Paddy McCourt can roll with it at Barnsley
If I lean back on my chair and get my neck to settle to the right, there it is – a book called, 'The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw.'
If I lean back on my chair and get my neck to settle to the right, there it is – a book called, 'The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw.'
It's good enough for Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, but not for the world's best snooker players.
Crusaders and Linfield should have been meeting in the County Antrim Shield final at the Oval tonight.
Funny how you can mistake people. Pascal McConnell was one of those players you thought might prove difficult to interview. On the pitch he used his huge frame to intimidate rivals, and his remorseless pokerface reminded you of the Ivan Drago character in Rocky IV.
Duller than Ant without Dec, Wise without Morecambe, Little without Large. You get the point.
Elfin Safety (especially important at Christmas) is said to be the reason football's Co Antrim Shield final, between Linfield and Crusaders at The Oval next month, has been made all-ticket, so much to the Blues' chagrin they have refused to sell a single one.
The biggest football winner at the weekend was BT Sport, who gleefully announced they had signed an exclusive £897m three year deal to broadcast live Champions League and Europa League games from 2015.
Ballinderry Shamrocks knew. Roslea Shamrocks have learned. Crossmaglen Rangers have somehow always known. To win a game in gaelic football's Ulster club championship, you must first earn your stripes.
Did you catch Sir Michael Parkinson's interview with David Beckham this week?
I accept a majority of people in the UK supported the war in Iraq and the one still going on in Afghanistan.
Forgive me – just this once – but I have to say 'I told you so'. Roberto Mancini's job wouldn't have been saved if Manchester City had won the FA Cup, a fact confirmed by the club's chief executive Ferran Soriano, and it didn't matter that Stoke avoided relegation: Tony Pulis was going anyway.
Now that really was a proper game of football on Saturday night, wasn't it? How often do you see that kind of intensity and fitness in the Premier League, with so much goalmouth incident and goalkeeping brilliance? Not very often, I'd bet.
When I left the DW Stadium this day last week -- how vain is it to lead 'your' team out at Wembley and name the stadium after yourself? -- I really didn't give Dave Whelan (pictured) and his Wigan side the remotest chance of winning the FA Cup. They'd been shocking against Swansea. Just goes to show what I know ...
There is no need to put on dark glasses. I’m going to disappoint any readers of the column expecting a tirade of abuse from me about Sir Alex Ferguson.
Sometimes, I really don't get Chelsea fans. Last Thursday night, as their team reached the Europa League Final, the popular song around Stamford Bridge was 'Jose's Coming Home', a cute variation of that 1996 hit 'Football's Coming Home' ... to England for the European Championship of that year.
At different stages over the course of the summer, Tyrone in particular have been accused of actually coaching cynical play.
The officers in all four provincial Councils remind us from time to time of their heavy work-load, particularly in areas relating to the promotion of football and hurling at grassroots level.
There is growing concern within the GAA over the implications of long-term injuries which players sustain on an ongoing basis.
Let's cut to the chase here. All the refereeing inadequacies which have blighted the championship season appeared to be encompassed in Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final between Tyrone and Mayo.
Some county championships may be still in their infancy but already it would seem that a number of the traditional big guns are destined to sample more success in their respective counties.
When, oh when, are we going to get consistency in the administration of discipline within the GAA?
The wheels certainly came off the Donegal wagon in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
The loss of Jamie Clarke is undoubtedly a big blow to Crossmaglen Rangers in their bid to remain as Armagh champions – and that's just for starters.
There is a theory doing the rounds that Dublin manager Jim Gavin is rubbing his hands in advance of what is suggested as being a trouble-free run-in to the All-Ireland title.
How much sleep do you think Rory Best got last Saturday night? Part of it may have been the adrenalin of a final; it is always difficult to settle after a big game particularly when you have come so close to winning.
Yes, it was so disappointing but there was absolutely no shame in Ulster's performance at the RDS.
It must have been something in my waters when I wrote last week that I thought Jonny Wilkinson's boot would play a key role in a Toulon victory in the Heineken Cup final.
Given the ups and downs throughout a season there must be a real sense of satisfaction when you see your team standing tall on top of the league.
Wow. Warren Gatland has always had the ability to shock and surprise, and his Lions squad is no different.
As soon as Joe Schmidt threw his hat in the ring for the Ireland job, there was no need for headhunters or Keith Wood on the interview panel. The job was his.
So it looks like Leinster coach Joe Schmidt is the clear favourite for the Ireland job.
it is hard to describe the level of disappointment at Ulster's loss at the weekend to Saracens.
There are iconic images in sport that are a photographer's, television producer's or viewer's delight.
Ian Hutchinson's majestic win at last month's Macau Grand Prix, on his return from injury and 29 intrusive operations, has been diluted by the shocking news that his Milwaukee Yamaha team are considering a withdrawal from next year's Isle of Man TT.
