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Martin O'Neill was dismissed as Nottingham Forest boss during the week.
Martin O'Neill was dismissed as Nottingham Forest boss during the week.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

How Martin O'Neill's Nottingham Forest reign crumbled and more of this week's best sportswriting

Plus, a piece on Megan Rapinoe’s greatest heartbreak – and hope.
Jun 30th 2019, 8:30 AM 10,540 3

1. Michael Hannon has been concussed on four occasions.

The first time was nearly 20 years ago – he was 16 and playing in a schools game; the second was three years later in a club game; the third happened while training with Cavan in 2010; the most recent was five years ago during a game with Drumgoon.

From first to last, though the impacts and hits may have been of less force, the side effects have become progressively worse.

Hannon lost consciousness on the pitch for 20 seconds following that first concussion. He played on. It was on the bus back from Elphin that he realised there were blank sections in his memory.

PJ Browne of speaks to Michael Hannon about concussion and GAA.

2. DAYS BEFORE THE first game of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, Brian Rapinoe jokingly texted his sister, Megan Rapinoe — co-captain and star midfielder for the U.S. women’s national team: “Megs, breaks my heart that you couldn’t fly me out for an all-expenses-paid trip to France.” She shot back: “Oh yeah, so sad I couldn’t pamper you for a month in France.”

An hour before kickoff against Thailand on June 11, the rest of the Rapinoe family found their seats in the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims; Brian charged his ankle monitor and rounded up the other guys in the dormitory at San Diego’s Male Community Reentry Program, a rehabilitative program that allows an inmate to finish the final 12 months of his sentence taking classes or working jobs outside of prison.

The MCRP common room might not be France, but it’s a vast improvement over solitary confinement, where Brian has watched Megan play in the previous two World Cups. He sat on a couch in his red USA jersey, watching on a 60-inch flat-screen, and felt “f—ing great.” He had accomplished a major goal for himself: to get out of prison in time to watch his kid sister play in her third World Cup.

Writing for ESPN, Gwendolyn Oxenham looks at Megan Rapinoe’s greatest heartbreak — and hope.

3. Michael Everett casts a glance at the empty car park outside the thrift store where he volunteers. “Where’s yours?” he asks.

I point a hundred or so yards down the street to the Family Dollar convenience store. In the time it takes to blink, his face contorts into a concerned frown. “Hey, you gotta be careful,” he insists. “This ain’t your reg’lar neighbourhood. There are some crackerjacks round here, y’know? Maybe not so much today. It’s colder today. But they out there. You gotta have your wits about you. ‘Specially a guy like you. They’ll know you ain’t from ‘round here.”

It’s the morning after the 2019 Masters Tournament and I’m on Broad Street, just three miles from Augusta National Golf Club. Three miles, but it might as well be three thousand. You don’t find patrons down here. Poverty, yes. Patrons, no. The lawns are overgrown, the paint is peeling off the houses as though desperate to escape.

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Become a Member’s Michael McEwan describes The Augusta you don’t see.

4. If there is one story that sums up Martin O’Neill’s inability to win over his players at Nottingham Forest it probably goes back to a prosaic game at Ipswich on 16 March when his team had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the worst side in the Championship.

Adlene Guedioura, one of the club’s more experienced players, had been left out and remained on the bench as Forest huffed and puffed through a match that hardened the impression O’Neill’s team were falling short of the play-offs. At the end of the game it was customary for the unused substitutes to go through some warm-down exercises on the pitch with the fitness staff. Except Guedioura refused and, when challenged, he started protesting that the game was over and, as far as he was concerned, that meant he was on international duty.

The flaw in that argument was that Guedioura had been left out of Algeria’s squad for their games against Gambia and Tunisia. O’Neill was livid. There was a dressing-room confrontation and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Guedioura did not start another game for the two-times European Cup winner.

Daniel Taylor is typically insightful in describing how Martin O’Neill’s Nottingham Forest reign crumbled.

5. Caroline Graham Hansen and Ada Hegerberg went through most of their early rites of passage together. In 2009 in Salangen, they played together in Norway’s national colors for the first time for the under-15s.

A few months later, they were both in the changing room during a game against Germany. Norway was losing, 2-0; most of their teammates felt, given the strength of their opponent, that was not too bad. Hansen and Hegerberg made clear that they saw it differently. “They always went on the field with zero respect,” said Guro Reiten, the captain of that team.

The New York Times’ Rory Smith looks at the other star of Norwegian football who has decided to play at this year’s World Cup.

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