Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 29 October, 2020

THE FIVE YEAR LIMIT on discussing playing rules changes in the GAA will be relaxed if a motion is brought to next year’s Annual Congress and passed.

The GAA’s Central Council has agreed in principle to the initiative.

Currently, a change to playing rules in the GAA can only be adopted once every five years.

Proposed rules are usually trialled in national leagues and college competitions, as seen with the divisive ‘handpass’ rule this year.

Director general of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, expressed his dissatisfaction with the process earlier this year:

What does annoy me somewhat is that we go through this cycle every single time.

Changes are proposed and changes are accepted on an experimental basis and before the trial process has even started we have people – and I have to say managers in particular – expressing views on what’s wrong with them.

Duffy defended the idea of trialling rule changes before they are implemented, though, saying:

[T]he whole idea of trialling changes, which I think is the right way to do it, is you see them in action, see how they work and then make a decision.

We have the same this year – the mark won’t work, let’s keep the hand pass and so on – let’s look at it and see what the effect is before leaping to judgement.

TWO OLD RIVALS WILL renew acquaintances in Dalymount Park this Friday, as Bohemians and Shelbourne square off in the pick of the FAI Cup fourth round fixtures.

Bohemians have endured a traumatic season both on and off the pitch, and will need to avoid a slip-up against a resurgent Shelbourne side.

Shels, despite their poor start to the season, are unbeaten in four matches and have made a recent surge for a promotion spot.

This is the first meeting of the local rivals this season, after Shels beat Dublin Bus and Bohs beat Glenville in the third round.

Another interesting tie is in store up the road in Santry, as holders Sporting Fingal host Limerick, currently placed third in the First Division. Another local derby will be played in Galway as Galway United host Salthill Devon for the first time.

Non-league Belgrove will hope to upset St Pats, while Longford will also attempt to shock Shamrock Rovers at home in Flancare Park.

Here’s a list of upcoming fixtures:

Galway United v Salthill Devon
UCD v Derry City
Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers
Bohemians v Shelbourne
Cork City Foras Co-op v Monaghan Utd
Longford Town v Shamrock Rovers
St Patrick’s Athletic v Belgrove
Sporting Fingal v Limerick

CONTROVERSIAL SOUTH AFRICAN runner Caster Semanya is facing a backlash from beaten competitors after her win in the 800 metres in Berlin, with one Canadian runner claiming that she was “literally running against a man”.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Canada’s Diane Cummins, who finished fifth in Sunday’s race, says athletes feel frustrated they cannot give their opinion about Semenya because they risk being seen as “bad sports.

Cummins says:

Unfortunately for Caster, she’s grown up in an environment that is complicated not just for her but for human science. Basically, is she man, is she lady? What constitutes male, what constitutes female?

Even if she is a female, she’s on the very fringe of the normal athlete female biological composition from what I understand of hormone testing. So, from that perspective, most of us just feel that we are literally running against a man.

Ghanaian radio station Peace FM carries the news that a former coach of Semenya’s has responded to the criticism.

Michael Seme, who coached the South African to the world title a year ago, says:

It’s up to them to say and do what they want to. For us we don’t say anything. As long as the organisers of these meetings invite us, there is no problem.

People are people and they will say things, but good luck to them. We have no problem. If these athletes don’t want to come and run, it’s up to them.

Asked whether Semenya was affected by their remarks, he said: “No, no, no. We don’t even care about the past now. We’re just looking forward to new things and shouldn’t be talking about the old ones. That is now over and gone.”

SPANISH GOLFER MIGUEL Angel Jimenez is to play in Gleneagles this weekend at the Johnnie Walker Championship in a bid to boost his Ryder Cup credentials.

Jimenez had previously stated that he would not play in Gleneagles as he was to attend his nephew’s wedding, but will now play after Peter Hansson’s narrow Czech Open win over the Spaniard pushed him down to the ninth automatic qualification spot for the Ryder Cup.

Ross McGowan, Simon Dyson and Alvaro Quiros could all still overtake the 46-year-old Spanish golfer and claim an automatic qualification spot.

“Basically Miguel feels that this is quite likely to be his last opportunity to play in the match” Jimenez’s manager Sarah Phillips told BBC Sport.

Phillips added:

He looked at the points situation on his flight back to Malaga [from the Czech Open] and then texted me to say he was going to play. It’s sod’s law that one of the players who can pass him would do so if he wasn’t there, so he wants to give himself the best opportunity.

LEGENDARY QUARTERBACK BRETT Favre made his NFL comeback  with the Minnesota Vikings after one of the longest transfer sagas in recent NFL history.

The Mississippi native made a brief cameo in the Vikings’ pre-season 15-10 defeat against the San Francisco 49ers, spiking NBC ratings overnight.

Favre will be 41 next month, and has delayed his retirement for one year to play with the Vikings- whom he led to within one game of the Superbowl last year. Favre also won one Superbowl- XXXI in 1997- with the Green Bay Packers.

