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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

The Sunday papers: some of the week's best sportswriting

Take the best of the newspapers, blogs and sports website – and serve.

Cork footballer Daniel Goulding meets the press ahead of next week's Munster SFC final.
Cork footballer Daniel Goulding meets the press ahead of next week's Munster SFC final.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

1. “Kevin Keegan once got a lovely fax. It came from the most powerful – and, in some quarters today, detested – man in football. “Please allow me on behalf of Fifa, and all those who believe in the spirit of fair play, to commend you for the positive attitude you bring to our game,” wrote Sepp Blatter.”

Stuart Jeffries of the Guardian meets King Kev for an interesting chat.

2. “He likes life in Cork, though uprooting from the north west England means long periods away from his partner, Lyndsey, a teacher, and their four and half year old son, Jack. He also has two children from a previous marriage, Ella (10) and Georgia (8), but he gets back to England most weekends, or on days off. Then again, life around this Munster team is rarely dull. He shares an apartment with Brian Carney, “the biggest practical joker in the squad”, according to Darbyshire. He didn’t know Carney from League although he did coach against him. “Sometimes I’m frightened to death to get up in the morning because I wonder what’s behind the bedroom door when I open it,” he says of high jinks in a life shared with Brian.”

When Munster’s much-loved strength and conditioning coach Paul Darbyshire passed away this week, the Examiner dug this interview, with Edward Newman, out of the archives.

3. “As a country child, the crowd was scary, the noise was scary, the colour was scary and on the pitch Dublin were scary. Kildare usually stayed the pace for the majority but there was always a moment when ‘Come on you boys in blue’ would follow a scoring burst and you knew your hopes and dreams had been shredded for another season. What northern sides could do to Dublin in the early 1990s while not worrying about the opposition seemed all the more amazing because of where we came from and what Dublin regularly did to us. Now, all these years on, despite living and playing football in Dublin, there’s still an intimidation that partly stems from the fact that the relief of not losing to Dublin is far greater than the enjoyment of actually beating them.”

Ewan McKenna on being a Kildare fan in Croke Park when the Lilywhites are facing the Dubs again.

4. “It’s confession time: I am over 30 and I am collecting soccer stickers. Purely as a journalistic tool, you understand. It doesn’t matter how closely you think you follow the game, you start every World Cup knowing you haven’t got a clue who half the players are. Collecting soccer stickers is the best way to acquaint yourself with the players, to put names to faces — even if, because they’re made some time before the tournament, they might not necessarily be in the squad at all. (Isn’t that right, Theo?) Yes, collecting soccer stickers is all in a day’s work.”
Sid Lowe comes clean to a shameful habit in Sports Illustrated.
5. “As run after run flows from his majestic bat, Marcus Trescothick no longer sings to himself with quite the same anxious need. But sometimes, during a tricky patch on a difficult pitch, he will repeat the old mantra. It conjures a surreal image as, opening the batting for Somerset on a cloudy summer’s day, Trescothick silently sings the words of Eminem’s Lose Yourself. ‘Look,’ he will hum under his breath, his Somerset accent mangling a skinny white rap from Detroit, ‘if you had one shot, or one opportunity/To seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment/Would you capture it?’”

Marcus Trescothick speaks to the superb Donald McRae about battling depression.

6. “Johnny Pilkington tells a story against himself about his time playing Fitzgibbon hurling with UCD. After a defeat to UCC, his team-mates seemed dejected as they set about the obligatory process of drowning sorrows. Pilkington, one of the greatest midfielders of his generation, liked to play up to his county’s caricature of hard-living dissidents. Sitting next to Tipperary’s Conal Bonnar, he now felt the need for a re-affirmation of the Offaly way. ‘Boys, will ye cop onto yerselves,’ he announced from a high stool. “I’m after getting beaten by Antrim and Down and Mickey Mouse teams like that. It’s a privilege to be beaten by Cork.”

Before the Rebels edged out Offaly on Leeside yesterday, Vincent Hogan examined Faithful hurling.

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