It was the last round of the European Cup pool stage, and as Munster waited in vain for a miracle that never really looked like happening, Leinster and Ulster are the last two Irish provinces standing. Leinster's reward for finishing as the top seed is a home quarter-final against the reigning champions, but what shape Saracens will be in by that stage is anyone's guess. Shane Horgan is back on the pod with Paul Rees of the Guardian to discuss why we still don't know what exactly Saracens did, what impact relegation will have on their English internationals, and what it means even for this year's European Cup. Malachy Clerkin joins us in studio to talk about wins for Corofin and the Shamrocks of Ballyhale on All-Ireland club final day yesterday, and also why the GAA would do well not to over-sell the broader appeal of the provincial or All-Ireland club championships. Plus there's the salt tears of Stephen Jones, Conor McGregor's winning return to the octagon, and a very bad week for the fíor-gaels.
Liverpool continue to sweep all before them and yesterday's victory at Anfield made it 21 wins in 22 matches. About such near-perfection, what is there left to say? So naturally much of this podcast is about Manchester United. The heated viral argument between Keane and Carragher illustrated the tension at the heart of a struggling institution. Does Ole deserve more time? Has he been as selfless a custodian of the club's long-term interests as he makes himself out to be? There's also talk about Chelsea's antisemitism initiative and Steve Cook's approach to game theory, before Mark Critchley and Jonathan Wilson join us to give their reaction to the game at Anfield and their analysis of where the two sides are at.
Last Friday on the Second Captains World Service Ken spoke to historian Brian Hanley about what Fine Gael were thinking with the planned RIC event and what the controversy tells us about Irish memory and the development of Irish nationalism - the show got a phenomenal response from listeners, and many asked us to make it free to all (as we did with the Jackson/Olding rape trial discussion - https://www.secondcaptains.com/2018/03/29/episode-1124-the-belfast-rape-trial-sexual-consent-and-a-toxic-dressingroom-culture/). If you enjoy it, all that we ask when you finish up listening is to take 10 seconds to consider whether you might like to become a part of the World Service. It costs a fiver a month + VAT and you get daily podcasts plus full access to the archive, and can cancel whenever you want.
It always looked pretty tough, and now Munster's European Cup hopes are hanging by the thinnest of threads after they battled bravely for 70 minutes before coming up short in Paris against Racing 92. Gordon D'Arcy and James Coughlan tell us what Munster's next step should be if qualification proves beyond them, if the talent gap is now too wide to bridge, what Ulster’s expectations should be and who should play 12 for Ireland. Plus - we permutate up a storm, Eoin marvels at Teddy Iribaren and Teddy thomas as his new mic’d slot gains traction, and Ken berates Murph for his terrible, really bad, no-good, borrowed-from-rugby, VAR idea.
Jose Mourinho came up with a plan to defy Liverpool and it resulted in his team being passed off the pitch and failing to score in another defeat - his 5th in 13 matches at Spurs. Nevertheless most Spurs fans seem happy with what has been redefined as progress. We try to break down this apparent paradox. We also talk about Sergio Aguero's record-breaking feats and the sadness in Declan Rice's eyes. We talk to Carlos Martin Rio of Panenka magazine about what's happening with Barcelona's overtures to Xavi, and why they seem to be convinced Xavi is their man, despite showing little apparent promise in his managerial career so far.
