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One of the most devastating collapses in sports history and more of the week's best sportswriting

Get the kettle on and enjoy this lot.

“He zoomed in and focused his lens on Dublin footballer Tomás Mulligan as he paraded around St. Tiernach’s Park in Clones with his team-mates before their All-Ireland SFC Qualifier against Derry. The faces of Alan Brogan in front and Ray Cosgrove behind him are slightly blurred which draws you into Mulligan’s world all the more. He is a study in focused concentration for the task ahead. Eyes staring forward, brow slightly furrowed, mouth pursed as he regulates his breathing. What was he thinking in that exact moment? Today, an artist’s rendering of that photograph hangs on the sitting-room wall of the Mulligan home-place in Walkinstown, Dublin. Below it, Tomás Mulligan’s father, Tom Senior, sits on a couch and reflects on the painful fact that almost ten years have passed since his son Tomás took his own life.”

– John Harrington for GAA.ie speaks to Tom Mulligan Snr, father of late former Dublin senior footballer Tomás Mulligan.

Walkowiak wins Tour de France Roger Walkowiak makes a lap of honour around the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris after he was announced winner of the 43rd Tour de France in 1956. Source: Jacques Marqueton

“How was it possible that the strongest team, the defending champions, the pride of the host nation, should lose? Not even to worthy rivals, like the Belgian or Italian teams, but to some second-rate regional outfit? Gilbert Bauvin would certainly have won, if only his team-mates had done their jobs. Instead, they acted like a dysfunctional family of brats, incapable of working together, each looking after his own interests, so that an unremarkable, quiet young man from the decidedly B-list regional North East Centre team walked away with the yellow jersey. He remains to this day the only winner to have never won a Tour stage in his entire career.”

– The story of 1956 Tour de France winner Roger Walkowiak, by Isabel Best for Rouleur.

It was March 2015, and he faced an uncertain future. A technically accomplished defensive midfielder, McCabe had impressed through several stages of a US soccer academy programme based in West Yorkshire that included outings for Bradford City reserves, and which presented further opportunities abroad. There had even been a cup final triumph at Valley Parade, and despite setbacks with injuries and illness, he was catching the eye of scouts. But as the fight to get noticed intensified, McCabe felt increasingly trapped by a secret — his struggle to accept his sexuality.

For Sky Sports, Jon Holmes with Adam McCabe on homophobia, mental health, and falling in love with soccer all over again.

“It seemed as if the game essentially would come down to the coin flip for overtime possession. The Patriots won the toss, took the ball and went 75 yards in eight plays for the winning TD. Brady completed five consecutive passes to move the Patriots to the Falcons’ 25-yard line. A pass interference penalty against rookie linebacker De’Vondre Campbell put the ball at the two-yard line. Vic Beasley had a chance to intercept Brady’s throw to Martellus Bennett on the next play but could only knock the ball down. On second down Brady tossed to White around left end. Safety Ricardo Allen hit White at the two-yard line and Alford came in to help but White powered his way into the end zone and complete the Falcons’ historic collapse.”

Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution details how the Falcons blew it at Super Bowl LI.

Super Bowl Football New England Patriots quarter-back Tom Brady in possession during their Super Bowl LI win against Atlanta Falcons. Source: Gregory Payan

“With the squad assembled and rewarded with their special rations (‘whose mother do you want me to strangle?’ quips Mike Summerbee’s Sid Harmor) it’s time for Michael Caine’s tactical masterclass. Mindful of the fact that the out-of-shape POWs ‘would be chucking their guts up’ if they ran for ninety minutes, he implores them to pass the ball at every opportunity. Pelé is unimpressed.”

Adam Hurrey for The Set Pieces casts his eye over 1981 film Escape To Victory.

“As a sports reporter, I’m not in the business of rooting for teams. However — and I say this with no shame — I do root for good stories and for blowouts. And with the Falcons leading by 21-0 late in the first half, and 28-3 with less than 3 minutes in the third quarter, I felt pretty comfortable that I’d have both. Which meant that I could write a seamless, authoritative story, top to bottom, instead of assembling something moderately coherent from stray paragraphs and sections as I would have done if the score were closer. It was a good idea while it lasted.”

Ben Sphigel of the New York Times explains why dramatic comebacks can be such a headache for a sports reporter.

‘They got Tom Brady though’ – Even at 21-0 up, one Atlanta player was still nervous

Video: The key to clean eating with Leinster and Dublin GAA nutritionist Daniel Davey

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