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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 23 September 2020
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Jack O'Shea, Gunnersaurus, the Ashes and more of the week's best sportswriting

Stick on the kettle and settle into some of our favourite reads from this week.

Jack O'Shea won seven All-Ireland senior medals with Kerry.
Jack O'Shea won seven All-Ireland senior medals with Kerry.
Image: INPHO

1. The football field was my playground where I spent most of my time. I never wanted to go to the beach. I never learned how to swim. I’d go to every match and every training session and stand behind the goal kicking the ball back.

Mick O’Connell used to row across in his boat from Valentia Island and Mick O’Dwyer would travel the 10 miles from Waterville. They’d train together and play their club matches on our pitch in Cahersiveen.

Cahersiveen is a mile long, houses right and left. There wasn’t a house I wasn’t in at some stage growing up. The people who lived there were my parents as much as my own. They all raised us, and you did as you were told. We didn’t have a television at home, so you’d knock into one of the houses that did have one to watch TV. The people felt like you were one of theirs, you were a son of the town and you played and won for all of them.

I know every inch of the place. You miss the laid back “always tomorrow” attitude. The fresh air.

I miss the freedom of growing up there. Going beagle hunting in the mountains with my Dad.

On a week of All-Ireland final and five-in-a-row chat, Jack O’Shea reflected on his Kerry career and life with The Sports Chronicle.

2. He waited for his Arsenal to arrive. When their own bus eased up, Gunnersaurus tapped the crest of his red jersey, made sure his feet were planted squarely on the cement floor, and opened his arms. Matteo Guendouzi, the curly haired midfielder, was among the first to reach him. Guendouzi accepted a hug with all of his heart.

After the last of the players had passed him, Gunnersaurus made for the elevator that would take him to the concourse behind the family section of the stands. He had a minder but still banged his head on a beam along the way.

It’s hard to be seven feet tall in England. He rode up and the lift doors opened. An elderly woman waiting on the other side had to put her hand to her chest to keep from falling over. She wasn’t expecting to see a dinosaur at a football game.

Chris Jones wrote in ESPN on Arsenal’s most enduring star. Not Wenger or Henry or Bergkamp. Their mascot Gunnersaurus.

3. Half-an-hour after the final whistle, the phone beeped. “Mulligan’s.” Oh, shit.

Outside the old school boozer on Poolbeg Street, the pavements are clogged, mostly with Dubin fans.

Kevin Moran, tanned and looking fit enough to play, comes striding along and disappears in the front door.

Brolly comes around the corner and, as if by magic, a pint of Guinness appears in his hand.

“I’m like the royal family, I don’t carry money. People are always bringing me drink.”

Sean Mulryan, the property developer who once had Blondie play at his birthday party, comes over for a chat.

So does a blonde woman who introduces herself as Paul Mannion’s mother and wants a selfie with Brolly.

The Star’s Kieran Cunningham spent the summer trying to sit down with Joe Brolly. They eventually got to chat ahead of the All-Ireland final.

joe-brolly Joe Brolly before the 2014 All-Ireland football final.

4. This is what generations of locals have invested their lives into. For many, it was the only social link they had left. The only local hub. The place to go. Now there’s nowhere to go. The game has trampled over that, left them with nothing. At least temporarily.

It may also, however, lead to something else. It says much about where football is that this worst-case scenario could actually be the best thing for these institutions’ identities, as it would allow supporters to reset and organically rebuild clubs that are solely owned by them; that many supporters of the biggest clubs would envy.

Back in 1992, Aldershot Town were formed out of the ashes of Aldershot. It took them 16 years to get back into the Football League.

This may well be the journey Bolton and Bury face. This is what they have to get their heads around, now that there is no football match to go to. A galling prospect, but maybe the only workable solution for community clubs against the hyper-globalisation of the top end of the game.

Miguel Delaney writes in The Independent on how the neglect of Bury and Bolton Wanderers is nothing short of a national tragedy.

bury-football-club-general-views Bury FC's Gigg Lane stadium. Source: Martin Rickett

5. Nearly 12 months after the vow he made at Logan airport, Keane come on against Donegal in the All-Ireland final and knocked over two frees as Sam Maguire made the familiar journey back to the Kingdom.

Vindication, relief, satisfaction.

“I remember that day when we were going out to watch the minor final in Croke Park, someone gave a tug of my top as I made my way from the dressing room. I turned around and it was Brian.”

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When referee Eddie Kinsella blew his full-time whistle, Keane made a beeline for his neighbour, jumping the fence for an emotional embrace.

“He made me believe in myself.”

Barry John Keane has spent the summer in Boston, watching Kerry’s progress from afar. He talked to RTÉ’s Declan Whooley.

barry-john-keane Barry John Keane before Kerry's clash with Monaghan last year. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

6. Call off Test cricket now. In fact, call off all cricket. Not because it could never get any worse than this, but because how could it ever be better, surely?

That’s talking as a cricket fan and connoisseur of the incomparable drama of sports, not as an Australian partisan. Let’s all die happy now, or only a little bit sad, and permanently awe-struck.

The World Cup? A distant memory. Put it this way: it is now only Ben Stokes’ second-greatest exploit. The performance of a lifetime stood for six weeks, exactly. The IPL, the BBL? Pardon me. The so-called Vitality Blast? Pop. Ashes ‘48, ‘81, ‘89, ‘05? Overtures, preliminaries.

Yes, this is getting carried away by the moment. We ought, need, to recognise and cherish moments and be transported by them. Bask if it’s ours, salute if it’s theirs. Tim Paine did. Otherwise, we’ve left with process.

Greg Baum for The Age on the Ashes exploits of Ben Stokes.

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Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey and Bernard Jackman try to identify how Ireland can get back on track after Twickenham.


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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