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Hoops faithful undaunted by Greek odyssey

Not since an invasion by the army of Xerxes in 480BC have the Greeks been under such pressure. And now, when things can't seem to get any worse, along come the Hoops.

Undaunted by national strikes, threats of airport shutdowns and a punitive tax on retsina, indefatigable Shamrock Rovers supporters will make their presence felt in the Toumbas Stadium tomorrow evening for their Europa League Group A clash with a robust-looking PAOK Salonika.

This away trip -- which for the likes of diehards Martin Moore and Robbie Foy, involves flying to Rome, connecting with a flight to Bulgaria and then embarking on a 200km road trip into Greece -- is a doddle by comparison to Rovers' homeless years.

One fan who'll be happy to unwind in Greece is Hoops' Jack Walsh, who spent three hours in a London library cramming for his corporate law exams hours before Rovers' match at White Hart Lane.

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Richard Bevan's assertion that "American owners and some Asian owners as well" have been examining the possibility of scrapping relegation and promotion in the Premier League is an unexpected depth charge designed to shake up football's bosses.

Although anxious to get his retaliation in first, the League Managers Association chief executive might be powerless in the face of the sport's economics. While Blackburn, with its Indian owners, might feel particularly vulnerable right now, there can be no denying the tectonic shifts that appear to be edging towards the introduction of a future Super League -- one which might even reach across the Cheviots to Glasgow.

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On one level, it's unfortunate that Cormac McAnallen's name should be associated with such a less-than-inspiring tournament as the International Rules Series. Yet, despite the enforced defections from Anthony Tohill's panel, there remains a few intriguing prospects for the two games ahead.

It should be interesting to see how former Portlaoise star Zach Touhy performs if selected for the opening match next week.

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Top Ireland cricket coach Peter Johnston nailed his colours to the mast with a tweet celebrating the Stone Roses reunion. "Awesome," he said.

And in further cricket news, Kevin O'Brien's excellent 'Six After Six', a swashbuckling account of his World Cup heroics, is now available as en ebook on Amazon. Nice one.

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It's great to see a Waterford man take charge of the county's senior hurlers for a change. Michael Ryan (Fourmilewater) is the first native to hold the job in the last 15 years. As the man who guided the women's football team to five All-Ireland titles, Ryan knows how to go about the job.