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Smalltalk with Brendan Moloney: Former Forest and Northampton full back talks Kerry, coaching, and playing for Chris Wilder

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This week ex-professional footballer Brendan Moloney speaks to Adam Moynihan about his career in England, his toughest opponents, and coaching back home in Kerry.

 

Hi Brendan. Thanks for speaking to me.

No bother, Adam.

 

How are you coping with the lockdown?

It’s very frustrating, to be honest with you. But it’s affecting everyone and we have to be respectful of what’s going on. Hopefully if we live by the rules it won’t be too long before we come out the other side of it.

 

You’re currently coaching the Kerry U17s and the Killarney Athletic seniors. Are you enjoying it?

Yeah, I love it. I had no interest in coaching at the start of my career but that changed as I got older. When the injuries started coming, that kind of made the decision for me.

 

What is it about coaching that appeals to you?

I like putting a plan in place, working on it, and then seeing it come together on a matchday. When you work on something and then see it happen, you get a thrill. And I think you get a bug for it.

 

What’s your long-term goal in terms of coaching?

Long-term, I’d love to give it a go cross-channel, but obviously it’s not as easy as that. You need to prepare and learn as much as you can. Opportunities don’t knock too often. When you do get the chance, you have to be ready to take it.

 

How would you rate the standard in Kerry at the moment, both underage and senior? Are there players who have what it takes to go pro?

This is my first year with the Kerry U17s and there are some very good players. With regards to making it, it’s hard to tell. It takes a huge amount of dedication and discipline. You never know, hopefully in the next few years we’ll start to see players coming out of Kerry and going on to a professional set-up. They’re getting good coaching from a young age and they have great facilities in Tralee.

At senior level, Celtic are way out in front. Ourselves, Castleisland and Listowel would be next and then there’s a big drop to the other teams. Last season the boys did so well to get to three finals, and that was down to their commitment.

Celtic have had a core group for a number of years and they have added very good players from around the county, so realistically they expect to win everything domestically. Hopefully next season, if the commitment is there again from our lads, the gap won’t be as big as people think. And maybe there will be a league or a cup there for us in the next few years.

 

What’s your happiest memory from your playing days?

Definitely winning the League Two title with Northampton in 2015/16. We had a good group of lads, the banter was great, everyone got on, and we won the league handy enough. It was just one of those years when we went into games knowing we were going to win.

 

You played under some very high-profile managers. Who was your favourite?

Chris Wilder at Northampton. He was a brilliant manager. I can see why he has had so much success with his hometown club, Sheffield United. He used to get the best out of everyone, but he had that harsh streak about him as well. He had everyone’s respect and you just wanted to go out and do well for him.

 

 

Who was the best player you ever played with?

Wes Morgan. I played alongside him at Forest and he would just make you look good. An unbelievable defender. You just knew he was never going to have a bad game.

 

Toughest opponent? I seem to recall a duel with Zlatan at one stage…

Yeah, I was lucky enough to play against Man United in the League Cup that time with Northampton, so I could pick any of those players. They put out a strong team and Rooney and guys like that were playing. They were just on a completely different level. It was an unbelievable experience.

Back in my Forest days, Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer (Swansea) were so direct and tricky. Very tough to play against.

 

Any embarrassing moments? Did you have to do initiations at any of your clubs?

Yeah, I used to hate doing them. It’s at every club you go to. Normally it was on the first away trip. You’d be down for dinner at six/half six and next thing you’d hear the glasses being tapped. It was awful. I used to even hate watching other people doing it!

 

What was your go-to song?

Ah, anything! I’d lash out Stand By Me or Wonderwall, anything you could get away with for 30 seconds. You’d try and pick a song that the boys would clap along to! They were just always terrible.

 

Who’s the most famous person in your contacts?

One name I saw there, and he is absolutely flying at the moment, is Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He was on loan with us for six months at Northampton. I haven’t spoken to him since, and he probably doesn’t even have the same number!

 

Favourite restaurant for takeaway/delivery?

Kate Kearney’s.

 

Favourite spot for a pint?

Kate Kearney’s as well. Or if I go into Killarney, The Laurels.

 

And last one… Which of your Killarney Athletic or Beaufort clubmates would you least like to get stuck in an elevator with?

Any of them who are Liverpool fans!

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Live referee mics should be the norm – swearing concerns be damned

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by Adam Moynihan

I was disappointed to learn that the GAA are preventing TG4 from using their live referee mic in this Sunday’s Wexford hurling final.

