Category Archives: Sport

Van Gaal accuses his players of complacency after Everton defeat

Manchester United witnessed another defeat on Sunday (26th April) after losing 3-0 to Everton. The match, held at Goodison Park inflicted a second Premier League loss on Louis van Gaal’s side.

While the game ended in defeat for Manchester United, van Gaal must have been glad that he would not suffer the same fate as his predecessor. David Moyes was famously sacked last April, only ten months into his job, following a 2-0 defeat against Roberto Martinez’s team.

While Manchester United went into Sunday’s match as favourites to win, Gary Neville believes that Everton’s win was aided by a clear, well thought out game plan. He said; “Roberto Martinez prides himself on being a possession manager but today he resigned himself to sitting off a little, and playing a little deeper”.

Martinez celebrates Everton's goal
Martinez celebrates Everton’s goal

Goals from man-of-the match James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas gained Everton their biggest victory against United since October 1984.

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Kevin Mirallas scored Everton’s final goal in their 3-0 triumph over United

Mark Jardine, a Manchester United supporter was at the match. He said: “They (Manchester United) had the majority of ball possession but Everton counter attacked well. Our defence was bad and Everton got an early lead when they scored in the first five minutes”. He added: “It was all downhill from there for United”.

While supporters of the Red Devils are still behind their team, Louis van Gaal accused his players of complacency. He said: “It is the first time that I have seen our motivation, inspiration and aggression was not so high as the opponent”.

Marouane Fellaini missed a golden opportunity to equalise seven minutes into the game. He blazed from over 20 yards but his presence on the team meant United’s attacking sense was predictable. This was highlighted just before half-time when Everton scored for the second time. At half-time van Gaal changed his approach replacing Fellaini with Radamel Falcao. Juan Mata was also substituted at 63 minutes by Di Maria. Mirallas heightened Manchester United’s misery when he scored at 74 minutes, Everton’s third goal.

Manchester United were labelled 'toothless' after their performance on Sunday
Manchester United were labelled ‘toothless’ after their performance on Sunday

The match showed that United need to up their game and the absence of centre midfielder, Michael Carrick exposed their lack of pace up-front.

Safety of North West 200 questioned as injured spectator in critical condition

North West Crash Victim airlifted to hospitalA spectator and rider were airlifted to hospital after a crash involving three motorcycles at the Vauxhall International North West 200 on Saturday.

The crash happened on a straight section of the course between York corner and the Mill Road Roundabout in Portstewart during the opening Superstock race. The injured spectator, Violet McAfee, a mother of one was hit by a bike whilst standing in her neighbour’s driveway.

She was airlifted to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital as was injured rider Stephen Thompson from County Antrim. Both are now in a stable condition.

Austrian racer Horst was also involved in the accident and received treatment in nearby Causeway Hospital in Coleraine. The third rider, Dean Harrison from Bradford escaped injury and was able to take part in the afternoon races.

Picture taken by spectator seconds after crash

GoPro footage from one of the bikes has since been released in which the bike can be seen clipping a curb and skidding down the road. The Superstock race was subsequently cancelled.

The crash has somewhat overshadowed Carrickfergus motorcyclist Alastair Seeley’s achievement of matching the late Robert Dunlop’s record of 15 wins at the event.

Alatair Seeley matches NW record wins

The Tyco BMW racer took two victories on the 8.9 mile triangle course fending off stiff competition to win both the Supersport and the Superbike races. Seeley lost out on a hat trick to Lee Johnston in the afternoon’s Superstock race. Whilst Belfast’s Jeremy McWilliams won the Supertwins race.

The feature Superbike event could have been Seeley’s chance to exceed Dunlop’s record by securing a sixteenth win but the final race was cancelled due to hazardous weather conditions as winds of up to 40mph swept in from the north coast.

Saturday’s accident has once again raised questions about the future of the road race as many argue it is simply too dangerous as over the years 18 riders have died taking part.

However after the practice sessions last Thursday TV personality and motorbike racer Guy Martin criticised the track saying there were too many safety chicanes making the track boring to race.