The former Packers, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons player has been selected in the Pro Bowl team eleven times in an eighteen-year career.

“The expectations are high here, as they should be,” Favre told The Guardian when he announced his new Vikings contract, “from my standpoint, I can’t make any guarantees, never would. I’m just going to do everything I can to help this football team. I spoke with the guys this morning. I think they know I’m sincere and honest. The bottom line is winning. I’m not here to set any records. People say:  ‘You can do this, you can do this.’ I’ve done it all. There’s nothing left to prove. I’m here to have fun and help these guys win.

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UNSETTLED MANCHESTER CITY goalkeeper Shay Given has been urged to move away from Eastlands by former team-mate Steven Ireland.

Given was left on the bench again last night as his rival Joe Hart won more plaudits in the win over Liverpool last night.

“I would like to see Shay go,” revealed Ireland, “he needs to be playing every week.

The newly-signed Aston Villa midfielder continued, claiming that Given is “far too good to be left sitting on the bench. He is a brilliant person and the best goalkeeper I have ever played with. He deserves first team football.”

Ireland international goalkeeper Given has been the subject of much rumour regarding his proposed move away from Manchester, with Arsenal and Fulham among the clubs widely said to be interested.

Despite enjoying a fine 2009/10 season for club and country, Given has found himself playing reserve ‘keeper to Joe Hart at the City of Manchester Stadium this season.

City manager Roberto Mancini has been quick to get rid of other players who he deemed unnecessary this summer: including the aforementioned Steven Ireland and new Cardiff loanee Craig Bellamy.

Irish international winger, Tommy Bowe, has been named the Magners League player of the year for his outstanding season with Welsh side, Ospreys.

The award is Bowe’s fourth of the season, after the Monaghan man was previously named Welsh domestic players’ player of the year, Six Nations player of the year and Irish international player of the year.

“This is a great honour, especially as the votes have come from the other players in the Magners League” Bowe told BBC Sport.

Bowe, formerly of Ulster, has 32 international caps and 75 points for Ireland. His tries include the winners against Wales in the 2009 Six Nations and against Australia in last year’s Autumn test series.

SIR ALEX FERGUSON could face a fine of £1,000 per week if he refuses to end his boycott of BBC interviews after games. Ferguson has not spoken to the BBC since a 2004 documentary about his agent son, and the Premier League say the broadcaster is entitled to an interview.

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HE’S ALREADY served a six-month jail sentence for assault – and now Joey Barton is in more hot water over what appeared to be a Nazi salute as part of a goal celebration.

Barton scored the first of Newcastle’s six goals in a home thumping of Aston Villa yesterday, but seemed to cap off his celebration by putting his fist to his moustache and offering a fascist-style straight-armed salute as he wheeled away.

Barton later explained that his gesture was meant to imply that his moustache was about to be shaved off – which it was, immediately after the game, in the St James’ Park dressing rooms.

I was simply saying the moustache goes. It was either the end of the moustache or my relationship, so I’m relieved.

His manager, Chris Hughton, was satisfied the gesture was innocently-intended having seen TV replays afterward.

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THE DOCTOR who treated Harlequins winger Tom Williams for a faked injury in the 2009 Heineken Cup quarter-final with Leinster – dubbed ‘Bloodgate’ – has admitted to cutting the player’s lip in order to pass off a fake blood capsule being a genuine blood injury.

Harlequins had used all five of their permitted substitutions in the tense quarter-final against Leinster, which the Irish side won 6-5 on their way to European glory, when Williams was taken off for a ‘blood substitution‘, appearing to bleed heavily from his mouth.

It later transpired that Williams had faked an injury and been administered a capsule of fake blood by Williams and the team’s physio, Steph Brennan, in order to be taken off the pitch – so that a specialised kicker could come on, with the match in its dying moments and with the hosts without a kicker when lying just a point behind.

Chapman – who had already been banned from having any role in activity within the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the European Rugby Council (ERC)’s competitions for four months, on appeal after an initial twelve-month ban – today admitted to a medical inquiry investigating her conduct that she cut William’s lip afterwards, in order to pass off the injury as genuine.

Williams had admitted after the incident came to light that he had twice asked Chapman to cut his lip in the changing room, after match officials and Leinster backroom staff had questioned the validity of his injury.

Chapman, who is already suspended from practice as a result of the hearing, may now face being struck off the medical register entirely if found guilty of misconduct by the General Medical Council.

The incident already left Harlequins’ director of rugby Dean Richards banned from the game for three years, after it emerged that he had ordered similar fake blood capsules to be used on four other occasions. Richards has since resigned.

Brennan was given a two-year suspension from the game.

THE MANCHESTER CITY exodus continues. First Craig Bellamy, then Stephen Ireland, and while Shay Given still ponders over a move, Turkish side Beşiktaş have announced a £16m (€19.5m) bid for wantaway Brazilian striker Robinho, with a potential £10m more in add-ons.

IT’S BEEN FIFTEEN YEARS SINCE Dublin and Cork last met in the All-Ireland championship, with Dublin winning out in the All-Ireland semi-final on their way to the 1995 All-Ireland title.