(And not just because I had already written an article saying how great live referee mics are and how they are sure to be implemented across the board. Ctrl + A. Delete.)

TG4’s GAA coverage is superb and they raised the bar once again when they mic’d up referee John O’Halloran for the Kerry hurling final between Causeway and Ballyduff.

Pinning a microphone on the referee is standard practice in televised rugby and judging by the positive response to Gaelic games’ first foray into this territory, I was expecting it to become the norm.

It still might but, explaining their decision to The 42, the GAA said that they were not aware beforehand of the ref mic being trialled in Stack Park on Sunday.

“They believe such a development will require more discussion and education if it is to be implemented on a more regular basis in live TV coverage and could possibly need a policy change,” Fintan O’Toole reported.

The image of the Association is surely the primary concern here.

Players and managers – usually the worst behaved participants when it comes to things like swearing – will be among those who get “educated” on the subject. Some verbal abuse that might otherwise be muted for television viewers will, in all likelihood, be picked up by the referee’s microphone. You would imagine that the teams involved will be reminded of this the week of a televised game.

It also makes sense from Croke Park’s point of view to speak to referees and give them guidance on how to conduct themselves when the mic is on.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if senior GAA figures are currently fretting over the possibility of an agitated ref making headlines for something they say in the heat of the moment. And make no mistake about it, some match officials can eff and jeff with the best of them.

A friend of mine (a Wexford man, funnily enough) recalls an incident when a teammate was unceremoniously taken out of it by an opponent.

“Ah ref, for f***’s sake!” the victim complained.

“I gave you the f***ing free,” the referee replied. “What do you want me to do, slap him in the face with a wet fish?!”

The GAA might think that a referee swearing like that would leave all of us red-faced. In reality the clip would be a viral sensation and the general public would probably call for the official in question to run for Áras an Uachtárain. (He’d get my ****ing vote.)

The odd swear word from someone involved is bound to sneak through every now and then but you’d hear the same – and plenty more – at any match you attend from Cahersiveen to County Antrim.

Implementing the referee mic on a wider scale is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t appear to take a huge amount of effort or expense for the broadcaster to set it up and, more importantly, it offers a wonderful insight into the unknown.

Listening to referees explain their decisions in real time will clear a lot of things up for commentators, analysts and the media. We will no longer have to speculate about what they did or did not see, or what specific rule is being cited, or why.

Viewers, especially those who might be casual followers of the sport, will appreciate it too and become more educated; I know that’s how I feel when I watch rugby, for example.

It just leads to greater transparency and understanding.

Well done to TG4 and the Kerry County Board for being the pioneers. I’m sure others will follow their lead – as soon as the GAA allow them to do so.

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Popularity of Ladies Gaelic Football on the rise

According to official TAM Ireland figures, 491,000 tuned into TG4’s coverage of the TG4 Ladies Football finals on Sunday with an average audience of 204,900 people watching the live broadcast […]

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According to official TAM Ireland figures, 491,000 tuned into TG4’s coverage of the TG4 Ladies Football finals on Sunday with an average audience of 204,900 people watching the live broadcast of the Senior Final between Meath and Kerry.

The match had a 30.6% share of viewing among individuals. Viewing peaked at 5.10pm with 279,800 viewers as Meath closed in on the two in a row to retain the Brendan Martin Cup.

A total 46,400 attended the match in person in Croke Park on Sunday, the first TG4 Ladies Football Final to have full capacity allowance since 2019.

Viewers from over 50 countries tuned into the finals on the TG4 Player with 14,000 streams of the game from international viewers. Over 20,000 streams were also registered from Irish viewers.

TG4 Director General Alan Esslemont said: “My deepest gratitude to all the counties especially Wexford and Kerry who battled to the end through this season’s Championship, hearty congratulations to both Laois and Meath and I am really looking forward to the re-match of Antrim and Fermanagh which will be carried live on TG4. A special word of thanks goes to the huge crowd which travelled to the Finals from all the corners of Ireland. County Meath especially have become a role model for other counties in how to build huge attending support for LGFA in both genders and at all ages. Sunday’s massive expression of Meath ‘fandom’ in Croke Park brought their county the greatest credit.

Sunday’s broadcast was the 22nd edition of the TG4 Ladies Gaelic Football Championship, a unique history of a sport minoritized by society being championed by a language media minoritized by the state. By consciously standing together we have grown together. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the LGFA in 2024 let us all hope by that time that we are even further along the road towards true equality of opportunity for both Ladies Gaelic Football and Irish language media.”

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