Not to beat our own drum unduly but for a mostly nondescript Thursday in late September, there’s a bonanza of high-quality sportswriting in your Irish Times today.
It’s a down week for the Ireland rugby team in France but our writers are still on the beat. John O’Sullivan went to Namibia v Uruguay yesterday in Lyon and sent back a postcard as much as a match report. “It’s been a rough tournament for Namibia but then it is arguable that every World Cup has followed a familiar pattern. The southern Africa side had yet to win a match, 25 defeats going into Wednesday night’s game. This is not the time for a spoiler.”
Johnny Watterson’s World Cup diaries continue to feature all human life, from grouchy madams in Paris to battered kitesurfers in Nice and all points in between. “An ambulance stops to ask if we need assistance. No. But we point towards the ramp from the stadium over the main road, where a group of Irish fans are ‘lineouting’. Four lifting, one jumper. It’s not Afrikaans they are speaking, but what is it? They need assistance, we say.”
It was Rory McIlroy day at the Ryder Cup yesterday (what day isn’t, says you). Philip Reid reports from his press conference in Rome, where he gently – or maybe not-so gently – pointed out that missing the Ryder Cup was something the LIV players will have to reckon with. “They are not here, and I think they are going to miss being here more than we’re missing them,” he said. “I think this week is a realisation that the decision that they made has led to not being a part of this week, and that’s tough.”
Also on media duties yesterday was Brooks Koepka, who took an unexpected detour at one stage to big up Graeme McDowell, of all people. “I thought to me, growing up, it was Dustin and then G-Mac. G-Mac was especially gritty. He’s got to work a little bit harder than everybody else and always finds a way to get it done.”
Sticking with the Ryder Cup (sort of), Ciarán Murphy’s column today is on Shane Lowry and the GAA background that makes him relish team golf to such an obvious extent. “‘I hate being on my own’ is quite the admission for a world-class golfer,” Murph writes. “It’s not something you expect to hear. But we hear Gaelic footballers and hurlers talking all the time about the week before All-Ireland finals.”
Speaking of Gaelic games, the All Star hurling nominations are out today. Gordon Manning’s report highlights the absence of former Hurler of the Year Gearóid Hegarty for the first time in five seasons, as well as Limerick’s 14 nominations in total.
In soccer, Karen Duggan’s column today gets to the heart of all the good and all the bad in women’s football in Ireland right now. A national team that is firing on all cylinders, a grassroots scene that is anything but. “There is no pyramid without the big blocks down the bottom,” Karen writes. “In 2023, the same year we went to our first World Cup, the Metro Girls’ League has descended into a farcical situation.”
Finally, Dave Hannigan’s America At Large piece wends its way around the NFL grounds since the season started three weeks ago and documents all the incidences of brutal fan violence that have taken place. “Within two years, [Roger Goodell] introduced a fan code of conduct expressly prohibiting drunkenness,” Hannigan writes. “A noble intention. A laudable aspiration. Like the United Nations or carbon credits.”
On Telly: Life is surely too short to be watching the Ryder Cup opening ceremony (Sky Sports Golf, 3.00). Much better to settle in for the main preview show later on (Sky Sports Golf, 7.00). The whole thing starts on Friday morning at 6am.