Well, after all the pandemonium that greeted Warren Gatland’s shock decision to drop Brian O’Driscoll not just from the Lions’ team but from the entire match-day squad for the third test against Australia, the Lions went out and truly thumped the Wallabies to consign all criticism of the decision to history very quickly. It was a very disappointing end to the Lions career of Ireland’s greatest sportsman but on the positive side, he didn’t get injured playing for what has, to all intents and purposes, become nothing more than a Sky-hyped cash cow, so Drico should be fully fit and raring to go for Leinster and Ireland next season. No doubt he will have had his eye on the publication of the opening round of Heineken Cup fixtures where Leinster, under new coach Matt O’Connor, will face a tough away-day at the Ospreys. Munster must travel to Edinburgh while Ulster will host Premiership champions Leicester and Connacht will do battle with English powerhouses, Saracens.
St. Pat’s continue to set the pace at the top of the Airtricity League with their brand of stylish, free-flowing football but, very disappointingly, they came up short at home in Europe, losing 2-1 to Zalgiris Vilnius of Lithuania, having secured a valuable 2-2 draw away from home. After finishing 0-0 at home, Drogheda travelled to the south of Sweden to take on 1979 European Cup runners-up, Malmö, but, in spite of a spirited performance, fell to a 2-0 defeat. The following week, Sligo Rovers made their long-awaited Champions’ League début, but succumbed to a 3-0 aggregate defeat to Norway’s Molde and Derry City lost 7-2 on aggreagate to Trabzonspor of Turkey. Overall it’s been a very disappointing season on the European front.
Back home however, the relegation battle has really started to heat up. Appointing Johnny McDonnell as new manager looks to have been an inspired decision by Shels as they have hit a rich vein of form, taking 13 points from his seven games in charge to lift themselves off the bottom. Bohs parted company with Aaron Callaghan, the man who guided them to a famous 4-0 victory over arch rivals Shamrock last season, and appointed Owen Heary as caretaker boss. It seemed to have the desired effect as Bohs went on to record their first victory in 12 games with a 3-1 win away to fellow relegation-battlers Bray Wanderers followed by a scarcely-deserved but very welcome point at home to a dominant Drogheda. Before losing to Shels, U.C.D. gained a valuable point as they hope to stave off relegation for yet another season with a very creditable 1-1 draw away to Shamrock, thus putting a serious dent in Shamrock’s hopes of attaining fourth place.
Hopes are high in Dublin of an All-Ireland double and certainly the footballers’ campaign has clicked into gear. Doubts were cast on the hurlers when Kilkenny scraped a draw against them to earn a replay, but the Dubs were scintillating in the replay and followed up that performance to kill off Galway’s challenge in the Leinster Hurling final. Now with the Cats defeated and out of the Championship entirely, the Dubs will feel even more confident heading into the quarter-finals on the second weekend of August.
To wrap up, congrats to Scotsman Andy Murray on ending 77 years of English heartache at Wimbledon, to Marion Bartoli on her stunning victory in the women’s singles, to Phil Mickleson on picking up his fifth major at the British Open with a scintillating final-round of 66 in extremely difficult links conditions and, for the cricket fans among us, to Ireland on qualifying for the 2015 World Cup!