Tuesday 8 December 2009

Have you contacted your Sponsor Today?

Sports sponsorship is generally either sponsorship of an event, a league, a governing body, a particular team or individual or the broadcast of an event. Therefore, one can define those capable of being sponsored as “properties”, to use the correct marketing language. 

In becoming involved in sponsorship, “brand owners” are buying a right to associate themselves with these events, organisations and people in order to achieve a number of strategic objectives. These can include, increased brand awareness, achieving greater market share, enhancing reputation or perhaps for social reasons.

When seeking a sponsor one should also remember that sponsorship scores very highly in helping brands create and share “an experience” with their target audiences. This marketing philosophy is highly relevant to corporate straregt and should be remembered when approaching a sponsor. More importantly, sponsorship is a commercial transaction and therefore must deliver “value” for all parties concerned.

One key issue to be addressed by both parties is a measurable expectation or objective. If this is not agreed at the outset the relationship will not meet either side’s expectations.

Always in any sponsorship agreement one should be concerned about the fine line between the true costs and likely benefits of sponsorship as well. To ensure that a sponsorship is really effective it is common for the associated expenditure to be twice the agreed sum. In other words, to make a sponsorship valuable there must be additional spend to make it achieve its commercial objectives. 

This type of detail needs to be clarified when formalising any sponsorship agreement.

When you look around at the sponsors that involve themselves with the national loccer  leagues of European countries the one thing that is consistent is the strength of the brand names. 

One does not have to travel much further than the Premiership to see AIG adorning Manchester United shirts; Samsung on Chelsea kit; Carlsberg with Liverpool Football Club. If you look at  La Liga in Spain BWIN.com sponsor Real Madrid and in Serie-A in Italy Pirelli partner with Inter Milan. 

FC Barcelona have no sponsor but have committed the space on their team shirts to the charity UNICEF. 

Utmost with any sponsorship realtionship is that when the contract period expires the commercial partners may consider extending the agreement or continuing an involvement. It is this task that often becomes harder in the everyday battle and can be downside if the smallest issues are overlooked. Or can offer the most value and perhaps reinforce long-term links.

For instance, the proper presentation of a sponsors logo or trademark can be a vital start to setting things off on the right foot with any commercial partner. Too often in the speed and rush to get started things can go wrong and can unsettle any commercial relationship at the early stages. It is important therefore in the rush to collect sponsorship money and that  all promotion items are completed to the specification and quality required by the sponsor.

In other words the corporate standards of the sponsor matter.

Taking the money and running is only a short-term solution and does ntheerfot encourage longer-term partnerships. Therefeore the key issue always being to give back to the sponsor “value” to maximise the exposure beyond the iimmediate value. Such a proactive emphasis is important and reinforces the partnership to the sponsor's target audience.

Undoubtedly sponsors always feel they have overpaid for any event or property. Therefore be quick to give back and this could include addtitional complementary hospitality, priority access to events; preferential choice for tickets for any other major events. This will allow for the commercial relationship to expand beyond the terms of the contract and also broaden the communication between the two sides.

Too often these simple details are forgotten in the rush to balance the books or get money into the coffers.

Failing to give back to the sponsor decreases the mutual benefits accruing to both sides leaving the sponsors feeling under appreciated. It is only human nature and despite some of the most complex sponsorship theories, most deals are down to the human relationships between the relevant parties.

On the corporate side though it is important to be aware that sponsors budgets can change and marketing managers can also move on. So beware agreements do no last forever. 

With any sponsorship agreement always remember there are many other opportunities for sponsors to support and in sport, unfortunately, there are always other ectors that can offer greater appeal that can attract money in lieu of your property. So you need to always ask how well the sponsors are being serviced by your organisation.

Always remember it must make commercial sense for both parties. It is great to get the money but if you are not in regular touch with the sponsors you will not know if they are a happy. If you are the only partner that is happy then only side maybe benefiting and there will be a lesser chance of a long-term partnership.

So have you contacted your sponsors today?

Monday 7 December 2009

Grazie Trapatonni


Having accrued numerous honours during nearly five decades in football Giovanni Trapatonni still remains active and at 68 is currently relishing the challenge of ensuring that Austrian outfit, SV Red Bull Salzburg, retained the championship title they won the previous season when Lothar Matthaus was his assistant.

The Italian supremo heralded his arrival to Austria by securing the national title in his first season and with the support of the wealthy club owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, who also happens to be the founder of Red Bull, the richest club in the country are expected to retain the title this season after the end of the winter break.

Trapatonni’s coaching career spans over three decades and has managed eight different teams - Juventus, Inter, Bayern Munich, Cagliari, Fiorentina, Benfica, Stuttgart and Salzburg -  wining 23 trophies in all. Amidst these are ten championship titles spread over four different countries of which seven league triumphs came during his time in Italy.

In Germany he won a Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich in 1997 and another title in Portugal with Benfica in 2005. 

In terms of records Trapatonni lies third on the all-time European list alongside Austrian coach Ernst Happel and the 23 trophies place him behind two Scots, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jock Stein who each have 26.

Amidst all the glory and success there are a couple of less glorious moments on the exceptional CV the major one being his time managing Italy between 2000 and 2004. Beaten in the Round of 16 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan Italy went one worse at the EURO 2004 when they exited in the first round in Portugal.

His second time at Bayern Munich was more controversial than the previous stint but winning the league title spared his reputation after a fall out with some key players at the club. Years later he returned to Germany but with Stuttgart and all ended after eight months when Stuttgart won only five games in 20 matches in 2005.

The club president at the time of his departure at Vfb Stuttgart said "Giovanni Trapatonni is an absolute gentleman and one of the most successful trainers in the world. Nevertheless, his work with the team has not been as efficient and successful as we had hoped."

When the Republic of Ireland were drawn in the same qualifying group as Italy for the 2010 Word Cup in South Africa it must have been appealing to Trapatonni to take on his country of birth.

