Sunday 29 March 2015

View from the Top - Barry McGuigan

"It is not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but the size of the fight in the dog.”

Barry McGuigan 

Aviva Welcome for Poland

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Republic of Ireland host Group D leaders Poland in Dublin looking to keep in touch with second place after picking up seven points from their first four games.

Germany, Scotland and Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland all sit on the same number of points, three behind Poland, with six games remaining.

They were beaten in Scotland in November after picking up two wins and a fine draw in Germany, while Poland have won three and drawn one, including an impressive win over the world champions.

Republic of Ireland midfielder Darron Gibson has returned to Everton with a groin problem, but full-back Stephen Ward and winger James McClean, who had ankle knocks, were both able to train on Friday. Hull winger Robbie Brady and Stoke's Marc Wilson are on standby to fill in at left-back if Ward is not fit.

Derby's Jeff Hendrick (hip) will miss the game and O'Neill is likely to partner James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan in central midfield

O'Neill has given away little about his selection and will not name his team until Sunday, but the final open training session suggested he may employ a three-man defence and wing-backs against the Poles.

Poland's injury list includes Lukasz Piszczek, Kamil Grosicki, Artur Jedrzejczyk and Michal Zyro, while Borussia Dortmund star Jakub Blaszczykowski has been left out of the squad amid newspaper reports of a spat with star striker Robert Lewandowski. However, coach Adam Nawałka insists he is concerned over the player's fitness after a year out with knee ligament damage.

With Wojciech Szczesny not featuring for his club Arsenal, Nawalka has announced that Swansea's Lukasz Fabianski will start in goal for his side with Artur Boruc on the bench.

Ireland's record in 25 games against Poland is W6 D9 L10. It was 0-0 when they last met, in a friendly in Poznan on 19 November 2013.

They have only met twice in competitive fixtures, and both matches ended in a draw – 0-0 in Dublin and 3-3 in Poznan in EURO '92 qualifying.

Ireland have won three of their last four competitive games at the Dublin Arena.

Poland have won both of their away games in Group D, scoring 11 goals and conceding none.

Poland come into this match having played exactly 100 UEFA European Championship games, with the record W41 D28 L31.

Monday 23 March 2015

Mayweather Senior Starts Swipes

Floyd Mayweather Sr has taken a swipe at Freddie Roach as a war of words broke out between the trainers ahead of Floyd Mayweather Jr's fight with Manny Pacquiao.

Roach, the long-term trainer of Pacquiao, insisted the Filipino is a ‘much better boxer’ and claimed that Mayweather Jr has been forced to train himself during his 47-fight unbeaten career.

These brash comments drew a crude response from the American’s father Mayweather Sr, who will work the corner for the upcoming clash in Las Vegas on May 2. 

He is self-made, but the thing is, he's never really had anyone teach him how to really box.

He said: "We were enjoying a beautiful day until we heard what Freddie 'The Joke Coach' Roach had to say.

“Freddie, you have the problem, not me. Why are you not training all of your fighters anymore? Why do other people have to hold the mitts and speak for you.

"How can you be a trainer when you can't even hold the mitts. Nobody knows what you're saying anyway. You have others talking for you and holding the mitts for you.

“Manny don't know if you're talking about boxing or talking about taking a walk in the store.

“Freddie don't want Floyd Mayweather Sr in the corner, because he knows I'm the master. He don't want the master in the corner.”

Pacquiao has been sparring with former world title challenger Dierry Jean and unbeaten prospect Kenneth Sims as he prepares for Mayweather’s slick ring skills.

Few fighters have troubled the 37-year-old, who has captured world titles at multiple weights, but Roach is confident he can plot his first defeat.

"He grew up in the ring. He grew up with his uncle and his dad fighting, but he just became a fighter naturally," said Roach. "He is self-made, but the thing is, he's never really had anyone teach him how to really box.

“So (Mayweather) does set traps, but if you're smart enough, you will see it. And Manny's smart enough to see it."

Ireland Defend Six Nations Title

Ireland have won the RBS Six Nations trophy after a 40-10 win over Scotland put them top of the table.

Earlier in the day Wales dismantled Italy 61-20, which gave Ireland the task of needing to beat Scotland by at least 21 points in order to top the table with only the England-France game remaining.

Tries from Paul O’Connell, Jared Payne and two from man-of-the-match Sean O’Brien gave Ireland a 30-point win, which meant they ended the game at the summit of the Six Nations table.

England came close to closing the gap as they beat France 55-35 at Twickenham in the final fixture of the day, but it was not enough to overhaul Ireland's lead, meaning the trophy will be displayed in Dublin for another year at least.

Ireland could not have orchestrated a better start to the game. Within four minutes captain Paul O’Connell took the ball from the base of a ruck and crashed over for the opening score which Johnny Sexton duly converted.

What followed was a period of Irish dominance which resulted in Scotland infringing, and Sexton stepped up to make it 10-0.

Greig Laidlaw drew back with a penalty but an Irish lineout ended with Sean O’Brien galloping clear to extend the Irish lead. His effort was matched by Finn Russell, which made for a 20-10 scoreline at half time.

The second half produced plenty of drama. Four minutes into the second period Sexton extended Ireland’s lead to 13 points. Ireland held onto the ball well during the period that followed, but seemed unable to punish the Scottish defence.

A lineout was then set up close to the Scottish line and a driving maul resulted. Ireland spread the ball well and a deft switch pass to Jared Payne meant the outside centre was able to cross right under the poles, giving Sexton a regulation kick to make it a 20-point lead.

Sexton then had an opportunity to extend the lead, and top the table, with a kick at goal, but by his own high standards he missed the effort badly; the ball crashing back off the right-hand upright.

Minutes later he was given another chance to further his team’s title hopes but this time missed it wide to the right.

It seemed like a nervy time for Irish players and fans, but in the 61st minute he finally bisected the poles with his third attempt and Ireland were crucially in front by enough.

It was not deemed enough, though, by Sean O’Brien in particular, who managed to avoid the efforts of two defenders as he went over for his second of the match.

Scotland had a chance to make it an interesting final four minutes when Stuart Hogg went over the line but the TMO spotted that he had knocked the ball on in the act of scoring, and as a result Ireland we able to hold onto a big lead ahead of England’s showdown with France.