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Remembering Jack and more of the week's best sportswriting

Stick on the kettle and give these pieces a read.

des-cahill-interviews-manager-jack-charlton-as-eamon-dunphy-watches-on RTE’s Des Cahill interviews manager Jack Charlton as Eamon Dunphy watches on at Italia '90. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

1. “From the inside, it was just … pure joy. There’s no other way to put it. There was no other way to feel about it.

The Irish line most repeated about Italia ’90 is from the late sports journalist Con Houlihan. ‘I missed Italia 90. I was at it.’

That was because the country saw scenes of celebration it had never witnessed for anything else. Streets were literally empty for games. The country came to a standstill.”

There’s plenty of brilliant stuff around in the wake of the passing of Jack Charlton. Miguel Delaney‘s comprehensive overview of his time in charge of Ireland, in the London Independent, is a good place to start. The ‘peas in a pod’ line is worth hearing in the context of this beautiful Second Captains montage too. 


Source: Second Captains Extras/SoundCloud

And this lovely David Squires’ cartoon is as good as any obit:

2. “It was an early afternoon on March 7, a bright, sunny Saturday, when Shaun Dumas’ world began to slide out from under him. The 34-year-old basketball coach of the Crescent City Pioneers for the past seven years, a rising star in the coaching ranks who had built this private New Orleans high school into a regional powerhouse, Dumas was on his way back to his apartment, just a 20-minute drive from the school he calls home, when his phone buzzed. In the coming week, his team would be competing in the semifinals of the Division IV Louisiana state basketball championship. His mind was on practices and schemes and matchups.

He looked down to see who was calling. It was his father, Claude.”

Andrew Lopez, of ESPN, recounts a coach’s ‘quest to save his season‘ after a mysterious death in his family. 

3. “When I talk to Frank on the phone these days he hasn’t changed at all, the same warm, fun and playful character shines true. This is just a small portion of his life that brought joy and inspiration to many in the athletics world, and continued the strong Irish middle distance tradition of international success.

Throughout his athletic career he never took his eyes off the business ball where he would ultimately end up. Frank has always believed that if you keep your eye on the target something positive will happen, you keep moving forward and you stay in the game.”

Sonia O’Sullivan, in the Irish Times, pays tribute to her friend Frank O’Mara who achieved so much on the track and off it and has lived with Parkinson’s for years. 

4. “From the outside, we find our meanings. And in Kieran’s life and death, we keep coming back to unity. When there has never seemed to be more to divide us, the outpouring of support for Kieran reminds us of the power of community to transcend competing interests.

“They will be remembered longer than any trophy presentation, the many donations made by clubs after the final whistle in Aghada matches, when rivalry was instantly forgotten. Same goes for the buckets generously filled in grounds all over the country.”

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All-Ireland winner Kieran O’Connor was laid to rest in East Cork yesterday. The Examiner’s Larry Ryan sums up a very sad day.

5. ”They say that with Bielsa, football clubs don’t choose him. When it comes to the crunch of a firm decision, he chooses them. He rarely feels the need for a rest or a break (a three-year hiatus after his Argentina team won the Olympics in 2004 was an isolated occasion when he purposely stepped away from coaching) but he does not actively look for work. As a source close to him told The Athletic: “As far as I know he has never sought a particular position. Rather, he actively devotes time to rejecting jobs.” Like most things with Bielsa, offers of employment are binary. Simply right or wrong.”

Oh don’t you know, pump it up? The Whites are going up. The Athletic’s Phil Hay explains how beloved Leeds boss Marco Bielsa pulled it off. 

6. “In the build-up to those finals, the Sunday Press had tasked me with doing a three-part story on Jack’s life, which is why I found myself early one morning sitting beside him in a car travelling from Cork to Limerick, a tape-recorder running as the road unwound.

There were a couple of diversions, mind. With Jack there always were. As we passed close to the Maigue river outside Croom, he spotted the glint of running water through the trees and demanded we stop to investigate. Thus it was that a lone angler on the river bank suddenly found his solitude interrupted by what must have been the mind-bending sight of one of the most famous people in the country approaching him at a good clip and enquiring, in that unmistakable Geordie brogue, if he’d caught anything yet.”

Let’s finsh with the Irish Examiner’s Liam Mackey‘s wonderful personal recollections of a giant of Irish life

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