Martin apologised to race director Mervyn Whyte just before the fateful race on Saturday morning saying the chicanes were, ”a necessary evil.” Whyte was  quick to correct him calling them a ”requirement” helping ensure the safety of participants.

Whyte described Saturday’s crash as a ”freak” incident and promised that a full investigation will be carried out.

Successful Day at the Omagh Rugby 7s

On Saturday 25th April, Omagh Academicals Rugby Football Club hosted their annual Seven’s Tournament.

27 teams from across Ulster competed in four leagues.  The Omagh Accies first team defeated their Omagh 2nd XV counterparts, to win the Campbell Cup.

Omagh Accies XV, Campbell Cup Winners

‘No Woman No Try’, a team of other Omagh players, won the third tier trophy on offer, the PJ Ryan Cup.

No Woman No Try, PJ Ryan Cup Winners

Dungannon took the Watterson Cup back to Stevenson Park, while the ladies of Cooke won the ladies competition, which was hosted for the first time in the tournament’s history.

Dungannon RFC, Watterson Cup Winners
Cooke RFC ladies, Ladies Cup Winners

Visiting teams such as Enniskillen, Clogher Valley, Dungannon and City of Derry joined Omagh Academy and a mix of competitive and social sides from the host club including ‘The Mexicans’, who stood out in their new colours but fielded in their 19th season. The team was captained by Keith Givens, who has played in the team since their first outing in 1996.

The day not only included rugby, but also a beach volleyball tournament, an inflatable bar, DJ and a hot tub which players enjoyed in the beautiful weather.

Beach Volleyball at the 7s Tournament

The evening, which had a lot to live up to, following the great day the many players and spectators had enjoyed, did not disappoint. The Logues played to a packed rugby club and the high spirited Accies celebrated the end of a great season, with the 1st XV winning Kukri Qualifying 2 league, gaining promotion to Qualifying 1 and also making it to the final of the McCall Wylie Junior Cup played at Ravenhill. The 2nd XV won the Crawford Cup and the club has been nominated for the Ulster Branch Club of the Year award.

The club are looking forward to their “off-peak” period with a pre-season tour of Munster planned and the return of the mixed-tag tournament which never disappoints.

Laura’s girls go for gold

 

u19 squad

Netball’s Northern Ireland under 17 squad took on the under 19 national side on Sunday in preparation for the upcoming European championships. Following an impressive warm up, the girls took the court in front of an audience of Netball Northern Ireland officials, family and players. Ahead of the European championships weekend in June both squads have been undergoing intense training and Sunday was a chance to show off their skills and play against tough competition.

The squad will play in front of a home crowd later this month in Lisburn Racquet’s club. However, the under 19s will also be heading to Loughborough the same weekend for the first under 19 championships in four years.

After speaking to head Coach Laura Montgomery, it looks as though they’re going for gold. When asked about her squad Laura had nothing but positive things to say: “I feel very lucky to have such a superb squad with great depth. It will be extremely tough coming off the first under 19 championships in four years but we are well prepared.”

The squad’s goal shooter Caroline Davis made an impressive comeback on Sunday after a major injury. After her performance it looks as though she’s well and truly back in the game. Co-captains Sarah Montgomery and Sophie McLean are also an attribute to the squad after being talent identified to compete in the under 21 world youth tournament in February.

They seem to have the experience required to lead the squad out strong and Laura said; “with them both having such great experience we just couldn’t have split them up.” Hence the decision to appoint the girls as co-captains. Laura also said: “Vice-captain Sinead Redmond is also very competent and the camaraderie together with the squad’s experience and high skill level makes for a great combination to put them in the running towards winning that highly sought-after gold medal.”

With England holding their stake as the toughest competition in the tournament it looks as though the girls are in for a challenging yet exciting weekend. Following such encouraging words from the head coach, let’s hope they can return to Northern Ireland with a gold medal and great memories. Good luck ladies.

