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Downey protests his innocence following French suspension

Kildare jockey Robbie Downey is actively protesting his innocence saying he will definitely be appealing and doing everything he can to clear his name after receiving a 6-month suspension from racing authorities in France after allegedly testing positive for taking cocaine.

The 24 year old, who is based in Britain, has had two independent hair tests carried out, which returned negative results for the drug, however the authorities in France have refused to take them into consideration.

Understandably Downey is upset by this and has made public the results of his tests, saying he is “bitterly disappointed to have been found in breach” and that authorities have ignored the medical evidence he presented which shows he has not taken the drug.

An official report posted by France Galop reveals that Downey, who has been used mainly this season by trainers David O’Meara and David Barron and who has ridden nine UK winners, tested positive for metabolics of cocaine while in action at Lion d’Angers on June 19th of this year.

At a France Galop hearing on October 3rd, the Kilcock native was found guilty. The verdict has stunned Downey and indeed the Professional Jockey’s Association, who will ask, if necessary, that the BHA reciporate the punishment which is due to come into effect from October 24th to April 23rd 2020.

The PJA have claimed a complete miscarriage of justice after the France Galop imposed a six month suspension for allegedly riding under the influence of cocaine, despite Downey providing two hair tests that returned negative for the drug.

The PJA’s plan to appeal this comes in light of the BHA announcing last month that it may introduce hair testing, give that drug use can be detected in hair three months after consumption.

The PJA are extremely concerned that there could be a serious risk of a miscarriage of justice and chief executive Paul Struthers, who is firmly behind Downey, stated; “It must be extremely upsetting to be facing a six month suspension when you have never taken cocaine and I am very concerned that there is a risk of a miscarriage of justice.

“As soon as Robbie found out that his ‘A’ sample had returned a positive result he immediately paid for a hair sample at an accredited British laboratory in order to prove his innocence. He also paid for a second hair sample at an accredited French laboratory and both of these tests returned negative. These results clearly demonstrate that he hasn’t taken cocaine. We are greatly concerned that these two seperate and independent results have been ignored by France Galop.

“It is unclear why France Galop is refusing to apply the same testing thresholds that operate in other testing regimes and why they refuse to disclose the levels in Robbie’s urine, this despite the fact Robbie asked them to do so when reporting the analysis of his ‘B’ sample.

“We are therefore taking the unprecedented step of making those hair samples public to demonstrate that Robbie is telling the truth.

“The BHA recently announced that they would be bringing in hair sampling as an additional testing matrix and Robbie has two such samples that prove his innocence.

“In those circumstances it would be a grave injustice were he to be banned for six months for something he clearly hasn’t done.

In the publicised summary of the hearing the France Galop noted that, while the hair samples showed that Downey was not a habitual user of cocaine, they did not prove conclusively that he had not consumed the drug.

Downey said; “I am 100% innocent and have never taken the drug. I have two negative hair samples to back this up and I will be definitely appealing and doing everything I can to clear my name”

MVP for Kilcock’s Kirsten Monaghan in Limerick

Well done to Kirsten Monaghan of the North Kildare Eagles u18 girls basketball team who won MVP (most valued player) when her side played in a tournament in UL on Saturday last.

The Eagles finished third in the tournament, beating the hosts UL Huskies & losing to Titans from Galway & St Colms from Limerick.

Monaghan, who is also a top athlete with her club St Cocas in Kilcock, was joined on The Eagles team by fellow Kilcock girls Katie Goodwin, Caoimhe Matthews & Hanna Eneaneke. The rest of team are made up of girls from Maynooth, Leixlip & Naas.

Maynooth Student begins journey that could lead to Paris Olympics 2024

Maynooth Post Primary/CC student Aoife Doran has been specially selected to take part in a regional development squad for the Irish Swim Team. Effectively, this will give Aoife the very best shot at being picked to represent Ireland in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.

The ambitious programme aims to enter 4 young Irish females as a relay team to the 2024 Olympics.

Interestingly, this will be the first Irish entry since the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.

There are only 3 hubs of 12 swimmers based around Ireland and athletes will have to maintain high standards to stay in the squad. As well as being in the Leinster Regional development squad, Aoife trains hard 7 times a week. She could also be called up to the Swim Ireland International team shortly.

This Sunday, Aoife will compete in the Senior Schools gala for Maynooth Post Primary.

Coffee, Christmas and Cows: Meet Mickey Burke!

We caught up with Mickey Burke recently to try and get to know the Meath Gaa legend a bit better. On the pitch we know he isn’t one bit afraid of his opposite number when it comes to winning the ball but off the field of play, what is Mickey’s worst nightmare, what’s the bravest thing he’s ever done and what’s on the Longwood man’s bucket list?

When are you happiest? When drinking coffee, in the gym/training or watching sport on TV.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? Never give up.

Do you have any pre-match rituals? A lof of caffeine plus I like to go for a jog or lift some weights before a game to warm me up.

What is one moment in sport history that you will never forget? I will never forget USA 94. I was very, very young but our own pub was packed for the Ireland games. I remember the final and thinking wow that World Cup trophy is very shiny!

What is your favourite post-exercise snack? A protein shake from ROS Nutrition.

What is your all-time favourite food? Fresh fruit. I love all the berries.

Your idea of hell on earth? A room full of rats!

