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Adrian Logan: Ireland's sporting legends feted in fine style

I was in the Land of Legends this week. The glittering Texaco Awards had a line-up in Dublin that boasted some of the top sporting stars of the present and the past.

It was a joy to be there to rub shoulders with some of the giants of Irish sport North and South.

When you consider the guest list included the likes of Irish International great Willie John McBride, former world 3,000 metres champion Eamon Coghlan, present Sunderland chief executive and former World Cup star Niall Quinn; some of the greatest GAA players of all time including Jack O'Shea of Kerry and Tyrone's Peter Canavan along with hurling legend Eddie Kehir of Kilkenny and add into the mix the Olympic 1500 metres champion Ronnie Delaney then you get my drift.

It's the fiftieth year of these prestigious awards which makes it the longest-running sponsorship in Irish Sport and it showed all it's class this week.

The O'Reilly Hall in UCD was the venue with the guest of honour Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. I was dleighted to see him hand over the Special Achievment award to Malcolm Brodie.

A sporting legend in his own right, Dr Brodie, a former Sports Editor of the Belfast Telegraph, has attended 13 World Cup finals. No one will ever beat that record. Malcolm was on the first selection body when these awards were introduced five decades ago.

He made a modest speech as always and it was great to hear him tell the assembled group that the best sportsperson he has ever seen from these parts was our own late and great George Best. A fitting reward for a journalist who has given so much back and his award was warmly recived to say the least.

This week Malcolm shared the podium with another sporting hero of mine, Sean Kelly. The greatest cyclist we have ever produced - and that includes the Tour De France winner Stephen Roche - Kelly has already recived the record number of Texaco awards, ten in all, but this week he was honoured rightly with the Hall of Fame. What a great athlete and super sportsman.

Also on the podium was Ireland rugby captain Brian O' Driscoll. It would have been hard to pick out another Irish player to get the award after a desperately disappointing World Cup. Having said that the games at Croke Park earlier in the year were special occasions.

Trent Johnson was a worthy cricket winner after what was a memorable year for him. The victory over Pakistan is something every sports fan will cherish for a long time to come.

David Healy won the football award last year so it was always going to be hard to get it again and the choice this time was Republic Of Ireland defender Richard Dunne. Dunne has done well for his club and country and was an obvious choice in many ways,

At the event I was privileged to be sitting at the same table as a genius known as Aidan O 'Brien. A shy, unassuming man, O'Brien has to be classed as one of the best trainers in the world. He got a great reception when he was rightly acclaimed for his achievements in horse-racing.

It was a night to savour and remember with Padraig Harrington of course getting the golf award. Unfortunaltey he wasn't able to be there but Christy O Connor Jun stepped in to collect the award. Not a bad sub by any stretch of the imagination.

Yes it was one of those nights and as a sports fan it was Christmas come early for me.

Scottish Old Firm far from bankrupt

I was disappointed to see Rangers bow out of the Champions League this week. They are a very good side and worth watching if you ask me. Like Celtic they bring passion and spirit to the modern game of football. It's something sadly lacking from some of the Corporate Plc's masquerading as football teams in this modern era.

Rangers are every bit as good as Celtic - in fact in many ways they are better. Celtic have great determination and commitment but they are lacking on a technical level and that will ultimately cost them in the final phase of the competition.

Rangers were caught out on that front also this week and that sadly is where finance comes in. While Rangers and Celtic are big names in Scotland they are well down the line when it comes to the European pecking order.

It's so much different in the Premiership in England. Why, any amount of teams can win the title. I can think of two or three. Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal. I did leave out Liverpool on purpose. There's as much chance of them winning the Premiership as there is Livingstone knocking Celtic and Rangers off their pedestal.

Now the chances of you even getting to read this are probably slight. I heard a rumour that one of the top editorial sports chiefs in the Telegrapg is a Liverpool fanatic. At least, he has his health. In fact this will probably be my last column!

No, Liverpool may be good in the cup competitions but they are not going to win the league.I know that really annoys their fans but it is the truth. As a Nottingham Forest fan all my life I should know these things!

But despite England being similar to Scotland with the same names every season, we are force-fed by media that the Premiership is the best league in the world. The only people who tell you that are the likes of Sky who are trying to get you to buy their package.

The Premiership has some good teams but some very mediocre ones as well. Some of the games you watch on the telly are really boring and uneventful. So much for the best league in the world!

I know Celtic and Rangers can't match the Russian, American nor South Korean cheque -books but what they lack in silken skills they more than make up for with good, honest, hard work-rate with loads of passion thrown into the mix.

Give me that any day compared to the sterile over-hyped Premiership.

Logan's hero

Hero of the Week has to go To Ballymena and El Syd.

Mr Millar is not only the most powerful man in World Rugby but once again he put his beloved Ballymena on the map with the Legion D'Honour bestowed on him by the French Government.

Nothing fancy with Syd - let's have the cermoney at Ballymena rugby club. What a great gesture!

Syd Millar was a great player for his club, province and his country and has also shown great skills as an administrator.

I know the award from the Fremch Government may be a little bit more important than Logie's Hero of the Week but I know Syd will accept this acknowledgement in the true spirit of sport.

A special gentleman.

Belfast Telegraph


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