Born on St Patricks Day the trip to South Africa should have been a fairy tale finish. However it was not to be..

Thursday 3 December 2009

Murphy and Thornton Secure European Tour Cards

A four under par round by Gary Murphy ensured tied 16th place on the final day of European Tour Qualifying at the PGA Golf de Catalunya near Girona on Thursday. The marathon journey of the past six days ended in success with the Kilkenny man regaining his card exactly ten years after winning it for the first time.

Murphy was the only Irish player on the European Tour not to retain his card for 2010 having failed to finish inside the top 115 in the Race to Dubai money list.  At the Australian Masters last month Murphy needed a top 15 finish to secure an automatic place but ended up in a tie for 36th. Rather than rely on invites for the 2010 season he decided to go to back to qualifying school.

Gary Murphy started out in the golfing scene as a caddy when he was 11 years old and was also a keen soccer player, having trials for Ireland’s Under-13 and Under-15 teams. However, he decided to concentrate on his golf and went on to win the Irish Amateur Closed Championship in 1992.  He turned professional in 1995.

In 1997 he won the Asian Tour qualifying school and played two seasons on that tour in addition to competing on the second tier European Challenge Tour. In 1999 he finally won his European Tour card at the final qualifying school and in 2005 went on to win the Azores Open.

Simon Thornton was the other Irish qualifier to secure his Tour card in Girona after a one under par round on the last day proved enough to hold on to a Tied 26th place.

After ending the first nine on level par, following a bogey and a birdie, the Newcastle resident then birdied the 10th and 17th. But a bogey on the last hole of the six day marathon nearly undid all the good work of the previous day.

In the end he walked off the course with an aggregate of 480 strokes and a 1 under par total score which was enough to secure him automatic playing rights on the European Tour for the first time.

Following four previous attempts over last the four years Thornton finally found fortune this time around.

Niall Kearney of Royal Dublin signalled his intent and talent all week despite failing to earn his tour card on the first attempt. A final round of 2 under left him 17 places adrift of the mark with an aggregate of 421 and 7 under for the event.

For 2010 Niall Kearney is eligible to play on The European Challenge Tour.

England's Simon Kahn emerged the overall winner but not after a very mixed day as he signed for a triple bogey, 3 bogeys and 3 birdies to give him a 2 over round for a total of 20 under. He was one shot ahead of fellow English man, Simon Hutsby on 19 under and Scotland's Stephen Gallacher on 18 under.

Since 1976, The European Tour Qualifying School has been held at the end of each season to establish which players, not otherwise exempt, will gain their playing privileges on the Tour for the following season through a qualifying competition.

This years qualifying was no different to other years as it again delivered drama and disappointment in equal measure.  Amongst the names returning for the 2010 season after an absence are Scotland’s Andrew Coltart and Scott Drummond, along with the Swedish pair, Jarmo Sandlin and Patrik Sjoland.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Simon Thornton Leads Irish Challenge Into Last Round

The drama of the European Tour final qualifying continued on Wednesday on the Stadium Course at the PGA Catalunya for the last three remaining Irish players with each experiencing the lows and highs at different times during the day.

Former Royal County Down Assistant Simon Thornton blitzed through his first nine holes with 5 birdies making the turn in 31 strokes, which moved him as high as 18th place at one stage.

On the back nine Thornton suffered on two consecutive holes, first with a double bogey on the par 3 fifth hole and then a bogey on the 6th hole to reverse his fortunes. However, Birdies on the 11th, 16th and 18th made for a five under for day and a total of 9 under overall.

Thornton is placed 25th overnight with one round remaining.

Kilkenny’s Gary Murphy poor form continued on the first tee as he started off on the 10th hole with a double bogey. This was then followed by a bogey on the 11th hole. But seven birdies and ten pars on the remaining holes ensured a recovery to finish on 3 under giving him a total of 7 under and tied 34th place overnight.

Niall Kearney of Royal Dublin found less reward on the second last day on the Stadium Course when a 2 over par 72 pushed him down 26 places to tied 50th place. His fortunes contrasted to yesterday’s explosive finish when sixteen pars and two consecutive bogeys on the 9th and 10th holes were his return on the day’s efforts.

The event leader Simon Khan of England went two strokes better than par for a total of 22 under to stretch the lead from his next challenger, fellow countryman Sam Hutsby, on 16 under. Argentina's Clodomiro Carranza was in third place on 15 under.

The most dramatic move off the day was from Charlie Ford who moved down 31 places when a nine over par round for the day placed him in tied 34th place. The Englishman started off in third place when he teed off in the morning on 16 under.

The leading 30 players after tomorrow’s final round (plus those tied for 30th place) will earn Category 11b Membership of The European Tour for 2010, which expires at the end of that season.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Kearney, Murphy and Thornton Make the Cut

An Eagle three holes from home by Niall Kearney of Royal Dublin signalled his intent on the fourth day of Final Qualifying School and easily secured him a place in the final rounds starting on Wednesday.

However a couple of bogeys on two of the last three holes prevented what looked like a stunning top ten finish. In the end he had to settle for tied 24th overall.

Kearney will tee off in the final two rounds on Wednesday morning as the leading Irish contender despite this being his first time at Final Qualifying School.

This has been a good year for Kearney having earlier won the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship – better known as the Brabazon Trophy - an event open to male amateur golfers of all Nationalities. He was also a member of the GB and Ireland 2009 Walker Cup team which lost to the United States last September at the Merion Club in Pennsylvania.

Kilkenny’s Gary Murphy, the leading Irish man overnight, slipped over 50 places during the day and almost beyond safety when five bogeys left him scrapping to regain his Tour card. Three vital birdies and an aggregate of 280 then ensured he would remain at the PGA Catalunya for the final two rounds on 49th place on the leader board.

Simon Thornton managed to recover from an even par first nine holes after two bogeys to then card three birdies on the 10th, 16th and 17th holes for a 69 and a total of 3 under par. His aggregate score of 280 placed him tied 49th alongside Murphy to also ensure he had a further role to play over the coming days.