Tyco Suzuki's Ulster Grand Prix hat-trick hero, Guy Martin, who was recently voted International Road Racer of the Year by leading motorcycle publication Road Racing Ireland, will be in Ballymoney this Saturday, December 7, to launch Stephen Davison's top new book: ROAD RACERS.
World Superbike number 2 Eugene Laverty experienced a torrid opening two days of testing at Jerez with his new team for 2014, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki. While his new team-mate Alex Lowes – the current British Superbike champion – recorded some blistering laps, Laverty spend most of his time in the trackside garage at the Spanish venue – after electronic problems seriously limited his track time.
Despite increased speculation that he would make the switch to MotoGP next season, Monaco-based Ulsterman Eugene Laverty – who finished second in this season's World Superbike Championship – has been confirmed as Crescent Suzuki's number one rider for the 2014 WSB campaign.
British Superbike star Josh Brookes may have left local team Tyco Suzuki for Shaun Muir's Milwaukee Yamaha squad in 2014, but the Aussie will base himself in Northern Ireland for a third consecutive season – having become accustomed to the laid-back life on the Ards Peninsula.
With the recent announcement that Michael Dunlop is no longer being considered as part of Honda Racing's plans in 2014, and his brother William involved in discussions with local team Tyco Suzuki, all the speculation is now linking the Ballymoney man with Shaun Muir's Milwaukee Yamaha team.
It's the beginning of the silly season with more talk of 'who will ride where' in 2014 than reflecting on another superb year for Northern Ireland riders and teams.
World Superbike star Eugene Laverty and top international road racer Michael Dunlop will go head to head for one of local motorcycling's main prizes in January.
Carrick's Alastair Seeley says he will be doing a rain dance prior to this weekend's British Supersport season finale at Brands Hatch in Kent, as the Gearlink Kawasaki ace looks to out-gun local rivals Mar-Train Racing and their championship leader Stuart Easton.
Flemenstar takes another step towards rebuilding his chasing reputation by contesting Sunday's John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown which he won last year.
Phil 'The Power' Taylor, chasing a 17th world darts title, is in the easier half of the draw when battle commences next Friday in the £1million Ladbrokes event, ending on New Year's Day.
IT looks like a case of Ashes-to-Ashes as Australia have their hands around England's neck even at this early stage in their bid to win back the coveted urn. And so they must be backed at 8/11 for an outright series victory.
Sizing Europe has to be opposed as he bids to land the JNwine.com Champion Chase at the Down Royal Festival today.
The Fugue, an unlucky loser when favourite for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mares Turf over 10 furlongs at Santa Anita, returns to the Californian track on an atonement mission tonight.
The New One is the new kid on the block as far as the 2014 Champion Hurdle is concerned.
Chelsea, despite that penalty shoot-out defeat by Bayern Munich in the Super Cup, showed that they will not be easily beaten in the Champions League – never mind on the home front – and make plenty of appeal at 11/1 to repeat their Euro success of two years ago.
Arsenal have finally opened the wallet to buy players, forking out a record £42.4m for Real Madrid's German midfielder Mesut Ozil and adding Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano to their squad.
It didn't take long for the obvious to emerge after the opening games in the Premier League. Easy victories for Man United, Chelsea and Man City confirms the title will not be going anywhere outside that trio.
They may be singular men but Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have, of course, been shaped by rather more than the impetus of their own fierce natures.
If we still had a sliver of doubt, Alex Ferguson has been kind enough to remove it. He has told us, by the somewhat dismissive route of going on American public television, what it's all been about. Guess what? It's all been about Alex Ferguson.
In so many ways the FAI are damned whatever they do in the wake of Old Trap. But then they might just do something which from time to time redeems the most desperate of situations.
There was always a point when the grumpy posturing of Wayne Rooney was going to lapse into the grotesque and the absurd.
Already the rave reviews are tumbling in for David Peace's latest football confection, Red or Dead, a version of Bill Shankly's life, and one of the most fulsome of them concludes: "This isn't a book about the way things were or the way things are. This is about the way things should be."
Let's get this straight, Pepe. If Barcelona had confirmed the rumour of their interest so hungrily seized upon by you and your agent you would have beaten your pal Luis Suarez out of Anfield faster than Speedy Gonzales.
However the affair progresses, Gareth Bale will do us an immense favour if he refrains from dressing up his impending move to Real Madrid as anything other than the seizing of a quite spectacular main chance.
Not for the first time we have to ask a classic question of the manager of Arsenal. However, this time we cannot anticipate, almost word for word, the answer from the man with the furrowed brow and the haunted expression.
