KIERAN SHANNON: Martin O’Neill must change or be changed

A couple of months after Martin O’Neill took a sabbatical from football management to help look after his then ill wife Geraldine, this writer interviewed someone who had played minor inter-county Gaelic football with one of O’Neill’s great foot soldiers at Parkhead, Neil Lennon.

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KIERAN SHANNON: We embraced all shades of green before Billy Bingham’s bile

Then a goal, for Northern Ireland, and the place erupts.

‘You’re not going to the USA, doo-da, doo-da!’ My God, this isn’t a football match. This isn’t about who wins. This is about who doesn’t win...

And then a goal — for the Republic. And there’s a deathly silence. And even the players aren’t sure that they’ve scored because nobody is cheering. And the Irish supporters stand in silence hoping to Christ that they’ve got no signs of pleasure on their faces. And the Billy Boys are silenced, just for a moment, as their cold eyes scan the ground looking for the one Irish supporter who can’t control his feelings.’

— Marie Jones, A Night in November.

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KIERAN SHANNON: Rugby Country only stretches so far and bosses will in time come calling to Ireland

At some point Ireland will be as good as it gets for rugby, says Kieran Shannon

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