It seems strange to comprehend that in the fifteen years since, neither side has managed to claim Sam Maguire – in fact, Dublin haven’t even made a final since their victory in 1995, while Cork have fallen to Meath and then, repeatedly, their foes from Kerry.

But with the Kingdom and the last decade’s other collosus, Tyrone, both out of the tournament at this semi-final stage, the incentive to get to the All-Ireland final this year is even greater: with either Down or Kildare remaining in the other side of the draw, the chances are that the victor of Sunday’s clash will be firm favourites to claim overall glory.

First of all, of course, the sides have to get over each other – and, having not met in the Championship since ’95, there is not a massive amount of familiarity between the teams. Sure, they have met in the National League most years, but the makeup of the squads – and the tempo of the game, which reaches frightening ferociousness when it comes to summer – is an entirely different beast.

Cork though, in particular, will feel that this ought to be there year. The Rebels went into the summer as favourites to take their first All-Ireland for 20 years, having made two finals in the last three years only to lose to Kerry both times.

A new era without Pillar and pillars

Dublin, on the other hand, have always flattered to deceive: while Leinster titles are ten aplenty for the metropolitans over the last five years, the Blues – under Paul ‘Pillar’ Caffrey, at least – never seemed to be able to hold out when faced with sterner opposition from outside the province.

Cork are undoubtedly the more experienced of the two teams, having been down this September road a few times already. But while the players have undoubtedly cut their teeth already, they haven’t performed to their usual level thus far.

The Rebels fell short after a replay to Kerry in the Munster semi-final, having struggled to overcome Limerick before that, and not being particularly emphatic in any of their outings since.

Dublin, meanwhile, are a team in transition, missing the likes of Ciarán Whelan and Jason Sherlock that were ever-present over the last fifteen years. Sherlock was the last man of the current squad to have played in 1995; without him, however, the squad seems to have found a new cohesion and bottle.

The Dublins of old, having gone behind to Tyrone as they did in their quarter-final, would have spluttered a resistance but ultimately succumbed. This year, having had a more intense summer following their Leinster departure to Meath, Dublin have become more battle-hardened.

They have yet to encounter the likes of Cork, though, and one suspects that the team that simply shows up with more heart on the day will be the one that books itself a ticket to Croke Park for the third Sunday in September – and can claim to have one hand already on Sam.

GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship: Semi Final – Dublin v Cork, Sunday 3:30pm, Croke Park
GAA Football All-Ireland Minor Championship: Semi Final – Mayo v Tyrone, Sunday 1:30pm, Croke Park

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND stand-in boss Marco Tardelli has named the team’s 25-man squad for the first two Euro 2012 qualifiers, away to Armenia and home against Andorra.

Tardelli, standing in for Giovanni Trapattoni who was released from hospital earlier this week after a bout of food poisoning, said the side went into the back-to-back qualifiers next month “well-prepared and confident, having held a successful training camp in May and played a number of competitive and challenging friendly matches over the summer.

“Playing Armenia in Yerevan will be a tough test for the team but when we return to play our first competitive home game four days later, we hope to go to Aviva stadium having made a positive start to the campaign.”

The squad includes no new faces, with all 25 of the players having previously appeared at least once in a green shirt.

Goalkeepers: Shay Given, Keiren Westwood, Joe Murphy.

Defenders: John O’Shea, Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger, Greg Cunningham, Kevin Foley, Stephen Kelly, Paul McShane , Darren O’Dea, Kevin Kilbane.

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Midfielders: Glenn Whelan, Darron Gibson, Paul Green, Liam Lawrence, Aiden McGeady, Andy Keogh, Damien Duff, Keith Fahey, Keith Treacy.

Forwards: Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long.

CRYSTAL PALACE have officially come out of recession after seven months.

The club went into administration in January, after the club’s former owner and chairman Simon Jordan was unable to pay the player’s wages, having run into liquidity problems after a botched attempt at selling the club.

Ironically, Jordan himself saved the club from administration when he took over in 2000.

Now, however, the club’s administrator Brendan Guilfoyle has given Palace the all-clear – meaning that the Football League has also lifted a transfer embargo it had put on the club last summer for not making a transfer payment.

The club only just about manager to avoid relegation from the Championship after incurring a ten-point penalty as a result of the administration proceedings, with a last-day draw at Sheffield Wednesday keeping the Eagles flying for another year.

Palace have now been taken over by a supporters’ consortium, CPFC 2010, which has bought the club and its Croydon training facility.

The new owners and manager, George Burley, hope to celebrate the green light by attracting former Dutch captain Edgar Davids to Selhurst Park for the remainder of the season.

“It is not going to be a financial thing with Edgar, it is a challenge for him and one he is seriously considering,” Burley told the BBC.

“Hopefully he does come because it would certainly be an interesting scenario if he joined us and the players would certainly like to see it happen.”

