17th March 2023

Liam Kearns

This week in the GAA has been dominated by the shock, sudden and untimely death of Liam Kearns and he is one of those people who has been part and parcel of the Gaelic Football scene for over 30 years.

   I first met Liam when he was manager of the Limerick footballers and I had numerous dealings with him over the years professionally and privately, and he was a lovely man and he loved the GAA and Gaelic Football. He loved coaching and managing players.

   He was also involved with Laois and Tipperary over the years but he was back in Roscommon as assistant manager to John Evans from 2012 to 2015. His connection with Roscommon football continued when he was appointed manager of Clann na nGael in 2020 and during that time he was a permanent fixture on the sidelines here in Roscommon and many a chat we had over that time.

   He was a deep thinker about coaching and about strength and conditioning and all other aspects of the game and he was a very popular man with players. He loved working with young players and developing them into the senior ranks.  Indeed he was doing very well with the Offaly footballers since he took over as manager there in August of last year, and they are still in with a chance of promotion in the league with two rounds to go. In fact he took a training session with the Offaly U-20’s on Sunday morning just a short time before his sudden death.

   His passing is a huge shock to everyone who knew him and we extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Angela and to his daughters Rachel and Laura and all his family and friends. May he rest in peace.

High Drama in The Cotswolds

In all the years that I have been covering sport I cannot recall a more emotionally charged event than we witnessed at Cheltenham on Tuesday. Firstly we saw the next superstar of national hunt racing when Constitution Hill showed why many think he will become one of the greatest horses we have ever seen when he obliterated the field in the Champion Hurdle.

  But there was even better to come as Honeysuckle powered up the famous hill to win the mares hurdle in her last race.  The scenes as Rachel Blackmore came back in to the winners’ enclosure with trainer Henry De Bromhead waiting have rarely if ever been seen at the festival. The tragedy that struck the trainer over the past 12 months made it all the more poignant. A few people who were there have told me that the general consensus was that it was the greatest day ever seen at the festival and that’s some claim.

   I am not a huge racing fan but I enjoy Cheltenham and what happened on Tuesday was truly special.

Grand Slam Hopes

Hopefully Andy Farrell’s Ireland can win the grand slam tomorrow. It would be a massive anti-climax if they don’t do it but I am confident. It is good to see Robbie Henshaw back on the starting 15 too. 

   It is some situation when you realise that Andy Farrell’s own son Owen is the England captain and his dad will be doing everything in his power to make sure his son goes home disappointed.

   This Irish team have passed every single test that they have been handed over the past two years or so and it would be a superb achievement to win this grand slam.

   It is the final ever Six Nations match for Johnny Sexton who is now probably our greatest ever player and that is some statement to make. With the World Cup coming up it would be a huge boost to Ireland to win it. But that’s for another day. Go on lads!

   The Irish players who line out at The Aviva tomorrow can write their names into the history books and they should be able to do it as long as they continue to work as hard as they have done in this championship.