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The Sunday Papers: some of the week’s best sports-writing
We give you the best from the last week’s papers, blogs and online features. Get that kettle on…

1. “Well, it is a man’s game and Kilkenny are the best team to have played it. Look at Henry Shefflin’s pass for Kilkenny’s first goal on Sunday. It was special, a perfect expression of the skills they have brought to the game – power, precision and perfect accuracy, and all executed at break-neck speed. The overall state of the game isn’t Kilkenny’s responsibility. It’s the GAA’s. If the game gets more and more physical it’s because teams respond to the challenge set in more and more physical ways, and because the game is refereed that way. Kilkenny can only play and beat what is put in front of them.

“I don’t believe for a moment that the only way, or even the best way, to beat Kilkenny is to concentrate on being more physical than they are. I believe that the next development in hurling will involve a return to moving the ball quicker and into space. To even think about that at the moment, though, you need to be able to compete physically. That will happen if the GAA lets it happen. And when it does happen Kilkenny won’t disappear. There is a fair probability that they will just do that better than anybody else too.”

Donal Og Cusack pays credit where it’s due. And, while we’re at it, read another piece from the Cork goalkeeper here.

2. “Still unable to make any sense of it we took another turn. This time from Westmoreland Street on to Fleet Street. The comfort of The Palace Bar awaited us. I wasn’t long sitting when a man with a tear in his eye, a man I would come to know as Billy, turned to me and for the next hour we talked about what had just happened. About hurling. About the ‘disaster,’ as he put it, that had just unfolded. He adapted the words of ‘The Galtee Mountain Boy’ and in doing so he sang ‘Farewell to Tipperary hurling said the Galtee Mountain Boy.’ You couldn’t but sing along. And worry that he might not be far off the mark.

“He wasn’t around 115 years ago but he confided in me that he had lived in London for 50 years and was 80 on his next birthday. He said he lived for hurling, for Tipperary hurling in particular, and had resigned himself to never seeing a Tipperary man lift the Liam McCarthy Cup again.”

Oliver Skehan, writer of the GAA blog ‘An Spota Dubh,’ on the aftermath of last weekend’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final.

3. “So no judge in a court of arbitration will ever be called to read sentence in the case of Lance Armstrong. But for anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear, the jury was never out.

“By refusing to mount a defence in the US Anti-Doping Agency’s case against him, Lance Armstrong has – whatever equivocation and claims of persecution he persists in – all but conceded that he won his seven Tour de France titles by doping. And by walking away from a defence he has ceded those yellow jerseys and lost his status as the most remarkable serial winner in the history of the sport.”

The Guardian have their say on Lance Armstrong’s decision not to fight doping charges.

4. “If you had seen me before …” he says. There is a pause. He leans forward a little, elbows on the table, the sleeves of his training top pulled up high. His fingers move slowly as he talks, twisting the thin wedding ring on his right hand. Outside, through the glass doors that look across Liverpool’s Melwood training ground, the rain hammers down. “If you had seen me before,” he continues, “you’d realise that I used to be even worse.”

“Luis Suárez is not laughing. This is not a joke. Nor is it a plea for sympathy. And he is not fishing for compliments. It is just a statement, delivered evenly, like the majority of what he says. Yet this is not the self-congratulation of the reformed character. It is not the self-loathing either. He walks past the European Cup, past the rows and rows of boots and trainers, and up the stairs, taking a seat in an office overlooking the fields, still in his kit. He talks well; occasionally with eloquence and always with a self-awareness that is striking, even a little disarming. He says he wants to change, but doesn’t want to entirely.”

Sid Lowe meets Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker, who gives an insight into his personality, and discusses the new Reds vision.

5. “Among the deluge of tweets, e-mails, official statements and opinion pieces that followed, one item caught my eye. It was an instant poll conducted by ESPN sports business insider Darren Rovell that asked respondents: “How do you feel about Lance Armstrong’s brand?” There were three possible answers: It’s tarnished; the good outweighs the bad; or I’m conflicted. I would have checked all three boxes.

“Whether or not he is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles—and that still has to be decided, perhaps after a verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport—the names of Lance Armstrong and his eponymous cancer foundation have clearly been tarnished by the years of his defending himself against the constant allegations that he used illicit performance-enhancing drugs and methods during his racing career. Without those accusations, the Livestrong foundation would have gained even more prestige and effectiveness than it has already achieved. And Armstrong’s status as a super-champion and cancer advocate would have been permanently etched in posterity.

“Instead, whether it’s fair or not, the authenticity of his athletic performances will always be questioned. What cannot be denied is that Armstrong has been what some have called “a freak of nature” since his years as a budding triathlete who took on the best in that sport when he was a young teenager—and sometimes beat them. The young Texan did so well that he earned Triathlete magazine’s Rookie of the Year award when he was still in high school. And that was just the start.”

John Wilcockson, writing for Peloton Magazine, on the biggest news story of the week.

Column: I’m not just from Cloyne, not just from Cork, not just a hurler. Not just a gay man. >