Davids is currently a free agent, and played for Tottenham Hotspur for two years in the middle of the last decade. He is understood to be negotiating a pay-as-you-play deal with the club.

CORK HAVE MADE three changes ahead of Sunday’s mouthwatering do-or-die All-Ireland football semi-final against Dublin.

Announcing the team tonight, chief Conor Counihan returned John Miskella to the corner-back berth, with Alan O’Connor returning ti pratner Aidan Walsh in midfield.

Donnacha O’Connor has also been named at corner-forward. Jamie O’Sullivan, Colm O’Neill and Derek Kavanagh, all of whom started the Rebels’ quarter-final win over Roscommon, miss out.

The Cork team may not be the exact one that lines out, however; Counihan had earlier pointed out that he was naming a team purely because he was required to do so, and was still awaiting fitness tests on two players before settling on his final choices.

Dublin named their side yesterday with just one change from the 15 that beat Tyrone: Cian O’Sullivan is given the nod in the half-back line, having performed brilliantly when coming off the bench in that game, and replacing Barry Cahill.

The winners of Sunday’s semi-final play Down or Kildare in the All-Ireland decider.

A Quirke;
R Carey, M Shields, J Miskella;
N O’Leary, G Canty, P Kissane;
A O’Connor, A Walsh;
P Kerrigan, P O’Neill, P Kelly;
D Goulding, C Sheehan, D O’Connor;

S Cluxton;
M Fitzsimons, R O’Connell, P McMahon;
K Nolan, G Brennan, C O’Sullivan;
R McConnell, M D Macauley;
N Corkery, A Brogan, B Cullen;
D Henry, E O’Gara, B Brogan

ASTON VILLA have drawn 1-1 with Rapid Vienna in the first leg of their UEFA Europa league qualifier tonight in Austria, with Scotsman Barry Bannan on target for the visitors. Kevin MacDonald’s side played with great guile, despite missing nine first-team players.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR could face an ignominious premature exit from the UEFA Champions League after an embarrassing 3-2 defeat against BSC Young Boys of Bern in the first leg of their qualifier last night.

But the biggest talking point online last night wasn’t the football.

Instead, it was  the inevitable gags about the unusual name of Spurs’ opponents – as well as the fact that Young Boys play at the, ahem, Wankdorf stadium.

Here’s our (publishable) pick of how bad it got on Twitter:

On, meanwhile…

  • ntlbell: spurs could put these young boys to bed now
  • baldshin: Wonder if they’ll swap shirts after?
  • Mr.Nice Guy: If you allow Young Boys get on top of you you’re in trouble.
  • Raskolnikov: My favourite commentary moment from the first half from the Sky commentator: ”Can the Young Boys keep it up?”.
  • Nailz: Young Boys are toying with them
  • abouttobebanned: Has Harry Redknapp been watching any videos of young boys?

None of the jokes could come close, however, to Soccernet’s news piece about Young Boys’ new stadium being opened in 2005.

Spurs welcome Young Boys to White Hart Lane for the return leg in a week’s time.

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NICOLAS ANELKA has been handed an 18-match ban as a result of his vocal falling-out with then-manager Raymond Domenech at the World Cup – despite having already retired from international football. Patrice Evra was given a five-match ban, Franck Ribéry three.

LEINSTER RUGBY have confirmed that they will play two games at the Aviva Stadium this autumn: their home Magners League game versus Munster on Saturday 2 October, and their home Heineken Cup pool match against ASM Clermont Auvergne on Saturday December 18.

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INTERNATIONAL EXILE Stephen Ireland looks set to be confirmed as an Aston Villa player later today, with the former Ireland international midfielder moving to Villa Park as part-exchange for the signing of James Milner.

Oliver Kay of the London Times has reported on Twitter that Villa have given Milner permission to travel to Eastlands to undergo a medical exam prior to his signing a multi-year deal with City.

With City having already shelled out £22.5m (€27.3m) for Italian midfielder Mario Balotelli, the Blues baulked at Villa’s £25m valuation of Milner and instead opted to offer Ireland as a part-exchange to finalise the deal.

Kay tweeted that the fee for Milner had been agreed at £18m, including potential add-ons based on City’s performance over the coming years, with Ireland to move in the opposite direction.

Milner’s departure, while a good financial move for Villa with the midlands club having signed the player for just £12m from Newcastle last summer, means the Villans have now lost both their manager and best player in the space of a week.

City have also seen Craig Bellamy leave the club this morning, with the Welsh striker moving to Cardiff on a season-long loan, while Balotelli has agreed to swap shirt numbers with Irish international defender Greg Cunningham.

Cunningham had worn the number 45 shirt coveted by Balotelli, who wore that number at Inter Milan, and has agreed to take the number 22 shirt formerly held by Richard Dunne, who himself moved from City to Villa last year after a nine-year tenure.

MANCHESTER CITY bad boy Craig Bellamy has joined Cardiff City on a season-long loan, spurning the advances of Everton who had tried to pull together the money to attract the Welsh striker to Goodison Park.

