Friday, November 19, 2010

The stagnation of Donald Young: Lessons for Ryan Harrison

It’s not very controversial to say that Donald Young has completely failed to live up to the potential he showed as a junior.

The Atlanta southpaw is currently languishing outside the world’s top 100 and it’s now over two and a half years since he reached his career high mark of 73. He is only 21 but has stopped making any worthwhile progress.

While it is still too early to write him off, it appears that that Donald Young has simply settled for mediocrity. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Match report: Garrycastle 2-13 Mattock Rangers 2-10

Crocked: Doran Harte (r), who will miss the rest of the Leinster Championship after dislocating his shoulder (© Irish Times)
An unconvincing Garrycastle advanced to the semi-final of the Leinster Championship after a three point victory against Mattock Rangers of Louth.

Despite having a man advantage for the last 12 minutes, the Westmeath champions had to survive several late scares before sealing a 2-13 to 2-10 victory in a strange match in Mullingar.

However, the victory came at a price for Garrycastle with captain Doran Harte likely to miss the remainder of the year after dislocating his shoulder in the last minute.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Night in Bray

 This is a longer version of the piece I wrote for the Irish Daily Star after watching Shamrock Rovers bid to seal the 2010 Airtricity League title among their fans in Bray Wanderers' Carlisle Grounds on Friday, October 29.

Hooperman and friends (© Irish Times)
The performance wasn’t pretty but Rovers fans didn’t care. Champions again after 16 years.

“This is right up there with the birth of my kids,” said lifelong fan Michael Glackin.

“Words don’t do justice to how good this feels. Sixteen years and all we’ve been through; losing Glenmalure, losing Milltown. It’s just unbelievable.”

Rovers never make things easy for their fans and so it had proved once again. They’d done enough and no more.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Match report: Garrycastle 0-13 Longford Slashers 1-9

Westmeath star Dessie Dolan was the hero as Garrycastle advanced to the quarter-final of the Leinster Club Championship with a 0-13 to 1-9 victory against Longford Slashers.

The veteran forward hit eight of his side’s 13 points, including three stunners from play, as the Westmeath champions edged out their Longford counterparts in a pulsating affair in Mullingar’s Cusack Park.

The 31-one-year-old was unmarkable in the first half and flawless from free kicks throughout as Garrycastle, runners up in Leinster last year, prevailed to set up a quarter-final against Louth champions Mattock Rangers.

In bright, still conditions, it was Garrycastle who started the brighter of the sides with wing back Mark McCallon notching the first score of the game after a typically powerful forward surge.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Drizzle, Dmitri Kharine and The Three Amigos: Ireland v Russia I, 1993

Oleg Salenko
 Irish football fans rightly look back on the 1993/94 football season with a great deal of fondness

Celebrations started on November 17 1993 when Ireland secured World Cup qualification in the family-friendly atmosphere of Windsor Park thanks to a 1-1 draw with Billy Bingham's Northern Ireland.

Alan McLoughlin’s fine equaliser proved to be the key that night as was a heroic performance from Spanish debutant Santiago Canizares who single-handedly kept Denmark at bay in the other group decider in Sevilla. The hosts snuck a 1-0 victory through a Fernando Hierro header, despite playing with 10 men for 80 minutes after Andoni Zubizaretta was sent off for a professional foul on Michael Laudrup.

The journey to the USA included memorable meaningless victories away against Holland and Germany, but Ireland's first match after the fun and games in Belfast was their first ever meeting with a Russian side that was still in its youth as an independent footballing nation.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Delap: Perfect for Trap?

Picture the scene. It’s St James’s Park, there are 83 minutes on the clock and Newcastle are drawing 1-1 with Stoke City. Suddenly, the home side are on the back foot, camped deep inside their own half, all because they’ve conceded a throw-in a full 50 yards from goal.

Rory Delap steps up and fires a trademark a missile that is cleared for another throw and a nervous-looking Newcastle side retreat even further. Delap launches the ball once again and gains some more vital yards for his team when the ball is cleared behind for a corner.

Matthew Etherington swings the ball menacingly into the penalty area and Newcastle collapse under the sheer weight of territorial pressure, with Jamie Perch nodding into his own net to win the match for Stoke. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can Jack sock it to the pros?

US Open boys singles champion Jack Sock, courtesy of Zootennis
The USA didn't have a whole lot to celebrate at this year's US Open. Andy Roddick, James Blake and John Isner were all sent packing in the first week. Mardy Fish went down without a fight to Novak Djokovic and when Sam Querrey earned himself the opportunity for a major career breakthrough against Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round, he froze.

In the context of those disappointments, Jack Sock's triumph over compatriot Denis Kudla in the boys singles was a much needed boost for American tennis. In taking the title, the young Nebraskan became the first American male to win a junior slam since Donald Young won Wimbledon in 2007, and the first since Andy Roddick  in 2000 to take his home slam.

But what does the title mean for Sock's prospects in the professional game? Roddick repeated his junior success as a pro and established himself as one of the top players in the game. Young, in contrast, has struggled and is currently ranked just outside the top 100.

Which career path is more typical; Young's or Roddick's? An analysis of all junior slam winners between 1995 and 2004 doesn't lead to any definite conclusions but makes for some interesting reading nonetheless

Here's the breakdown.