But a double bogey on the par four 10th hole on the Tour Course left Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell with a lot of work to do on the run into the clubhouse. Then a triple bogey on the 18th finally concluded his challenge as his two over par 72 left him level par for the four days in joint 95th place.

Glasson’s Colm Moriarty fell short of the cut on the last day after a four over par pushed him into a tie for 114th place. Four bogeys in his final round left him with a 2 over par total bringing his 2010 Tour School efforts to a close,

John Kelly ended his second appearance at Qualifying School with a superb three under par 67 but it was not enough to improve an aggregate total of 290 and a total of 6 over par. Kelly finished in 134th place.

The overnight leader Simon Khan surged ahead to complete his fourth round in 20 under par and aggregate of 264 at PGA Golf de Catalunya with Alejandro Cañizares of Spain in second place three shots behind. Third place went to Charlie Ford of England who slipped two places after a two under par 70 left him 16 under.

Earlier today there had been a one hour fifteen minute delay in Girona after early morning frost delayed the start of the fourth Round.

Since 1976, The European Tour Qualifying School has been held at the end of each season to establish which players, not otherwise exempt, will gain their playing privileges on the Tour for the following season through a qualifying competition.

The Qualifying School is held in three stages at a series of venues in the UK and Continental Europe. In 2009, the initial 72 hole event - known as the First Qualifying Stage – was split in two sections (Section A and Section B) and played from 15-18 September.

The Second Qualifying Stage was played over 72 holes on November 20 - 23 with the Final Stage currently taking place over 108 holes (six rounds) at PGA Golf de Cataluyna.

The leading 30 players after the next two rounds (plus those tied for 30th place) will earn Category 11b Membership of The European Tour for 2010, which expires at the end of that season.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Buckley's Sporting Vision Fulfilled

On launching Sporting Football Liam Buckley a couple of seasons ago was fulfilling both a personal and a professional ambition by pursuing a vision of how he believes a League of Ireland club should develop over time. It was also based on his own view that any club with which he is involved should aspire to the highest level of achievement on all fronts and be part of the local community.

The result in Fingal has been a project that is the fulfilment of that dream and the achievements this season have been beyond even his expectations.

On a personal level, Liam Buckley’s views and ambitions are based on very practical experiences of the League of Ireland given that over the years he has earned his keep at St. Patrick’s Athletic, Athlone Town and Shamrock Rovers before this latest opportunity came about.

Some years ago Buckley was attracted by the Belfield Park job when a vacancy arose at UCD AFC. In his view the club had a great pitch, great training facilities, scholarships which would allow the players to be available for training during the day. It also triggered many ideas that could not be contemplated in other "part time" clubs at the time all operating on small budgets that did not allow for full tome football.

In the end that particular opportunity did not come about and probably for the right reasons so he moved on. As Liam Buckley always balances his pragmatism with a positive “can do” attitude it sets him apart as a manager in many ways.

It is those characteristics, which at times are not apparent beneath his personable and affable manner, which encompass a passion and competitiveness that are too often underestimated. He also portrays himself in a causal and easy manner often using very few words with the media. However, underneath the flowing hair and those perpetually youthful looks lies much ambition and a person who loves to win and who is fiercely competitive.

For those not old enough to recall his glory days in the early eighties at Glenmalure Park alongside Alan Campbell with Shamrock Rovers, his efficiency and ability in front of goal was undisputed in the League of Ireland. It was this reputation that saw him attract the attention of continental football clubs, finally leading to a move to Belgium in the mid eighties after being a regular top scorer for “The Hoops”.

When he did travel abroad in 1986 he left the best club set up in Ireland under John Giles and Noel Campbell, and the great pitch at Milltown allowed for skilful ball players to ply their trade; provided for great training facilities for weekly sessions and a level of professionalism brought back from England by Giles.

So when Buckley went to Waregem in Belgium to see the things at the club with his agent Goyvaerts, before he made his decision to move, it was the practical side that reassured him it was right to leave Ireland. Things like a good stadium, proper training facilities and the professional people at the club were the key details that influenced him.

His move to Belgium also gave him the opportunity to play in the UEFA Cup and the club reached the semi-finals in his first season away from the League of Ireland. The Following year he joined Racing Santander where he competed on a weekly basis with clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona; Valencia and Athletic Bilbao in La Liga.

On his return from overseas he played for a variety of clubs eventually getting into management after working alongside the likes of Brian Kerr and Pat Dolan, amongst others.

For Liam though success on the field on a weekly basis could not always guarantee any club’s long-term future and he appreciates what can happen if the fixtures do not go well and his team are not in the hunt for any league or cup glory. He always balances these two extremes with patience and realism and Sporting Fingal now is a case in point. In building a club from nothing from a vision he developed by seeing community based clubs succeed in continental Europe he has fulfilled part of his ambition.

But Buckley has been around long enough to know that there is a long way to go yet before he can feel completely satisfied and that the job is really only beginning for him at Fingal. However his optimism is infectious and his style is inimitable and that broad smile equips him well to make Sporting Fingal a success.

Based on what he has achieved so far and the blueprint he has started one would be slow to bet against further success in the near future.

Monday 23 November 2009

Qualifying School Second Stage Results

by Rossa McDermott

A blistering six under par 66 by Niall Kearney of Royal Dublin on the last day of Stage 2 secured a place in the final round of European Tour Qualifying to be held next week. A total score of 276 at the Costa Ballena Club gave the 2009 Walker Cup player joint 3rd place only two shots behind the winner, Fredrik Ohlsson of Sweden,

The Irish celebrations at Costa Ballena also included St Margaret's John Kelly as his joint 11th place after a 69 on day four gave him playing rights next weekend.

The good news for the Irish spread to Sherry Golf where a 72 from Simon Thornton qualified him for the final stage when his aggregate score of 284 secured joint 6th place. He will be joined by Colm Moriarty who signed for a 72 which was enough for a joint 14th place after an aggregate of 285.