Bellamy’s move was agreed the clubs this morning, and sees the forward also shun the hopes of Tottenham, Fulham and Sunderland, all of whom were understood to be keen to sign the player.

It is understood that City were not keen to allow the striker move to one of their Premier League rivals, particularly Spurs who are likely to be one of City’s main rivals for a top-four finish this season.

News of the move broke first by Twitter, with Cardiff forward Jay Bothroyd – likely to be Bellamy’s main strike partner for the year – tweeting:

Bellamy signed….!!!!! It’s real

The surprise move follows rumours that Bellamy was considered quitting the game entirely after being told by City boss Roberto Mancini that he would not be likely to figure in the Citizens’ 25-man Premier League squad.

The striker’s relationship turned sour afterward, with Bellamy reportedly banned from City’s training ground as the manager actively tried to offload the player.

Bellamy is a native Cardiffian, and his wife and two children already lived in the city. He began his youth footballing career just across the English border with Bristol Rovers, however.

The club becomes the ninth Bellamy will have played for in his senior career.

THEY MAY ONLY have grabbed half as many as Chelsea managed against West Brom, but Manchester United have kicked off their Premier League campaign with a slick 3-0 home win over Newcastle United. Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs – in his 21st top-flight season – were the scorers – and it should have been more with Wayne Rooney unable to score for his 13th consecutive came.

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THERE MAY BE about €290m of debt on Liverpool’s books, but every little helps – and the club will be glad to hear that it’s in line for a $700,000 (€545,000) payout as part of the first ever World Cup performance compensation fund.

FIFA’s fund – making its inaugural payouts – is intended to compensate clubs whose players are kept on international duty as a result of their countries’ performances at the World Cup, having been agreed as part of the G14 disbandment.

The payout sees Liverpool take the third-highest prize as a result of their players’ performances – the Reds are rewarded for the performances of Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt who both made it to the World Cup Final with Spain and the Netherlands respectively.

Javier Mascherano (Argentina, quarter-finals) and the English trio of Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Jamie Carragher (round of 16) also contributed to the club’s award.

Liverpool’s award is bettered only by those given to Barcelona, who employ a large contingent of the Spanish squad, and Bayern Munich, who have a similar role with the German national side that finished third.

Chelsea will receive a payment of about €463,000 while Arsenal will receive €435,000. Manchester United will receive just €233,000 with goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar the only player to make it past the quarter-finals.

THREE DAYS AFTER demolishing the same opponents in a four-day match, Ireland have defeated the Netherlands by 70 runs in the first of two one-day internationals at Clontarf. Andrew White took four wickets for 10 runs, while Gary Wilson struck an impressive 113.

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SHE’S ALREADY taken the silver at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest but Grainne has another hurdle on her hands this week.

The swimming star will, like thousands of others across the country, be receiving her leaving cert results on Wednesday. Grainne told her mother yesterday that, she felt she already had brought home the prize. The swimming star spends six hours a day training and has split her exams over two years to allow her pursue the sport. The 17-year-old will receive the results of three exams this week.

Although Grainne’s passion is in the pool, her mother wants her to do well in her exams too.

Grainne returned home today and their was a heroes welcome at Dublin Airport where friends and family gathered to cheer her success.

Speaking on Today FM this afternoon Murphy said she never expected to win at her first European championships.

DUSTIN JOHNSON was left heartbroken after a questionable referee’s ruling on the final hole of the USPGA championship cost him two strokes – and a chance to win his first Major.

Johnson only needed to stay level on the par-4 18th hole but sliced his drive into the crowd, where the ball landed on a bare patch of ground surrounded by spectators.

With the ground being quite bare around the spot on which his ball had landed, Johnson assumed the piece was just considered a rough patch and shot on – only to be informed afterwards that the moderately sandy ground was considered a bunker.

Johnson went on to rescue a 5 and enter a three-way play-off – or so he thought, until he was informed by a course referee that he had incurred two penalty strokes by breaching the rules of bunker play.

In designated bunkers, golfers are not allowed to rest their club on the sand’s surface before striking at the ball – but Johnson, unaware of the area’s classification, rested his club twice as he addressed the ball and incurred a penalty.

As a result, Johnson fell from a play-off to a tie for fifth – leaving Germany’s Martin Kaymer and big-hitting American Bubba Watson to contest the play-off alone, which Kaymer won on the third hole.

Afterwards, Johnson said he simply did not know that the area was considered a sand trap, remarking that the area had already been so trampled by spectators – who do not walk on the course itself during play – that he simply thought he had missed the fairway.

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There are over 1,200 bunkers on the Whistling Straits course, and not all are considered in play – raising the question of how many other golfers committed the same ‘foul’ with no penalty.

[caption id="attachment_11995" align="alignnone" width="383" caption="Johnson is informed by a course referee of his two-stroke penalty."]Johnson is informed by a course referee of his two-stroke penalty.[/caption]

On Twitter, fellow golfers Ian Poulter, John Daly and Stewart Cink all leapt to Johnson’s defence. Poulter said he had not observed any notice in the changing rooms which was meant to inform golfers of the bunker classifications, while Cink said the course’s managers should reconsider the “bunker-ish features”.

