Maxi CurranBY PADDY WALSHOH WHEN THE SAINTS…..It’s the match many would have billed as the dream final but at least we get to anticipate the pairing of the Saints in the semi-finals of the Donegal Senior Championships following impressive performances last weekend. Didn’t make it to MacCumhaill Park for Sunday’s evening clash when St. Eunan’s put the clampers over their old rivals, Glenswilly, but I did see St. Michael’s do a demolition job over Malin in the day’s other quarter-final at O’Donnell Park.Difficult to believe that this was the same Malin team that took care of a fancied Gaoth Dobhair in their final group game.A hefty exodus from the stands midway through the opening half might have suggested Malin supporters were beating the hastiest of retreats at an early stage in the proceedings but it was just in response to a tannoy announcement urging motorists to remove their vehicles from illegal parking berths near the ground.Had only Liam Bradley been able to park his defence as easily with St. Michael’s easing into a half-time lead of 2-8 to 0-2 and never looking likely to allow the Inishowen men back into it in the second. Indeed it was only a late goal that put some measure of consolation on the scoreboard for Malin as they were comprehensively taken apart. Long, long before the finish, Malin heads were dropping and St. Michael’s supporters were dreaming. Perhaps Liam Bradley’s head was filled with other matters such as the vacancy for Derry senior manager but whatever this was a hugely disappointing day for his current side.St. Michael’s, meanwhile, never took the foot of the accelerator as they hit Malin right from the start and had it all wrapped up even before all the half-time draw tickets were sold. I thought Michael Langan was excellent along with Ciaran Gallagher – apart from an energetic display throughout he ghosted through the Malin defenders to score his team’s second goal – and Andrew Kelly but every player wearing red did their bit.St. Eunan’s were equally impressive by all accounts in their dismantling of Glenswilly – pointing to a semi-final pairing that will, as the old Carlsberg advertisement declared, be worth waiting for.Not that the men from Kilcar will be focusing too much on that side of the draw. Again, going on reports and the result, they too impressed in their win over Four Masters but should find Naomh Conaill a tougher nut to crack in the second semi-final even if the Glenties team were far from dazzling in their quarter-final win over Termon.THE KINGDOM TO BE TOPPLED – TWICE! Will Kerry do it on Sunday? Not if Charlie McGeever has anything to with it. And he will have in his capacity as manager of the Tipperary Minors who face the Kingdom in the All-Ireland Final (the main event really as Charlie won’t be looking on it as any sort of curtain raiser).A narrow squeak it may have been but a two point win over Kildare in the semi-final has brought them to the ultimate – within touching distance of an All-Ireland title for both the Derryconnor man and his team.You should never mix politics with sport, they say (and whoever they are, I wholeheartedly agree) but McGeever did draw on a famous election slogan as he anticipated Sunday’s Final. “Anybody looking at us in the All-Ireland semi-final would use the old Fianna Fail saying, ‘a lot done more to do’ because there was much more to give,” he told the ‘Irish Examiner’ this week.His Tipp side have already faced Kerry in a Final this year but lost out in the Munster Minor showdown. The sweet taste of revenge hovers invitingly over the Tipperary team as they go in search of glory with a Donegalman at the helm. Let’s admit it, sometimes we gave these Minors matches a miss but it’s fair to say a fair percentage of us here in McGeever’s native patch will be tuned in and becoming self-declared Tipperary men, women and children for the day.And who will we be rooting for in the afternoon’s other encounter? Difficult one to call but it’s safe to say that the two best teams in the county are competing in it and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends in a draw and less surprised if the Dubs ultimately put one over on their old rivals.McGUINNESS TO FOCUS ON THE BUSINESS END OF THINGSFor those of us who once watched the wild-haired one in the colours of his county or his club side, it’s a fairly safe bet that we would never have envisaged him at some time in the future delivering, say, a talk to the Irish Management Institute’s annual conference.All those suits and suavity would hardly have been the most apt company for the man who occupied the midfield sector for Donegal and Naomh Conaill, one Seamus Mag Aonghusa, or to give him his better known title, Jim McGuinness, as he will indeed be introduced to the members of the I.M.I. at that conference in Dublin’s Sandyford at the end of the week.A guest speaker at the event he will, of course, be familiar to most of his audience of business executives or at least those who know anything at all about Gaelic Football or indeed, Glasgow Celtic F.C. Whatever the case, they will be duly impressed during his address when he talks on leadership and the qualities needed to make it to the top or indeed just to make it.A couple of years ago, I heard McGuinness deliver such a talk at the Adult Learner Fair in Letterkenny organised by the Donegal ETB. The packed function room in the Mount Errigal Hotel was held almost spellbound for an hour as he reflected on his own elevating career from a far from academic minded student at the Glenties Comprehensive School – he was, he told us, invariably first in the queue for the buses travelling to sporting events – to his third level studies and branching into sports psychology and leading his county to All-Ireland glory.Truly one of the success stories of the past few decades but again, I ask, could we have seen it back in the day when that frizzy haired midfielder got to grips with his opponents and any refereeing decisions that went against him or his team?Answers on the agenda for the I.M.I. annual conference.YOUTHS IN THE PINKCan’t