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The A to Z of the World Cup




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.


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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Rathmore students look to the future

Students in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore looked to the future as they explored third level opportunities. The teens took part in a number of activities to mark College Awareness […]




Students in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore looked to the future as they explored third level opportunities.

The teens took part in a number of activities to mark College Awareness Week which was held in schools and other education settings nationwide last week.

The focus throughout the week in their school was to highlight the wide range of options open to them when they leave school and to realise that there are pathways to suit all types of learners.

Students from First to Sixth Year took part in activities to get them thinking about their future plans.

First and Second year students completed a module on ‘My Pathways’ and Third Years had an introductory talk on options after school.

Transition Year students worked on a display on all the options and pathways available after school which will remain up permanently.

Senior Cycle students attended the Careers Fair in Munster Technological University (MTU) where they got a chance to meet universities, colleges of Further Education, agricultural colleges, apprenticeship and more education and training providers from around the country including past sudent Aidan O’Mahony at the stand with An Garda Síochána.

Leaving Cert and LCA students had a really informative talk in school on Further Education and apprenticeships from Ella O’Donoghue, Admissions Officer of Kerry College.

The week finished with a talk for Senior Cycle students on Business and Law options in UCC by Ian Wallace.

“A highlight of the week was the involvement of past students, who sent us video clips on their career stories so far and shared tips with students,” Niamh Dwyer, Guidance Counsellor at the school, said.

“It was fabulous to see how well our former students have done and it was really important for our current students to see the diversity of pathways they have taken including apprenticeships, Further Education courses, university, travel, setting up businesses and returning to education as mature students. We are really grateful to the past students who reconnected with us for this week, their input was inspiring and invaluable.”

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Students have education and fun London trip

Leaving Certificate students from St Brigid’s returned home Saturday night after a hectic four-day tour to London. The 87 girls took a tour of London on their first day in the city […]




Leaving Certificate students from St Brigid’s returned home Saturday night after a hectic four-day tour to London.

The 87 girls took a tour of London on their first day in the city after landing. They visited some of the famous locations on the journey, such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square. They enjoyed a night at the Lyceum Theatre in the West End watching ‘The Lion King’.

The girls went to The Natural History Museum on day two, which has one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artefacts. They took their time looking around the massive cathedral-like structure’s sculptures and frescoes. Four coloured zones that focus on topics including the environment, evolution, the planet, and wildlife make up the museum’s divisions. They then took pleasure in a trip to the fascinating Science Museum. It was the ideal location for someone with an inquisitive mind, full of amazing things to do and explore.

The Victoria and Albert Museum was the next stop on the itinerary. The V&A’s collection of art spans 5,000 years, from prehistoric periods to the modern era. The Mouse Trap, an Agatha Christie play, was the entertainment for this evening at the St Martin’s Lane Theatre. The play’s 70th anniversary was this week.

On day three, the girls boarded a capsule for a 30-minute spin of the London Eye and marvelled at the breath-taking sights of London. After that, they went to the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Planetarium and Astronomy Centre, where they experienced an amazing adventure through space. They went to the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, planting one foot on the eastern and the other on the western hemisphere of our planet.

The girls ended their evening at what was a highlight for many at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

On the final day before flying home, the girls went to Oxford Street to do a spot of shopping.

“A great trip was had by all where many memories were made,” said Sheree Murphy, one of the teachers who travelled with them on the trip.

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