The Hacienda del Alamo course brought further good news when Jonathan Caldwell’s 7 under total secured joint 12th place and the chance to battle it out once again next week at the PGA Catalunya.

At Arcos Gardens the best placed Irish player was Michael Collins of FORE Ireland in 26th which was beyond the reach of the 19 automatic places available. Cian McNamara and Gareth Shaw finished further down the field to see their challenge for their 2010 Tour card also come to an end,

The Q School battle came to an end as well for former European Tour player David Higgins, along with Mervyn Owens, Michael McGeady and Eddie Barr.

A total of 304 players competed over the four venues in Spain for 74 spots in the Final Qualifying Stage and out of a total of twelve Irish challengers at the start of this weekend y five have made through Stage 2.

Final Qualifying will take place at the PGA Golf de Catalunya near Girona from November 28th to December 3rd.

The Irish contenders will be Niall Kearney, John Kelly, Simon Thornton, Colm Moriarty and Jonathan Caldwell.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Irish Scores – Second Stage Round 3

FORE Ireland's Michael Collins shot a round of 68 on day three to push him into joint 26th place on level par with an aggregate 216 in Arcos Gardens. The Mallow man was ten shots behind leader Michiel Bothma from South Africa who was leading with a total of 206.

With only 19 qualifying places on offer at Arcos Gardens Mallow’s Mick Collins result places him within sight of the next round of qualifying going into Monday’s final round of Stage 2.

The other Irish players included Cian McNamara who came in with a 78 and a total of 223 with Gareth Shaw on 75 and a total of 221.

At Costa Ballena the event leader Alvaro Velasco from Spain recorded an aggregate 202 with Niall Kearney recording a 67 placing him 7 shots adrift on 210 in joint 21st place. The effort of John Kelly was also notable as he came in with a 68 and aggregate of 211.

At Sherry Club de Golf Simon Thornton signed for a 71 leaving him 7 shots behind the leader Philip Archer of England on 205.

The other Irish scores after day three were a 74 for Colm Moriarty on an aggregate 213; Michael McGeady on 72 and Waterville’s David Higgins in with a 73 and total of 221 with Eddie Barr two shots adrift on 75.

The Irish contingent at Hacienda del Alamo were left in chase of American Ryan Blaum who with 16 under and total of 200 was in commanding lead. Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell was 212 after a 71 on day three with Mervyn Owens 71 leaving him on 217 and a challenging last day.

A total of 304 players are competing over four venues in Spain for 74 spots in the Final Qualifying Stage later this month.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Tardelli Back With Trapatonni


In the World Cup Final of 1982 in Madrid German defender Uli Stielike missed a penalty early in the game and on the foot of their semi final win against France days earlier it seemed that maybe their luck was running out. Their opponents were an Italian side with flair players but playing the Italian style “catennaccio” - the name given to the defensive brand of football they practised.
The tournament’s top scorer was Italian though and Paulo Rossi came to life after 57 minutes and sent the momentum the other way. Then twelve minutes later Marco Tardelli drove a low ball into the back of the next leaving the German goal keeper stranded to make it 2-1. He then set off a celebration run that is still remembered today.

With momentum gone from their efforts Germany went forward in search of an equaliser and were punished for their troubles by a future team mate of Brady's at Inter Milan, Alessandro Altobelli. That third goal set the result despite a late reply from Paul Breitner three minutes from the full time whistle.

Italy were deserved victors, even if surprising ones, in what had proven to be anticlimactic final. 
The abiding memory remains those images of Tardelli's and the celebration after scoring his goal at such a pivotal point in the match. That image is as vibrant today as it was in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium twenty six years ago. 
For the record the names on the Italian side that Sunday afternoon in July ring out like a footballing hall of fame starting with Dino Zoff in goal; then Giuseppe Bergomi, Antonio Cabrini, Fulvio Collovati, Claudio Gentile in defence, with Gaetano Scirea, Gabriele Oriali , Marco Tardelli in the midfield, Bruno Conti and Paolo Rossi leading the attack. On that day Franco Baresi was just a young sub on the bench. 
Having spent a ten years of a playing career with Juventus with Giovanni Trapattoni as his manager, Marco Tardelli departed to Inter Milan in 1986. When he retired from the game two years later in Switzerland he switched immediately to coaching joining the Italian Under 21 set up where his team won Youth European Championship. 
A year later he left to become manager of Inter Milan but that did not last beyond the end of that season. He then had stints managing Bari, the Egyptian national football team and Arezzo, all without success. 

It was as a player though that he really made his mark winning a World championship in 1982 and between 1975 - 985 winning 5 Serie A titles; two UEFA Cups in 1985 and 1977, and Cup Winners Cup in 1984 – all with Juventus. 

It was all with one manager as well, Giovanni Trapattoni. 

OSM - All rights reserved 2009

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Tuesday 22 September 2009

Results Q School Stage 1

By Rossa McDermott

FORE Ireland’s Michael Collins secured a level par 72 in the final round of Stage 1 of Qualifying School at The Oxfordshire to finish on 7 under placing him joint 15th in the clubhouse.

The native of Mallow carded a total score of 281 sealing one of the 28 places on offer for Stage 2 which will be held on November 20-23rd in Spain.

John Kelly was the best placed Irish player in joint third on 276, only five behind the event winner, American Ryan Blaum, who carded a 271.

David Higgins kept his hopes alive of returning to the European Tour coming in on the final day with a 70 and a total of 282. His joint 17th place also qualified for Stage 2, as he was two shots below the qualifying score of 284.

FORE Irelands’ Mark Staunton saw his hopes ended after three rounds when his total of 221 was not enough to make the cut for the final round held on Friday.

Peter O’Keeffe from Douglas shot 70 on the last day and just short of what he needed to make up for his 74 on Thursday. A total of 286 placed him two shots on the wrong side of the qualifying mark and another disappointment for the season.

