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The A to Z of the World Cup

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The biggest show on earth is finally upon us. The 2018 World Cup kicked off yesterday in Russia and a month of (hopefully) exciting soccer action lies ahead. Adam Moynihan takes you through the A to Z of this summer’s tournament.

A – Africa’s year?

In two words, probably not. Of the six African nations at this year’s tournament, Egypt (150/1 to lift the trophy) are the most likely to cause a stir, and their star player is a doubt for the group stage (see ‘S’).

B – Brazil

It wouldn’t be a World Cup without a bit of samba magic and the seleção have the players (as always) to brighten up any fixture. Can Tite’s team bounce back from their darkest hour, the shocking 7-1 defeat to Germany in 2014?

C – Cristiano

They might be the reigning champions of Europe but Portugal aren’t great. Expect to see plenty of shots of an exasperated Ronaldo throwing his hands in the air/berating a flustered teammate.

D – Dark horses

No outsider has ever won a World Cup and there’s no reason to think it might happen this summer, but it’s always nice to see traditionally weaker nations over-perform. Belgium must be the most hyped up dark horse of the past decade but they will struggle to make it past the quarters. Our neighbours, maybe?

E – England

Roy Hodgson’s fledgling English side went into the last major tournament with virtually no expectations, yet somehow they still managed to make a show of themselves. Defeat to Iceland was great if you love to hate the English football team and with two of the weakest nations at the World Cup in their group (Tunisia and Panama), further embarrassment could well be on the cards.

F – Fan favourites

Ireland aren’t at the party so who should we follow for the next four weeks or so? Nigeria always seem to bring great entertainment to the World Cup, and they also have the best kit (see ‘K’), so they’re not a bad shout.

G – Goals 

The art of defending is dead, if RTÉ’s senior analysts are to be believed, and the numbers from the last World Cup back actually back them up. 171 goals were scored in Brazil, which tied France ’98 for the most ever. Could the record be broken in Russia?

H – Hooligans

It’s unfortunate but it seems as though fights between rival fans are inevitable, with the English and Russians apparently at the front of the queue. One Russian politician has even called for licensed 20-a-side fights outside stadiums. (That is a real thing that a real politician said and not a headline from The Onion, by the way.)

I – Iniesta

This will be Andrés Iniesta’s last international tournament. What a story it would be if one of the greatest midfielders of all time led Spain to glory once more.

J – Jealousy

It should have been us. When images of joyous Danish fans are beamed into our living rooms tomorrow evening (they play Peru at 5pm), try not to get too jealous.

K – Kits 

There will be some beauties on show in Russia, most notably Nigeria’s flashy bright green and white home shirt. I got my hands on one and will be wearing it every day from now until the end of the summer.

L – Luzhniki

The Luzhniki Stadium (capacity: 81,006) will host the 2018 World Cup Final in addition to four group ties, one last 16 game and one semi-final.

M – Messi 

Is this it? Is it finally going to happen? You would need a heart of stone to not want Lionel Messi to lift his first World Cup trophy on July 15. If he leads Argentina to glory, any questions about whether or not he’s the greatest of all time will disappear forever.

N – No-hopers

There are quite a few at this particular World Cup but plucky Panama appear to be particularly ill-equipped to compete at this level. They’ve played five games in 2018 to date and scored just once.

O – Odds

Argentina at 9/1 might be worth a punt but if you’re looking for something a bit more outlandish, how about Sergio Aguero to be top scorer? The Manchester City legend is 40/1. (Or keep your money in your pocket. That’s a good tip.)

P – Penalties

No World Cup would be complete without a penalty shootout. It’s cruel on the players but great for neutrals like us. It would also be great to see another ‘P’, a Panenka.

Q – Qatar

The next World Cup is four years away but expect plenty of references to the 2022 tournament in Qatar. (Still can’t believe that’s actually happening.)

R – Racism

Russian football fans don’t have the best track record when it comes to their treatment of players of colour. Hopefully racism doesn’t rear its ugly head during the World Cup but, realistically, it could. So serious is the problem, England full-back Danny Rose has asked his family not to travel over fears they could be racially abused in Russia.

S – Salah

The English Footballer of the Year suffered an injury to his shoulder in the Champions League final against Real Madrid and may not be fit to play in Egypt’s opener against Uruguay today (1pm). If available, Salah has the potential to shoot the lights out.

T – TV coverage 

The good news is that RTÉ 2 has coverage of every one of the 64 games (it will naturally have choose one when two games clash at the end of the group stage). The bad news? Well, it’s a question of personal taste but I cannot stand co-commentators Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton. Jim Beglin is good and Brian Kerr I can stomach, but Whelan (or Captain Hindsight, as I call him) appears to be the state broadcaster’s number one choice for big games.

