'Fearghal’ on Sport

 
 

Derry City’s financial woes, Australia’s great back line, and Rafa Benitez’s poor management are all under fire from our semi-anonymous columnist Fearghal Kerin

The end of the domestic soccer season might be celebrated within Belfield for the return of UCD to the top flight, but for the most part, it’s hard to envisage there having been a crisis like this before within the Irish game. The farce involving Derry City’s finances see the club ejected from the League of Ireland, and the club’s long term future could be in grave doubt.

If a club like Derry can get into this level of financial trouble, what hope is there for the rest of Ireland’s clubs? As anyone who lived in Merville during the Belfield Park days will know, the Candystripes have the loudest and most passionate fans in the league, and attendances at the Brandywell have always been high, unlike at many other grounds.

In addition, Derry are based in a large city with a strong footballing history. Sectarian issues aside, one would have imagined the club would find sufficient backing from its sponsors. Thus, the only conclusion can be that Derry City have been horribly mismanaged from the boardroom. Greed and short-sighted planning seem to have caused every problem in the country at the moment, but it certainly rings true for Derry. Just as it did for Shelbourne and Cork City, the bell is tolling for Derry and the solution will not be pretty.

The whole sorry affair raises many questions about the future of the League and the viability of the professional game in this country. Whether the answer is an amalgamation of some of the Dublin clubs, an All-Ireland League, or even an inter-county system, the only thing for sure is that the current League of Ireland structure is a danger to the future of the domestic game.

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Australia’s win against England in the Cook Cup opened the Autumn International series, and gave Declan Kidney his first look at Ireland’s opening opponents. This columnist has long been a fan of Robbie Deans from his days of dominating the Super 14, and believes the Aussies were unlucky not to have made a greater impact in the Tri Nations.

However, I seem to be the only one that believes that. Either way, the past couple of months have seen them defeat New Zealand, South Africa and now England. These are no mugs, and in Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper, the Wallabies have a perfect dovetail in the back line. Giteau alone could cut any team to shreds.

Then there’s Rocky Elsom, who as captain is well known on these shores as the man who galvanised Leinster into a formidable defensive outfit and with it brought a first Heineken Cup. It will be interesting to see the contrasting athleticism of Wallace and Elsom at the back of the scrums.

The bookies have it more or less spot on with both teams starting off at evens. Against almost any other test nation, Ireland’s dearth of props would hand the victory to the others, though the Wallabies have their own problems at the set piece. It’s one to look forward to, and will be a great test of just how good the Champions of the Northern Hemisphere are.

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Out of Europe, and that’s a fact. It’s great to see arrogant people fall on their own sword, so great pleasure was had from Rafael Benitez’s recent spate of balls-ups. Not to hark back to the Robbie Keane saga, but a lot of Liverpool’s problems can be traced back to it.

Rafa might not have wanted Keane at the club, and yes, he may not have been good enough, but if Robbie Keane was to be let go, he needed to be replaced. Torres has been injury prone from the beginning at Liverpool, so having a young player like David N’Gog as second choice striker doesn’t make sense when Torres misses as many games as he plays. What’s more, it is abundantly clear Rafa doesn’t rate N’Gog, since he’s so reticent to allow him the rest or surgery that he clearly needs.

Oh Rafa – it’s hard to know whether to love him or hate him.

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