Earlier in the year he failed to qualify for The Open at Turnberry by one shot.

Friday 31 July 2009

Mick Collins Secures 10th in Round 2

By Rossa McDermott

Four birdies in Round 2 of The Pandora 2009 Open saw Michael Collins of FORE Ireland finish in tenth place at the Burhill Golf Club south of London. His blistering pace on the second day places him four shots off the joint leaders, Oliver Turnill and Daniel Gaunt.

Mark Staunton had a tougher day at the office and remained one under for the round after a mixed round of four birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey on the Par 4 10th leaving him lying in 23rd place over night. It was an unfortunate return for his day’s work having made the turn in one under par and hoping to build on his result on the first day.

On signing his card Mick Collins could only rue his bogey on the seventeenth following three consecutive birdies on 11th, 12th, 13th and then again on the 16th holes, having made the turn in one under. All in all it was a solid round of golf placing 10th over night.

The PGA EuroPro Tour is a men's developmental professional golf tour. It was created in 2002 by the merger of two older development tours, the EuroPro Tour and the PGA Mastercard Tour and is based mainly in the United Kingdom, with a few events in other countries.

Burhill Golf Club is set in beautiful Surrey parkland with a luxurious Georgian Mansion serving as the clubhouse on a course that is steeped in history and dates back to 1726. The Golf Club was established in 1907 by the Guinness family.

Monday 20 July 2009

FORE Ireland and Mark Staunton Tee Off

By Rossa McDermott

FORE Ireland’s Mark Staunton tees off on Tuesday

By Rossa McDermott

July 14th in the Motocaddy Masters on the EuroPro Tour, which takes place near Bristol.

On the foot of his sixth place finish at the Irish PGA Championship Mark Staunton was very positive ahead of the event in the UK following his four rounds at The European Club near Brittas, Co Wicklow. Especially in an event that saw a clutch of retirements and some bigger names fail to tame the course conditions.

“It was a good day’s work on Saturday in challenging weather” Staunton explained after signing his card on the last day, “A double bogey on the 17th though was the one bad mistake of the day and that cost me a better finish.”

All in all though, I managed to play solidly most of the week and am happy being +10 for the event. Hopefully, I can continue that at the Motocaddy Masters.”, he continued.

A 72 on the final day came courtesy of 4 birdies on the front nine that gave him momentum through the closing holes where he was hoping for an under par score for the day. Despite having shot par on the second last hole all week a poor tee shot earned him a double bogey on Saturday leaving him with a total score of 294 – six places behind the event winner, Padraig Harrington.

The next best placing for the FORE Ireland team was 17th for Mick Collins whose 79 in 4th round gave him a final score of 303; followed by Ted Higgins Jnr and Dave Mortimer with a total of 311 both in joint 31st place. All three are playing in the Philip Walton Pro Am at Dundrum House near Cashel the 14th – 15th of July.

For Mark Staunton though it is the Players Golf Club where he competes in a round of the EuroPro Tour at a club that was opened 2002 near Bristol, where woodland, lakes, trees and gorse from the major features of the course .

The event is sponsored by Motocaddy, a worldwide brand of electronic golf trolleys, with total prize money of almost forty thousand pounds sterling.

Monday 22 June 2009

Samba sounds drown out critics of Real Madrid

Rossa McDermott

It is not unusual for Real Madrid football club to break records as the clubs history is full of either legendary football achievements or the achievements of footballing legends

The legacy of those five consecutive European Cup wins in the late 1950’s set the club on a path of dominance in Spain that has only recently been matched by their arch rivals, Futbol Club Barcelona on the European stage. So the signing of Kaka this summer was just another one of those historical landmarks that once again puts the club on a path of expectation following the return of former Club President, Florentino Perez, who fondly named the squad he gathered after his 2000 presidential victory, as “The Galacticos”.

His last term ended in 2006 and during those six years he brought Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Julio Baptista and Robinho to the Santiago Bernabeu. All the signings were attack minded players which meant that the team was not strong defensively, which towards the end of his regime took its toll on the team’s results and on his Presidency. Particularly when he stubbornly transferred Claude Makelele to Chelsea over improved salary demands, leaving defensive frailties in the “Galacticos” more visible than before.

For Perez though it was all about attacking flair and scoring goals was the team’s main purpose.

In this new era the financial imprudence of his last stay in office looks to be outdone as he has set aside €300M for some new box office names. Having already broken the box office for Brazilian Kaka he also added the capture of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United for €96M. Currently the club remains in the chase for Valencia’s’ David Villa and Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich. With a new manager also just in place recently hired from Villa Real, Manuel Pellegrini, Real Madrid now need to deliver another Champions League at least.

Seeing their Catalan rivals win the treble – the Copa Del Rey, La Liga and the Champions League – with Josep "Pep" Guardiola in his first season in charge undoubtedly was an incentive for the “Casa Blanca” club to start achieving more. To do so the new stars needed to come to help secure silverware domestically and failure will mean they will follow in the shadow of the Dutch Colony that was in situ in Madrid, that included Robben, Van de Vaart, Van Nistelrooy, Sneijder, Drenthe and Huntelaar, none of whom really performed to their best last season. In fact they all peaked at EURO 2008 history would suggest.

On the managerial side the current Spanish manager is a distant memory for Perez, as he dispensed with the services of Vicente del Bosque back in 2003. There followed then a period in which eight managers passed through the club in six years, the latest signing being Pellegrini. Amongst those names who did not survive are included Fabio Cappello, Carlos Queiroz, Jose Antonio Camacho, Juande Ramos, Bernd Schuster and Wanderly Luxemburgo.

The quick succession of managers clearly reflecting the pressure on delivering La Liga titles and Champions League trophies. Ironically it was Del Bosque who brought 2 Champions League wins in 2001 and 2003, along with 2 la Liga titles 2000 and 2002. Even when Fabio Capello won La Liga in 2007 and Schuster in 2008, it was not enough to keep them in a job,

Like many former playing who have come back to manage the club, names such as Amancio, Di Stefano, Molowny and Schuster, Del Bosque was no different and in the end a fall out with President Perez ended his tenure – followed closely by Fernando Hierro, Steve McManaman and Fernando Morientes. Now a decade later Florentino Perez returns once again to rebuild the Real Madrid project to his liking.

