Sport: 5 of the most clumsy, cynical and downright awful tackles we’ve seen in sport

Originally published by, Thursday 8th August, 2013. To read the original, please click here

Sean Cavanagh’s rugby tackle on a goal- hungry Conor McManus during last weekend’s All- Ireland SFC Quarter Final between Tyrone and Monaghan was a new low for An Cluiche Álainn.

 so the debate on Sean Cavanagh’s rugby tackle in Croke Park during last weekend’s SFC All Ireland quarter-final rumbles on.

RTÉ pundit and All- Ireland Senior Football medalist Joe Brolly sensationally tore Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh to shreds after the Tyrone man performed a typically cynical tackle on Monaghan’s Conor McManus, dragging the Monaghan forward down to the ground during a potential goal- scoring opportunity. Cavanagh’s tackle, which, sadly, we have now come to expect from Tyrone, would have been more at home on a rugby pitch rather than a GAA pitch.

All that said, such cynical tackling isn’t unique to GAA, unfortunately. Here, we look at some horrendously cynical tackles across other sports.

The Spear Tackle on Brian O’Driscoll

Cynical tackling doesn’t get more cynical than the spear tackle performed on Brian Driscoll during the 2005 Lions tour. At the very top of his game, O’Driscoll was, at that time, undoubtedly the world’s best player. Targeted from the outset, the spear tackle executed on O’Driscoll must be one of the worst incidents ever recorded in the game. Forever a talking point among supporters and pundits, it’s an incident in O’Driscoll’s illustrious career, which the star centre refuses to speak about, to this day.

Roy Keane’s tackle on Alfie Håland

Perhaps the worst tackle seen in Premiership history. The notoriously tough and ruthless Keane, without doubt the best midfielder of his generation, sullied his stellar footballing career with this horrendously high tackle on Håland’s right knee. Keane, it seems, was gaining revenge after Håland accused Keane of an attempted foul and feigning injury after Keane damage his anterior cruciate ligament in Elland Road in 1997. Håland never played a full, 90- minute game again and he has since implied that Keane’s tackle was, ultimately, responsible for his retirement from football. Keane, for his part, admitted in his explosive autobiography that he fully intended to injure Håland.

John Terry’s Tackle on James Milner

Perhaps not as vicious, John Terry’s tackle on James Milner was an incredibly excessive and clumsy tackle by, perhaps, the single most controversial Premiership player of the modern era. Recklessly sliding in and catching fellow England international player Milner on the shin with his studs, Terry’s excessive challenge landed him a yellow when, perhaps, a red would have been more than deserved.

Leonardo elbow on Tab Ramos, 1994 World Cup

Bizarrely, the some of the most cynical tackles in sport happen in the glare of the World Cup. Arguably the most watched and closely followed sporting event outside of the Olympics, almost every World Cup has had a cynical and controversial tackle that has proved one the talking points of the tournament. Leonardo’s uncharacteristic flash of anger towards Tab Ramos during the Brazil resulted in a red card for the Brazilian while US soccer player Ramos lay on the ground with a fractured skull.

Benjamin Massing’s tackle on Claudio Caniggia, 1990 World Cup

It’s easy to forget, but Claudio Caniggia was one of Argentina’s finest players in a country that seems to consistently churn out fast, skillful, world- class players. Unsurprising, then, when Benjamin Massing tried to take him out of the Argentina – Cameroon game after two players had already attempted to take him out. An inevitable red card for Massing in the final minute of the game.

Sport: Five Injuries That Really Shook Sport

Originally published by, Thursday 27h June, 2013. To read the original, please click here

Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll twisting and writhing in pain after the notorious spear tackle inflicted upon him in New Zealand in 2005

IT’S BEEN AN EVENTFUL WEEK  for the doctors, physiotherapists and general medical backroom staff working in sport, this week. Not only did Victoria Azarenka slip and experience a nasty fall that pulled a few muscles in her legs, she emitted a scream that, no doubt, was heard as far away as remote parts of Mongolia.

The Lions, too, suffered a huge setback this week with 33- year- old Paul O’Connell snapping his right forearm, which brought his Lions tour to an end. The Limerick man is set to stay on with the panel, working in an unofficial coaching capacity.

Here, I look at other sports people whose injuries irreparably changed the their careers.

1. Michael Owen

Charismatic and with no shortage of pace in his legs, recently retired striker Michael Owen electrified the England football team during 1998’s World Cup campaign, netting important goals that reminded many a BBC pundit of English legend Gary Lineker at his peak. Owen’s career would never fully recover from a hamstring injury that Owen sustained at a match against Leeds during his days at Liverpool and his career was plagued by recurring injuries.