Daly queried whether the areas considered as bunkers were manicured and maintained in the manner that more obvious sand traps would be, following up on Poulter’s observation that there were only 100 rakes on course to tend to the 1,200+ sand traps.

Ireland’s Rory McIlroy also missed out on a playoff, though was content to record his second consecutive third-place finish in a Major tournament.

After the weekend’s proceedings, both Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods will require captain’s wildcard picks in order to make the European and United States’ Ryder Cup teams respectively.

FORMER ARGENTINA MANAGER Diego Maradona has reportedly declared his interest in the Aston Villa job left vacant after Martin O’Neill’s shock resignation last week.

A spokesperson for Maradona said he is currently in talks with a number of European clubs, but would be very happy at a big club like Aston Villa.

Maradona and his national side parted company last month, when the Argentine Football Association said it would not renew his contract. The Argentine legend had coached the team to the quarter-finals of the South African World Cup this summer.

A range of managers including USA coach Bob Bradley and Ajax boss Martin Jol have been linked to the Villa job. Kevin McDonald is standing in as caretaker manager. The team’s opening season game was against West Ham, which they confidently beat 3-0.

IRISH SWIMMER GRÁINNE Murphy has taken the silver medal in the women’s 1500 metre freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships.

Seventeen-year-old Murphy from Wexford held the silver-medal position throughout the race to finish on 16:02:09, breaking the Irish record.

Ahead of the race, BBC’s correspondent Ollie Williams wrote:

One name worth watching out for in the women’s 1500m freestyle final is Grainne Murphy. She’s 17, from Ireland, and has been putting a host of bigger names to shame this week.

Denmark’s Lottie Friis, who took the 800m gold on Thursday, led from the start after a strong break.

Murphy had led and easily won her qualifying round for the 1500m final yesterday, after narrowly missing out on a medal in the 800m final. She withdrew from the 200m butterfly event to concentrate fully on the freestyle final.

Ireland’s Barry Murphy missed the cut for the men’s 50m freestyle after finishing 29th in today’s heats. The Dubliner will be back in the water again this evening for the men’s 50m breaststroke final.

THE PREMIERSHIP SEASON gets underway today with Tottenham playing Man City at White Hart Lane.

Tomorrow, it’s Liverpool against Arsenal.

As the season opens, looks ahead to the Premiership League of 2010-11 with some top soccer prediction lists:

The Guardian presents its predictions for the coming season here. The panel are almost evenly divided between backing Man U and Chelsea for the title. Although, Man City was given a few nods, too.

Football365‘s team is equally divided over who will take the trophy, and run through their top picks for best player, best new arrival, and which manager is most likely to quit first – apart from Martin O’Neill.

Sky Sports considers how managers will fare through the coming months and outlines the main issues they face in their role. Sky says the average tenure of a Premiership manager is under four years, much higher than for managers of the other three leagues. Alex Ferguson sits well above that average – he’s heading into his 25th year with Man United.

BBC Sports has taken on the Herculean task of predicting every single game for the next nine months. The first batch are already up on the site, with Spurs fancied to beat Man City 2-1. has taken a similar approach, and will be providing team news and live match commentary for each Premiership game.

The Independent has broken the season down into ten sections, and approaches each as a question, for example: “Will Arsenal’s patience finally pay off?” The paper also nominates ten newcomers to watch out for throughout the season.

And if you’d rather make your own predictions, there’s always fantasy football.

WITH KILKENNY ALREADY assured of their whereabouts on the first Sunday of September – in Croke Park, as they have been for the last four deciders – this week the attention turns south with Waterford and Tipperary doing battle in the second semi-final.

Both will be seeking a measure of revenge. For Tipperary a victory would set up a repeat of last year’s spellbinding All-Ireland final in which the Premier held Kilkenny point-for-point until a questionable penalty decision ten minutes from time gave Kilkenny the chance to get their noses in front and remain there.

For Waterford, their own All-Ireland story was a slightly less evenly-matched one. Some of the Déise’s more longstanding soldiers – the likes of Eoin Kelly, Ken McGrath and John Mullane, for example – don’t feel like they’ve played in an All-Ireland final.

The reason, of course, is that although they showed up for the 2008 decider, they didn’t really play – or rather, they weren’t given a chance. In probably the greatest display of hurling ever, Kilkenny put 3-30 past the Déise, who themselves could only muster 1-13. Such was Kilkenny’s dominance – they shot, amazingly, just three wides – that Kilkenny’s manager Brian Cody was given the Man of the Match award.

Unbeaten side starts as underdog

Of course, the sides first have to deal with each other, and Sunday’s game looks set to be a contest more akin to Tipperary’s final than Waterford’s, with two strong sides both desperate for another shot at hurling’s biggest occasion.