In place as Sporting Director once more is former Real Madrid striker and 1986 Argentinean World Cup Champion Jorge Valdano, who implemented the blueprint for the Galacticos the last time Perez was at the helm. The plan is for him to do so again in this second coming along with the help of Zidane, who has been appointed as a special Adviser to the Perez, so it is hoped that the Days of Camelot return again to Real Madrid.

The voices of criticism though have not been slow in coming forward either and unsurprisingly the loudest of them reaching from the Catalan Capital, Barcelona, with some club directors for Barcelona “baffled” as to where Real Madrid are getting all the money from, all the more inappropriate they say in these times of economic recession and high unemployment in Spain

Magda Oranich, Director of the Institutional Area for Barcelona spoke to Catalunya Radio recently and was very critical and adopting concern for the national economic interest it would appear.

“I hope the new signings are a failure.” Oranich said ”The truth is that we don’t where they are getting so much cash, but what Florentino Perez is doing is clearly interfering with the market and that will adversely affect all of us.”

On the national level the Governor of the Bank of Spain only last week told the Spanish government there was no room for deficit spending beyond the plans already announced to try to revive the economy. In one of the sternest policy warnings since the start of the economic crisis, Miguel Angel Fernández Ordóñez, said Spain's budget deficit could reach 10 per cent of gross domestic product next year, while government debt could exceed 60 per cent of GDP, up from less than 40 per cent at the end of 2008. Spain also now has more than 4m unemployed which is a rate of 17.4%.

Not unlike the national economy, Real Madrid has significant debt, estimated to be about €500m and the club must raise money by offloading their Dutch players this summer. But the Real Madrid President sees the opportunity differently and has been clear in his insistence that players such as Ronaldo and Kaka are not expensive because of the income that they generate; "normal" players who only perform on the pitch are a different matter.

"There are players who generate a lot of money and others who are only protagonists in a sporting sense," Sporting Director Jorge Valdano said. "Ronaldo could turn out to be cheap while others are extremely expensive."

For the moment though the samba drums will beat louder and drown out the critics with the return of the Florentino Perez Galacticos set play to full houses for many months ahead.

Monday 8 June 2009

David Wallace selected for third Lions match!

By Rossa McDermott

British & Irish Lions Tour Manager, Gerald Davies, and Head Coach Ian McGeechan, today announced the Lions team for the fourth match of the 2009 tour of South Africa. The selected team will play the Sharks in Durban on Wednesday and will be led by Captain Paul O'Connell.

Davies said, "We are now halfway through the provincial matches prior to the First Test and the important factor is that the Lions are unbeaten. The next challenge is the Sharks in Durban. The selected team will want to ensure that the one hundred percent playing record is maintained with a victory at ABSA Stadium which is also the venue of the First Test. "

Commenting on the team selection Head Coach Ian McGeechan said, "I am delighted that as we head into the fourth match we only have one player who is unavailable for selection. The players and the medical staff have managed the injuries that have been sustained in a very professional manner. This is crucial as we enter matches against two of South Africa's strongest provinces in the Sharks and Western Province in the space of four days."

"This is reflected by the fact that four starting players from the Cheetahs match will back up against the Sharks, while five players are starting their third match of the tour. Those players are captain Paul O'Connell, Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Jamie Roberts and David Wallace. Paul will start with his third different second row partner in Alun-Wyn Jones, while we also have new starting partnerships in the back three, the halfbacks and in the front row."

"The next two matches are obviously critical in the development of the Test side. While we have these new starting partnerships for the Sharks match we also have a centre pairing in Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll, and a backrow of Jamie Heaslip, David Wallace and Tom Croft that have played together on tour in the Golden Lions match," added McGeechan.

Sharks v British & Irish Lions on 10th June 2009 will kick off 19:10 [Local] at the ABSA Stadium

15. Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales)
14. Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales)
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland)
12. Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
11. Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland)
10. Ronan O'Gara (Munster/Ireland)
9. Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland)
7. David Wallace (Munster/Ireland)
6. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England)
5. Paul O'Connell (Munster/Ireland) captain
4. Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
3. Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
2. Lee Mears (Bath/England)
1. Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues/Wales)

16. Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales)
17. Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England)
18. Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England)
19. Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England)
20. Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland)
21. Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England)
22. Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales)

Trent Johnston strikes early for Ireland

By Rossa McDermott

Ireland’s O’Brien brothers today carried their country past Bangladesh to the Super Eights stage of the ICC World Twenty20.

Kevin and Niall hit 79 runs between them at Trent Bridge as Ireland passed 137 for eight, with 10 balls and six wickets to spare, inflicting Bangladesh’s second defeat in three days and sending the Tigers out of the tournament.

For Ireland, it was famous confirmation of the superiority they demonstrated over these same Test-playing opponents in a 74-run win at the World Cup in the Caribbean two years ago.

They have since come up short in a three-match one-day international series in Dhaka - but with eight of the class of 2007 still staffing today’s team, there could be no argument that Ireland had again deserved their victory on the big stage.

Will Porterfield’s men restricted Bangladesh’s strokemakers thanks largely to the efforts of his predecessor as captain Trent Johnston, who took three top-order wickets for 20 runs after Ireland had chosen to bowl first on a cloudy afternoon.

Set a target which always looked feasible, Ireland were not always on course with the bat.
But the impetus provided by O’Brien the elder at number three, and then reignited by brother Kevin - from a tricky situation at 89 for four in the 15th over - got them home with unexpected comfort.

The early loss of Jeremy Bray, caught at point off a leading edge at Mashrafe Mortaza, brought Northamptonshire wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien to the crease.
He had injured himself trying to stop a single in Bangladesh’s innings and soon needed a runner. But his timing and power were unhindered as he kick-started an Ireland reply which had stuttered to only nine for one after three overs.

