“Are my old balls going to be made illegal,” John O’Sullivan asks somewhat plaintively, but before you sit down to write a strongly worded letter to the editor, he’s referring to the news that the powers-that-be are expected to announce measures that will reduce the distance golf balls travel. ‘Golf ball rollback’, they’re calling it, and it’s generating quite a bit of heat, Bryson DeChambeau describing the proposal as “atrocious”, “unimaginative” and “uninspiring”. Apart from that, he’s easy about it.
John talks us through the debate which includes the word “bifurcation”. That “sounds like something that the Catholic Church would have preached against from the pulpit in 1950s Ireland,” he writes, but in this context it just means that the rollback will apply to amateurs as well as professionals. But panic not, it’ll be 2030 before you have to stop using your old balls, by which point, John concedes, your “stash will be long gone”.
Since announcing his retirement from intercounty football a year ago, Michael Murphy has been able to spend a bit more time playing golf himself – and he’s pretty useful at it too. And on Monday he insisted he won’t be rolling back on his decision to hang up his boots, even though there has been some speculation on that front since Jim McGuinness returned as Donegal manager.
Seán Moran spoke to Murphy at the launch of the 2024 schedules for GAAGO, the GAA’s subscription streaming service. Tánaiste Micheál Martin was among those who criticised the placing of a number of high-profile Munster hurling championship games behind a paywall last season. He will, says Seán, “hardly be placated” by the news that three of Cork’s hurling championship matches will be behind that very paywall next year.
In soccer, Gavin Cummiskey hears from Katie McCabe ahead of this evening’s game against Northern Ireland in Belfast, the Republic of Ireland captain aiming to finish a successful Nations League campaign on a high by making it six wins out of six in their group.
Gerry Thornley, meanwhile, notes that the return of the Champions Cup this week has been greeted “with barely a whimper compared to the halcyon days of yore”, the latest revised format leaving him pining for “the old days of the Heineken Cup”.
Also in rugby, Robert Kitson reflects on the decision of Owen Farrell and referee Tom Foley to step away from the international game, both citing abuse and criticism online as a factor in those decisions. It all sets a worrying precedent, he writes. “The best way to ease the pressure on Farrell, Foley and others is to inform and educate. Or, failing that, to unplug the internet.” Now, there’s an idea.
TV Watch: The Republic of Ireland complete their Nations League campaign against Northern Ireland in Belfast this evening (RTÉ 2 and BBC 2, kick-off 6.0), while England’s women will probably need a big win away to Scotland if they are to overtake the Netherlands in their group (BBC 1, 7.45). There are also two Premier League games on tonight, Wolves v Burnley (Premier Sports 2, 7.30) and Luton v Arsenal (Premier Sports 1, 8.15).