin Larkin (0-1). Galway: E. Duggan, M. O’Donnell, J. Kinsella, Eoin Foley (0-1), S. Scallan, S. Skelly, P.Carey, Liam Kinsella (0-3), Derek Fitzgerald (0-1), Niall O’Sullivan (1-5), David Brennan (1-0), Evan Daniels (0-1), Brian Geoghan (0-3). Sub John Byrne (0-1).
By Rory O'Donnell

Boston GAA Report June 8, 2008 - Gaels v Armagh-ND

Christy O'Connor was a thorn in the side of the Gaels Defence.

Armagh-Notre Dame 1-14 Connemara Gaels 0-7

The final Game of the day featured Armagh-Notre Dame and the Connemara Gaels. The Brighton side introduced a number of new faces to make their debuts in the Canton heat, while the Gaels did likewise. If the Gaels were hoping for revenge for last years semi-final defeat, hope would fade very fast as Armagh-Notre Dame took a firm grip of the game and held on with an iron fist until the end.
The Gaels looked to have the better of the opening exchanges, but Armagh-Notre Dame imposed themselves on the game for the second 20 minutes of the opening period. Vinny O’Malley and James Carlin exchanged points with Brian Downs and Christy O’Connor, and with the sides level on two points each, Armagh scored 1-5 with the Gaels looking like they had no response. The Gaels could not pick up any possession from kickouts and even when the Dorchester based side did, possession was usually given away at first try – with various culprits. Armagh capitalized with a goal from Brendan Quinn, who won a clean ball on the edge of the square and fired home. Conor McKeever almost scored another major immediately following, but his shot hit the inside of the post and the Portadown man had to settle for a point on the follow-up. Further points came from Martin McStravog, Christy O’Connor, and Shane O’Donnell. Even at that the Gaels could have considered themselves lucky not to be further behind such was he level of dominance by Armagh-ND.

The Gaels tried to raise their game in the second half, but to no avail. Armagh-ND were too strong in the middle of the field; and Christy O’Connor and Brian Downes were a constant thorn in the sides of the Connemara back line. The Gaels managed to keep it fairly even in the second half, but their opponents seemed to be able to score when they needed to. James Carlin and Michael Geoghan each had chances at goal, but Kieran McKerr pulled off a great save from Carlin and was equal to the shot from Geoghan. O’Connor, McStravog, and Martin Donaghy pointed in the latter stages for Armagh-ND, While James Carlin, Vinny O’Malley, and Robert Hughes put some level of respectability on the scoreboard for the Gaels. Armagh-ND recover from their opening loss to the Shannon Blues, while the Gaels have work to do.
Gaels: J. Flaherty, B. McCoughley, T. McKiernan, K. Cox, G. O’Malley, P. McNicholas, Robert Hughes (0-1), M. Geoghan, Vinny O’Malley (0-2), J. Crossan, J. Geoghan, James Carlin (0-3), Tommy McDonagh (0-1). Armagh-ND: K. McKerr, J. Taggart, C. Gallagher, Shane O’Donnell (0-1), A. Downs, F. Meehan, Brendan Quinn (1-0), P. Mulgetzer, Brian Downs (0-2), Marty McStravog (0-2), Conor McKeever (0-1), Christy O’Connor (0-5), Martin Donaghy (0-2). Sub: Dominic McGill (0-1).
By Rory O'Donnell

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Grants Will Only Make Worse the Plight of the Inter-County Player

The Irish Government’s approval of a 3.5M Euro grant to be distributed amongst inter-county players has raised serious concern amongst many people in the association. There have been high-level resignations, and meetings are taking place in opposition to the proposal, momentum is building against the notion and this cannot bode well for the near future. Some county boards have expressed outright opposition to the matter of financial compensation for players. The Gaelic Players Association is the driving force behind the changes, but the question as to whether it is for the better are very much debatable. The GPA was formed to give a voice to inter-county players. According to the GPA, players felt disenfranchised with the demands placed on them to compete at inter-county level and felt aggrieved at the treatment by official units of the GAA. Its mission is to enhance player welfare “in a dramatic fashion.” I doubt that many will disagree with these objectives given the time and effort put in by the association’s top-tier athletes.

The All-Ireland inter-county championships are the showcase of the association. They are what fills 80,000 seats in Croke Park multiple times each year, what generates revenue for the association to help meet it’s goals, what captures the imaginations of youngsters up and down the country and spawns a new generation of footballers and hurlers. They also contribute to the fabric of society in Ireland, to a sense of place and community. I recall a day when I met a friend of a friend at a festival in Canton, Mass. some years ago. I asked where he was from and his face lit up as if he was delighted that I asked the question, “Clare” he replied with a gleeful smile. I remarked that he seemed rather proud of the fact. “We’re coming out of the woodwork in droves since we won the All-Ireland!” was his answer. Taking care of inter-county players is of paramount importance.