O’Brien dominated a 55-run second-wicket stand with his captain, hitting three leg-side sixes from five balls of one Mortaza over.

It was a significant blow therefore when O’Brien holed out at long-off from the left-arm spin of Shakib al Hasan - and after Porterfield had poked a catch back to Abdur Razzak and Gary Wilson was caught at extra-cover, the Ireland chase looked in trouble.

Trent Johnston wheels away in delight at taking a wicket during his impressive spell of 3-20 that put Ireland on top

A second O’Brien made a mockery of that suggestion, though, with some wonderfully clean striking which brought him four fours and two sixes from only 17 balls.
It was a fitting culmination too that, on the ground where the 25-year-old all-rounder has been on trial for Nottinghamshire this summer, he should conclude the match in style - by hitting Rubel Hossain clear over mid-off for the winning boundary.

Bangladesh’s innings had never established the required momentum.

Their coach Jamie Siddons had warned after their opening 25-run defeat against India here on Saturday night that it was time to stop making “silly” mistakes.

There were several in evidence, though - starting when Junaid Siddique got underneath an attempted hit to leg for a skier which was very well held in the ring behind square by Bray.

Mohammad Ashraful had already been dropped at slip off Johnston when he steered an action replay straight to O’Brien in the same position - and there was no escape this time.

Shakib failed to clear the shorter leg-side boundary, and opener Tamim Iqbal was fourth out to a comedy run-out.

Niall O’Brien produced an alert piece of wicket keeping to stump Mahmud Ullah, who lifted his foot after missing an attempted front-foot pull at Alex Cusack.

It would have been 70 for six had either Boyd Rankin, on the fence, or Johnston, running back, caught another skier to see off Mushfiqur Rahim.
But it did not look as if anyone was going to take control of the situation for Bangladesh until Mortaza clubbed medium-pacer Cusack for two off-side sixes among 20 runs in the final over of the innings.

By then, O’Brien had injured himself. But neither that setback nor Mashrafe’s late hitting was enough to stop Ireland.

Friday 5 June 2009

Steve Coppell leaves again?

In the five years he has been at Reading Football Club Steve Coppell has won a clutch of "Manager of the Month" awards culminating in 2006 with the Coca Cola Football League Championship Manager of the Year and the League Manager Association (LMA) Manager of the Year award. All the personal recognition was the result of achieving promotion to the Barclays Premiership in the same year with the unfashionable Berkshire club.

The longest period Steve Coppell worked at one club since joining Reading was at Crystal Palace where he started out in 1984 after his playing career was ended prematurely through injury.

During that time he was learning his trade and won no honours but the experience laid the foundation of an apprenticeship that was to serve him well in his current role - and also throw his name in the frame for the vacant Republic of Ireland job.

Born in Liverpool in 1995 Steve Coppell played football at school and in his later years attracted the attention of a few clubs as he was proving a speedy and tricky winger. But Coppell was focussed on his education and chose Tranmere Rovers in order to allow him pursue an Economics degree at the University Of Liverpool.

After two years with the club he had become a regular in the first team by 1975 and was offered a chance to join second division side Manchester United who were offering to double his wages. Given that Manchester was not too far from home he agreed to join on the basis that he could continue to complete his degree at Liverpool. Within a month of joining he made his debut against Cardiff City.

In the same season United returned to the top flight under manager Tommy Docherty who was building the framework of a side that was to be an exciting and dynamic addition to the First Division.
Tommy Docherty recalled the scene on the journeys to and from away matches: 'Some players whiled away the time by reading newspapers or books, others gathered around one table for Lou Macari's card school. More often than not the other table would be occupied by Coppell and Martin Buchan, on which they would spread their college books.'
In the next two seasons Coppell reached two FA Cup finals losing the first to Southampton in 1976, even though they were favourites; then winning the next year against Liverpool, who were chasing the treble at the time.

The success at Old Trafford brought him England recognition and his first cap was playing Italy in the 1978 Argentina World Cup campaign under Ron Greenwood.

In 1980 he was in Italy with England again for the European Championship Finals and was a vital part of squad in the 1982 World Cup qualification campaign. However during in a match against Hungary he was suffered a serious knee injury and one that ultimately required various operations in the months to follow.

Although it was his throw-in in Bilbao that led to Bryan Robson’s record 27 second goal against France in their opening group match of the 1982 World Cup he was still not fully recovered for that competition. Like England’s campaign that summer Coppell also struggled and along with Ron Greenwood he ended his international career that July in Madrid

Facing another operation later that year Steve Coppell went onto play intermittently that season and eventually his knee worsened preventing him from playing for Manchester United in the 1983 FA Cup Final against Brighton & Hove Albion, which United won 4-0 in the replay.

Coppell announced his retirement from the game in October 1983 at the age of 28 after 373 appearances and 70 goals for Manchester United and with a haul from his time with England career of 42 caps and seven goals.

In 1984 he became the youngest manager in the football league when he took over at second division Crystal Palace and after five years he had gained them promotion as well as reaching 1990 FA Cup final, where they were beaten 1-0 in a replay by his former club Manchester United.

Coppell led Palace to their highest ever league finish of third place in Division One before the club suffered a turnaround in fortunes and he resigned after their relegation in 1993.

For the next ten years though the normal quiet, thoughtful and pensive Steve Coppell held a variety of positions until he joined Reading in 2003.

It started with a return to Crystal Palace two years after he had left the club becoming Director of Football in 1995. After a year he had left the club again. The next position was a thirty three day stint at Manchester City in 1996 before he returned to Crystal Palace a year later where he stayed until 2000.

The next two years were spent with a spells at Brentford and on the south coast of England with Brighton & Hove Albion, with a spell as Assistant Manager with Swindon Town between these two positions. When Alan Pardew moved to West Ham Coppell got the call from Reading and in the past five years has built a team that earned promotion to the Premier League in 2006.

