It’s Saturday evening, and I have decided to break with a long-standing tradition, and despite it being a bank holiday weekend I have made up my mind that I am not going to visit any pub, but am instead going to have a quiet night watching sport on the telly.
Now with the Champions League final taking place, and with the massive support Liverpool have all over the country, I knew that the craic and the atmosphere in pubs everywhere would be brilliant, but once my decision was made there was no going back – and so I settled down and thoroughly enjoyed my peaceful evening.
I missed the first twenty minutes or so of the Champions League game, and with apologies to supporters of both clubs (Spurs and Liverpool), I was sorry I didn’t miss it all, as in my opinion it was an awful game, with none of the good football that brought the two clubs as far as the final! However, as anyone will tell you, it’s all about winning, and the ‘Pool took the honours – and in the process confirmed their status as the most successful English club ever in Europe.
The local members of the Liverpool Supporters Club that I met last night (Sunday) were understandably delighted with their victory, and in truth they couldn’t care less how the win was achieved. In my totally unimportant opinion, the referee was wrong with the penalty decision, but things like that always happen in football, and nothing can change the end result…so congratulations to Jurgen Klopp and his men.
The unpalatable truth for those of us who follow other clubs in the Premier League is that Liverpool have now assembled a really good side, and, along with Man. City, are streets ahead of all the rest. It looks like a barren few – maybe a good few – years ahead for us poor folk who follow Man Utd. At least this year we know it in advance!
Anyway, I had a few hours to kill before my next big sporting event of the night, so I watched yet another semi-final (the fifth of the week) of Britain’s Got Talent, and then I set my clock for half past one and headed off for a couple of hours’ sleep before rising again to watch Katie Taylor’s world unification fight against Belgium’s Delfine Persoon.
Now there are lots of experts out there who claim the Belgian policewoman should have got the verdict – and maybe they are right – but the people that matter are the judges, and they gave it to the Bray woman. Leaving the result aside, the fight itself was one of the toughest, most physical, and compellingly brutal that I have ever seen. It was 10 rounds of unrelenting aggression, and it was undoubtedly a result that could have gone either way (the draw might have been about right). One way or another, Katie dug in and ground out a victory, and in my opinion in that battle she copperfastened her position as one of our greatest ever sports persons.
The punters who paid in to see the two best female lightweight boxers on the planet gave them a standing ovation at the end of a gruelling contest. I have to say I was absolutely buzzing with the ferocity of it all.
No doubt about it, Katie has put women’s boxing right out there, and she deserves every reward – sporting and financial – that comes her way.
My plan was to retire for the night at that stage, and as it was now almost 3 am it would have been well time to do so, but I was on such a high that sleep just wouldn’t come, and so I stayed up to watch the Anthony Joshua heavyweight championship bout, a fight that the affable Englishman was expected to win in a canter. AJ (that’s how he is known) was twenty to one on (that means you had to put 20 on to win 1), but in what was a remarkable bout he was to lose on a technical knock-out to a Mexican fighter called Andy Ruiz Jnr, who produced the performance of a lifetime to knock Joshua down four times before eventually finishing him off in the seventh.
Two things stood out for me about this fight, the first being the complete graciousness with which AJ took his defeat, the second being the unusual physical condition that the winner seemed to be in. In an age where all sportsmen, but particularly boxers, look as if they have been sculpted – and often have more six-packs than you would see in a busy off-license on a bank holiday weekend – it was heartening to see an athlete who looked as if he had trained on a diet of burgers and chips, and who might have been more suited to an ad for Supermac’s than for a world heavyweight championship fight.
However, in this case at least, looks were totally deceiving and the Mexican underdog proved to be a very good boxer and a most deserving winner. I think both fights will result in rematches, and I may well have another long, late night watching the next instalment in what could end up being a long-running saga.
For the moment however, despite Persoon claiming she is about to lodge an objection against the result, let’s all rejoice at the achievements of the extraordinary Katie Taylor. No matter what lies in her future, for a decade or more she has been a shining light in Irish sport, a role model for all women, and a genuine world superstar. Well done Katie, we’re so proud of you.
Finally for this week, while we were away on holidays the racing world was shocked by the sudden retirement of champion jockey, Ruby Walsh, who announced he was quitting with immediate effect after winning the Punchestown Gold Cup (on Kemboy) for trainer Willie Mullins.
The good news is that the former Personality of the Year out here in Creggs, Tom Connolly – even though he’s pushing on a bit now, having recently celebrated his 60th birthday – has decided he’s the man to fill the void created by Walsh’s retirement. Under the watchful eye of Mags Keane, Tom has gone into training, and was recently seen trotting around the village (on a horse).
It may take a bit of time, but it is my prediction that Tom will be riding winners before too long. Watch this space.
Till next week, Bye for now!