Winning 10 All-Irelands in the most caring, kind and inoffensive way and the week's best sportswriting

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Éamonn Ryan at the final whistle of the 2014 All-Ireland ladies senior football final.
Éamonn Ryan at the final whistle of the 2014 All-Ireland ladies senior football final.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“THE GREATEST LEGACY any manager or coach can leave is the part they play in shaping, moulding, and developing the people they lead. And we were all so blessed, lucky, honoured, and so greatly privileged to have been guided by Éamonn Ryan.

“Some of the greatest managers in the history of sport have left a wonderful legacy in terms of success but those empires were still often constructed at a great human cost; players were hurt by how their careers finished, or how they were casually discarded when the end-game arrived.

“The easy and often lazy response is that the ruthlessness applied to the regime is what made the regime in the first place. I always struggled to understand that viewpoint when one of the most successful managers in modern Irish sport won 10 All-Irelands in the most caring, kind, and inoffensive way imaginable.

“Éamonn never dropped anyone off the panel; players knew themselves when it was time to go. Is that soft and avoiding being the bad guy? Soft doesn’t win 10 All-Irelands and nine league titles. The good guy doesn’t necessarily have to become the bad guy just for the sake of it.”

After the tragic passing of legendary Cork football manager Éamonn Ryan, his former player Valerie Mulcahy explains what set him apart as “the absolute best” in the Irish Examiner.

“I grew up in a small village, and when Suttons closed their store in the village, we took it over and spent our time delivering coal around the place in a hand truck, mixing grass seeds, loading feedstuffs onto horse and butts.

“When work was done, we were down at the field watching the local junior hurling team, who were stars to us. I was already hooked. A few years earlier, when I was six or seven, my father worked for Suttons in Thurles. I’d watch the local Sarsfields training and fall in as the ball-boy for Jimmy Doyle’s father, Jerry, who was the goalie.

“There wouldn’t be a net so I’d be behind the goals hoping he’d leave the ball in, so I could run after and throw it back to him. Tipperary would soon win three-in-a-row, they were on top of the hurling world. I assimilated all this stuff, it became part of the fibre of my being.”

The Irish Examiner have also republished an excellent interview with Ryan by Tony Leen from January 2015.

‘If a Hollywood scriptwriter had come up with the extraordinary story of Agnes Keleti – the world’s oldest Olympic champion, who celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday – as a piece of fiction, they surely would have been told to rein it in.

“Fleeing the Nazis, surviving the Holocaust with a false ID, and later escaping the Soviet clampdown on Hungary? Competing in a first Olympic Games aged 31 before going on to win more medals than anyone else in Melbourne four years later? And then, just for good measure, passing her century bursting with a rare energy and unquenchable zest for life? It sounds like magical realism. Yet it was all true.

“These 100 years felt to me like 60,” Keleti said, as she celebrated with a cake with fireworks fizzing from it and a smile so wide it could have lit up Budapest. It served as an instant pick-me-up, especially in these grim and monochrome times.”

Sean Ingle of The Guardian on ‘The Queen of Gymnastics’ — Agnes Keleti.

“As the chief scout for Novara — an Italian soccer team based in a small town west of Milan and, that season, struggling at the foot of Serie A — Cristiano Giaretta was used to unsolicited calls from agents offering players that might be of interest.

“When a Portuguese agent named Miguel Pinho got in touch with Giaretta in 2012 to recommend a teenage midfielder at Boavista, he might easily have disregarded it. His job involved tracking hundreds of players across much of Europe. He had never heard of Pinho, and he had never heard of Bruno Fernandes.

“Nor, really, should he have. Though Boavista is traditionally the second team in Portugal’s second city, Porto, financial turmoil had, at the time, left it struggling in the third division. Its youth system had a good reputation, but by common consensus the cream of the country’s endless supply of young soccer talent was corralled in the academies of its big three clubs: Benfica, Sporting and F.C. Porto.”

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In the New York Times, Rory Smith maps out the unusual career path of Bruno Fernandes, the best player in a Manchester United side currently sitting top of the Premier League.

“In the ad, Butler slides into his closet, where he picks out some clothes, decides between two pairs of cowboy boots, and then slides back out to finish packing for the NBA bubble. Here was Butler: A jokester. An affable superstar. It was such a twist to his public persona. He was the complete opposite of what he had been known as for the bulk of his career, perhaps because, once again, he’d been willing to work for it.

“I’m constantly doing stuff to try to let people in on that side of me, because I get it,” Butler said. “If you believe what you see online, I’m an asshole, I’m a bad team-mate, I’m a bad guy, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda. But when you take all of that out because that’s just what I am as a basketball player, who am I?”. Wine in hand, Butler tried to answer his own question by talking about his ambitions and, more insightfully, all the things he loves.”

In GQ, Zito Madu speaks to Jimmy Butler of Miami Heat about how he became the breakout star of the NBA bubble. 

“There was a time, early on in her life, where Trinity Rodman thought she might follow in her father’s footsteps, though. She remembers playing basketball in an after-school program with her brother D.J. She liked to dribble, drive to the hoop and playing against her sibling fueled her competitive desire. But basketball was never her true love.

“As I got older and older, I just told myself that I needed to play one sport, to focus on it and get good,” recalled Rodman. “Soccer was just my home sport, what I was most comfortable with. So I started working harder and got better and better and better.”

Trinity Rodman, daughter of NBA great Dennis, is a rising US football star and was selected No. 2 overall in the 2021 NWSL draft. Pablo Maurer tells her story in The Athletic.

“Over the last decade, the Irish therapist has worked with an A-list cast of sporting talent. Champion sprinters, NFL stars, top-10 golfers: they’ve all made their way to his Realta Clinic in Carlow, searching either for an edge in performance or a cure for their pain — sometimes both.

“Antonio Brown, wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, calls him the “crazy Irishman”, a description Geoghegan says is accurate. But if there’s a touch of madness to his ways, an increasing number of sporting titans see method in it. It doesn’t take long to realise why he can divide opinion.

“It’s going to be horrible to hear this and it breaks my f***ing heart (to say it): Irish sportspeople train harder than the best sportspeople in the world, but they don’t train correctly,” says Geoghegan.”

Cathal Dennehy speaks to Anthony ‘Star’ Geoghegan — the Carlow-based therapist who has worked with Olympic champions and NBA superstars, in the Irish Examiner.

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