North West 200 Launch

NW 200

24/3/2015: Stars of the 2015 Vauxhall International North West 200 pictured with Event Director Mervyn Whyte at the race launch in Titanic, Belfast. (L-R) Jeremy McWilliams, Ryan Farquhar, John McGuinness, Lee Johnston, Maria Costello, Dean Harrison, Michael Rutter, Peter Hickman, Alastair Seeley and William Dunlop. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON PACEMAKER, BELFAST.

Last night I attended the 2015 Vauxhall International North West 200 press launch at the Titanic Quarter, Belfast. With just 47 days to the next NW200 fans and riders alike prepare themselves for the 86th North West 200 road race and Ireland’s largest outdoor sporting event.

The press launch wasn’t just your usual PR event. It was a chance for the riders to engage with the fans, with the aim of making the NW200 as enjoyable as possible for everyone.

It was my first time ever attending such an event and my first feeling of the night was surprise.  I couldn’t believe how relaxed it was, and how humble the riders were.  All the riders seen in the picture above hold amazing racing records yet their humility and clear passion for their fans, as well as the sport, was just astonishing to see. I kept wondering would certain golfing stars of the world be as pleasant and willing among a large group of almost 1,000 fans demanding pictures, autographs and on some occasions much more.

Have a look at this interview with NW200 Director Mervyn Whyte on the reasons why you should come to the NW200, 2015.

The North West 200 name derives from the location of the event on the North West of Ireland, an area of outstanding beauty, ‘200’ was included to keep links to the original race which was run over a distance of 200 miles.

There is no doubt that the NW200 will be a wonderful experience for anyone and in an area of such beauty just adds to the glamour of the event.

For those looking more information on the event visit the NW200’s official website here.  For information on accommodation and other things to do while attending the NW200  visit this site.

 

Frampton beats Avalos in five rounds.

Carl Frampton wins after only five rounds at Belfast Odyssey

Belfast born Carl Frampton defended his IBF super bantamweight title against American rival Chris Avalos in an impressive fifth round stoppage on the 28th April.

The fight was held in Belfast’s odyssey arena which was packed to the rafters with people supporting their champion.  They were not afraid to roar and produced a deafening taunt of ‘Who are ya’ as the opponent entered the ring. Avalos is a worthy competitor with twenty five wins from twenty eight fights.

The lad from Belfast’s Tiger Bay is managed by Northern Irish boxing legend Barry McGuiggan and trained by his son entered the ring with an expected cheer from his audience.

The fight began with both fighters confident to be in the centre on the ring and Frampton managed a short left hook on his opponent.  This did not sit well with Avalos as he was warned by the referee after a tap on the break. Overall the first round was an even one.

Avalos used  his extra six inches of arm length to his advantage in the first moments of round two as he managed some quick jabs against Frampton. However this was soon to stop when he appeared to injure his shoulder, although he did make it to the bell.

The turning point of this match came in round three as Frampton managed to land a storm of left hooks upon his opponent. Avalos did not respond well to this and some may say he lost his composure as he refused to listen to his corner’s instructions when they told him to box from a distance. This worked to Frampton’s advantage as Avalos was left looking tired by the end of the third round. Frampton continued to dominate in round four, although Avalos did secure a hit with Frampton’s chin as the target.

The final round began with Frampton securing a strong right cross which Avalos did not recover from. The Belfast boy continued to batter his opponent and he fell on the ropes. It was only until the referee stepped in did Frampton stop. The round was over within 1 minute and fifty three seconds.

This was a strong win for him as he managed a five round stoppage.  This is not the last we will see from Frampton, who is nicknamed ‘The Jackal’ as he hopes to have a re-match against Englishman Scott Quigg and says, “That is a score I got to settle.”

This match leaves Frampton undefeated in twenty fights with fourteen knockouts.

Follow Carl Frampton on Twitter.

Irish Open 2015: Tournament eclipses all others for Simon Thornton

Newcastle based professional golfer Simon Thornton has confirmed he could be playing in this year’s Irish Open.

Portugal Masters - Day Three
Simon Thornton is eager to play RCD in May.

 

The Royal County Down (RCD) in Newcastle will host the prestigious event in May.

Simon hopes to obtain one of the eight wildcards that would see him playing against Rory McIlroy et al. at the world famous club.