Its our first reminder of the year to non-members of just what they're missing on the Second Captains World Service, and this week we're debuting a brave new slot curated by Eoin McDevitt. There's also Ken Early's breathless reporting of Charlie Austin's holiday making, and how Charlie and his wife Bianca make major decisions in their marriage. On a rather more serious note, there's also a report from Australia, as friend of the show Rohan Connolly tells us just how devastating the fires have been, and how saddened he's been by the reaction of the country's political class. **To join the Second Captains World Service, simply go to secondcaptains.com/join and get full access to all shows for just €5 + VAT**
The top scorer in the 2019 All-Ireland championship was not David Clifford, Seanie O'Shea, or any of the Dublin five-in-a-row heroes... it was Cathal McShane of Tyrone. So it's a pretty big deal that he's heading to Australia this month for pre-season training with the Adelaide Crows of the AFL. If, as seems likely, McShane is on his way, what will that mean for Tyrone - and what will it mean for the future of GAA/AFL relations that one of the best players in the country ups sticks mid-career and heads to the other side of the world? Oisin McConville joins us. Gerry Thornley and Darren Cave, meanwhile, are ready to tell us about a pretty one-sided inter-pro series last weekend and the wave of new faces pushing for inclusion in a 6N squad, including big Stu McCloskey and a trio of Leinster backrowers. Can Munster do a Munster and turn it all around in Europe, and can Ulster do what they’ve always struggled to do and beat a good French side away from home?
Adam Idah's spectacular hat-trick for Norwich was a glimmer of the old magic on a typically bleak FA Cup third round weekend. Inspired by Chelsea's retro kit, we consider possible ways to spice up football's tired relationship with the Cup. Tom Pope gets a mention. Elsewhere we consider Jurgen Klopp's comments on the craziness of the fixture schedule, and compare the physiological load on players today with what we know about the demands of football in the 1970s. David Sneyd is in studio to talk to us about Ireland's Youthquake. And Miguel Delaney joins us on the line to defend his thesis that Liverpool's ascent is just more of the same old hypercapitalism.
Ken reports from the FAI's reconvened AGM which took place at the Citywest Hotel yesterday. Is there anything to be said for setting up another committee? We talk about Liverpool's 19-game victory lap, the emergence of the shoulder as the key part of the footballing anatomy, and the rest of the Christmas football, including that Friday night classic between Wolves and Manchester City. Jonathan Wilson joins us to talk about Chelsea's win at Arsenal, what the January transfer window might hold for these clubs, and whether there is a way to fix VAR.
It was a weekend that saw several more episodes in Britain's long national nervous breakdown. A day that began with one national broadcaster misleadingly quoting Stormzy ended with another assuring their audience that they are solidly committed to the fight against racism, despite any accidental impressions to the contrary. Meanwhile Manchester United lost 2-0 to Watford with David de Gea making a mistake that leaves you wondering how close he is to losing the faith of the crowd. At least it was a good week for the new FIFA Club World Champions Liverpool... Jack Pitt-Brooke joins us to discuss what happened at Spurs yesterday, where the responsibilities of broadcasters lie in this increasingly fraught time, and whether the honeymoon is already over for Jose. Plus there's AFTV strife, Souness' contribution to the race hate solution, and Cecil Rhodes' guilt.
Last summer Richie travelled to Mayo for a chat with one of the most loved Gaelic footballers of all time, Andy Moran. It was such a fun interview we decided to make it our best of 2019 and its now available to all. During the interview, Andy revealed, unprompted, he had retired from inter-county football – a first ever X5SADS scoop - and how a good sleep conquers all.
Munster are still very much alive in their pool of the European Rugby Champions Cup, but they will rue missing out on a bonus point on Saturday against Saracens in London. Shane Horgan talks to us about on-field decision-making, the magic of Larmour and Cooney, loose lips on the sideline, and Connacht's battling win over Gloucester that still gives them a mathematical chance of making it through to the European Cup quarter-finals. We speak to Michael Conlan, after he went to 13-0 in his professional boxing career, with a win in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night against his last ever opponent in the amateur ranks - the man who beat him in the Rio Olympics and which sparked one of the abiding Irish memories of those games. Plus there's a new brush sweeping cleanest in the ranks of the Olympic boxing judges, great European train journeys with Ken Early, and Simon's passions get impugned and disrespected by Eoin.
Today it turns out that John Giles and Ken do agree on at least one thing, but there are still some minor areas of difference to be ironed out. Arsenal were made to look weak on the field by Manchester City, and off the field by their own communications department, who were quick to distance the club from Mesut Özil's post criticising Chinese persecution of the Uighurs in Xinjiang / East Turkestan. We discuss how Western sports teams should treat the question of their employees commenting on what in China are considered third-rail issues. We're joined by Patrick Boyland, who covers Everton for the Athletic, to talk about Duncan Ferguson, his treatment of Moise Kean, and whether Everton think Ferguson or some other coach is the best long-term prospect. And Joshua Robinson of the Wall Street Journal explains Arsenal's stance on Özil, and how their thinking changed on Arteta.
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On Friday afternoon, the FAI revealed the true disastrous state of its financial affairs. Later that evening, we welcomed Richie Sadlier and 2019 Journalist of the Year Mark Tighe, whose reporting in the Sunday Times helped to bring about John Delaney's downfall as FAI CEO, to help us sift through the wreckage.
Munster, Leinster and Ulster all won in Europe this week, with only a disappointing second half from Connacht between us and a clean sweep... but the shadow of the Rugby World Cup malfunction still hovers. Munster/Saracens was ruined by the weather in Thomond on Saturday, while Leinster made hay in the sunshine in Northampton. But not even those results could move Rory Best's comments in the IRFU World Cup review from top billing. Did he really throw Joe Schmidt under the bus? And did David Nucifora give him a hand while he was doing it? Gerry Thornley of the Irish Times, and Chris Hewitt cover the on-field action, and Dennis Hickie refuses to completely agree that Schmidt's reputation is getting a battering. Plus there's roofless theatres, host nations, and book reviews.
Freddie Arsenal DNA Ljungberg's Arsenal were recognisably Arsenal, and that is not necessarily a good sign. Is there a chance that Brendan Rodgers' links with the job could become more than "hypothetical"? Jack Grealish's sensational performance at Old Trafford was a big part of the reason why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team still has only four wins from 14 matches. How long can this form go on before the patience runs out? We also discuss Barcelona's new season documentary, just released on Rakuten TV. Andy Hunter joins us to talk Everton. How can a team that on the face of it has a core of good players be... so bad? And with a list of upcoming fixtures that reads something like Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid 1956-60, Arsenal, Holland 1974, Leicester, Barcelona 2009-11 - what chance is there for Marco Silva to turn this around?
If Jim Gavin had resigned shortly after the five-in-a-row had been achieved, then it would have been seen as surprising, but not shocking. The fact that he has left the most high-profile job in the GAA as the calendar ticks into December means the news, which broke on Saturday morning, qualifies as a bombshell. Oisin McConville and Michael Foley of the Sunday Times talk to us about why it happened now, what he did while he was in the job, and who's going to take over from him. And in the midst of all that, we celebrate a final record which reads - played 107, won 86, lost 11, drew 10. Six All-Irelands, and one championship defeat in 7 years. Ken wistfully recalls the Jim Gavin that he knew and loved, Murph's news nose was on-point in the hours before the announcement, and we have a little Blindboy taster ahead of a stellar month on the Second Captains World Service.
Much like last week on the World Service when Maurico Pocchetino was relieved of his duties at Spurs, the Emery news threw all our careful planning out the window - let’s just put out a podcast on the big news of the day and so that’s what we did. That pod is out now - along with a fun look back on Tiger's last 10 years, a Champions League review and all the week's other big sports stories - you can have listen once you’re signed up on secondcaptains.com
Manchester City kept the chase going with a narrow win over Chelsea that saw Guardiola's team notch up an unwanted first. Are we seeing cracks appear on the glittering City facade? Meanwhile the Ole-outometer was swinging more wildly than a Phil Jones attempted clearance as the Uniteds of Sheffield and Manchester traded the lead and shared the points. United stay ninth in the Premier League - but they're doing a lot better in a certain Other table, where they have some surprising company in the top six. Jonathan Wilson and Rory Smith join us to talk about the weekend's football. Why can't Jonathan bring himself to believe in Ole? What emotions did the return of Jose make Rory feel? And what do they think of the BBC giving such prominence to offbeat South American ding-a-ling, the Copa Libertadores Final?