Arc fancies leaving the lads in the shade
THIS year’s three-year-old colts were a pretty disappointing lot. Aidan O’Brien’s 2000 Guineas winner Churchill looked the business at Newmarket but went on to lose three big races in a row while favourite, the Derby was won by a 40/1 shot and Churchill’s rival, Barney Roy, was beaten in the Eclipse Stakes and the Juddmonte International by the fouryear-old Ulysses.
The one three-year-old with claims to greatness is John Gosden’s Enable who bids to confirm that status by winning today’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. Enable has won the Oaks, the Irish Oaks and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes by large margins and her main rival could be another filly, O’Brien’s Winter, easy winner of the Irish and English 1000 Guineas and group one races at Goodwood and Ascot since. Ulysses will be in the mix too while there are two intriguing contenders in Satono Diamond, winner of the Japanese St Leger and Dschingis Secret, a German colt which won the Prix Foy, the traditional Arc trial three weeks ago.
Sea The Stars in 2009 is the last favourite to win the Arc so there could well be a twist in the tale in this most fascinating of races.
IT’S hard not to regard Kieran Kingston’s departure from the Cork hurling job as a blow to the Rebel County. With momentum behind them following this year’s revival, Cork’s young players would surely have benefited from continuity. Tipperary, on the other hand, have done a smart bit of business by awarding Michael Ryan another three years. Tipp’s performance in the semi-final against Galway suggested they’re the second best team in the country and the best bet to take away the crown from the Tribesmen next season.
Replay disaster against Mayo notwithstanding, Roscommon should be pleased to have Kevin McStay on board for at least another two years. The questions posed against McStay during an awful league campaign were largely answered in the championship. It will be intriguing to see if he can bring his exciting young players up another couple of notches in 2018 in a championship sorely in need of some new blood.
THE complaints about cynicism in the All-Ireland final would sound a bit more genuine had pundits not spent this week last year complaining about the awfulness of the black card. For all its faults, the black card represents an effort to stop the kind of personal fouling which marred the closing stages of the final. Yet after last year’s decider there was much wailing and gnashing of the teeth after Lee Keegan departed the field and many suggestions that no player at all deserved to be ruled out of a final for cynical play. You can’t have it both ways.
Con O’Callaghan got it right when suggesting that his wonderful goal in the final came about to some extent because the black card made defenders reluctant to drag him down. The black card should stay for good. We need more, not less, measures against cynicism in football.