Seldom if ever will there have been less fanfare relating to a clash between Leinster and Munster as was the case prior to last night’s PRO14 Rainbow Cup encounter at the RDS. What exactly this competition – which would doubtless be branded of the Micheal O’Luch variety by a certain seasoned local sports writer – was designed to achieve is difficult to decipher. But, like all the great rivalries – sporting or otherwise – it wouldn’t mater if these two were facing off in a ploughing match there would be meaning attached to the meeting.
Perhaps most telling out of yesterday’s game was the fact that the visitors fielded virtually their top 15 in the Saturday night showdown. To many, one of the most glaring deficiencies in the Munster package for far too long has been the dearth of leadership. With that in mind, the fact that Conor Murray went over for two tries and Damian De Allende also crossed at least demonstrated those who needed to stand up – in an overall sense – did. Not that it will be much consolation as, in reality, the gulf between the old rivals remains as yawning as ever.
Saving soccer from itself?
When is more football too much? Seemingly when some of the world’s greatest clubs come together with the intention of creating potentially one of the greatest club competitions the game would’ve seen. From a spectating perspective, it would’ve been fantastic, but, seeing so many vested interests – most importantly the players – would suggest it’s rejection amounts to a case of soccer being saved from itself. In fact, if that old parasite Florentino Perez thinks it’s a good idea, then it’s definitely best avoided!
Striking a blow for the ordinary folk
The victory of Heaven Help Us at this year’s Cheltenham Festival was a seminal moment in racing history. By hurtling and hurdling away under burgeoning 7lb claiming rider Richie Condon proved that anybody can chase their dream in National Hunt. After all, the steed in question is the only one Co Kilkenny handler Paul Hennessey has in training. With the aforementioned being much more synonymous within greyhound racing circles.
Seeing such usurpations on the Flat scene, mind you, is far less common. Yet, in recent weeks, there have been several examples of those outside of the recognised big hitters striking a blow for the ordinary folk. Atop any such accreditations would have to be Curragh trainer Johnny Feane taking out one of the Guineas Trials courtesy of Keeper Of Time. Ross O’Sullivan, Johnny Murtagh and Jim Bolger have also enjoyed bountiful beginnings to the turf season.
Now, the inclusion of the latter pair in the ‘ordinary’ bracket will probably raise eyebrows, especially given that the former has recently received patronage from HH Aga Khan and Godolphin and Coolmore, but, anybody who is aware of the Cortown man’s back story will know that anything he has attained within racing has been garnered the hard way.
JSB coming in under the same heading will absoultely have plenty baffled. However, it’s worth remembering that the lion’s share of those who compete in the famed white and purple silks are bred by the trainer and owned by his wife.
Rocket fails to launch
Certain times of the year take on extra importance when it comes to certain sports. September for the All Ireland Finals in GAA, March for the Cheltenham Festival, July for Wimbledon – the highlight of the Tennis year – and, of greatest relevance to the sporting calendar presently – the end of April means the pinnacle of the season’s action in Snooker, the World Championships at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Like a lot of what could be termed less prominent sports, there will be figures who even those with no interest in or knowledge on a particular code will have heard of. Around the snooker table, Ronnie O’Sullivan is that somebody. Understandably so given that he has lifted the top gong in his area of expertise no less than six times.
There will be no Magnificent Seventh this time around though after ‘The Rocket’ was cut down in mid air by an amazing comeback from Anthony McGill. Though it will be no consolation to the enigmatic genius, he was far from the only high profile contender in the slow-paced yet captivating action to get nout from the Steel City bar their bus fare home.
John Higgins, Ding Junhui and Stephen Maguire were also catapulted homeward well ahead of schedule. Which leaves an observer pondering where exactly the trophy might end up residing for the next 12 months. On at least two occasions previously, this corner has tipped up – and punted on – Neil Robertson only for the Australian to capitulate rather too easily for a player of his undoubted class. This time around, though, it would appear the draw has opened up in his favour. The greatest obstacle to his doing so may be a much more popular Trump. Yes, there is such a thing!