Category: Archive

Tipping point

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Although a Tipp county board statement referred euphemistically to O’Grady and a teammate, Micheal Webster, as “not presently holding down a permanent position on the senior hurling panel” it is believed that O’Grady’s services have been dispensed with for the rest of the summer, while Webster has been ordered to work on his fitness.
While there has to be some sympathy for amateur players who were socializing in the aftermath of the defeat by Cork, it appears that five panel members, including O’Grady and Webster, crossed manager Babs Keating’s disciplinary line.
It is certain that O’Grady failed to attend a team meeting scheduled for the evening after the Cork game, however, there were also rumors that he had exchanged some harsh words on the phone with members of the Tipp management team. O’Grady has insisted that someone purporting to be him made the calls on his cell phone.
The fall-out is that O’Grady has been axed from the panel, that Webster will not feature in the All Ireland quarter-final as he improves his fitness levels, and that three other players – Conor O’Mahony, Shane McGrath and John Carroll who had initially been suspended – have been reinstated.
The county board’s statement added that their deliberations had included a “review of the panel, looking at the team training schedule and adherence to the guidelines which the behavioral onus on all county players.”
O’Grady had been appointed captain after Thurles Sarsfields county championship success last season, but in May of last year, he was also dropped from the Tipp panel by then manager, Ken Hogan, over an alleged involvement in a row outside a pub. In O’Grady’s absence, it is likely now that Lar Corbett will captain the side in the quarter-final.
If Tipperary have decided to plan without O’Grady, Wexford footballers could be facing their qualifier against Monaghan without the services of their star player Mattie Forde.
During the second half of Wexford’s Leinster semi-final defeat by Offaly at Croke Park last Sunday, Forde appeared to step on the head of Offaly’s full-back Shane Sullivan.
The referee Jimmy White of Donegal either didn’t see the incident, or didn’t deem Forde’s action to be worthy of any disciplinary measure, and he awarded Wexford a free. However, the image of Forde apparently making contact with Sullivan’s head was shown on the big screen at Croke Park where the attendance was just over 44,000, and it was also broadcast later on RTE television news.
The prolific Forde scored 1-7 but failed to stem the tide as Offaly advanced to a Leinster final meeting with Dublin by 2-15 to 1-14. The GAA’s Central Disciplinary Committee is now likely to take a close look at the incident.

Ryder stars must
wait to play Palmer
Right now it seems as if all Irish golfing roads lead to the K Club. In September, Europe take on America in the Ryder Cup at the lavish County Kildare venue, and this week, the European Tour rolls into town.
But while much of the talk for the next few days will concern the impending Ryder Cup, the walk for the European Open will take place on the K Club’s second course, the Smurfit course, and not on the Palmer Course which hosts the eagerly awaited biennial series of matches.
The decision to protect the Palmer Course, and to keep it in pristine condition for the September showdown, has already generated some comment. Europe’s captain, Ian Woosnam, suggested that it might have been better to play the European Open on the Palmer Course, and he was supported by Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie who are certain to face the Americans.
The logic here is that most of Europe’s top players who will be in action in a couple of months time would have benefited from the added experience on the Palmer Course. In other words, the K Club would have become more of a home from home.
But given that clement weather could not be guaranteed, and that all the preparation had been aimed at getting the Palmer Course to peak in September and not in July, the European Open was shifted to the adjacent Smurfit Course which has more of an inland links feel about it.
While Woosnam might have gained some insights from watching how several of his team coped on the Palmer Course, it is hard to see how a stroke play tournament in July could have a major bearing on how he approaches a match play event in September.
As it is, Woosnam has no control over 10 of his side, who qualify by dint of their performances, and what he might have seen probably wouldn’t have influenced him greatly regarding his two captain’s picks anyway.
Recently, there had been some speculation that no Irish player would qualify by right for the showpiece, but several impressive performances by Padraig Harrington have catapulted him into a strong position to make the team, although Paul McGinley still has to win another e300,000 between now and the cut-off date of Sept. 3 to assure himself of a place. There is continuing uncertainty over Darren Clarke’s participation as his wife is still battling cancer.
Woosnam will be at the K Club this week as a competitor as will his counterpart, Tom Lehman, but don’t expect either captains to have an opinion on the recent musings of an American golf writer, Bruce Selcraig, who has slammed the European Tour for their choice of the Palmer Course, which is part-owned by the Irish tycoon Michael Smurfit, as a Ryder Cup venue.
Selcraig called it a “thoroughly uninspiring, comically overpriced, Americanized resort course beside some gazillionaire’s lovely, green, horsy estate”, before adding his incredulity that a links course wasn’t chosen for the matches.
“The Palmer Course is a relentlessly mundane track that has no business representing Irish golf. Bringing Ireland’s first Ryder Cup to this charmless course is like having Kiera Knightley invite you to her bedroom – to move furniture. It’s like going to Rome for dinner and ordering fish and chips.
“Dear Ireland: you now possess the finest collection of golf courses in the world … in other words, you have Rembrandt, Cezanne, Gauguin and Michelangelo hanging in your kitchen, and in September you’re inviting 800 million TV viewers to watch your Disney World movies.”
Selcraig knows only two well given that the dullish Belfry near Birmingham, England hosted the Ryder Cup for years, and that the matches go to the lacklustre Valhalla in 2008, there is a precedent for the organisers to follow the money. It would have been infinitely more appealing to have staged Ireland’s Ryder Cup at Portmarnock or Ballybunion, but the K Club wanted the event, and in essence paid the European Tour in kind by agreeing to underwrite the European Open for 15 years.
The deal comes to fruition in September on an Irish course designed by, wait for it, Arnold Palmer. Oakland Hills near Detroit might have been the venue two years ago, but the course and its complexities was totally overshadowed by Europe’s record win, and by America’s supine performance.
When both Woosnam and Lehman head out on to the Palmer Course this week for some more familiarization, they won’t be lamenting the fact that their teams will not be going head-to-head on a links. They’ll be wondering how the hell come Sunday evening on Sept. 24 they’ll be able to get 14 and a half points on the board.

fail to show
Part of the Irish Sports Council’s remit is to test for performance enhancing drugs across a wide sweep of disciplines, and under its CEO, the former Olympic marathon silver medallist, John Treacy, the council has by and large done an excellent job.
So consider the embarrassment all round last weekend when no drug-testers were on hand to carry out doping controls at the Cork City Sports.
According to a report in the Irish Independent, the local organizers had all the necessary arrangements in place, but no one from the company which the Irish Sports Council hires to carry out its testing made it to Cork.
The meeting included athletes from America, Britain, South Africa, Kenya and Russia, who must have been surprised by the absence of any doping controls.
For some of the more experienced competitors, it must have felt like the old days.

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