By Patrick Markey
Food for sport
Some teams have all the luck. And some just seem cursed.
Belfast football team Linfield were looking for a victory in the UEFA Cup. But their hopes of victory were shattered after 12 of their 17-man squad were struck down by food poisoning in Georgia.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that club doctor Cameron Ramsey, who also looks after the Northern Ireland team, said it is the worst case he has seen in 15 years of travel with club and country.
Symptoms of the bug — called gastroenteritis — include severe stomach pains, diarrhea and weakness.
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The players have been hit so badly that the team had asked European football’s governing body, UEFA, to delay their tie with Dinamo Tbilisi by 24 hours. However, the game was due to kick off this week as scheduled.
The team’s hotel in Tbilisi, the Sheraton Metechi Palace confirmed that it is investigating an underheated dish that they believe caused the outbreak.
The team’s goalkeeper was almost certain to miss the game while doctors had serious doubts about four other crucial outfield players. Many others were not considered 100 percent fit. Only five players, who did not eat the alleged bad dish, are well.
"It is very disappointing when 80 percent of your players and 100 percent of your staff go down with an avoidable illness after all the hard work and preparation for the game," Ramsey said.
In 1993 when the team were last in Georgia’s capital, their plane was forced into an emergency landing. Then they were embroiled in a controversy. They lost the match but went through because Dinamo Tibilisi officials had bribed the referee.
Even this time, before the food poisoning, not all of the team luggage turned up.
"It appears that Linfield and Tbilisi are jinxed," Ramsey said.
It was supposed to be the sight of the century
But hundreds of eclipse watchers jammed phone lines yesterday concerned for their eyesight after viewing the event without protective lenses.
The Examiner newspaper reports that the Association of Optometrists Ireland is expecting many more calls after last week’s midday solar eclipse over Europe.
Most people seem to have heeded government warnings to only watch the solar spectacle through a pinhole projector or on television. But millions of people viewed the eclipse through special solar sunglasses and others appear to have ignored the safety advice.
They have risked solar retinopathy, where looking at the sun’s ultra violet and infra red rays for too long has burnt the macula, the retina’s most sensitive part, where light rays converge and objects come into sharp focus.
If burnt, the macula cannot be treated and does not heal, so sight can be permanently damaged.
Looking for that elusive getaway and fancy living off the coast of Northern Ireland? Try Donegal.
An entire Donegal island is up for sale,, according to the Belfast Telegraph newspaper.
Glasheedy Island, two miles off the coast recently came on the market. The island is uninhabited. It no electricity, but, luckily, there is fresh water.
The island consists of 1.5 acres of arable land surrounded by rocks and cliffs. It even has a sandy beach. The estate agents in charge of the sale, Doherty of Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, say there has been quite a lot of interest. The island is expected to go for around IR £30,000.
Two sites are also for sale on another uninhabited Donegal island, Rinrain, a short distance off the coast of Burtonport. That island, less remote, is accessible on foot at low tide.
Estate agent Kevin Sweeney expects a lot of interest: "At the moment property in Donegal is in big demand and prices are really through the roof. I am selling a two- bedroomed cottage near Doochary with around four acres and I have an offer of IR £75,000. It really is incredible. I am sure there will be a lot of interest in these island sites," Sweeney said.
Interest in off-shore islands has increased in recent years with many people looking for an isolated bolt-hole. A ferry service to remote Gola Island, off Bunbeg, for instance, has just started. But local estate agents report no property available on that island yet.