2. Brian O’Driscoll

It’s hard not to think of Paul O’Connell’s recent injury on the Lions tour and not think of the horrific injury endured by BOD. The spear tackle executed on O’Driscoll during the 2005 Lions match with New Zealand must be one of the worst incidents ever recorded in the game. Forever a talking point among supporters and pundits, it’s an incident in O’Driscoll’s illustrious career which the star centre refuses to speak about.

3. Sonia O’Sullivan

The nation held its breath when Sonia O’Sullivan lined up in the women’s 5,000m final at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Though O’Sullivan’s injury relates to a stomach upset, which she claims disrupted her performance, one suspects O’Sullvan completely lost all focus and nerves seemed to have affected the Cork legend’s performance, more than anything. Like all true champions, she would later stage a comeback in 1998 at the European Athletics Championships in Budapest.

4. Dean Ashton

While on International duties with the England football team, former West Ham United centre forward Dean Ashton suffered a tackle from Shaun- Wright Phillips in training that shattered his left ankle in an injury that would prematurely end his football career at the age of 26.

5. Monica Seles

Easily one of the most shocking injuries to be inflicted on anyone on or off the field of play, the 1993 stabbing of Monica Seles by obsessed Steffi Graf fan Günter Parche sent shockwaves throughout the world of sport. Traumatised by the incident, Seles- who was enjoying the greatest successes of her playing career- stepped away from competitive tennis for two years.

Theatre Review: Pep Talk at the Axis Theatre, Ballymun, Dublin, Saturday 15th June, 2013

Originally published by, Wednesday 19th June, 2013. To read the original, please click here.

A play of two halves: Alberto Ramos’s Pep Talk, based on the life and career of former FC Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola

BILLED as a “fictional, funny show”, Iban Beltran’s attempt to turn former FC Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola into a more confident, slick and less ridiculous incarnation of The Office’s David Brent falls flat from the very opening.

Staged in the style of a business presentation complete with a projector and projector screen, the now – former FC Barcelona coach – who’s extraordinary managerial career at FC Barcelona brought 14 out of a possible 19 trophies with the Spanish side in just four years – is presented to us as a motivational speaker who gives business people the tools and advice that they need to succeed.

There’s nothing wrong with the premise of the play. Numerous sporting stars have, over the years, moved into motivational speaking and the setting of this monologue is convincing. Monologues inspired by motivational speakers have, in the past, provided the roots of great drama: just think of Tom Cruise’s tour de force as Frank T.J. Mackey in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia.

The most interesting elements of the play are its political dimensions, which feature early in the monologue but then seem to peter out. When Pascual’s character is engaging both himself and the audience with his history of the identity of the Catalan people, the monologue is at its most energetic. A strong, vocal and consistent supporter of Catalan independence from Spain, Guardiola emerges as that rarest of things: a sports star who actually has something to say; who has views that resonate with his / her people and that have an impact on opinion making. There are also enough witty references to some of football’s most revered legends, including Dutch footballing genius Johan Cruyff, to keep fans of the sport’s history enlightened and entertained.

Gaiety School of Acting graduate Pep Garcia-Pascual as Pep Guardiola

Unfortunately, the monologue suffers most when it becomes too knowing of its own influences and of its own theatrical models and then proceeds to inform the audience of these influences and models. In one telling moment in the play, Pacual compares his rivalry with José Mourinho to that of “The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; Blur and Oasis.” It does get worse, however; Pacual then goes to compare his character’s jealously of the success and achievements of his rival, José “The Special One” Mourinho to that of Antonio Salieri, the protagonist of Peter Schaffer’s classic play Amadeus, and his own envy of the effortless genius of Wolfgang Mozart. This particular influence finds itself in the mind of the audience early on, though the writer assumes the ignorance of the audience and, in doing so, makes a point of something that is so obvious.

The other problem is that the monologue of Pep Talk is predictable and lacks any degree of surprise or originality. Unlike, say, Pat Kinevane’s Silent – a brilliant dramatic monologue that reveals, slowly and with masterful subtlety, its many textures over the course of the monologue that is both rehearsed and improvised – Pep Talk reveals its hand too early and doesn’t leave the audience any room to feel involved. In this sense, it’s a play of two halves.

Star rating: 2 / 5
Review by: Philip Cummins
Venue: Axis Theatre in Ballymun

Written by: Alberto Ramos, Translated into English by Silvia Sanfeliu
Directed by: Iban Beltran
Cast: Pep Garcia-Pascual

News: Philip Cummins – Sportswriter for

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The big story of yesterday, today and, probably, the rest of the week is Sir Alex’s departure from Old Trafford. I’ve written a piece about the 5 players who defined Sir Alex’s reign. Check it out here.