1. I think back to the moment the little man arrived. White and blue and screams before a beautiful silence as he lay on mummy’s chest, raising his head to look at us each in turn with those piercing, sparkling eyes. Curious eyes and a strong neck. Just minutes old. And tears from me. Not sobs. Nothing audible. Just tears of wonder and smiles. A tremendous, overwhelming happiness. Pride in my wife who’d put herself through something extraordinary for our family. Extending our family beyond two, giving both sets of parents their first grandchild.

Source: Edward Smith

My son has moved into his own room, and has an actual bedtime. And I look at my writing desk. It is never tidy. But it is always active. As it is, there are recordings untranscribed; notes untyped. There has been a stillness about it that is distinctly odd. But this is ok. I have been on pause. This might be my only go at living those precious early weeks of fatherhood. It’s just the way it had to be. Of anything available in the world, that little man has needed two things from me – love and a roof. The first is boundless, the second I will work to maintain. But a writer needs to write.

Sports writer Andy McGeady beautifully describes the moment his first child is born followed by a lovely metaphor for how crafting articles mirrors the duties involved in child rearing. 

2. None of us knew, none of us saw it. But it involved Mullane. Brian Murphy was on the floor so Mullane must have hit him. The referee flashed red and how red rose all around him, how we jeered. The righteous noise of justice. He was gone and so was the game.

I then learned the strange GAA conundrum of the spare man and what to bloody do with him. Cork didn’t seem to know and an old adage that crosses any sporting border of a team redoubling its efforts when a man down came into play. Ken McGrath confirmed what I’d known about him for an hour now, that the buck toothed, shaven-head image was no mask. He was nails. Dan Shanahan continued to torment and then there was the lad you couldn’t trust. Paul Flynn and the free. It was a moment you might just for a second divert your attention elsewhere because what else was he going to do? Flynn of course, arrowed an improbable shot into the roof of the Cork net from a distance he had no right to strike from or to try from. It was almost offensive to the seasoned watchers around him, an insult that he tried it.

Source: INPHO

There is a way of these things snowballing. Waterford chests puffed out, Cork receded. Seamus Prendegast hit a point that seemed to start from next to us in the stand and when it went over, even the rookie knew something was amiss. Cork were desperate. Time somehow had caught us. 

Paul Ring describes the turning point of the 2004 Munster hurling final on Balls.ie.

3. One thing that Arter never considered back in January was that he was helping others as much as himself when he first spoke about Renée. With 11 babies stillborn every day in the UK, he now recognises the importance of raising awareness around a traumatic and sensitive subject. “On social media I get a lot of messages from people thanking me for telling my story, saying that it helped them a lot,” he says. “In a selfish way, when I did that first interview with you, I was just saying how I was feeling to get things off my chest. But now I’m really happy that I can help people and I’d be prepared to speak to anyone to make them feel better in their situation.”

Harry Arter opens up to Stuart James of The Guardian about how the memory of his daughter Renée, has enabled him to help others who have suffered a similar tragedy.

4. Fifty metres below me in the concrete labyrinth of the Aviva, though, everything is far from good. Jared Payne is in the medical centre and he is p***ing blood. As the teams came off the pitch for half-time Payne was not in any visible distress but he had missed the vital tackle in the lead-up to Dane Haylett-Petty’s try under the sticks. It was a straight-up tackle. Payne is one of Ireland’s surest and most reliable tacklers but he looked like a novice and he got up from the ground with a grimace. 

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Payne had a surgical procedure and was released from hospital the following Thursday. In terms of convalescence, a conservative approach is implemented. He will have no contact for at least 60 days and will have a battery of on-going tests to check progress.

Payne was unlucky but contact sport decrees that players who engage won’t have the sporting gods on their side all of the time.

Neil Francis offers some horrific detail of a challenge on Jared Payne during the win over Australia.

5. More than that, they had come to marvel at the scale of the club they support. For three hours, various Bayern figures ran through the financial data for the year: the number of members signed up, the amount of money raked in from shirt sales and TV deals. Pie charts and revenue graphs flashed on a big screen. Each one drew a gasp of appreciation. Some earned a round of applause.

It was an evening for the church of Bayern to celebrate the empire the club has built, the lands conquered, the people converted, the spoils won. It was Bayern, the corporate behemoth, laid bare, deservedly crowing about its wealth and its reach.

Rory Smith on the droves of Bayern Munich fans who turned out for the club’s AGM recently.

6. Most of his leave was spent at Sherwood or the Gretzkys’ favorite getaway, Gozzer Ranch Golf Club, on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a low-key place where Johnson once shot a 63 while barefoot. He played golf nearly every day with Wayne or Janet or both, with Paulina often along for company. “I think for a long time Dustin had been struggling with the question, “Who loves me and believes in me, not as a golfer but as a person?”,” says his trainer Joey Diovisalvi. “In that period of reflection he came to discover that Paulina and her family were his sanctuary. In the hardest of times they had his back. Love became the defining thing in his life, and when you’re finally not afraid to love back, that’s a life-changing shift.”

Alan Shipnuck describes Dustin Johnson’s love affair with golf as well as his friendship with Wayne Gretzky.

7.  If Brexit did force major and uncomfortable political decisions and new alliances were formed, if there indeed was a united Ireland (deep breaths now, settle yourself…), then everything would be on the table – flags, anthems, the whole shebang. From a personal point of view, I am uncomfortable with anyone who identifies himself with a cloth of different colours, arranged in a certain fashion. It’s the sort of thing was widely scoffed at when coverage of the American election brought us to the rust-belts of the States, where people still like to bear arms and fly the stars and bars on their front porch.

Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

And I never understand why Amhrán na bhFiann needs to be played at every single two-bit game in the GAA county calendar.

Declan Bogue has a strong take on the debate about playing national anthems at sports events.

Note: This article was updated with a different image accompanying the first extract. INPHO had stated that the previous image was Andy McGeady, when it was not.

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