Bonjour Monsieur Tigana

Despite winning the Turkish Cup last year managing Besiktas, Frenchmen Jean Tigana left the club before the end of the season. His two years or so at Besiktas had seen him win 2 Fortis Turkish Cups in three seasons but the club lost out to the Champions League to their rivals Fenerbahce.

Perhaps more familiar for his time managing Fulham, a club he joined in 2000, and his brand of football was a breath of fresh air in the Championship and with a strong run of results the club returned to the top league. Despite that his tenure though lasted only three years and his departure in April 2003 lead to a series of legal issues between the club and the Frenchman. In the end it was Tigana who won his case for wrongful dismissal which had followed on Fulham dropping their original charges against their former manager.

Curiously his name was floated for the Republic of Ireland job and attracted betting with his odds shortening considerably at one point.

As a player he came into the game relatively late as well only joining Toulon in 1975 at the age of 20 after years holding down a variety of jobs.

On the field of play Jean Tigana always looked like he was too small to play professional soccer with his jersey always hanging off him. But once he got into motion his skill, agility and deftness was nothing short of impressive and his litheness allowed him swerve and skip out of the fiercest of tackles. In an era of French football that may never be repeated Tigana played his part alongside Michel Platini, Luis Fernandez, Alain Giresse, Marius Tresor; Bernard Genghini, Gerard Janvion, Patrick Battiston and Dominique Rocheteau.

During his eight years on the national ream France reached the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup in Spain; won the EURO 1984 in Paris against Spain and took third place in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where they knocked out Brazil in the quarter finals in Guadalajara. Indeed on a warm summer afternoon in the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Billy Bingham's XI got a taste of the French wizards as well as they made light work of Norman Whiteside and company winning by four goals to one.

Rocheteau that day was alive and the woodwork stopped a deserved hat trick with poor Pat Jennings having little chance with any of the goals. As Northern Ireland set out for home after the 1982 adventure France went on to play the semi finals in Sevilla against West Germany – as they were known at the time. That semi final became an epic and memorable one for a variety of reasons.

Amidst the playmakers that night the little Mali born Frenchman proved to be the engine of a relentless French onslaught that probably deserved a victory against the Teutonic neighbours on effort alone. The momentum though of the match turned when German goalkeeper Harald "Toni" Schumacher violently crashed into Patrick Battiston after about fifty minutes leaving the Frenchman sprawled out on the edge of the penalty box. With Battiston stretchered off and momentum swinging away from them the match ran on to penalties leaving Tigana and company walking off the pitch empty handed.

His club playing career continued until 1991 until Tigana decided to prepare for management and coaching Olympique Lyonnais was his first experience as trainer during 1993/94 season. In his second season he took charge of the club and reached second place in the League Championship. At the club Tigana nurtured young talent some of whom have become household names now such as Florian Maurice and Ludovic Giuly. That year Olympique Lyonnais also reached the final in the League Cup making it the best season in the club’s history at that time.

In 1995/96 Tigana took over AS Monaco and his first months were disastrous as Monaco lost in the first round of the UEFA Cup to Leeds United, the team then were knocked out of the French Cup in the third round and in the quarterfinals of the League Cup. Nevertheless Tigana’s ideas eventually take hold and in the last 19 games of the season they lose only once. With the next season seeing the arrival of some new faces including John Collins the club climbs to first place in the French league early on and stay there until the end of the season. In the UEFA Cup, Monaco reached the semi-finals only to fall to mighty Inter Milan.

By then the names on the Monaco team included Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Viktor Ikpeba, and Fabien Barthez.

Bonjour Monsieur Tigana!

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Former Hoops Spanish club makes history

The former club of Shamrock Rovers strikers Alan Campbell and Liam Buckley made history in Spain on Wednesday night by reaching the semi finals of the Copa del Rey for the first time. The seaside town of Santander was home to the two former League of Ireland strikers in the late 1980’s where they had separate spells at Racing Santander. Both followed in the footsteps of Dublin born Paddy O’Connell who had a lengthy career in England, during which he got five caps for Ireland, who became manager of the club fifty years previously..

During the 1922 season O’Connell started a managerial stint at Racing Santander that was to last seven seasons before moving on to Betis, Oviedo and Barcelona, returning to Santander in 1947 for another two seasons. As one of the founding clubs of La Liga O’Connell’s first stint at the club rendered five regional titles the last completed before the new league was formed.

The clubs this week against arch rivals Athletic Bilbao has brought a level of success back to the club and a chance of the big time where along with Valencia, Real Mallorca and Barcelona they hope to go another step. Despite the lack of success Racing has always been a hot bed for great players producing many leading Spanish internationals over the years including Gento, Santillana, Munitis and Amavisca.

Lying sixth this season in the league at the moment the two legged semi final will keep the momentum alive for a few more weeks with the hope of securing one of those prized final places at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 16th.  The famous Real Madrid were eliminated from the cup a few weeks ago by Real Mallorca the club that was home to Northern Ireland centre forward Gerry Armstrong between 1983-85.

For League of Ireland striker, Alan Campbell the arrival in Spain came only a few months after losing the 1984 FAI Cup to UCD AFC in a replay at Tolka Park. The Northern coastal town was his first step into a professional full time football set up and a major jump from just training Tuesday and Thursday nights with Shamrock River. After two seasons he moved to Belgium and was replaced by his former Hoops team mate, Liam Buckley, who was making the move in the opposite direction from Waregem.


The new head of Sporting Fingal had tasted the glamour of continental football by them with Waregem where he had moved in 1984 when his club reached the semi final of the UEFA Cup in 1986, beating Osasuna, AC Milan and Hadjuk Split on the way. Within sight of a final against European aristocrats Real Madrid, Waregem fell short losing 7-3 over two legs to FC Cologne.

At the start of the 1986/87 season Liam Buckley made the move to Racing Santander where he stayed for a couple of seasons.