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The Catch-Up: 13 Balls.ie Pieces You May Have Missed This Week

The Catch-Up: 13 Balls.ie Pieces You May Have Missed This Week
By Michael McCarthy
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We're on the cusp of one of the most exciting weekends in recent history of Irish international sport.

The main event is undoubtedly our final stop on the road to the World Cup next summer. Denmark may have been the "handy" draw for us, but we're still underdogs and the fear is very much running neck and neck with excitement this morning.

There's also the small matter of an international against South Africa in Lansdowne Road today which has been slightly overlooked this week, and the return of the International Rules in Australia EARLY on Sunday morning. (Like, very fecking early!)

This week on Balls.ie, we've been savouring the build up to all of this, and much more. Here is some of the best stuff you may have missed which should set you up for the epic weekend of sport ahead


What does Martin O'Neill do? 

Players don't get the team until shortly before kick off. Tactical analysis of the opposition is almost nil. Positional instructions are non-existent.

But he's always successful. And he's on the verge of bringing us to the World Cup.


So what does Martin O'Neill do? Maurice Brosnan takes a detailed look at what those who've worked closest to him have said.

"What Formation Are We Playing?" - How Martin O'Neill Is A Better Manager Than A Coach


Danish Threat: 

We "won" the draw, or did we? Gavin Cooney talked to a Danish journalist to find out exactly what we can expect from Denmark tonight and what threats they pose?


How Denmark Will Offer A Different Threat To Ireland Than We May Think


Our playoff history may be patchy, but one man was always there for us

Four playoff campaigns, four countries scored against. During Robbie Keane's reign as Ireland's only goalscorer, he was often unfairly criticised for scoring in lesser games. The stats didn't bear that out though, and his record in Ireland's playoff campaigns was just phenomenal. We might not have always come through these games, but Robbie always did his part. Arthur O'Dea looked back on his contributions.


Ireland's Playoff History - How Robbie Keane Found Himself "In His Element"


Patchy Memory? 

Ireland as England's "B" Team was a popular misconception during the Chartlon Years. When Mikey Traynor spoke to Peter Schmeichel on Thursday, he revealed he still holds this particular prejudice about the team he played against over 20 years ago.


First Hand

In the current glut of sports autobiographies, Eoin Hand's is one that has gone slightly under the radar, but the former Irish international and the man who preceded Jack Charlton as Ireland manager has the most incredible story of them all, as Gavin Cooney found out this week.

Public Beheadings, Glassings, Cheating Death, And Dunphy - Eoin Hand's Life Has Been Just Incredible


Defending a much maligned rule: 

Bundee Aki will make his Irish debut today, three years after coming to live and work in Galway, as a Connacht professional rugby player. Some aren't happy with this. It dilutes the Irishness of the team, they say. On the other hand, Dubliner Ian McKinley will make his debut for Italy today, having resurrected his career there. Six years ago, he retired from rugby after going blind in one eye. Italy gave him the opportunity to keep playing, when his country of birth shunned him.


Maurice Brosnan has a look at both cases, and the residency rule in general, who despite the common sentiment, he believes does more good than harm.


Opinion: A Defence Of Rugby's Residency Rule


International Rules? Not for Gooch

We're looking forward to the return of the International Rules on Sunday morning. We're even prepared to give up the Sunday morning lie-in excited. It gets under way in Adelaide just after 5am Irish time. One man who might not be willing to get out of the scratcher is Colm Cooper. PJ Browne recalls the part of the Gooch's autobiography where he addresses his one and only International Rules appearance.

Colm Cooper Explains Why He Retired From International Rules Aged 22


Kieren Fallon

He was one of the most talented and successful jockeys of all time, but Fallon is probably best remembered for his off-course battles. PJ Browne spoke to him this week about his new book "Form"

'I Was Able To Control It, Unfortunately. I Always Said That You Need To Hit Rock Bottom'


A False Narrative:

David Moyes is back in the Premier League this week. Big Sam is likely to follow him shortly. Both men complain about opportunties for British managers, while getting countless jobs. Gavin Cooney examines a false football narrative.

Why The Idea That British Managers Are "Second Class Citizens" Is Nonsense


GAA Nicknames: 

We took the retirement of Dublin's David "Dotsy" O'Callaghan hard this week. It sent us into a tailspin - another GAA nickname gone. Gavin Cooney eased the pain by having a look back on some of the greatest there ever was. Great nicknames are something the GAA has never been lacking in.

The Best Nicknames In GAA History

Honey Monster:

From pencil tops to iconic football ads, 90s football was all about the Honey Monster and Sugar Puffs, as Mikey Traynor recalls.

Remembering The Significant Role 'Sugar Puffs' Played In 90s Football Culture


Goodbye Maestro

Another retirement inspired post. Andrea Pirlo played his last game of football this week. Mark Farrelly looked back on the great man's autobiography to remind ourselves of probably the most unique man in sport.

12 Absolutely Sublime Quotes From Andrea Pirlo's Autobiography


An Important Message: 

Last weekend, a young player in Cork lost a minor football final by a single point. On the same weekend, he also tragically lost a friend to suicide. His message is a must read for all young men especially.

This Minor Footballer Lost A Lot More Than A Final - His Message Is a Must Read For All Young Men

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