Waterford, despite being unbeaten for the summer so far, go in as underdogs for Sunday’s game. Having stuttered up front against Clare and needing two attempts to beat Cork in the Munster final, it’s generally held that Waterford will struggle to find the firepower they’ll need to put a sufficient score on the board.

Tipperary, on the other hand, have momentum on their side. Despite having taken the long way back around to Croke Park – going out of Munster at the first hurdle to the same Cork who left Croker with their tails firmly hanging between their legs last week – Tipperary have found their form on the road, culminating in an awesome late finish to get past a gallant Galway in the quarter-finals.

Their own Eoin Kelly is in better form up front than his Waterford namesake, and with the likes of Lar Corbett on fire, Shane McGrath back in midfield and Conor O’Mahony a rock in defence, Tipp would appear to have a little more balance.

Realistically few people can see Waterford remaining unbeaten for the season – despite there only being three teams left, they’re still a massive 16/1 to lift the Liam MacCarthy – so even if the Déise were to win on Sunday, their chances of seeking revenge for the 2008 mauling seem slimmer.

Tipperary, if they can only scrape by, may also be seen as lambs to the slaughter. It would do hurling much good if Tipperary were to win, and win well – or else Kilkenny may as well be given Liam now to save everyone the bother of showing up on September 5.

In the minor semi-final, a sprightly Dublin side take on Clare for the right to flirt with Kilkenny’s underage crop in what could well be a similarly one-sided final.

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship: Semi Final – Tipperary v Waterford, Sunday 3:30pm, Croke Park
GAA Hurling All-Ireland Minor Championship: Semi Final – Dublin v Clare, Sunday 1:30pm, Croke Park

IRELAND HAVE THRASHED the Netherlands with a day and a half remaining in their ICC Intercontinental Cup match in Rathmines. The hosts won the four-day match with an innings and 84 runs to spare, held in no small way by an Andrew White and John Mooney partnership of 221.

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IRELAND’S GRAINNE MURPHY has won her heat in the women’s 1500m freestyle competition and has easily qualified for tomorrow evening’s final. Murphy led from start to finish in a strong performance and will be seen as a strong prospect to win Ireland’s first medal in Budapest.

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FABIO CAPELLO HAS effectively spelt the end of David Beckham’s career with the England football team, saying he will not be including him in his plans for the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

After watching his side defeat Hungary 2-1 in a friendly at Wembley last night, in England’s first game since the ignominious 4-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup, Capello said he saw no place for the 35-year-old in his qualification squad.

His usual spot on the right wing of midfield was filled by both Theo Walcott and Adam Johnson, both of whom played impressively in the victory.

“I saw four young players tonight,” the Italian said. “This is the future of the team under Fabio Capello or another manager.”

But asked if the LA Galaxy midfielder could hope to compete against the likes of Walcott (21) and Johnson (23), he told the BBC: “No, I need to change it. David is a fantastic player but I think we need new players for the future.”

Capello said, however, that Beckham could be named for a future home friendly, if he can return to full fitness, so that England fans would have a chance to “say goodbye”.

Beckham’s agent has insisted his client will not retire from international football and would always make himself available for his country if the manager called him back to the team.

The former Manchester United player has played 115 times for England – a record for an outfield player – including 100 starts, and has scored 17 times – most famously against Greece to book England’s place in the 2002 World Cup.

Beckham played in 16 of the first 21 games under Capello, but has not featured since tearing his left Achilles tendon while on loan at AC Milan in March.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has joined those paying tribute to Beckham’s international career, calling him “an incredible role model in sport”.

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI last night asked if FIFA had changed the rules of the offside law after seeing Ángel di María’s controversial first-half lob defeat a plucky Ireland side at the opening international at the Aviva Stadium.

Speaking to his assistant, stand-in coach Marco Tardelli, on the phone from his hospital bed after undergoing stomach surgery, Trapattoni queried why di María’s 20th-minute goal had been allowed to stand, despite the winger being offside when the ball was passed on by Gonzalo Higuain.

After the game, Tardelli told reporters that while he and Trapattoni were frustrated with the decision, “we must pay attention in those moments because it is impossible to concede a goal from the long pass from the goalkeeper.”

Trapattoni was said to be pleased with Ireland’s second-half performance, however, with his young side showing far more temerity and attacking nous than in the opening 45 minutes.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Ireland seemed to do best after Argentine star Lionel Messi was substituted on the hour mark.

The goal was the story of the night, however, with Ireland keeper Shay Given and captain Robbie Keane – celebrating his hundredth appearance in the green shirt – leading the protests to the linesman after di María’s effort was adjudged legal.

The protests had echoes of the infamous Thierry Henry handball in Paris last November – an occasion that reared its head when UEFA president Michel Platini, in town to visit the stadium holding this year’s Europa League final, was shown on the big screens only to be met with vicious jeers.

By comparison, the appearance of Johnny Giles was welcomed with hearty cheers, while Kenny Dalglish was also greeted with firm applause.

Trapattoni is expected to be released from hospital at the weekend and will be fully fit to take charge of the side’s next engagements, back-to-back Euro 2012 qualifiers against Armenia and Andorra.

