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Missing the magic of a commentating legend as he turns 90 and the week's best sportswriting

Plus, a basketball star’s fight for justice and the rise of Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain.

Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh enjoyed a milestone birthday on Thursday.
Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh enjoyed a milestone birthday on Thursday.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

1. It is almost ten years since Micheál said goodbye to sports commentary but his phenomenal contribution to Irish sporting summers didn’t just stop there at 80 years of age. Every summer Monday since 2010 Micheál and Helen have engaged listeners with reflections on the previous weekend’s GAA action and the conversation never disappoints.

So, with Covid restrictions in place, no summer games to reflect upon and Micheál a few days shy of his 90th birthday, Helen decided, this week, to take a socially distanced ramble down the bóithríní and fields of Dún Síon with Micheál as a willing and able guide to the realms of his youth.

Dara Ó Cinnéide on Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh for the Irish Examiner, as the legendary GAA commentator celebrated his 90th birthday this week 

2. The popular misconception of PSG is that it’s a “fake” club, without history or identity, created by Qatari money and supported only by glory-hunters and children. In fact, the club has millions of longtime supporters, mostly in the unlovely suburbs of Europe’s largest metropolitan area. PSG might have been founded only in 1970, nearly a century later than many English clubs, but Greater Paris is a newish creation too. As with every football club that matters to people, PSG’s story echoes that of the place it represents.

In the Financial Times, Simon Kuper looks at the rise of Paris Saint-Germain – with the help of Qatar’s millions — ahead of their first-ever Champions League final appearance

3. So in early 2019, when she was supposed to be preparing for the new WNBA season, Moore got to work with Irons and his lawyers to request a retrial. She dedicated herself to the cause.

Some 21 years after Irons’ conviction, state prosecutors were still not willing to admit defeat. They tried to prevent a review but were unsuccessful and, in October 2019, Irons was finally able to state his innocence in front of a judge.

On 9 March 2020, Irons’ conviction was overturned. Judge Daniel Green described the original case as “very weak and circumstantial at best”.

For the BBC, Becky Grey tells the story of Women’s NBA star Maya Moore and her campaign for the release of an innocent man wrongly sentenced to 50 years in jail 

4. It rocked him to the core but his playing instincts quickly kicked in and he started to “treat cancer like a football match”.

“You’re looking for someone to blame or asking, ‘What did I do wrong? Or why me?’ I’d be a positive thinker but it is a shock to the system and after a couple of days digesting it, you’ve two choices: either lie down or get up,” an upbeat Hughes says.

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A Monaghan GAA great, Eugene ‘Nudie’ Hughes speaks to Michael Verney in the Irish Independent about his plan to overcome liver and colon cancer 

5. He was seen as our revolutionary swimming coach, the man who gave us Gary O’Toole. You couldn’t shut him up. That was, until the day he decided he’d never speak publicly again.

The footage of him teaching kids how to swim is the most haunting. I felt from listening to it – hearing him on the bank of the swimming pool giving instructions, hearing the sounds of that man’s voice and the sounds of the water and the echo of kids voices – that this story would be most impactful in audio (and podcast) form.

Ahead of the release of his new 10-part BBC Sounds podcast, Mark Horgan of Second Captains writes in the Irish Times about why he chose former Irish Olympic swimming coach George Gibney as his subject

6. Last Thursday, a group of Stoke City players got together and watched the Champions League quarter-final tie between Paris Saint-Germain and Atalanta.

There was an extra layer of interest for those able to call Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting a former team-mate. He might have only been a Stoke player for one season but he left a lasting impression on a club that got relegated from the Premier League in 2017-18.

Depending on who you speak to, Choupo-Moting either didn’t care about Stoke at all or was actually a ray of sunshine in a campaign that ended in misery. When the 79th-minute substitute struck the winner for PSG with only moments remaining — having already assisted their equaliser — one Stoke player sitting in front of the TV apparently shook his head and muttered to himself, “Sod’s law…”

In the Athletic, Simon Crafton, Adam Hughes and more ask ‘How did Stoke City get relegated from the Premier League with so many Champions League semi-finalists in 2017/18?’ (subscription)

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