But Thornton’s performance last year could scupper his chances:

“If the RCD were holding the event in any of the last three years then I would have got in no problem but last year I didn’t play as well as I could have”, he said.

Simon explained that all he can do now is wait:

“I have to go through the protocol. You have to ask the European Tour, who during the tournament will take over the golf club.

“I will have people putting for me within the club and I would like to think I would be chosen. I will know sometime within the next month.”

Simon eulogises the RCD which he came to work for 17 years ago:

“I don’t think there is anywhere quite like it in the world of golf. There’s just something different about it, it has a mystique. You can’t describe it, it’s just there.

This is the first major tournament held at RCD for some time. The club last hosted the Irish Open in 1939.

But the Bolton native is quick to dismiss any suggestions that RCD lags behind Royal Portrush in the Northern Ireland golfing scene:

“It’s (Royal Portrush) the most dominant in the way it markets itself. It’s just the way the RCD likes to be, they keep themselves to themselves, they’re more traditional.”

He also suggested that the Newcastle course could hold the British Open in the future, citing its proximity to Belfast, high standard of accommodation and Newcastle’s current renaissance:

“Its certainly a thriving place now and its great. People seem more involved, it’s a real buzzing little town.”

Making History Getty
McIlroy and some well-known faces.

Thornton who travels the world playing in major tournaments feels this one eclipses the rest:

“I will be very disappointed if I don’t get on. It’s not often you get to play in such a prestigious event and in your home golf club.

“With Rory being heavily involved and the quality of the talent that’s coming, it would be unbelievable to play in that, its’s like a major”, he said.

But Thornton says he will not be watching from the sidelines if he is not chosen:

“I wouldn’t be involved. My living is playing golf so if I don’t play in the Irish open I’ll be playing somewhere else. The Czech Challenge tournament is on that week so I won’t even be in the town”.

For more details: https://www.facebook.com/nmdcouncil

 

 

Tyrone shock Roscommon to take place in All-Ireland Under-21 final

Tyrone 0-17 Roscommon 0-12

Tyrone will face Tipperary in the All-Ireland Under-21 football final after a convincing semi-final win on Saturday over Connacht champions Roscommon in Markievicz Park, Sligo.

The Ulster Champions (pictured celebrating their victory over Donegal in the Ulster Final) defeated Roscommon by 0-17 to 0-12, reaching their first All-Ireland final at this level since 2003. It marks a potential upturn in fortunes for the Red Hand County, who have recently struggled at senior level under Mickey Harte.

Manager Fergal Logan (centre) with selectors Peter Canavan (left) and Peter Canavan (right) ©INPHO/Presseye/Lorcan Doherty.

Under the stewardship of manager Fergal Logan, and Tyrone legends Brian Dooher and Peter Canavan, the Under-21 team are now only 70 minutes away from the All-ireland Title. After the game Logan praised the work undertaken at grassroots level to bring Tyrone to this position.

Roscommon were strong favourites coming into the match, but Tyrone’s excellent score-taking ensured they led from start to finish. In particular, Leo Brennan shone with six points, including five from play.

Despite facing the wind in the first half, Tyrone raced into a four points to nil lead, with Brennan, Michael Cassidy and the impressive Cathal MacShane all getting on the scoresheet. Roscommon took until the tenth minute to get off the mark, with Diarmuid Murtagh pointing from a free.

There was little between the teams for the rest of the half but Daniel McNulty’s free in the 32st minute gave Tyrone a comfortable 0-10 to 0-07 advantage at the break.

Brennan and Murtagh swapped scores at the beginning of the second half, before Roscommon substitute Thomas Corcoran kicked a long-range free to bring them within two points of the lead.

Tyrone’s accuracy in front of goal was a constant feature, however, and Brennan and McNulty added to Tyrone’s tally, leaving Roscommon four points behind at 0-14 to 0-10.

Murtagh’s point in the 54th Minute, his sixth, left Roscommon with only a two-point deficit to overcome, but it transpired to be their final score of the game.

Roscommon desperately tried to breach the Tyrone defence but a towering display at full-back by Padraig Hampsey kept them at bay.

