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Dublin: 9°C Monday 17 May 2021
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View from Oz: Bhoys on tour

“Australia is a market we’d like to tap into,” according to Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

Image: Lynne Cameron/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Soccer

The big news over here this week centres around Celtic’s pre-season tour which sees them take on the Central Coast Mariners, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory in the space of a fortnight. Naturally many Irish and Scottish ex-pats have embraced the opportunity to see their favourite side in action.

The first game of the tour took place on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium in Sydney as the Mariners surprisingly beat the Hoops 1-0 thanks to a late Troy Hearfield strike. Sadly the decision to play the game in an 80,000 or so all-seater stadium meant that the crowd of just over 19,000 looked lost and the atmosphere suffered as a result.

Thankfully this week’s game in Perth will be played at NIB Stadium which holds less than 20,000 and Glory are expecting to sell the vast majority of tickets given the city’s reputation for being a ‘Little Britain’.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has admitted that he is using the trip as an opportunity to sound out some of Australia’s best young talent.

“Australia is a market we’d like to tap into,” he said. “Part of the reason we’ve come here is to look at the players here and unearth a few nuggets. It [Australia] has been kind to us. [Mark] Viduka and [Scott] McDonald made huge contributions to our club when they were here.”

Unfortunately one of those on his radar, Mustafa Amini of the Mariners, was injured and took no part in Saturday’s contest.

Super Rugby

Australia will have a representative in this year’s Super Rugby showpiece after the Queensland Reds overcame the Blues on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. A vintage Quade Cooper performance inspired the side to a 30-13 win, with Rod Davies also playing superbly to bag a hattrick of tries.
Cooper was in stunning form, assisting three of his side’s four tries before kicking a drop goal and laying a great try saving tackle on winger Rene Ranger towards the end.

The Reds will now face the Crusaders in the final (2) this weekend and the New Zealanders will be favourites despite the contest being hosted on Australian soil.
Most neutrals will be looking for a Crusaders win given their turbulent and emotional season in the aftermath of the horrendous earthquakes which devastated their Christchurch home. However Reds coach Ewen McKenzie was quick to point out that his side would not be short on motivation following the recent adverse weather conditions in Queensland.

“The people of Queensland have had similar adversity to overcome as a result of the January floods and Cyclone Yasi,” he said. “Queensland is over the worst of it, but there are still a lot of Queenslanders out there battling as the rebuilding goes on.”

The Reds should be close to full strength going into the game with only tighthead James Slipper an injury doubt.

AFL

It took 15 rounds but finally the last unbeaten start to the 2011 AFL season has come to an end with Geelong going down to Essendon on Saturday. The Bombers have been in woeful form as of late but picked themselves up to beat the Cats 115-111 with Jake Melksham good in midfield, while Michael Hurly kept James Podsiadly goalless.

The Geelong defeat gave Collingwood the opportunity to close the gap at the top of the ladder and they dually obliged, hammering Hawthorn by 41 points. A crowd of 83,985 watched the game at the MCG as Magpies stars Dan Swan, Dale Thomas and Scott Pendlebury justified their reputations with a great display. The only sour note was a hand injury to forward Chris Dawes who will now miss up to six weeks.

In the other games this weekend, Fremantle overcame an early scare against Gold Coast to run out 60-point winners in Perth, while the Western Bulldogs, Carlton, Adelaide, Brisbane and St. Kilda also recorded maximum points.

About the author:

Neil Sherwin

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