U – Unrest

The Dutch, perennial troublemakers, didn’t qualify so all eyes will be on the French camp. Les Bleus have a track record when it comes to player unrest, most notably at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when the squad went on strike after an altercation beween Nicolas Anelka and coach Raymond Domenech.

V – VAR

The Video Assistant Referee system will be used at a World Cup for the very first time. It will be called upon for key decisions in four areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity

W – WAGs

The media’s obsession with the players’ wives and girlfriends seems to have waned somewhat in recent times but expect the WAGs (and children) of the winning team to make an appearance on the pitch after the final on Sunday, June 15.

X – Xherdan Shaqiri

Nothing too exciting to report about Xherdan Shaqiri. ‘X’ is just a hard letter.

Y – Young guns 

Marcus Rashford (20) and Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (21) coud well shine, but 19-year-old France forward Kylian Mbappé is my tip to pick up the Best Young Player award.

Z – Ze Germans

You can never rule them out, can you? All jokes aside, if you can leave a player like Leroy Sané at home then you must be a serious outfit.

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Therapy dog begins first day of school

By Michelle Crean A four-month-old puppy is the latest addition to school life at one local secondary school and his homework is to help students and staff. On Wednesday, there was great excitement as therapy dog Zoomer joined the school community at St Brigid’s on New Road – the second post primary school in the county […]

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By Michelle Crean

A four-month-old puppy is the latest addition to school life at one local secondary school and his homework is to help students and staff.

On Wednesday, there was great excitement as therapy dog Zoomer joined the school community at St Brigid’s on New Road – the second post primary school in the county to welcome such a dog.

It’s part of the My Canine Companion (MCC) charity which has a number of therapy dogs in schools across the country.

Deirdre Horgan from MCC paid a visit to schools looking for families for the charity’s socialisation programme. ​​​​​​

Zoomer is a mix of a sheepdog and a poodle and Deirdre’s dog Fifi is his mother.

In May Fifi had 10 puppies all named with the letter ‘z’. Just recently Fossa National School welcomed Zoomer’s sister Zazu to their classrooms, and puppy Zoro went to the CBS in Tralee.

The dogs not only provide comfort and support to pupils and students with Autism but to all in the school.

“There is an increasing body of research to support the benefit of a dog in school,” Ber O’Connor, a teacher in St Brigid’s, said.

Zoomer will be under the guidance of Ms O’Connor and some Transition Year students who will undertake a specific training programme for the therapy dog.

“The dog will be based in different rooms around the school but will have a timetable of interactions. We hope Zoomer settles in well and brings joy to many of our students lives. You can follow all the updates of Zoomer’s life on Instagram by following @zoomersbk or his TikTok account ‘zoomerthepuppy’.

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Brian James secures much sought after award

A local business is celebrating receiving a very special accolade – beating off stiff competition from UK and Irish retailers – by taking home the title of ‘Menswear Independent of the Year 2021’. Brian James, whose business is located on Main Street, secured the award at the internationally acclaimed Drapers Independents Awards in London last […]

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A local business is celebrating receiving a very special accolade – beating off stiff competition from UK and Irish retailers – by taking home the title of ‘Menswear Independent of the Year 2021’.

Brian James, whose business is located on Main Street, secured the award at the internationally acclaimed Drapers Independents Awards in London last week.

The highly respected and sought after Drapers Awards celebrate the very best of independent fashion retail and Brian James saw off exceptionally tough competition from other menswear stores to bring home this much coveted award.

Brian James were announced the winners at a celebratory luncheon in The Hilton London Bankside amongst fashion industry leaders and were presented with the iconic Drapers mannequin bust to much applause.

Commenting that Brian James has been a destination for fashion-conscious shoppers for more than 15 years, the judges praised Brian James’ strong “roster of brands” and said that it “offers an aspirational experience in Killarney”.

“Killarney is an incredible town to trade in – it is a brand in itself, offers the best of everything to those that are lucky to live here and an unbeatable experience for those that visit,” Brian O’Shea, who founded and runs Brian James for the last 15 years, said. “This award recognises Brian James and Killarney as a superior shopping destination town. Brian James and the other superb retailers in Killarney are an important piece of the jigsaw – the Park, the lakes and mountains, the hotels, restaurants and bars… it is the whole picture which guarantees the experience is first class.”

He added that his team are a key element of the experience at Brian James.

“My sincere thanks go to each of the team as without them we could not provide the customer experience and service we aim to ensure each and every time. Brian James’ success is also down to the partnerships we have developed over time with key international brands. On the store itself, of course we have relocated to our new super store on Main Street and more than doubled our floor space. Although it has been great to be able to design and create this stunning space to enhance the customer experience, it also allowed us to add more brands to our menswear mix. This year we will have added Hugo Boss and Eden Park to our familiar brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Gant, Barbour, Bugatti and Farah. The new space also plays host to ladies collections from Tommy Jeans, Calvin Klein, Diesel and Superdry and this is an exciting new element we are really enjoying too!”

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