Alamy Stock Photo Roger Federer.
read the game
Farewell to Federer, Savannah's story and more of the week's best sportswriting
Boil the kettle…

1. Consider the choices, the dozens of crossroads Savannah McCarthy reached that shaped this particular destiny. Consider the six-year-old girl from Listowel, growing up in the Travelling community, choosing a football and a patch of grass over the hair straighteners and make-up favoured by her four sisters.

Consider the 20-year-old professional soccer player, sitting at home on Christmas Day, 2017, weighing up whether to continue her career in Glasgow or to spend the months that followed with her dying grandfather.

Consider her now, at 25, a player who was a key part of Ireland’s historic journey to the World Cup play-offs but who has been reduced, over the past six months, to an injured onlooker, her knee a complicated web of surgically repaired ligaments, her mind counting down the days to when she can jog, then run, then sprint, then play, when her days will no longer be filled with mind-numbing, spirit-crushing rehab exercises but with crunching tackles, clean sheets, crisp passes — the stuff that truly makes her tick.

But before any of that, consider the choice McCarthy made when she was 17, an age when so many girls jettison sport for everything else life has to offer. The small decisions she made then have rippled ever since.

“You’d have friends you’d play with the whole way up and they had the potential to play at a high level, but they made that decision to go out and drink, take drugs,” she says. “I would have had friends that go and take drugs and go out and drink and when you’re at that age, it’s easy to get involved. But for me, I was just so focused. I wanted a better life.”

Cathal Dennehy interviews Republic of Ireland international Savannah McCarthy for The Irish Independent (€)

2. And yes, Federer really was the best of them. We know this because Nadal and Djokovic were great enough to make this such a point of fevered discussion, and to elevate every contest along the way, producing such a wonderfully more-ish contrast of style, manner and execution, the same greats playing the same game in the same space, but in a way that somehow never really felt the same.

And with Federer greatness was as much about style and form and texture. There was a sense in his talent of something that never quite reached its end point. Even at its most concentrated pitch one never felt one got to the limits of what Federer might do. There is probably still a bit in there, Rog, if you ever feel like giving it another go.

‘Farewell to Roger Federer, the greatest player in an era of greats,’ writes Barney Ronay for The Guardian.

3. In the wild saloon bar of sports punditry, absolute impartiality — or its appearance — assumed the properties of non-alcoholic beer: there was no hangover but there was no buzz either. It lacked the roguish magnetism to fix eyeballs to a TV screen, it had little or no afterlife on social media. It still had an empirical value, clearly, but in the never-ending ratings war, it didn’t really move the needle.

From Denis Walsh’s first column for The Irish Times.

4. “Greetings, Roberto.” Even when Eddie was just saying hello every word flowed more smoothly when he spoke – or wrote – them. And whether he was chatting with his colleagues in the press box, or delivering those impossibly brilliant, mellifluous television voiceovers, you wanted to hear more. Which, of course, is exactly how we all feel right now.

It is scant consolation that the bard of Monmouthshire packed so much into his 65 years. Rugby player, storyteller, commentator, novelist, linguist … there was almost nothing he could not do when he put his mind to it. Not many have ever captained their country at rugby union, been a British & Irish Lion and then become a renowned broadcaster, rugby correspondent and fiction writer as well. Simply to bask in the reflected glow of his multiple talents was enough for the rest of us.

The Guardian’s Robert Kitson pays tribute to the late Eddie Butler.

5. Tuesday was the tenth anniversary. Eileen and Brian Maguire had set everything to one side. The worst thing was to not be active, so they headed off to the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail towards the highest point in Fermanagh.

Along with them were daughters Eimear and her husband Fergal Reilly, Roisín and her husband Marty McGrath. All there to mark the anniversary of the death of their beloved son, brother and brother-in-law, Brian Óg Maguire.

Declan Bogue remembers the late Brian Óg Maguire for The Irish Independent (€)

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel