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World Cup podcast from Cuiaba

September 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Podcast for from Brazil. Speaking to Stephen Pollard back at extratime HQ in Dublin, we discussed my experiences of attending the World Cup group games in the city of Cuiaba (Chile v Australia, Russia v Korea, Nigeria v Bosnia and Colombia v Japan), travelling around the Mato Grosso state and the atmosphere in Brazil. Podcast recorded from the geodesic centre of South America with bonus Brazilian birds signing in the background!

First Sportscast from Brazil
Sportcasts Special from Brazil – Extratime reporter Macdara Ferris is in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and he took time out to chat to one of the Extratime Sportscast presenters – Gareth O’Reilly – on his experiences to date in the country.

Articles from Brazil:

1 – Postcard from Brazil – Let the football begin
2 – Postcard from Brazil – Does your telly know you’re here
3 – Postcard from Brazil – Are you Holland in disguise?
4 – Postcard from Brazil – The Colombian Three Victories
5 – Postcard from Brazil – Bye bye to Brasilia – Rio bound on Rest Day
6 – Postcard from Brazil – Saint Julio Cesar to save Brazil?


Shamrock Rovers -v- Monaghan United preview

Published: March 08, 2012

Stephen Kenny has utilised his Shamrock Rovers squad extensively already this season. After Rovers’ 2-1 win in Drogheda on the opening night of the Airtricity League, Kenny made seven changes to that line-up in their 2-0 win earlier this week against Cliftonville in the Setanta Sports Cup.

Against Monaghan United this Friday, the starting eleven will likely see the return of Killian Brennan, who missed the Cliftonville game due to suspension, and Gary Twigg, who scored both of Rovers’ goals in that league win over Drogheda United. It is also the chance for new Shamrock Rovers club captain Ken Oman to pull on the armband for the Hoops for the first time in a league game at Tallaght Stadium. Definitely missing for Rovers will be Ciarán Kilduff, Conor McCormack and Conor Winn who are all out due to injury.

It would be a shock if Stephen Kenny’s men failed to pick up their second win of the league campaign but the Rovers manager has been stressing the importance to his players that they need to earn the win against Monaghan. “Every single victory this season will be hard fought,” said Kenny. “I think the idea that you might have easy games is naïve. You have to fight for every single point you put on the board in a season, and our players are more than aware of that; they know they have to work hard every week.”

“We can’t drop our standards for anyone or we will get turned over, that is the same as it is for any team. This is our first home game of the season, and we will be looking for a win from that. From our point of view, we’ll have gotten our season off to a strong start if we get three wins from three in a week.”

Monaghan United, who opened their league campaign with a 0-0 draw at home to Dundalk, face a tough first away game of the season against the back-to-back league champions. Manager Roddy Collins has a much changed squad from the one who were promoted last season. Collins handed six competitive debuts in their hard fought draw on opening night. However, defensively they have continuity in their team with three of last year’s back four (Aidan Collins, Conor McMahon and Alan Byrne) playing in front of new goalkeeper Chris Bennion. If United can keep another clean sheet this week, they would head back to Monaghan quite happy with that outcome.

For Roddy Collins, it is a return to Rovers, a club he managed back in 2005. Collins was relieved of his managerial duties towards the end of that season, a season that Rovers ended by being relegated for the only time in their history. Willo McDonagh is also returning to Rovers where he played under Collins’ management. Both the manager and player may be in for an unfriendly reception in Tallaght as McDonagh’s disciplinary record and Collins’ managerial record are not remembered fondly by the Hoops faithful.

Monaghan may well have to do without another former Rovers player Robert Bayly due to injury. There are also injury concerns over Aidan Collins, Gareth O’Connor and Shaun Maher but they do have the boost of midfielder Keith Quinn being available for selection this week.

Referee: Graham Kelly

The teams last met in a pre-season friendly at Tallaght Stadium in 2011 which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Their last competitive meeting was in 2006 when both sides were in the First Division. Back then Rovers’ 2-0 win over United in their penultimate home game of the season went a long way to securing that year’s First Division title for the Hoops.

It is ten years since the teams played each other in the Premier Division when Stephen Grant got an 86th minute winner in a 3-2 win for Shamrock Rovers.

