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Tuesday 19 September 2017

FAI manage to stretch 'a good news story' into a week of conflict

What a weird week it's been in the wacky world of sport . . .

THURSDAY: A chap from Finland stood on his head on the roof of the stand in Croke Park. And HQ announced that they'd be starting walking tours on the roof to raise a few bob. The €100-a-pop tours are set to begin in January. Brrrr! Let's hope there's no dangerous ice, snow, high winds or driving rain.

FRIDAY: The spectacular Aviva Stadium was officially opened. "This is a good news story," advised PR man Roddy Guiney. The media pack asked why the FAI wouldn't allow European and world champions Barcelona play Limerick FC at Thomond Park and why 10-year ticket holders would have to purchase tickets for the first glamour event at the new ground, Manchester United v Airtricity League XI. It was an uncomfortable session for FAI boss John Delaney.

IRFU chief Philip Browne was asked if a 50,000-seater was big enough. "The capacity is bang on for us in rugby," he insisted. "We've struggled at times to fill Croke Park."

SATURDAy: Senegal's Amadou Thiam didn't come out for the third round in UL Arena and handed Limerick middleweight Andy Lee a less than satisfying win.

"I think he saw it was going to be a hard night and then he took the easy way out," complained Lee.

SUNDAY: The man heading England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup, Lord Triesman (pictured right), resigned when it was revealed that he'd claimed Spain and Russia were planning to bribe referees. As Thierry Henry will confirm, there are no cheats in football. Nor are there any corrupt officials.

GAA supporters were more concerned with how players struggled to adapt to a series of new rules introduced on the eve of the Championship season. Rumours that, in a bid to attract a wider audience, the GAA intend introducing an oval ball into the game are said to be unfounded. But players worry what tinkering officials might spring on them next.

After decades of failure, England became World Twenty20 cricket champions in Barbados. But not everyone is happy. Former England captain Michael Atherton says this team won't go down in English folklore because "people do not regard this England team as an English team".

Three of the players, Kevin Pietersen, Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb, were born in South Africa. And Eoin Morgan, who made important stands against West Indies and New Zealand, is a former Ireland international from Santry.

MONDAY: With Athlone in the process of setting up a match with Real Madrid, the row between the FAI and League of Ireland clubs rumbles on.

TUESDAY: The IRFU stepped up their campaign against Minister Eamon Ryan's proposal to make Heineken Cup and RBS 6 Nations matches free-to-air.

Thanking the government for contributing €191m to the Aviva Stadium project, Philip Browne, said on Friday, "Mr Ryan is mistaken. What he's proposing will do significant, and possibly terminal, damage to the professional game in this country."

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