Copa Libertadores mayhem, comparing Pat Spillane to Donald Trump and the week’s best sportswriting

1. As Boca Juniors’ bus approached Estadio Monumental a couple of hours before kickoff, it turned down Avenida Monroe, a well-known gathering spot for River fans before games and not, as a rule, the route a visiting team would take. It was traveling quickly, flanked by police outriders.

But as it slowed to turn a corner, the bus was confronted by hundreds of River fans. They threw stones, sticks and bottles. The windows shattered. The driver fainted. A Boca vice president, Horacio Paolini, had to take the wheel. The police, according to several reports, fired pepper spray to disperse the crowd. It drifted inside the bus.

A few moments later, Boca arrived at the stadium, its players coughing, retching, their throats burning from the gas. Shards of glass had hit two players, Pablo Pérez and Gonzalo Lamardo, in the eye. Others had been cut by the debris.

“We had come to play a game, and we found a completely different situation,” said Marcelo London, a Boca official.

Writing in the New York Times, Rory Smith describes the mayhem surrounding the Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors.

Former Tipperary hurler Seamus Hennessy.

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

2. Josie had taken her own life and Seamus, an only child, fell inevitably deaf to all the kindness splashing around him now. “I knew I’d never be able to speak to her again” he remembers. “I never said it to anyone at the time, but I knew it wasn’t going to be ok.

“It couldn’t be!”

It was maybe six months after the funeral that his dad, also Seamus, enrolled him in a 12-week Rainbows counselling course at Borrisokane Community College. And that Tuesday evening course, overseen by Sister Nora Hartigan, somehow got him talking about his heartbreak. How? To this day, Hennessy’s not entirely sure.

He just remembers that first night in the hall and maybe “nine or 10″ kids looking across at one another like self-conscious aliens. And a full decade later, he still hadn’t yet quite processed the heavy blind lifted on his emotions by Sister Nora. Suffice to say, Seamus Hennessy just took to opening up about human fragility during those twelve weeks in Borrisokane.

And he hasn’t stopped doing it since.

Former Tipperary hurler Seamus Hennessy gives a candid interview to Vincent Hogan of the Irish Independent about losing his mother to suicide and his plans to run the Antarctic Ice Marathon to raise money for suicide charities. 

Stephen Kenny.

Source: Tom Honan/INPHO

3. Stephen found us. We didn’t find him,” says Cox. ”Stephen approached one of the boys (on the board). I was away on holidays that particular week. It was coming to the end of the season. 

“He knew more about Longford Town than we did. He was able to tell him about every match we played for the previous 12 months. He was able to tell us about this player and that player that we had. And he said they were all journeymen. And he says that if I get the job, every one of them is going.

“He said there’d be a new team of young players coming in and they won’t cost a fraction of what the old team cost. And he was right there because his average player was on about 50 quid a week.

“They had met in the Tally Ho (bar in New Street in Longford). So I said I’d meet him there at half two on the following Tuesday. The first thing he did say to me was ‘Mick, can I have a private word with you?’ He said, ‘let’s be straight about this. If I get this job, this will be the last meeting we will hold in a public house.’

“He wasn’t into that. He wanted everything done privately where nobody could hear what was said. He laid down the law very early.”

RTÉ Sport’s Conor Neville writes about the impact Stephen Kenny had during his time as manager of Longford Town.

An image from the strongman ”Arnold Classic Europe” 2018 multisport competition in Barcelona.

Source: Celestino Arce Lavin

4. The first strongman competition he went to was in Cork sometime around 2011. He hadn’t a clue what to do, or really even about what was involved. He’d seen it on TV around Christmas, the same as everyone. It was all about lifting roll logs and barrels and stones and all that carry-on. He knew what he knew but he didn’t know a lot.

“I landed below and I was one of the smallest men there. I was just going, ‘Jesus, what am I at here?’ These big fat fellas with the beards and everything, they were monsters compared to me. And I just thought I was wasting my time straight away. But I had a crack at it anyway and I nearly won the show.

“The only reason I didn’t was technique. In the last event, the lads that beat me were able to lift the stone better than me because their technique was better. They were more used to it. I came third or fourth or whatever it was, but that set me off. I knew then that if I could keep training and keep improving my technique, that was going to be key to it.”

The Irish Times’ Malachy Clerkin speaks to Limerick man Pa O’Dwyer about his love affair with participating in strongman competitions.

Macclesfield Town’s new manager Sol Campbell.

Source: PA Wire/PA Images

5. Ultimately, though, I hope Campbell makes a decent fist of it, bearing in mind we are coming up for 2019 and, rather pathetically, I find myself encouraged by the fact there are now eight BAME managers in the game. Eighteen months ago the figure was two – so small steps, and all that. But how absurd is it that eight out of 92 can feel like a minor breakthrough?

The sport can hardly congratulate itself when there is still so much incontrovertible evidence – ignore the data and just use your eyes – that black managers do not get the same chances as white managers. Campbell has been kept waiting until the age of 44 (though, interestingly, he says he has applied for only 10-to-15 jobs over a seven‑year period) and, for a man widely accused of having a superiority complex, at least he has not turned up his nose about the idea of starting at the bottom.

Since 1990 he is only the sixth black man to play for England and then go into management and if it doesn’t work out for him at Macclesfield the harsh reality is that he should not expect another chance. According to the League Managers Association, almost two thirds of all the black managers who have passed through the Football League never get a second job.

Writing in The Guardian, Daniel Taylor offers his thoughts on Sol Campbell’s appointment as the new manager of the Macclesfield Town club.

Former Kerry boss Éamonn Fitzmaurice.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

6. The level of GAA analysis, especially on the mainstream tv shows is poor. It has improved but overall, it’s poor.

In general, punditry seems to be a race to the bottom on social media in an effort to stay current and relevant. In place of cutting-edge analysis is a controversy-first model.”

A few of his compatriots weren’t slow to cut his legs off either as Kerry manager. It’s disappointing when you see players you soldiered with displaying more loyalty to a newspaper or broadcaster than someone they were in the trenches with, but that’s the game.

[Pat]Spillane had a good few pops.

Look, when you’ve eight All-Ireland medals, you can pretty much say what you want. Pat had plenty to say about players he won those All Irelands with when they were managing Kerry, so I wasn’t foolish enough to think he was going to spare me.

What amuses me though is the way he will send the odd text message either preceding or following a lambasting.

 He reminds me a bit of Donald Trump. He has a huge ego, he understands how the media works and he’s good for a sound bite to keep himself relevant. But, personally speaking, I wouldn’t have him within a million miles of a Kerry team.

In an extensive interview with Tony Leen of the Irish Examiner, former Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice covers a range of topics, including his views on GAA punditry.

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