What is on your bucket list? To attend the Rugby League Grand Final at Old Trafford. Or I’d love to box professionally, even for one fight.

What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done? Getting on my father’s cattle most days. It takes great bravery and you have to have your wits about you. BEWARE OF THE BULL!!!

Any superstitions? Not really, I just make sure I have all my gear ready the night before a match, so I lay out “the man”

Favourite month of the year and why? December. It’s Christmas and everyone is around, all the family and friends.

Fav TV show? Only Fools And Horses.

Position: Anywhere! I’ve played championship football for Meath in every position except in goals and midfield.

Played my first game: I think it was an u10 game v Ballinabrackey in Longwood.

Favorite player growing up: Darren Fay and or Trevor Giles.

What was the best sporting event you ever witnessed? Meath winning the 1999 All-Ireland final v Cork and the craic we had on Hill 16 alongside my father.

Where would you love to go on holiday? The Blue Lagoon in Iceland or New Zealand.

****** Which would you rather? ******

Tayto or King? Neither. Ask Ross Ryan!

Tea or coffee? Coffee.

Skinny or chunky chips? Chunky.

Cats or dogs? Dogs.

**** Teammates ****

Quickest teammate: Cillian O’Sullivan.

Funniest: Sean Tobin.

Most skillful: Mickey Newman or Sean Tobin.

Fittest: Séamus Lavin

Committed: Donal Keogan.

Best dresser: Shane Glynn.

Jumpers for Goalposts

By David Doyle of Rhyle Sports

Looking Out into that empty field evoked differing emotions in Keith Kelly. There was sadness that the same space that once was home to the tackles, the shrieks the boyhood heroes but above all the connectivity was now vacant. Struggling with his own mental health at the time there was also a yearning for the return of those carefree times, for the camaraderie and the simplicity.

Kelly went on to found Jumpers for Goalposts. It is a throwback concept to the days when outdoor activity ruled and its concepts are simple, accessible and inclusive. The ‘rules’ could not be simpler and in an era where almost everything is measured, ranked and tracked it is a refreshingly qualitative concept. The ‘rules’ alternate between simple and humorous. It is played on a grass area large enough to host a game. All that is required is a ball and four jumpers for goalposts. There are no officials, half time is when players need a break and when it’s time to finish up ‘next goal wins’.

The current media is awash with the epidemic that is mental health. Despite the fact that transportation and communication are easier than ever before as a race, we are more isolated and disconnected than at any time in history. With the situation worsening on a daily basis the ability to apportion blame is ongoing. Whilst Jumpers for goalposts is not a panacea for all male mental health ills it uses the dual strands of simplicity and retracing your steps to return you to a point in your life where you were at your happiest.

It is not a competitor to masters football and its origins and motivations in setting up tip the hat as far in the direction of mental health as they do to football ‘Jumpers for goalposts is very much about promoting a mental health space. As men, we just don’t talk and it is about giving men the opportunity and confidence to build up a network. Football acts as the hook’ adds Kelly.

Founded on a trial basis Kelly recalls an element of apprehension prior to the first meeting ‘It began as a sort of social experiment, I was tending to meet old friends mainly at funerals and I remember thinking would anyone actually turn up? Over 70 people showed up and had a great time’. From there the concept expanded to new locations and continues to gain a foothold in new communities. It has recently begun in Kilcock, Galway and Mountmellick.

As long as I can recall I have had a fascination with retracing your steps. In literal and simplistic terms retracing your steps is a regressive technique used to find something you lost. In metaphorical terms, it is about reconnecting with an inner sense of happiness and simplicity that has subsequently been either lost or eroded. Like many, when trying times or circumstances present themselves I tend to revisit places or activities that you associate with the creation of happiness. It has happened that often that it is uncanny.

In many ways, Jumpers for goalposts adopts that symmetrical approach by bringing you back to a situation that brought you happiness in your childhood and early adulthood. Whilst initially the love of the game may have brought you here it is now that plus the camaraderie and connectivity that has brought you back. Kelly sums up the concept ‘It gives you a really great sense of belonging, sometimes I think there is just not enough laughter in the world. Jumpers for goalposts is completely non competitive. If you fall over, someone picks you up”.

The success of the concept and the uptake thus far is something Kelly is very proud of as it creates a sense of laughter and community spirit. The concept has now spread to four locations throughout the region and new community leaders have come on board. Participants have included Paul Howard (of Ross O’Carroll Kelly fame) and Kelly has been interviewed on the Ryan Tubridy show as well as being featured in the Irish Independent by acclaimed journalist Ewan McKenna. Yet, despite the lights, camera, action moments that have arisen since the creation of the concept I am left in little doubt that the intrinsic satisfaction garnered from the simple differences jumpers for goalposts makes in the lives of the participants outweighs that of any national profile or attention ‘I tend to arrive a little bit early and reflect, I remember sitting on the side of the hill one day and a guy arrived early. In our conversation he opened up to me describing some of the issues he was having with alcohol and cocaine. I remember thinking that jumpers for goalposts was almost part of his therapy and ultimately that is what the concept is all about’.

The next time you pass by a grassy area on Sunday morning you may be greeted by an unfamiliar sight. A plethora of middle aged men may now occupy the previously vacant space. Whilst you will bear witness to the banter, the laughter, the tackles, the therapy and the connectivity there will come a point where the tension may tangibly increase, just as the game draws to a close.

Next goal wins.