TWO CHINESE international figure skaters, who are marrying next month, have caused domestic controversy by proposing to marry in the form of a skating performance – and for charging for tickets to the ceremony. Entry to the all-ticket event will cost 1,080 yuan, or €122.

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IRELAND BOSS Giovanni Trapattoni will undergo a stomach operation this afternoon, according to the Football Association of Ireland.

The FAI said this lunchtime that the 71-year-old manager had been complaining overnight of abdominal pain, having been hospitalised in the early hours of Tuesday morning with nausea and vomiting.

It is understood that the pain is being caused by the rupture of scar tissue left behind from a previous surgery the Italian has undergone.

The surgery will take place in the Mater Hospital, where Trapattoni is staying, at 3pm. His illness has been attributed to undercooked shellfish eaten by the manager in Italy at the weekend.

Earlier the FAI had said the manager’s overnight recovery had been “slightly behind expectations” and that he was to be sent for x-rays this morning.

Trapattoni’s assistant, Marco Tardelli, will take charge of the Ireland team for tonight’s friendly against Argentina in his absence.

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The manager’s health concerns are a worry ahead of the national side’s forthcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers, which kick off with an away game against Armenia in three weeks’ time, on September 3.

Trapattoni’s first experience of the new Aviva Stadium will now come on Wednesday 7 September when the side face Andorra.

FORMER WORLD CHAMPION sprinter Antonio Pettigrew has been found death in the back seat of his car.

The former sprinter, who was working as a coach at the University of North Carolina, was part of the United States’ 4x400m team that won gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but the team was stripped of its medals two years ago when Pettigrew admitted to doping.

University authorities are not sure whether his death was accidental or deliberate. It is reported that he was found to have taken a significant number of sleeping pills.

Its athletic director Dick Baddour told PA:

I don’t know any details other than that he was found in his car early this morning, not far from campus. I got a call around 4am and was told he had been found dead. We are deeply saddened to learn of Antonio’s death.

Pettigrew had been reported missing from his family home by his wife on Monday.

Pettigrew (42) had won the world 400m title in Tokyo in 1991, and had been part of the American teams that had claimed 4x400m gold at the 1999 world championships in Seville and at the Sydney games the follow year.

He conceded that he had taken drugs between 1997 and 2001 two years ago, however, when testifying in a trial against his former coach Trevor Graham, which resulted in the team – which had included Michael Johnson in 2000 – losing its medals.

MARCO TARDELLI will take charge of the Ireland team for tonight’s opening international at the Aviva Stadium, after the FAI said Giovanni Trapattoni would not recover from his suspected food poisoning in time for the tie.

In a statement this morning the FAI said that the 71-year-old Trapattoni’s “progress overnight has been slightly behind expectations, and after being seen by his consultant, he will undergo further investigations, including x-rays this morning.”

Trapattoni’s assistant Tardelli will thus take charge of the Ireland team for tonight’s friendly against Argentina, which is the first time the international side will play at their new home.

Trap was brought to the Mater Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning by the FAI’s team doctor, Dr Alan Byrne, after complaining of vomiting and nausea.

The FAI said Trapattoni had attributed his illness to shellfish he ate in Italy before he left for Dublin.

The Italian’s absence means that neither side tonight will be managed by a full-time head ocoach, with Argentina under the temporary care of Sergio Batista following the departure of Diego Maradona.

The teams for tonight’s game have meanwhile been finalised and will line out as follows.

Ireland (4-4-2): Given; McShane, Dunne, O’Shea, Kilbane; Fahey, Andrews, Green, Duff; Doyle, Keane.

Argentina (4-3-3): Romero; Burdisso, Demichelis, Samuel, Heinze; Banega, Mascherano, Gago; Di María, Higuaín, Messi.

CELTIC GOSSIP aplenty this lunchtime – Scottish radio this morning said that newly-resigned former Aston Villa and Celtic boss Martin O’Neill was spotted in Glasgow Airport this morning, while it’s been confirmed that Aiden McGeady has agreed transfer terms with Spartak Moscow.

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THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF IRELAND has confirmed that Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni was brought to hospital overnight after suffering from nausea and vomiting.

In a statement this morning, the FAI said Trapattoni had flown into Ireland on Sunday in advance of tomorrow evening’s glamour friendly against Argentina, but had felt unwell since his arrival.

He had been treated by the FAI’s team doctor, Dr Alan Byrne, who brought the 71-year-old Italian to the Mater Hospital at 3am this morning when he continued to vomit.

It said Trapattoni would undergo tests at the hospital this morning, but is in a stable condition there. Assistant boss Marco Tardelli will take charge of training this morning at Malahide, allowing Trapattoni to rest up before tomorrow night’s game, which is the first international game to be held at the new Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road.

The statement said that Trapattoni attributed his illness to shellfish he ate in Italy before he left for Dublin.

Tomorrow night’s game is the first international game to be held at the new Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road.