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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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Ballyspillane Community and Family Resource Centre launch Ageless roadshow

  Ballyspillane Community and Family Resource Centre is putting on a series of meetings and talks to offer older members of the community a chance to meet people from organisations […]





Ballyspillane Community and Family Resource Centre is putting on a series of meetings and talks to offer older members of the community a chance to meet people from organisations that will enhance their lives.

The first talk will take place on October 3 at the Ballyspillane Community Resource Centre and will continue thereafter on a regular basis.

Thomas Doyle from SpecSavers will give the first talk and other groups like the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Alone, Family Carers Ireland, the Health and Safety Executive, Heartbeat Killarney, Be Active Be Well and the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland will join at future dates.

“We felt there was a need to bring all the organisations that can give older people the opportunity to come and meet organisations to offer support, services and activities that align with the life they wish to live,” said Sophie Haighway of the Ballyspillane Community Resource.

“The Ageless road show is a combination of organisations to help older people in the community. The groups that have committed to attend are the on alternative months. There will a guest speaker each month,”

The roadshow will be held in Ballyspillane CFRC the first Tuesday of every month from 12.30 pm-2 pm.

Further details from Sophie on 085 7723723.


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Climb Carrauntoohil three times in one day

A Tipperary woman is going to attempt to climb Carrauntoohil three times in one day to raise money for a sick child. Nikita Conlon from Roscrea is a personal trainer […]



A Tipperary woman is going to attempt to climb Carrauntoohil three times in one day to raise money for a sick child.

Nikita Conlon from Roscrea is a personal trainer and care assistant who has been working in health care for 18 years.

While working at the Milford Care Centre she met the family of Noah Quish. The six-year-old from Monaleen, Limerick was born with serious health issues ranging from a heart defect, severe laryngomalacia, severe sleep apnoea, scoliosis and chromosome deletion.

‘I worked in the Milford Care Centre for five years where I met Una Quish, Noah’s mam, so I felt the need to do something to help his family. I decided to set up this fundraiser.
“I plan to set off at midnight on Friday October 6, and hope to finish at 5 pm on Saturday.

“I have previously Climbed Kilimanjaro in February 2023 and raised over €6000 for the Dean Maxwell Nursing Home in Roscrea,” she said.

“My whole life I have felt the need to help others and now it’s time to help Noah and I need the support to help him.

“This challenge is not going to be easy but I am going to give it my all.

“I have experienced hikers coming along on the day.’

Her plan is to leave Cronin’s Yard at midnight and to return to the starting point at 4.30 am. She will restart at 5 am from the bottom of the Devil’s Ladder. By 10 am on Saturday she hopes to have started her third and final lap.

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