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Team Sky's legacy, alcohol sponsorship in sport and the week's best sportswriting

Sit back and enjoy some of the best of the week’s long-form writing.

1. In the semi-final Crokes goalkeeper David Nestor saved a last-minute penalty from Portlaoise’s Craig Rogers to win the game.

Another Rogers stepped up to take this kick. Wing-forward Gary, cool as a man kicking around on the beach, wrote his name into the history books by sending Nestor the wrong way.

In that glorious moment the little club’s hard history was celebrated and redeemed. Now the favourites buckled while the underdogs rampaged. McElligott added another point and Mullinalaghta could have scored a couple more. It didn’t matter.

Mission impossible had been accomplished.

Eamonn Sweeney reflects on Mullinalaghta’s famous victory over Kilmacud Crokes and asks whether it’s the greatest victory in club GAA history for the Irish Independent.

Mullinalaghta celebrate with the trophy after the game Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

2. “I knew this would be the biggest thing that happened in my life,” Hegerberg said about the award, “but I didn’t know how huge it was until I went on that stage.”

It was what happened on that stage that thrust Hegerberg, through no fault of her own, into the broader public consciousness: a flip remark from the French D.J. serving as one of the ceremony’s hosts (“Do you know how to twerk?”); the immediate storm of viral outrage the question generated; the subsequent wave of support from friends and strangers; the dozens of requests for interviews.

“This whole week,” Hegerberg said Monday, “has been crazy.”

Andrew Keh of the New York Times sits down with Women’s Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg to discuss her life in football and her reaction to her and DJ Martin Solveig’s exchange.

Imago 20181205 Ballon d'Or winner, Ada Hegerberg. Source: Imago/PA Images

3. So suffocating was their presence that for the 2018 season they changed the colour of their jerseys from black to white in an obviously symbolic attempt to improve the image of a team who had come to be seen, rightly or wrongly, as the sport’s bad guys.

The decision to return to the original black for next year had already been made before Wednesday’s announcement of the title sponsor’s decision to withdraw support at the end of 2019.

Race organisers, most obviously Christian Prudhomme of ASO, the owners of the Tour de France, at first welcomed Sky’s investment in a perennially underfunded sport, along with the enthusiasm of their British supporters. 

Richard Williams looks over the legacy of Team Sky and the questions that continue to surround them in a week when Sky announced it would be ending its sponsorship at the end of next year.

2018 Sport Christmas Package Team Sky's Geraint Thomas winning stage twelve of the 2018 Tour de France. Source: Chris Wallis

4. Successive governments considered alcohol’s relationship with sport. In 2013 the chief executives of the GAA, FAI and IRFU were called before an Oireachtas committee to answer questions on this issue. Their key argument was that there was no evidential link between alcohol sponsorship in sport and problem drinking in Ireland. And yet: if a pub sponsors a club team in the GAA, as they do up and down the country, its name can’t appear on the jersey. If there isn’t a problem why make that distinction?

Look at the broader picture. On health grounds tobacco advertising has been drummed out of sport: darts, snooker and Formula One, among others, found alternative commercial partners. Earlier this year the GAA severed all ties with sponsorship from bookmakers. They didn’t say that all gambling was problem gambling but they were no longer prepared to offer themselves as a platform for this industry while a small constituency of their members were gambling addicts and another constituency gambled too much.

In that sense what is the difference between bookmaker sponsorship and drinks sponsorship? Why is one more desirable than the other?

Denis Walsh argues the point in The Times that alcohol and betting sponsorship should be treated the same and asks why we view one in a softer light than the other.

Fulham v Leicester City - Premier League - Craven Cottage Betting companies sponsoring football teams has become more commonplace over the last 10 years. Source: Steven Paston

5. By the time I’d made it to the pitch with the defibrillator, Dave, Tony and one of the parents, Mrs Ashe, were all frantically trying to keep Izzy breathing and administering CPR while the ambulance was on its way. They worked to put the defibrillator on Izzy and were all absolute heroes in my eyes.

I felt a sickening sense of dread. I’ll never forget the faces of those standing helplessly by. The worst of all was the sight of Izzy’s dad Robert in complete shock. As I am now a father of three I can not even try to imagine what it must feel like to see a child you’d seen grow into a fine young man struck down and completely helpless.

All I could do was keep urging Izzy to keep fighting. I’d no idea if he could hear me. It was just desperation.

FutsalFinn remembers his friend Izzy Dezu and the tragic circumstances surrounding his death.

A general view of Tolka Park A general view of Tolka Park. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

6. Upstairs, in the boys’ bedroom, the Lego structures are still intact. Intricate and towering, with as many as a thousand pieces each, the creations are a window into the mind of the boy who built them.

A four-foot-high Eiffel Tower with the French tricolore on top. A block of three-story townhouses on a British streetscape. An elaborate recreation of the Death Star from Star Wars, replete with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and stormtroopers. Whenever Jack was suffering from his chemotherapy—from the nausea and the pain—he would repair to his room and work with the plastic bricks.

“This was like his relaxation after chemo,” says Danielle. “He was very proud of this.”

Adds Claudio: Each one “took a couple of weeks. He would go in here and sit. It was like his distraction. His therapy.”

Former Sunderland and Manchester City player Claudio Reyna talks about losing his son to cancer and how his family dealt with the grief in a conversation with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Eddie O’Sullivan preview another big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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