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Dublin: 6°C Friday 25 September 2020
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A tribute to Seán Boylan, what if Cantona never left Leeds and the week’s best sportswriting

Also, a brief guide to the ultimate hipster footballer and the messy saga of ESPN’s ‘Black Grantland’.

Eric Cantona spent a year at Leeds in 1992 before joining Man United.
Eric Cantona spent a year at Leeds in 1992 before joining Man United.

1. “IN ABOUT EIGHT hours’ time, Jamie Conlan will be in the midst of a savage physical confrontation.

“Right now, he is sitting in the lobby of a Dublin hotel answering the same question from every passer-by who pauses to wish him luck. Camp went perfectly and he’s feeling great is his standard reply. What else is there to say?”

This piece by Paul Gibson of BBC Sport is well worth a read for boxing aficionados and causal fans alike. 

2. “It’s like any verbal dispute where fact and opinion are used interchangeably by troglodytic axe grinders who seem to get an erectile boost from the frustrated outrage of others. Every damn Women’s World Cup, every NCAA women’s finals, every Olympics, women’s sports again go on a media trial that would make the old judges of Salem blush. This last e-mail was merely the latest. I have done too many radio shows in the past week where the question was not about the chances of the US Women’s national team or which teams could potentially topple them. They were about why “no one cares,” or whether women’s sports are as good as men’s sports. It’s tired.”

Dave Zirin writes an exasperated but heartfelt defence of women’s sports.

3. “In the ESPN solar system, the network’s Bristol, Connecticut, headquarters is the sun, which makes its Los Angeles office something like Pluto — many miles away, and its status as a planet recently up for debate. In early May, ESPN parted ways not-quite-amicably with Bill Simmons, who founded Grantland, the pop culture and sports site based out of L.A. That office is also home to the Undefeated, a not-yet-launched site meant to explore race, culture, and sports. In 2013, John Skipper, ESPN’s president, hired Jason Whitlock, a prominent and controversial sports columnist, to launch the site. Whitlock agreed, and, in a moment he would come to regret, went on Simmons’s podcast and declared that the site would be, for lack of a better descriptor, a ‘Black Grantland.’”

Reeves Wiedeman takes an illuminating look at Jason Whitlock and the messy saga of ESPN’s ‘Black Grantland’.

4. “Pirlo is certainly the choice of the football hipster. He’s one of a dying breed who puts the emphasis on the aesthetic rather than the athletic. (“One part of my job I’ll never learn to love is the pre-match warm-up. I hate it with every fibre of my being. It actually disgusts me. It’s nothing but masturbation for conditioning coaches.”) He’s a deep-lying playmaker with wands for legs. A free-kick specialist. A stroller rather than a striver. And there’s the beard, the retro duds, the love of wine, the Descartes-referencing book.”

Scott Murray’s ‘brief guide to… Andrea Pirlo, the ultimate hipster footballer’ does exactly what it says on the tin.

5. “It’s supposed to be good therapy to relive an unpleasant event and improve on the experience, which is probably what keeps us coming back. Remember the 2-1 victory over Manchester United at Elland Road in 1994 after the depression of seeing them win 2-0 and all but clinch the championship the season before?”

‘What If Cantona And Clough Had Never Left Leeds?’ asks Don Watson of The Sabotage Times.

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Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group B - Wales v Belgium - Cardiff City Stadium Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

(Wales’ Gareth Bale celebrates scoring against Belgium)

6. “Wales had gotten used to being among the dead men when it came to the world rankings but the lowest ebb – even worse than the Bobby Gould era – came in August 2011 when Gary Speed’s side were placed 117th in the world.

“Only five teams in Europe were ranked lower with Liechtenstein chasing hard, a standing that couldn’t have come at a worse time given it was around this period that the seeds for the World Cup 2014 were based upon meaning Wales slipped into the bottom group of seeds with the Faroe Islands moving above them.”

WalesOnline explain how Chris Coleman’s side went from 117 to the top 10 in the Fifa World rankings in the space of four years.

7. “Some long summer evening when the weather is good, make the time to go to the Hill of Tara to watch the sun set.

When you stand on that ground and look out west to the vast expanse of country under the dipping sun, it’s easy to see why this place was chosen as a sacred site by the ancient peoples of the island. It was here that the High Kings of Ireland were once crowned.”

Arthur Sullivan on GAA.ie pays tribute to Seán Boylan.

8. “At this time of year the sun doesn’t set until past 11 p.m., and even then the sky never really turns pitch black. Sunrise comes at 3:30 a.m. Suffice it to say that Randy Beverly Jr., the new head coach of the Örebro Black Knights, has not been sleeping well.

Beverly got even less sleep than usual on the last Saturday of June. His team already has been playing most of the season without its best running back—the one who’s good enough to run the same play all game long without diminishing returns—because he’s finishing up his college semester in Finland. Now, on the eve of the Black Knights’ game against the Kristianstad Predators, Beverly received word that his No. 2 running back will miss the game because his wife is going into labor.”

Writing for Sports Illustrated, here’s Jenny Vrentas on ‘SpongeBob as QB, or Why Swedish Football is Unique.’

9. “One way to truly appreciate the transcendent, globe-shrinking power of a hit song: Stand witness as 20,000 Bahamians sing along, at 1:30 in the morning, to a ballad first recorded by a redheaded British sprite. Ed Sheeran, the young West Yorkshireman responsible for “Thinking Out Loud,” a paean to everlasting love, was not on the main stage of the Junkanoo Carnival in Nassau, on May 9, but his recent chart-topper was there in full, spun by a DJ. Even those whose musical tastes veer hard away from pop ballads would have conceded that the sight of so many people swaying and belting it out in unison was as stirring as it was unexpected.”

‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ forever changed music’s place in sports according to Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated. Here’s why.

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