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Dunne ought to figure in PFA award reckoning

That Richard Dunne gets voted PFA Player of the Year. Yes, we know it's a long shot but having already been acknowledged by most informed pundits as the best buy/worst sale of the season, surely the Tallaght man is in with a shout for this award. We realize it's more difficult for defenders to win this, especially ones that don't play for one of the traditional big four. Yet, the voters (his fellow professionals) should look at Dunne's candidacy and ask who has been worth more to their team than him?

That Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and other critics will give the new Gaelic football rules a chance before they knock them so decisively. The chorus of disapproval should at least wait until a few rounds of the National Football League have demonstrated the efficacy or not of the changes to the game. Maybe the mark will be a disaster but perhaps it may also prevent some of the blatant fouling currently pockmarking so much of the play around the middle of the field.

That we can sit back and enjoy the World Cup without harping on the manner of Ireland's failure to qualify. The FAI has already embarrassed us enough with their ludicrous request to be brought along as a 33rd team and their attempts to gain compensation. Let us pray the Liveline phones don't revisit the events of the Stade de France and let us hope instead the FAI are properly investigating why we aren't producing enough truly elite quality footballers these times.

That even those of us who grew up dreading the black and amber of Kilkenny can sit back and acknowledge that if Brian Cody's men pull off five-in-a-row, they are without question the finest team ever to play the game of hurling. Many would give them that title already while others will talk about a weakened era for the sport in Leinster. The only way to silence all debate is for them to prevail once more. Would you bet against them?

That Damien Duff continues his recent revival under Roy Hodgson at Fulham. He hasn't quite turned the clock back to the wondrous summer of 2002 but there is a verve and a brio to his performances at Craven Cottage reminiscent of the player he used to be. The Irish team can only benefit if the Dubliner can maintain this kind of form at one of the Premiership's easiest clubs for the neutral to root for.

That the Cork footballers somehow, from some place, find the will to win an All-Ireland. It used to be said you had to lose one to win one. Well, they've now lost two in three years and if the circumstances of last September's defeat by Kerry weren't as embarrassing as the 2007 debacle, it was no easier to take. Perhaps it's time for the Cork management and public to accept that a Munster title isn't all that necessary a bauble to pick up in early summer anymore.

That Padraig Harrington gets to have Angel Cabrera place a rather ugly but significant green jacket over his shoulders in April. Even if Tiger Woods chooses Augusta to make his return, motivated by the fact it boasts the most restricted media and public access in golf, Harrington has been building up to something at the fabled Georgia venue. Before last year's 35th (amid his swing-tinkering), he was 7th in 2007 and 5th in 2008. In a sporting world so suffused with hype, watching him win the Masters would be truly an epic event worthy of national hysteria.

That Cork City make headlines for football rather than financial reasons. Unfortunately, we already know this to be a forlorn hope as the ongoing soap opera involving owner Tom Coughlan, the FAI, and FORAS, the club's most devout supporters, is set to run and run through the early part of 2010. You'd think that the best-supported team on the island would be the easiest to run at a profit but in the voodoo economics of the League of Ireland, nothing is ever as it seems to be.

That the swanky Aviva Stadium (scheduled to open this summer according to the rather flash website) is all that it looks to be in the photographs and that a small army of hardliners will continue to call it Lansdowne Road for many years to come just to annoy the commercial folks. Whenever the gates do open, it's to be hoped that the soccer and rugby head honchos are smart enough to realize they still need to host the odd game at Cork Park with its 30,000 extra seats. We presume too that the men in charge down Jones' Road will be savvy enough to allow them this occasional rental for the good of all games and the filling of the coffers.

That the clubs in all codes and at all levels who have been hit by the drying up of sponsorship money and the cutting-off of capital grants (after years of political abuse of that system) suddenly discover a new army of volunteers streaming in their doors to help with the short-fall. There isn't an outfit from Dingle to Donegal, from soccer to hurling, that couldn't do with more hands on deck on a regular basis. In the inevitable re-evaluation of lifestyles in the post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, here's hoping more individuals can see the merit of contributing their services to sports that badly need them.

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