in all honesty see anyone – Harps or U.C.D. – catch Wexford Youths after the latter’s victory over the students last weekend. The south-easterners have been the most consistent side in the First Division and have shown their mettle on many an occasion, coming back late on in games to turn defeat into full point territory.With Ollie Horgan’s men facing their longest trip of the season to Cobh – never an easy venue to get anything from least of all the three points necessary to keep the pressure on at the top – the Youths and the students meet again this weekend with Wexford enjoying a nine point advantage over the Belfielders.Had Harps not run up against that old stumbling block called inconsistency, they may well have been holding all the aces in the race for promotion but with seven points now separating them from the league leaders, that automatic rise into the Premier Division is looking as likely as University College Dublin accepting me for a degree course.A win for both U.C.D. and Harps might, just might, make it interesting again but even then I couldn’t see Wexford throwing away all their good work in the remaining matches.Striker Rob Waters will be, if selected, turning out against his old club on Friday night and we can only hope that he performs better than he did in Harps goal-less draw with Waterford United. He looked sluggish throughout, perhaps owing to lack of game time and I felt he should have been replaced long before he was with Harps looking more lively up front when Nathan Boyle came on.Lively is what they’ll have to be in Cobh if they are to shorten that journey home.WORLD CUP WONDER (AS IN WE WONDER CAN WE WIN IT?)The Rugby World Cup? I can’t see it. What I mean is I will be able to see it – after long years of trying, I’m almost proficient in using the old remote – but I can’t see the Boys in Green coming home with it.It was only a few months ago and certainly at the end of another successful Six Nations that some pundits were tipping Joe Schmidt’s side to go all the way but there’s been a lack of spark about the team in the warm-up games and while players will have performed with less of an edge than normal given the injury potential, they just didn’t look like a team with eyes confidently on the big prize.Schmidt will have his own ideas and will be encouraged, as we all can hope to be, at the fact that the Green tops will be facing the slight of Canada and Romania in their opening two matches in Pool D. Lose to either of those rugby minnows and we can start preparing for next year’s Six Nations but they do give the opportunity to sharpen up those edges in preparation for the sterner test against Italy and the real examination against Les Bleus in the final group game.Can we go beyond the quarter-finals where we have been halted in our tracks in the past? And can T.V.3 do justice to their coverage of the whole thing? At this stage, I believe we have a better chance of making the semi-finals.HOW IS GREAT BRITAIN A NATION?Last week’s European Championship qualifiers may not have provided the results Northern Ireland or Wales wanted to confirm their places in the Finals in France next summer but really it’s only a matter of time – as in next month – before Michael O’Neill and Chris Coleman can start preparing for a long awaited participation in the tournament.Thanks to their involvement in a group that didn’t require them breaking sweat in any of their games, England are already home and hosed, and for obvious reasons we, on this side of the Irish Sea, won’t be hoping Scotland join them.But were the Scots to qualify at the expense of the Republic, it would mean four “British” nations taking part in the Finals, undoubtedly unprecedented in the history of the competition.But not, as it happens, unprecedented in other fields of endeavour such as the recent World Athletics Championships in Beijing. There they ran, hurdled, jumped, and whatever else under the collective banner of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. They came home with four gold medals, one silver and two bronze, finishing fourth in the overall medal table. Nice haul if you can get it.Which you can if you give yourself a more than odds on chance by having access to athletes from four different countries to help you on the way.That has always struck me as a bit of an imbalance when the vast majority of competing nations do so as one (and, yes, I am aware that Ireland has had performers from Northern Ireland participating in the green singlet).But surely if the Britain and Northern Ireland soccer teams can go it alone in World and European competitions, the athletics fraternity can do the same. If only in the interests of fair play for all.FOR STEPHANIE ROCHE, READ CIARAN KILDUFFGoal of the weekend? Most of you will probably be awarding it to Christian Benteke for his spectacular scissors kick at Old Trafford on Saturday or even Anthony Martial’s effort in the same game.But brilliant as they were could they have been any better than the peach executed by Ciaran Kilduff for Dundalk in their F.A.I. Cup quarter-final tie against Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park?Did you see it? And if you didn’t check YouTube and be prepared to be impressed. Kilduff got on the end of a Darren Meenan free-kick to guide the ball over Richard Brush’s head with the cheekiest of back flicks. We may even have a successor to Stephanie Roche as a nominee for the Puskas international goal of the year award.And then Ross Gaynor popped up with a stunning volley for Cork City in their Cup replay with our Candystripe neighbours – a weekend indeed of top quality strikes in the League of Ireland.Ah, but it’s a dead league, many will argue (mainly many who haven’t been at a domestic game in years, if ever) and the facilities are tripe.Quite a few L.O.I. grounds have improved their lot in recent times – there’s even talk that the Harps will move into their new stadium some time in the future – but too many, it has to be admitted, are threadbare and one of the images that caught this eye after watching Kilduff’s