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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 21 January, 2019

Wrestling's greatest mystery appears to have been solved; it's the week's best sportswriting

Also featuring Gary Neville on why Liverpool need a visionary to lead them.


1. “Meaningful comparisons are often very difficult. Are they fitter? It’s not really a relevant question when comparing sports with different requirements. However, there is the opportunity to make meaningful comparisons in other areas such as scheduling, player monitoring, communications, use of technology, video analysis. As a player, there’s always a fascination with such matters but having recently undertaken a Masters in applied psychology and business coaching in UCC, an insight into how things are done at an elite level in other sports took on a new attraction. On this basis, the aforementioned questions were to the forefront of my mind when I visited New Zealand earlier this year. Lucky enough to get access to top rugby teams and coaches, it was necessary to have the objectives and questions primed if any meaningful insight was to be gained. Basically, can we do things better?”

Writing for The Irish Examiner, Conor McCarthy looks at what makes the New Zealand rugby side so phenomenal.

2. “If you compare Liverpool to Manchester United over the same period of time, I can think of only one player – Cristiano Ronaldo – who left when he wanted to go, rather than when Sir Alex Ferguson wanted it to happen.

“The comparison with United is valid because, regardless of the recent successes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, English football’s biggest, most historic, successful and best supported clubs are Liverpool and Manchester United.”

Writing in The Telegraph, Gary Neville says Liverpool currently are stuck in the past.

3. “In the sporting sphere, the debate has played out in what is commonly perceived as the country’s most traditionalist of organisations: the GAA. An umbrella term for three games – hurling, handball and Gaelic football – played under rules set by a central body, the GAA presides over the nation’s most well subscribed sports and can be considered the sentry of Ireland’s pastimes, if not its way of life.”

For the week that was in it, Vice Sports looked at same sex marriage and the paradox of Irish sport.

4. “Greedy footballers, eh? An England midfielder of substantial but hardly world-class talent turns down a lavish six-figure contract offer from his current club and threatens to leave for a rival, using the convenient fig leaf of being played “out of position”. Still, this is a column about Raheem Sterling, not James Milner, so we shall have to leave that one there for now.”

Jonathan Liew writes an impassioned defence of Raheem Sterling.

5. “Like many Irish institutions, the league has survived largely because no-one has quite worked out how to get rid of it. The nation-state remains the basic organisational unit of football. For as long as it does, the FAI’s blazer brigade will be obliged to maintain some sort of domestic championship (even one consisting of an endless series of matches between Shamrock Rovers and its entire alphabet of reserve teams) as the price for swanning around Europe in the reflected glamour of the national side.”

Turlough Kelly of on the many deaths of the League of Ireland.

6. “A couple of years back, the head of department at the university where I teach suggested I should meet a man called Pat Hanrahan for lunch. Pat was about to start his first semester on campus, and I’m guessing the thinking was our shared nationality might prove mutually beneficial. My boss is a very knowledgeable man but his grasp of Irish geo-political reality is weak. “This guy Hanrahan is from Tipperary,” I tried to explain. “I’m from Cork. We are like the Hatfields and the McCoys with more primitive weapons and a better ability to hold grudges.”

Dave Hannigan recalls the time he met a fellow Irishman abroad, who happened to be a fanatical Man United fan.

7. “On the grand scale of Roy Keane takedowns it ranks fairly low compared with some of the more volcanic outbursts, but it is maybe an appropriate time to revisit the passage in his last autobiography about the slightly complicated issue of players declaring for countries when it sometimes felt to him more like a career move rather than international honour in the more orthodox sense.

“Keane waits until the last pages of his autobiography before broaching the subject and, by then, the venom of his quill has almost run dry on other targets. Yet it is still a fairly hefty kick he delivers to one of his former Republic of Ireland team-mates.”

The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor wonders whether Jack Grealish would pass the Roy Keane Ireland test.

8. “If you tell Xavi Hernández that he is the greatest footballer in Spanish history he will contradict you. Of this I have personal experience. The 35-year-old Catalan will, with a calm smile and firm assurance, reply that he’s not even the best Spanish player at FC Barcelona. That honour he consistently awards to Andrés Iniesta.”

Graham Hunter pays tribute to the incomparable Barcelona legend Xavi.

9. “I must’ve listened to El Scorcho by Weezer a thousand times before a lightbulb went off in my head. At that point, I had the realization that the line “Watching Grunge leg-drop New Jack through a press table” was a definite nod to ECW, where the tag-teams Public Enemy (Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge) and the Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa) had a profoundly violent feud in the mid-90s.” think they’ve found the ECW Match Weezer References in El Scorcho.

David Luiz would like to clarify that he is NOT a virgin>

17 of the most memorable George Best quotes>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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