Sam Curtis defending for St. Patrick’s Athletic in their FAI Cup Final win over Bohemians on Nov. 12. Curtis, 18, signed last week for Sheffield United in the Premier League. [Inpho/Ryan Byrne]

Monaghan's Beggan is focused on NFL opportunity in America

Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan says he is determined to win an NFL contract. Beggan and two other inter-county goalkeepers Mark Jackson of Wicklow and Down’s Charlie Smyth, plus former Connacht Rugby player Daragh Leader, are heading to Indianapolis for place-kicking trials. The four Irish players are hoping to impress scouts from all 32 NFL teams with their place-kicking skills. Beggan said: ‘‘It’s an unbelievable opportunity, something that hasn’t come around too often in Irish quarters. You are looking at Dan Whelan at the minute, who is nailing it with Green Bay Packers and that's something that we want to do. We are not going over to just tick a box, to say we have been at the NFL Combine, that’s not what we are trying to do. We are going to Indianapolis to try and get a contract and try to become one of the best 32 kickers in the world. The three GAA goalkeepers and rugby player Leader, who also played minor football for Roscommon, were invited after impressing during a two-stage selection process at Loughborough University in the UK and Dublin last November.

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Rory Beggan in kicking action for his club Scotstown. [Inpho/Leah Scholes]



Sam Curtis last week secured a dream move to EPL club Sheffield United from St Patrick’s Athletic. The 18 year-old from Navan has made 60 first team appearances for the Saints and was named PFAI Young Player of the Year last season. Most League of Ireland players who have moved to England in recent seasons were  to clubs in the lower divisions. The transfer has not been disclosed but down the road there should be money for the junior clubs that Curtis played for. I reckon Curtis is the first League of Ireland player to join an EPL club since Gavin Bazunu left Shamrock Rovers for Manchester City in 2018. 



Former Irish international Curtis Fleming was named interim head coach of League One club Charlton Athletic last week after Michael Appleton was sacked. The former St Patrick’s Athletic defender joined the Addicks earlier this month as assistant to Appleton. On Saturday Charlton drew 1-1 away to Blackpool.

AMOND, 35, 


Pádraig Amond is bolstering Waterford’s strike force for their Premier Division return by coming back to League of Ireland, which he departed in 2010. The Carlow native initially moved from Sligo Rovers to Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira but it was in the English lower leagues, where he lined out for Accrington Stanley, Morecambe, Grimsby Town, Hartlepool United, Newport County and Exeter City, that he excelled, making over 600 league appearances.  Most recently with Woking, the 35-year-old is cutting short his contract at the National League club to relocate his young family to Ireland. Waterford is the nearest League of Ireland team to Amond’s home county.



Ireland has withdrawn its bid to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France for 2026 or 2027. In October 2022 the governments of The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland submitted a joint expression of interest with the Tour organisers to stage the opening weekend of cycling’s biggest race preferably in 2026 or 2027. The all-island plan was to see the first stages of Le Tour being held on both sides of the border. But as Northern Ireland has not had an executive since May 2022 there was an issue over funding and the plan has been shelved for now. 

Ireland hosted Le Grand Depart in 1998 with the prologue around the streets of. Stage One went through Dundrum to honor the birthplace of  Stephen Roche, winner in 1987, and Kilmacanogue to honor Ireland’s first-ever stage winner Shay Elliott, while the second stage was from Enniscorthy through Carrick-on-Suir to Cork to honor Seán Kelly, winner of the green jersey category. Also the Grand Partenza of the Giro d’Italia took place on both sides of the border in 2014. It’s expensive to host the start of Le Tour with the Basque region of Spain reported to have paid 12 million euro for the privilege last summer. EURO



The world’s oldest yacht club has elected its first female admiral or commodore. Founded in 1720, the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven made history last week with the election of Annamarie Fegan as admiral of the club. A former coastal rower, Fagan is best known in sailing circles as co-owner of “Nieulargo” with her husband Denis and daughters Molly and Mia which won Best Irish Boat in the Fastnet Race last year. HFagan says one of her main ambitions is to make sailing more accessible. ‘‘Not everyone can afford to own a boat but every boat needs a crew and we are always looking for crew. Anyone can get involved these days and it’s a really great sport. Sailing is great for mental health, getting out in the fresh air, and it opens up fantastic opportunities.’’ In her history of the Crosshaven club, Dr Alicia St. Leger said that The Water Club of the Harbour of Cork was founded in 1720 after King Charles of England exiled in the Netherlands, was introduced to the Dutch sport of yachting.