cracker was the sight of the handful of Dundalk fans dancing on the grass embankment behind the goal at Oriel Park. A grass terracing at the home of the current Premier League champions – and well on course to repeating the feat this season – hardly does much to promote the image of the League even if all four of the goals struck by the Louth team in front of that terracing showed a much better side to the product.POINTNG THE FINGERHands up the guilty out there who wanted to see British athlete Paula Radcliffe fail a doping test so you could all have a snigger at our media friends across the channel who climb on the highest of horses whenever focusing on competitors from other nations who have done the dirty or are under suspicion of doing so?Radcliffe has reacted quickly to a suggestion by the Tory M.P., Jesse Norman, who had referred to a London marathon winner with what the politician called “suspicious blood values”. Norman didn’t name the athlete but the finger was, according to Radcliffe, clearly pointing at her. And she has been quick out of the blocks to deny any wrong-doing where doping is concerned.I don’t believe that she is guilty of any misdemeanour when it comes to cheating. Paula Radcliffe has always struck me as an honest competitor who does things strictly by the book and has looked to her training regime – and not any illegal substances – as the key to her medal winning days on the track and the road.The shadow of doping does, sadly, hang over the entire sport of athletics but it nevertheless appears outrageous that an M.P. can use parliamentary privilege to cast serious doubts over the pedigree of an athlete such as Radcliffe without any shade of proof to back up that suggestion.Packie BonnerPUTTING SHAY ON THE SPOTPackie Bonner, a man from The Rosses who isn’t featuring on Strictly Come Dancing, revealed this week that his fellow Donegal netminder, Shay Given, wanted to take a penalty during the shoot-out against Spain at the 2002 World Cup Finals.The Lifford goalkeeper’s first words to Big Packie when the latter approached him to help put him in the right frame of mind before the spot-kick lottery, were: “I want to take a kick”.Reflecting back on it, Bonner maintained: “I found this unusual to say the least but I suppose that is the modern young player in many ways. They think they can do almost everything.”But who knows, it might even have altered the outcome. And we could have dined out, not just on one of our goalkeeping greats helping to get us through to the later stages of a World Cup (Italia ’90) but another one doing something similar at the other end of the field (Espana ‘O2).Meanwhile, look out for the big Cloughglass native’s memoirs, ‘The Last Line’ which will be published at the beginning of October.There’s a few references to the Boy Keane (Roy, not Robbie) in there and not all of them complimentary which should help with the sales.WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY: BATTLE OF THE SAINTS, McGEEVER’S CROKER TIPP AND PACKIE ON ‘THE BOY KEANE’ was last modified: September 16th, 2015 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:columnglenswillyN ConaillPackie BonnerPaddy WalshShay GivenSportSt EunansSt Michaels
Natalie Portman admits it was a “bummer” to hear about the constant Star Wars prequel trilogy bashing. George Lucas reignited the franchise for his grand prequel story in the late 1990s and time has been pretty good on them over the years. That doesn’t mean that everybody loves them now, but they were torn to shreds upon their release dates back in the day by just about everybody. The negative response was, and still is, pretty amazing.The Phantom Menace was one of the most anticipated movies in cinema history. George Lucas was taking some pretty crazy chances in tackling another trilogy, which takes place before the beloved first three installments. With that kind of pressure, it’s nearly impossible to make something for everybody to enjoy. Natalie Portman, who starred in all three movies, was asked about the prequel reactions and had this to say in a recent interview.”It was hard. It was a bummer because it felt like people were so excited about new ones and then to have people feel disappointed. Also to be at an age that I didn’t really understand that’s kind of the nature of the beast. When something has that much anticipation it can almost only disappoint.”The new Star Wars trilogy has seen a lot of the same backlash that the prequel trilogy went through. However, it has been nearly 20 years since The Phantom Menace was released and there is a younger generation who grew up watching the prequels. For some, it was their introduction to the franchise and they prefer it more than anything else. Natalie Portman recognizes that aspect today. She explains.”With the perspective of time, it’s been re-evaluated by a lot of people who actually really love them now. There’s a very avid group of people who think they’re the best ones now! I don’t have enough perspective to weigh in.”While some Star Wars fans are still bashing Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, the movie may become a fan-favorite in the years to come. It’s too early to tell, but ultimately, there’s too many expectations to create something that everybody is going to enjoy. Johnson took chances and is pretty much hated for it, while J.J. Abrams gets bashed for playing it too safe. Regardless, the franchise is still moving forward.The Star Wars franchise is held up by a huge audience of fans and it is arguably bigger now than it ever has been. The Rise of Skywalker is coming out at the end of the year and it will be the final movie in the Skywalker saga. Disneyland and Disney World are both opening up new Star Wars-themed lands to the parks, with the Anaheim park opening at the end of this month. Reservations to visit the new area for a total of four hours, sold out in less than two hours online. There are complaints, but people are still packing theaters and now theme parks too. The interview with Natalie Portman was originally conducted by Empire.