Arc fan­cies leav­ing the lads in the shade

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - COMMENT - BACKPAGE@IN­DE­PEN­DENT.IE

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.

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