MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Could be out of jail for Italy game, mam!

Hi Mam, How is everybody at home? Just a quick note to make sure you got my Conor McGregor duvet cover washed, like I asked. And to ask you to get in touch with the Department of Foreign Affairs for us when you get the time.

No, no, it’s not what you think. I know this letter’s coming from the Bordeaux jail, but I can explain everything. All a misunderstanding, pure and simple.

We were all on the beer in the middle of town, see, and after only singing Wonderwall 88 times the people in the cafe asked if we could sing the 89th version outside on the road, maybe. We know we have a reputation to live up to.

When we got out and about we found an old lady trying to cross the road with her shopping, so nothing would do Jimmy and Karl and Paddy only to help her. They each took one of the bags and I took her arm and we were pointing over the road.

I think she took us up the wrong way, because she started blowing a whistle that she had in her handbag, and a few of the local gendarmes arrived double-quick.

Tasty lads, but very friendly.

One fella took his gun out to show us how it worked, even. We knew we had a reputation to live up to, so Paddy started off at the top of his lungs with, ‘Today is gonna be the day-’ He stopped though when the lad conked him on top of the head with the gun.

At least they were friendly in the jail when we got here. The warder in charge asked us where we were from, and we said Ireland, and he said we’d like it in the big cell, so he put us in there.

Now, it was a bit crowded with all the Russian chaps, but they were grand, they made room for us straightaway. Once they moved all those gumshields and MMA gloves. If I’m being absolutely honest, and I don’t like saying it about foreigners, it took them a while to warm up to us; if you didn’t know better a couple of them actually looked a bit unfriendly.

But sure we struck up Wonderwall again and in a few seconds they were screaming along, hammering on the bars of the cell in time with the music. Or maybe they were trying to get out. Hard to say.

We’ve been in here three days and it’s getting a bit boring now, to be honest. The warders are fine, and the food is top class. When they bring in the grub we have a bit of banter with the warders - the same line every time, sure they’re expecting it from us at this stage: we tell them we’re Irish, not English, and they laugh as loud every time we say it.

It’s getting tight for the Italy game, though. We’re hoping to be let out for that. Francois is the warder with the best English in the jail and we asked him yesterday when we could expect to get out. He said if he could he’d pay our bail money himself to get rid of us - some man for the jokes, even in a foreign language - but that we’d have to wait for the magistrate to hear what we have to say. He advised us to start singing in the courtroom if we want to make sure the judge knows what we’re like.

It mightn’t be a bad tip at all. After all, we have a reputation to live up to.

Your loving son Kevin.

Skills take a hit in modern game

Thanks to the man who refreshed my memory recently about Ken Dryden, the great ice hockey goalkeeper who wrote ‘The Game’.

As happens, the same day as that conversation Dryden himself popped up in a documentary about ice hockey on Setanta. You don’t think of someone in years and then... Dryden makes an interesting point in his book about skills training, and specifically the change that occurred in Canadian ice hockey when it was cross-fertilised by Russian ice hockey, which approached the game in a different way. Dryden made the general point that skills and training which were appropriate to the ‘old’ ice hockey weren’t as useful in the new dispensation, and there was some major re-thinking needed to cope with the demands of the game as it was played in the modern era.

The parallels with hurling need hardly be overstated. The growth in rucks around the field, for instance, means having a hefty backside and the ability to manoeuvre same has become an asset in today’s game.

Is it more valuable than the ability to pull hard on a ground ball? On recent evidence it seems so: in the Waterford-Clare game recently a Waterford player let fly on the ground in his own half and there was a rousing cheer of approval. However, the cheer barely had time to be heard before it was overtaken by groans, as the ball shot straight to an opponent.

Overhead pulling has more or less been extinguished in the modern game: what other skills are on the endangered list, particularly as coaches at all levels seek to maximise the time they have with their players in order to improve them?

How the NBA deal with sponsored tattoos

To The Atlantic — the magazine, not the ocean, for a series on the business of sport. A Joe Pinsker piece on sponsorship was particularly interesting — he pointed out that not only do NASCAR drivers’ jackets carry a blizzard of logos, the fans wear the same jackets, giving those sponsors a double hit in terms of exposure.

What I didn’t know, however, was that the NBA had declared in its regulations that a player’s skin was part of his uniform — specifically to deal with any possible sponsored tattoos.

Live and learn.

Eggers’ ‘Heroes of the Frontier’ worth a read

Enjoying the best latte one can get in Cork last Saturday — identity of cafe on application — and a reader approached. This polite, intelligent person (only the best around here) referred to books mentioned in this column, and on that matter I have recommendations: The great Dave Eggers has a new book out, Heroes of the Frontier, next month.

If you can’t wait then You May Also Like, by Tom Vanderbilt, is already out. This column is a long-time fan of Mr Vanderbilt, whose book is subtitled Taste In An Age Of Endless Choice.

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