The disenfranchisement that many inter-county players feel is easy to understand. The GAA is packing stadiums up and down the country as the popularity of the inter-county competitions continue to grow, money is being raked in all around by people with no direct, or even indirect participation, in the game. Merchandise is sold, TV stations generate advertising revenue, and sponsors and advertisers are all in on the act. All the while, the very reason so many turn up and tune in is because of the time and effort put in by the players who intensely prepare for championship competition for months, and the ultimate prize for them is an All-Ireland championship, nothing more and nothing less. The issue of “player welfare” should be near the top of the association’s agenda.

However, the most recent developments are not being viewed in the same light by what seem to be large sections of the association. The GPA could be making a serious misjudgment on this one, and the effect could end up exacerbating the very disenfranchisement felt by the players, and plunge the GPA and sections of the association into a never ending cycle of acrimony. The grants proposal might actually end up being a case of “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.”

The very pressures that players are currently under due to demands “placed on them” to compete will most likely intensify now that money has entered the equation. Could it be that county boards and team managers will feel that they are justified in demanding more from the players since they are now getting paid? Will the very fact that players are going to receive compensation result on them putting more pressure on themselves in training and in games? Will the fans have less tolerance for inter-county players not performing to what they feel should be an acceptable level? The Cork goalkeeper was the butt of some bad jokes after last year’s All-Ireland Football final. Will the critique by reporters and commentators of errors and poor performances on the field be less forgiving than before the dawn of the grant? The bottom line is that players could very well find themselves under more pressure, and as a result feel even more disenfranchised. It would not seem to resolve the issues that the GPA itself says it was formed to address.

Balloting members to strike was the move that forced the issue with both the Government and the GAA. The Irish Government would hardly come out unscathed if a summer went by with no championships in the national sports. GPA officials and the GAA have said that the amateur ethos of the GAA will not be compromised by the grants, whom do they think they are kidding? Getting paid to play is getting paid to play no matter what you try to call it. If the focus continues to be on the money, then the GPA, the GAA, and the Government could all find themselves in a cycle of demands for more money and threatened player strikes. The GPA will continue to point to the increasing demands placed on the players, which will be the central factor in the cycle. None of this will do any good for the GAA, the players themselves – the parties that the grant was meant to help, or the supporters of the games.

The GPA may reflect on this point in its history and wish that the focus had been on alleviating the demands on the players and improving the treatment by county boards, rather than just focusing on “the money”. The GPA could have submitted a list of demands for limits on scheduled training sessions and minimum standards of treatment by county boards in relation to areas such as expenses, meals after training and games, access to physios, and coverage of injury related expenses and loss of earnings as a result of injury, and any other issue that the players themselves raise. Why not ballot members on the issues that they would like to see tackled on their behalf and present these to the GAA rather then a yes or no ballot to strike if funding is not put up?

Inter-county players do receive many fringe benefits as it is. They are receive national media coverage, they are heroes in their counties, some owe their jobs to their football careers, some receive benefits in kind from local businesses, some make a trip or two abroad to play and come back with far more than what they would get from the grant, some write books, some become renowned publicans (and of course name their pubs after themselves and do a healthy trade), some go into politics, some become pundits in newspapers and on television. It is not all suffering. Who that plays the game at any level has not dreamed of playing for their county in Croke Park in an All-Ireland final? Is not that the ultimate goal, the real reward that drives the top echelon of players to do what they do?

I was listening to an American sports talk radio show in my car where the topic of discussion was the Mitchell Report on the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. The comments made by the hosts centered around the fact that sports are purely entertainment and that we are fooling ourselves if we think that there is any purity, innocence, or virtue in sport. These comments were made as an excuse for what has happened, beyond repair I might add, to sports in America. The hosts of the show realize that professional athletes are in it for the money, they take performance enhancing drugs so that they can get more money, and that by getting emotionally involved, the fans are being fooled. America’s national sport has long lost its innocence because baseball has become a vehicle for people to make money. Money is at the center of everything. The game itself is secondary. There is no soul left – or very little at best. Maybe these talk show hosts should go to Croke Park on All-Ireland Final day and it would change their minds. Emotion is everywhere. Fans are directly connected to the players. To see the anticipation, the emotion before, during and after the game, the unbridled joy of winning and the pain of losing – a pain not tempered by the soothing effect of a few million dollars. It is pure, it is innocent, and it is all about the game. Sam and Liam are why they play. The GPA, GAA, and Government should try to find a solution that keeps it that way.