At the other end of the field, Tyrone were dominant with Brennan, McNulty and Frank Burns kicking the last three points to ensure their safe passage to the All-Ireland Final on May 2nd.

 18 April 2015

Ulster manage to hold on in Galway

Ulster scored five tries in Galway, as they put provincial rivals Connacht to the sword.

In front of a sold out Sports ground, Ulster maintained second place in the Pro 12, for a couple of hours at least, with a convincing win over Connacht.

Ulster aided by some of their returning Irish internationals scored three tries without reply in the first half, to lead 17 nil at half time. Louis Ludik, and Craig Gilroy all crossed the white wash, with Paddy Jackson pulling the strings in midfield.

Connacht with the aid of a strong breeze and some lax Ulster tackling, scored the first try in the second half. Irish international winger Matt Healy got the westerners back in the game with a fine individual try. Miah Nikora added the conversion and a further penalty to cut the deficit to 17-10.

Ulster immediately replied and extended their lead, when Lions wing Tommy Bowe went over for his second try of the game.  Ruan Pinearr, who seemed to leave his kicking boots at Ravenhill, missed his third conversion from his fourth attempt. Jack Carty then added another Connaught penalty, to keep the score board ticking over and leave Connacht 22-10 down.

Ulster’s relentless work at the breakdown eventually paid dividend. From a driving maul Ulster managed to bundle Rory Best over for his first and Ulster’s fifth try of the day. Pienarr missed the conversion, to leave the away side 27-10 up.

Connacht didn’t give up and after some good work from the forwards, the ball was spread to fullback Tiernan O’Halloran who sprinted over to score Connacht’s second try of the match. Carty kicked the conversion and with just ten minutes to go, Connacht where only a converted try away from drawing the match.

Ulster managed to hang on for a bonus point win and move up to second place in table and into one of the home semi-final spots. Connacht get a losing bonus point, which may turn out to be invaluable in order to finish in one of the automatic Champions Cup positions in the league.

Connacht have a tough run in, facing Glasgow, Ospreys and Zebre in their final three games. Ulster also have a tricky end of season fixture list, having to play Leinster, Munster and Glasgow in the final rounds of the league.

 

 

 

Chris Henry makes his return to a roaring crowd

Chris Henry was the star of the show on Friday night as he made his return to the field. After suffering a mini stroke back in November, it was debatable as to whether he would ever make his return in an Ulster jersey. So in the 58th minute as cheers rang through the Kingspan Stadium, Henry ran onto home ground in an emotional and memorable return to a winning Ulster team.

Chris Henry making his return to the Ulster squad on Friday night
Chris Henry making his return to the Ulster squad on Friday night

The Ulster boys got off to a flying start with Craig Kilroy scoring the first try of the game in the 3rd minute and a conversion giving them a 7 point lead. Ruan Pienaar scored a penalty in the 14th minute followed by Louis Ludik scoring a try. Another penalty for No.9, Pienaar changed the score 18-nill to Ulster in the 30th minute. The first threat came from the Cardiff Blues in the 33rd minute with a foul against Ulster.

The first half of play was halted from 25mins due to injuries. Ulster’s Stuart Olding was stretchered off just four minutes into play with a knee injury. Rhys Pachell, a Cardiff Blue player was later stretchered off with a head injury, for which Nick Williams was handed a yellow card to the dismay of the Cardiff side.

However, the second half got off to a flying start with Cardiff closing the point gap to just four points in the 62nd minute, with a score of 21-17 to Ulster. Ruan Pienaar continued on his winning strike by scoring a penalty before being replaced. Cardiff held onto the ball well in the 67th and 68th minute before another highlight of the game which came from Louis Ludik in the 72nd minute with a magical try as he breezed through Cardiff Blue’s defence.

The final point in the game came from Paul Marshall and was converted by Ian Humphreys taking the final score to 36-17 for a bonus point victory. Ulster succeeded in gaining another five points and in the Guinness Pro12 league. Ulster now take on Connacht on Saturday 11th April.

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Guinness Pro 12 league table