Monday, May 29, 2006

Red faces on Red Hands

Spot the difference. Something tells me the scene on the right won't be repeated this September.

I'm now back in London for Bank Holiday Monday (like the Boomtown Rats I don't normally like Mondays, but I'll make an exception in this case) after an extended weekend break in the old country. It's been a packed weekend for Northern Ireland sport. First there was the storm in a thimble (never mind teacup) surrounding the FIFA ruling that Northern Ireland players must carry British passports. There was the inevitable outcry from nationalist politicians and the welcome reaction from unionist politicians. Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern even got in on the act. Surely he'd be better off channelling his energies into securing right of residence for Afghan asylum seekers, tackling poverty in Africa or persuading the British government to close down Sellafield. Instead he's more concerned that a bunch of soccer players can have a piece of paper with a harp on it rather than a lion and unicorn. Funnily enough none of the players were available for comment. Somehow I don't think any of them could give a flying fuck what passport they carry as long as they get their £20,000 a week.

On the subject of other ball games now and it was a weekend in which two teams in white and red shirts with a red hand logo were in action. One of these teams lifted a cup and the similarly attired team a couple of days later crashed to a humiliating defeat - at the hands of another team in red and white. Yes, I know it's confusing, but Northern Ireland is thst kind of place.
To top off a fantastic season for Irish rugby which saw Ireland securing the Triple Crown and Munster winning the Heineken Cup, Ulster completed the hat trick by winning the Celtic League after a closely fought battle against the Ospreys in Swansea. Well done lads.

Meanwhile that other set of red handers Tyrone set out to defend their All-Ireland title against Derry at Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday. Standing on the terraces getting sunburnt while bearing the brunt of the wind was not a pleasant experience. The less said about that the better.

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