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Evan Logan/INPHO Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan taking photos with fans after a game.
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The Finn Harps ride, the Olympic experience of Kamila Valieva and the week's best sportswriting
Enjoy a selection of some of our favourite pieces published elsewhere over the last seven days.

1. Their chances rest with a 53-year-old secondary school teacher from Salthill, Co Galway. Manager Ollie Horgan is a near-mythical figure in League of Ireland lore. Wild-eyed, beak-nosed and with an untamed blonde mullet more typical of a Dusseldorf heavy metal club, he is famously bellicose on the sideline, doom-laden about his own team’s chances and, even in domestic football’s cavalcade of quirk, an absolute original.

Is it true that he can play Beethoven expertly on piano? That he can conjure mathematics theorems as readily as training drills? That he steals from country to country in the close season like a sort of shadowy BFG, whispering sweet nothings into the ears of troubled professionals who suddenly find themselves spirited away to European football’s north-west frontier?

Yes, all these things are true. Well, probably. This is, after all, a club who listed among their trialists in a pre-season friendly the WWE wrestler Rey Mysterio. Rather than a masked, muscle-bound grappler, the player turned out to be a journeyman Croatian striker called Filip Mihaljevic. 

‘Glamour, no. But with Finn Harps the ride is always interesting,’ writes Tommy Martin for The Irish Examiner.

2. A few months back, a fellow expert angler and I invested in a small boat. I know it’s dodgy to assume anyone’s pronouns these days but I’m going to call the boat ‘her’ for handiness.

The day after we bought it, I happened to mention it in passing to someone, who quickly came up with a pronoun of his own: We were, he said, a pair of ‘thundering eegits’.

“You know what BOAT stands for?” he asked, rhetorically. I awaited the killer punchline. “Bring On Another Thousand!” he howled.

Paul Fitzpatrick’s Cavanman’s Diary in The Anglo Celt was an enjoyable read.

3. He is full of joy — but grief lingers beneath. He still wishes his father Frank, who was his best friend and biggest advocate, was here to see him achieve what he has now. To just be by his side. Tell him what he is doing wrong, what he is doing right. “I’m still trying to figure it out today, and kind of still come up with a blank,” he says. “Because it just happened.”

“My dad was my everything,” he says. “He’s the reason why I am who I am.” Frank taught him discipline. He was everything DeMar wanted to be: resilient, hard-working, loving, proud. Starting when DeMar was in high school, Frank would wear customized T-shirts and jerseys that said: “DeRozan’s Dad.” Frank had felt the absence of his own father, and never wanted DeMar to know that ache. So, he never left DeMar. Pushed him hard. Loved him harder. But in a world intent on breaking people down, Frank wanted to toughen up DeMar.

Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan opens up to Mirin Fader in an in-depth interview for The Ringer.

sports-bkn-sullivan-column-derozan-tb Armando L. Sanchez DeMar DeRozan. Armando L. Sanchez

4. Given this week’s weapons grade rhetoric around Belfast, you could conclude that some people care little about the joint bids of the football association of Ireland (FAI), England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to host the 2028 European Championships.

In a bid to chum the water for the harder side of unionism, a decision to halt a scheme to upgrade football stadia while continuing the redevelopment of the GAA’s Casement Park in Belfast has been branded “sectarian” by a DUP MLA.

Former economy minister Paul Frew accused Sinn Fein’s communities minister Deirdre Hargey and finance minister Conor Murphy of making “sectarian decisions,” claiming they were treating one project differently to the other.

Frew could have used unfair, confusing, unusual, biased, improper, unjust if he felt that way. But he didn’t. He used sectarian.

The Irish Times’ Johnny Watterson’s Friday column is worth a look.

5. For many years, Manchester City’s rivals, both at home and in Europe, have been concerned by the club’s rise under Sheikh Mansour. City’s advocates would argue the envy can most easily be explained by City winning five of the last ten Premier League titles, five of the last six League Cups and regularly competing in the latter stages of the Champions League. City’s allies would add how this reflects a broader concern for American owners of clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

The argument follows that City have created a more competitive environment, which jeopardises the possibility of their own clubs qualifying for the Champions League and receiving the financial windfall associated with it. American owners, such as United’s Glazer family, bought in via a leveraged buyout and have never demonstrated a desire to run the club by injecting their own cash into United. As such, City’s supporters would argue that these owners are opposed to City both because of the competition provided and because City’s owners are more willing to invest both in the club and the region in order to succeed.

(€) ‘Manchester City’s sponsors, the links to Abu Dhabi and what it means for Newcastle United’ – Adam Crofton’s investigation into the Premier League giants for The Athletic.

6. As a mere athletic spectacle, it was breathtaking. Valieva skated with such precision, such grace, such artistry, that it was immediately clear even to my untrained eye that Lipinski and Weir had not oversold this star-in-waiting. She glided to one gold medal and seemed like a lock for a second in the women’s individual competition the following week.

Then, something even more astonishing happened. The medal ceremony for the team event was supposed to take place February 8, but it never happened. A day after, we found out why.

The Ringer’s Michael Baumann reflects on the Olympic experience of 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva.

BTL 5

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