The Belfast football club where Bobby Sands played and the week’s best sportswriting

1. When it rained, it poured. On August 31, 2019 a customer in Douglas Village Shopping Centre noted smoke at the front of her car as she parked it. In the ensuing fire that partially destroyed a complex which duly remained closed for 14 months, the Cork City merchandise shop was burned out of action.

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For LOI clubs, cashflow is everything, especially in long off-seasons.

Cork have a large fanbase who would be good for buying shirts at Christmas and in the winter of 2019 heading into 2020, the shop was missed. It brought problems to the boil, and the seeds were sown for the Abbotstown emergency and the Grovemoor bailout.

This was difficult to swallow for believers in the fan-owned model, and the delayed debate around the nominal €1 deal stirred strong feelings.

Cork City’s Turner’s Cross.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Daniel McDonnell of the Irish Independent takes a look at the recent demise of Cork City.

2. Peter Queally’s now famous ‘Zombie’ walkout harks back to Daly’s legendary entrance at UFC Dublin. The safety standards that Daly began fighting for in 2013 are commonplace. After all of her years grinding for the women’s sport to be taken as seriously as the men’s, we have Kavanagh vs McCourt as the most anticipated fight on Bellator’s Dublin card this weekend.

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Daly does not want her career achievements to be exaggerated; she simply wants to be acknowledged.

“I want to be remembered as Ireland’s first world champion,” said Daly.

“I’m a pioneer and a trailblazer, and I was one of the first to do it. Other than the sporting achievements, I’d like to be recognised for everything I gave back to the sport. I was enthusiastic about making the sport better for everyone who came after me, not just women.

“I feel like I accomplished that and I’m very proud of it.”

The RTÉ Sport website features a fascinating interview with retired Irish MMA legend Aisling Daly by Peter Carroll.

3. On Guernsey, Black and Caldwell watched the evening news in disbelief during the Hunger Strikes of May 1981. In a matter of months, Bobby Sands’s name and his image became known across the globe. It was difficult for his former team-mates to pair the Republican icon with the team-mate they knew: scampish, an athlete, tough, quick tempered.

“Always remember this one game,” says McCord. “Scuffle at the bottom of the pitch. A rough match. Bobby took his boot off and was clipping a fella. The crowd was cheering this on. You are 16 and the crowd is cheering a fight on. Things like that happened every Saturday. But Sandsy . . . I often found him quiet in his own way. I didn’t see him getting into trouble at all.”

In the Irish Times, Keith Duggan writes a fascinating piece about the Star of the Sea Boys football club in Belfast which was welcome to players from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds. 

4. First of all we need to ensure we qualify for the finals with a top-six finish, and one more victory will probably guarantee it.

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I have a bit more at stake than usual too. Now that Australia has finally reopened its borders to international travellers I have organised for my parents, Brian and Mary, and sister, Áine, to come out next month if we reach the last four of the competition.

As great as it was to win the grand final last season, it was tough going through all the celebrations with team-mates who were surrounded by their families. I know it was hard on my parents too; they’ve always been my No 1 supporters, getting up in the middle of the night to watch my AFLW matches.

We usually don’t get our phones back from the club for about an hour after our games, once we are fed and recovered properly. And the first thing I always do is ring home – I’m the eldest of four – for some post-match analysis.

They mightn’t understand the rules completely yet but it’s always nice to hear what they thought of the game.

Orla O’Dwyer gives an interesting insight into her AFLW season so far with the Brisbane Lions in the Irish Independent.

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