good reads

Roy Keane at 50, the harsh life of an Olympian and the rest of the week's best sportswriting

Stick the kettle on, take a seat and get stuck into this lot.

1. Lauren Baxley, a 33-year-old licensed massage therapist who is also among the 22 plaintiffs suing Watson, spoke to SI in a separate interview, her first since filing suit.

She says that Friel and Gaffney also asked her about what she was wearing during her June 2020 appointment with Watson. She perceived the overall tone of the league’s investigators as “patronizing” and “victim-blaming,” as she says they also questioned her response to Watson’s behavior, including why she froze and did not end the session.

(Freezing, along with fight or flight, is a common physiological response to danger.) Baxley was the first of the plaintiffs to file a report with Houston police, on April 2, and says she was disappointed in the NFL’s handling compared with the adult sex crimes unit of Houston PD’s special victims division.

Jenny Vrentas from Sports Illustrated speaks to the women involved in the lawsuit against NFL player Deshaun Watson

brendan-maher Brendan Maher in action for Tipperary. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

2. “There was a buzz about him early,” Delaney smiles. “My brother Michael worked in Nenagh, and would have passed the Mahers’ home house twice a day. I remember him saying to me 25 years ago that the youngest lad of the Mahers was out every morning banging a ball against the wall, waiting to be picked up for school.”

He pauses, enlarges the frame: “But it wasn’t all plain sailing. As a very young fella, Brendan contracted meningitis. The whole parish got an awful jolt, and his parents had a really rough few days, but he got back right as rain, thank God.

“I know people will think I am going over the top, but maybe there is a destiny with certain stuff. Was Brendan destined to be another Borris-Ileigh man to captain Tipp to the All-Ireland, the fourth one to do it? Maybe someone was looking out for him with the meningitis.”

In the Irish Examiner, PM O’Sullivan looks back over the career of Brendan Maher following is retirement from the Tipperary hurlers.

3. Think about it. Imagine the sort of weirdo you have to be to decide as a teenager that you want to compete in modern pentathlon. Your friends all play football or basketball or do athletics or drama or music or whatever. But you pick modern pentathlon. You run and shoot and swim and fence and jump horses.

And you don’t just compete in it, you aim to get to the Olympics. And you don’t just aim at the games but you actually get there. And you don’t just get there but you do so three times. And you don’t just get there three times but when it comes to the last one you’ll ever do, you’re virtually flawless in your first two events and you’re on the verge of a medal.

And then a horse you met 20 minutes ago for the first time decides he doesn’t fancy it. And just like that, you’re toast. Thanks for coming. Have a nice life. Sport is so very merciless like that. The Olympics, all the more so.

The Iris Times’ Malachy Clerkin beautifully captures the hardship involved in reaching the Olympics and the cruelty of failure when the performance doesn’t go to plan.

roy-keane Roy Keane. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

4. Myself and my friends nudged each other at the sight of the city’s newest celebrity back in our midst, just hours after headlining at Lansdowne Road. We watched him head up to the door of Cubins and stared, the way people do when they see somebody famous (even as freshly-minted a celebrity as this) up close. Never mind that we’d often seen him up closer on the football field. That was before. So much had changed.

Over the ensuing years, everybody in Cork would come to have their own Keane story about an incident inside or outside a nightclub or a pub. Some of them would even be true. 

In many of these tales, he’d be decried for acting the big shot, throwing money and the weight of his celebrity around. On this particular night on Hanover Street though, this early in his ascent, there was no gauche attempt to flaunt his new position. He just stood there for a moment, maybe hoping for a change of mind from the man in black with the earpiece, and then he walked away. Like a hundred others, he’d been refused entry on the mysterious whim of the doorman and he accepted the ruling.

Dave Hannigan recounts his memories of Roy Keane on the week of his 50th birthday in Echo Live.

5. Then Kellie on the top step.

The Olympic champion.

Gracious and humble, giving a thumbs-up to those she vanquished.

She’s crying.

They give her the medal and she holds it and stares at it. Because of the virus she has her mask on and she has to hang it around her own neck, but she doesn’t want to do it just yet. She doesn’t want to let it go. This is what it was all for.

In the end, they give her a little bouquet and she has to put the medal around her neck to free up her hands to take it off them.

A lifetime waiting for this moment.

The soldiers are waiting with the flags, the tricolour in the middle – not to the left, or the right, where the silver and bronze medallists’ flags are.

Smack bang in the middle.

She turns to face the flags. I think they all do, but I don’t really care about the others. I’m not looking at them.

They say her name again.

Representing Ireland.

Kellie Harrington.

Phillip O’Connor offers a poetic description of Kellie Harrington’s brilliant Olympic victory and the boxing memories he grew up with.

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