Shamrock Rovers 1/5; Draw 5/1; Monaghan 11/1

Hard to see beyond a home win for the Hoops: 3-0 to Shamrock Rovers.

Shamrock Rovers Injury News: Ciarán Kilduff (broken metatarsal), Conor McCormack (ankle ligament injury), Conor Winn (back).
Shamrock Rovers Suspensions: None
Monaghan United Injury News: Robert Bayly, Aidan Collins Gareth O Connor, Shaun Maher (all doubtful)
Monaghan United Suspensions: None

Rovers mixed artistry yields octagon result

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

My debut match report for extra

Shamrock Rovers 8 – 1 Waterford United
by Macdara Ferris
Fri, Feb 24 2012

Shamrock Rovers had a more than convincing win over Waterford United at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night in their final friendly before the start of the league campaign. It finished 8-1 on the night for Stephen Kenny’s men with Gary O’Neill hitting a hat-trick for the Hoops. It was a confidence sapping result for Paul O’Brien’s men who are expected to be challenging for promotion out of the First Division.

It was an even opening period to the game that didn’t give a hint of the dominance that would follow later. Craig Sives was unlucky not to open the scoring after 12 minutes when his header from around the penalty spot shaved the post from a Billy Dennehy cross.

The opening goal of the game came after 14 minutes for the champions from a deep Killian Brennan corner. The corner was sent back across the box by the head of defender Dylan Mernagh. The ball found its way to Ken Oman who had an acre of space in front of goal to slot the ball home low into the net. Waterford’s first chance of the game came from the kick off but Ben Ryan’s shot didn’t trouble Oscar Jannson in goal as it flew over the bar.

Rovers doubled their lead on 26 minutes with a fine individual effort from Daryl Kavanagh. He picked up the ball in midfield and ghosted by two players and with great vision chipped the ball over Robbie Hughes into the top corner from all of 25 yards.

Photo by George Kelly

Brennan was fouled in a dangerous position in front of goal on 33 minutes. Dennehy struck the free with his left into the bottom corner to make it 3-0. The Blues pulled a goal back straight away as Jannson misread the flight of Paul Phelan’s corner allowing United skipper David Breen to head home. Just before half time, Ronan Finn found the net for the fourth with a fine flicked header from a Kerrea Gilbert cross.

United went close early in the second half as Gary Dempsey’s free was headed over by Seamus Long. A Sives chance went close before Rovers added three goals in a devastating five-minute spell before the hour mark. An O’Neill header at the backpost from substitute Aaron Green’s cross made it five for the Hoops.

Rovers then had half a dozen goals when Finn made a probing run down the right with his ball handing O’Neill the simplest of tap ins from inside the six yard box. Substitute Gary McCabe scored next following a mazy run. He beat Paul Carey on the left, cut inside and slammed the ball high into the roof of the net to make it 7-1 on the hour mark. Waterford did have a chance to get their second on 65 minutes when sub Seany Maguire played in Darragh Walshe but Jannson was on hand to save his shot.

Photo by George Kelly

Greene had a couple of chances to increase his sides tally. First when he ran in on goal but was forced wide by Hughes and his subsequent shot went over the bar. Next he claimed a long ball over the top but his left foot shot bounced back off the post.

The home side continued to pile on the misery with United going 8-1 down. Six minutes from time Gary O’Neill completed his hat-trick and the overall goal scoring for the evening. Breene bundled into the back of O’Neill in the box. At the infamous car park end of Tallaght Stadium, O’Neill managed to do what very few players have done there and scored from the penalty spot. The last bit of play saw Dempsey chip the ball over the Rovers defence onto sub Seany Maguire’s chest but Jannson was able to smother the ball at the player’s feet.

Stephen Kenny will no doubt be happy with the performance of his side and he used that squad to the fullest extent with eight second half substitutions. Blues boss O’Brien will have to pick up his men after this dispiriting result. He will be emphasising that the quality of opposition will not be as strong for United in the First Division as they faced from the back-to-back League of Irelands champions in Tallaght. Waterford will be thankful for that.

Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jannson; Kerrea Gilbert (Sean Gannon, 65), Craig Sives (Graham Gartland, 65), Ken Oman (Colin Hawkins, 84), Conor Powell (Conor McCormack, 84); Killian Brennan, Stephen Rice (Stephen O’Donnell 65), Ronan Finn (Chris Turner, 72), Billy Dennehy (Gary McCabe 45); Gary O’Neill, Daryl Kavanagh (Aaron Greene, 45)
Subs not used: Lee Stacey

Waterford United: Robbie Hughes; Paul Carey (Thomas Whitty, 89), Craig Burns (Seany Maguire, 65), David Breen, Dylan Mernagh; Ben Ryan (Peter Keegan, 72), Gary Dunphy (Peter Higgins), Seamus Long, Paul Phelan; Gary Dempsey, Darragh Walshe (Nathan West)

Subs not used: Packie Holden
Bookings: Ben Ryan

Referee: Tom Connolly

Attendance: 1000 (estimate) Man of the Match: Gary O’Neill who, in addition to scoring a hat-trick, was very effective in holding the ball up and involving other Rovers players

View from the Terraces – Shamrock Rovers

January 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Published on extra (

The best season ever. That pretty much sums up the 2011 season for this Shamrock Rovers fan. What Rovers managed to achieve over an 11-month and 60-match season was unprecedented in Irish football as we retained our league title, won the Setanta Sports Cup and qualified for the group stages of the Europa League.

This success is even more significant when compared with where the club was just six years ago when we were a decision of the High Court away from going out of business. Back then the fans stepped in to fund the club helping it emerge from Examinership in the ownership of its supporters, bouncing back from relegation before eventually reaching the promised land of Tallaght in 2009. So forgive us Rovers fans if we are not going to enjoy these exciting times at our club!

In our debut season in the Setanta Cup, Rovers captain Dan Murray lifted the trophy following the 2-0 win over Dundalk in the final played at Tallaght Stadium. In the league, Derry City and Sligo Rovers pushed the Hoops hard. However, in the penultimate game of the season, Rovers secured our 17th league title thanks to Dean Kelly’s injury time winner. The celebrations involving players, substitutes and fans after the winning goal and final whistle will be indelible images of the season.

That league title win was made even more remarkable by Rovers achieving it whilst involved in a lengthy six-month, 12 game European odyssey in Tallinn, Copenhagen, Belgrade, London, Salonika and Kazan. Impressively, each time Rovers returned from Europe they won the next league game.

It was a privilege for me to have been part of the small group of 43 Rovers fans who were in Belgrade in August to see Irish domestic football history made, as the club became the first Irish side to qualify for the group stages of a European competition. Against Partizan, Rovers won thanks to Pat Sullivan’s superb second half volley and Stephen O’Donnell’s pressure penalty six minutes from the end of extra time. The celebrations in the away section of the stadium included screaming, shouting, hugging and tears – and that was just my reaction! At the final whistle on an unforgettable night, there was delirium on the pitch and in the stands with the celebrations going long into the night back at the team hotel where the travelling party of players, officials and fans watched the highlights of the game together.

In the Europa League, the Hoops, whilst never disgraced, were well beaten in all of the home games. There is no doubt that the highlight of the group stages was going 1-0 up in White Hart Lane. Stephen Rice’s goal celebrated with great gusto in front of the 4,000 strong travelling support saw the Hoops lead Spurs for ten glorious second half minutes before eventually losing 3-1. It is never nice to lose a game but I can safely say that it was the most enjoyable defeat I’ve witnessed in my 25 years supporting the Hoops!

With the departure from Rovers this month of Michael O’Neill, who has taken over as Northern Ireland manager, Stephen Kenny was quickly installed as the new Rovers manager. The club’s chairman Jonathan Roche speaking this week made it clear that Kenny was “the board’s unanimous choice” appointed because of “what we think we can achieve together in the future.” That future should see a greater emphasis on the quality of football played at Rovers following criticisms in some quarters of the style under Michael O’Neill. “I’m looking forward to coming here to put out a team to play exciting football,” said Kenny speaking at Tallaght Stadium on Wednesday. “I want to entertain the fans. I want them to look forward to coming to games, to be exhilarated and excited by the football that they come to watch.” If that style is also effective in winning trophies, then everyone at Rovers will be very happy.