It was supposed to be the day Rory McIlroy re-announced himself as one of the greatest – and freest – of golf talents but the more he played, the more he sank into a horror that he could not snap, the clearer it was he needed help.
You can almost touch the band of anger around the young golfer who so recently captivated the world. In the politest way Rory McIlroy makes his point as precisely as he might drill, on one of the better days he is so desperate to rekindle here at the 142nd Open, a perfect drive into the heart of the fairway.
The power to shock has dwindled somewhat since that grey, milky dawn in Seoul in 1988 when we learned that Ben Johnson, having carried us to the stars, had just 48 hours later left us scrabbling in the dirt.
Caroline Garcia, a 19-year from Lyon, was playing the kind of tennis which persuaded Andy Murray that one day she will be the world's No 1.
One of the first questions Gabriel Clarke asked in the latest excellent instalment of ITV4's superb Sports Stories series was 'what's your biggest strength?'.
Another day and another tick on the wall chart of world domination in BT Sport headquarters with the arrival of basketball in the giant shapes and forms of the NBA.
Just when you thought it was safe to turn on a footy show and not have the likes of Boris Becker pop up in an unusual place – never a good thing – Virginia Wade takes centre stage on Match of the Day 2.
Saturday night was, according to Elton John, just fine and dandy for a bit of fisticuffs, but if it's tennis you want then you have to fast forward a couple of evenings.
There's nothing I enjoy more on a Sunday afternoon than pulling on a pair of lycra shorts and settling down to watch sweaty men with massive thighs do their stuff.
I've never really got to grips with facial hair, partly because of my cherubic good looks but mainly as I tend to look like I've just escaped from somewhere.
So, the domestic Scottish football season came to an end on Sunday with Celtic winning the Scottish Cup to land them a double, which was widely expected prior to the final.
Jon Daly has become the first Irish Catholic to sign for Rangers.
With this being my last column of the season, now is the time to name my highlight - it was the return of the mercurial James McFadden to the SPL.
Reading the tributes and listening to people tell their tales of Sir Alex Ferguson over the past week has been inspiring to say the least.
The victory for Hibs in the Edinburgh derby on Sunday was only their second SPL win of the calendar year.
Picking a Manager of the Year this season has been very difficult as so many have had outstanding campaigns.
Lenny v Kenny sounds more like a boxing match than two SPL managers squabbling in the Scottish media about who should be the Player and Manager of the Year.
Af celebrating winning successive SPL titles on Sunday as Celtic manager, Neil Lennon's focus now turns towards the Scottish Cup final and into next season.
Charles Green arrived in a blaze of publicity last May as his consortium bought an ailing Glasgow Rangers, but last Friday his controversial spell as chief executive came to an abrupt end.
A brief history lesson. Pay attention and stick with us.
Around the salons and bars of Ballinderry's Lough Neagh hinterland, they are sweeping up the debris, throwing out the half-eaten sandwiches and taking down the bunting celebrating an Ulster title for the Shamrocks.
Around this time of year, when the action finally finds some reprieve at the fag-end of the club season, the GAA will go into hibernation and navel-gazing mode.
Almost 10,000 people at a club match. Staggering, isn't it? A total of 9,670 souls turned up at the Athletic Grounds, but bear in mind that Kilcoo is not much more than a crossroads with a small population.
It is often said that the modern county player makes huge sacrifices.
Kilcoo manager Jim McCorry is steeling himself for the biggest test of his motivational powers since his inspirational rhetoric snatched the most unlikely of victories for Armagh against Fermanagh 20 years ago.
Observing the top brass of the GAA desperately trying to make things work between themselves and Australia is a painful sight.
Around about this time, there is the usual glut of celebrity sports autobiographies rushed out through the publishing houses in time for the Christmas rush, all intended as stocking fillers for the men in your life.
One of the basic necessities when it comes to selling sport is the prospect of seeing ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
The World Cup draw is tomorrow. Apparently that evil French genius Michel Platini has been over in Rio all week plotting the demise of English football!
I don't know about you, but when I think of Wigan in a sporting context, rugby league springs to mind.
My children play a game with the Belfast Telegraph. They love to check if 'Daddy's photograph' is in it.
Can you believe it is two years since news broke that Gary Speed was dead, having taken his own life?
Saturday will provide the biggest game of the season so far in the Irish League when Linfield travel to Cliftonville.
Neil Lennon was a guest on the Sky show Goals on Sunday recently. There must have been over 100 goals on the programme, and much as I enjoyed watching the action, it was even better hearing the Lurgan man talk about his career and all aspects of the modern day game.
Look out Linfield and Crusaders.... with panto season coming... they're behind you. Cliftonville, that is.
By the time you read this, the opening day of the first Ashes Test will be over.
Christmas time. Back in the mid-2000s. A jam-packed Ards Shopping Centre.