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Irish Wonderkid Moloney Is United Hero In Champions League Final

The day I played for Manchester United. By Darragh Moloney, aged 7

Darragh Moloney in the black United away Jersey, with his brother at the Champions League home coming celebrations at Old Trafford.

It was a Saturday night at the Olympic Stadium in London and 80,000 fans were watching me. I was so excited to be playing in the Champions League Final. It was going to be a tough match.

It was Manchester United v Barcelona. I was a forward for Manchester United playing with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. The referee blew his whistle. I was the Captain so I took the kick off.

It was an intense match. Bruno Fernandes got the ball in the middle. He passed a great ball to me. I shot the ball and it was a great shot but Ter Stegen, the Barcelona keeper, made a brilliant save. It was a corner. The ball flew in like a rocket but one of the Barcelona defenders headed the ball away. Barcelona’a star player Messi was on the break. He was sprinting up the field. He shot and sadly he scored. Barcelona scored again and again. It was half time and we were down by three goals.

We had our team talk.

The match started and Barcelona took the kick off. One of the Barcelona defenders got the ball but I tackled him and scored. And then I scored again five minutes later and again one minute after that. It was one of the best comebacks I ever saw. The referee blew his whistle as it was now full time. But the match was not over yet, it was extra time.

Barcelona took an early lead but I was not giving up. Marcus Rashford scored for Manchester United and it was now 4-4. Messi then scored to bring it to 5- for Barcelona. In the last minute of extra time I was sprinting up to the Barcelona goal. The fans jumped out of their seats. I took a shot and it was a great goal. The referee blew his whistle and it went to penalties.

Barcelona took the first penalty and they scored. Bruno Fernandes took the next penalty for Manchester United and he also scored. Barcelona took the next penalty and they scored. Now it was my turn, I stepped up to the penalty spot and I shot the ball into the top corner of the net. Barcelona scored their next three penalties but so did Manchester United. It was sudden death….

Messi was up first for Barcelona. He struck the ball it it hit the post. Now it was my turn again. If I scored this I would win the match for my team and get to lift the cup. There was silence in the stadium and my heart was beating really fast but I knew that I could score. I stepped up to the ball and I sent the keeper the wrong way and the ball went into the bottom corner of the net.

We had won the Champions League Final.

Just when I was about to lift the cup I felt something on my shoulder and it was shaking me. It was My DAD!!!! He was telling me to get up and get dressed for school.

When I went to school I told all of my friends about my adventures playing for Manchester United.

The End.

MY Story – By Lester Cassidy

My Story – By Lester Cassidy

It was the 23rd of July 1998, just four days after my 19th birthday and for me it was just another Thursday at work as an apprentice carpenter, or so I thought… Little did I know, in the blink of an eye, my life would be turned upside down and changed forever.

Shortly after lunchtime as I was working on the roof of a two story house on a building site in Leixlip, the scaffolding gave way from underneath me and I fell about 24ft. I’ll never forget trying to grab scaffolding bars mid fall trying to save myself or break my fall but unlike you see in the movies it’s near impossible. I hit the ground with tremendous force. Unfortunately I landed on a scaffolding plank on its side, I’ll never forget the sound of hearing my back snap and the pain that followed. Immediately I knew I was in Serious trouble. My legs went all pins and needles and I couldn’t move them. It seemed like an age waiting on the emergency services to arrive, but it probably only took about half an hour. I was rushed straight to the Mater hospital where I underwent a five hour operation.

The next day, surrounded by very upset and concerned family members and my girlfriend Rachel, a doctor explained to me that I had sustained a double fractured broken back but More importantly inoperable damage had been done to my spinal cord. I was paralysed from the waist down and I might never walk again!!!

During the next two weeks in the Mater spinal ward, I was bed bound, you have all day for things to play on your mind, maybe I was in denial but paralysis long term never really crossed my mind. I have always been a very positive guy, I just presumed I was going to make a full recovery and be back on my feet in no time. A specialist from The National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) came to assess me and it was decided that I would be going there in a couple weeks to learn to be independant again.

I must admit before being a patient in the NRH I never even knew it existed, and wow what an amazing place it was…..I was surrounded by stroke patients, amputees, paraplegics, quadriplegics, tetraplegics(neck down) and brain injuries….there’s no feeling sorry for yourself there, there is always someone much worse off than you. All the staff from nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists do the most amazing job with one goal in mind, to get the patient back to being as independant and healthy as possible, they are inspirational.

I was still very sick when I arrived at the NRH, I just couldn’t stop vomiting, it was like my body just couldn’t adapt to being paralysed. Kildare won the Leinster final that week and Davey Dalton(Kilcock legend) brought a few of the players in to see me……that visit gave me great encouragement and belief, I stopped getting sick that day and was finally on the road to recovery.

Being put into a wheelchair for the first time, that was very traumatic !!! It was a strange and scary feeling, I think myself Rachel and the whole family cried for most of that day. A family therapist came to see us and I have to say it was one of the toughest days of my life.
I never looked back from that day on, I am a very positive person, I was ready to move forward, that was my only “bad” day.

After I had my back brace removed I worked very hard, learning how to dress myself again, to go to the toilet….building up strength in the physio department each day so that I could push about in the wheelchair…..i was determined to make the best of my situation. I even learned how to drive!!! Spinal Injuries Ireland (SII) set up a driving programme for patients, i signed up and on my first lesson i was out on the busy dublin roads, i nearly had a heart attack.
I had great fun with all the nurses, doctors and staff each day, they filled my days with fun divilment and laughter, you wouldn’t feel like you were in a hospital at all.
I got to meet some of the most amazing people, patients who were going through the exact same journey as me. The bonds that you make in hospital are very special, you are there for each other, you become almost family. I guess it’s a bit like War Vets, you have mutual respect for one another and maybe only people who have lived through such a life altering experience can truly understand the other. I’m glad to say I’m still in contact with a few of these very dear friends.

Apart from the amazing support I received during this time from Rachel and my family, I also was blessed with a super network of friends and a very warm community spirit of my home town Kilcock. Nobody once treated me any differently when i returned home in a wheelchair, this made my transition so much easier to just move on with my life and not dwell on the past.

Shortly after my release from NRH myself and Rachel went travelling for a few months,we saw the world, places like Australia and New Zealand, it was a truly amazing experience. Then we settled down, built a house and got married. We have been truly blessed with three amazing kids. I am a stay at home dad and I have to say I love it. It’s the most rewarding job in the world. My kids are everything to me.

“Alright I never got power or feeling back in my legs, but I did recover to have a powerful life”.

A part of me always felt like I owed something to those amazing people who looked after me when I was down and at my lowest. I recently found out that the NRH are building a new hospital and I think now is the time for me to stand up🙈 and help out, if ever funds were needed it’s now!!!!

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do things in halves, if I’m gonna do a fundraiser I’m gonna take on something big…..what bigger than a mountain……

LET’S CLIMB CROAGH PATRICK !!!!!
♿⛰️💪💪💪

So once again, almost twenty two years later I’m asking for your help and support. I’m asking all of you guys to PLEASE DONATE via the link below 🙏

https://www.idonate.ie/LesterCassidy

ALSO PLEASE COME JOIN ME ON 18TH JULY I can’t do this without your help!!!

I’m going have a big party after the climb, in the Westport Coast Hotel, music, food and craic and I hope you can all make it.

The NRH amd SII made a massive impact on my life and nothing in life is promised, you never know if you or someone you love will need the help of this hospital someday. They are worth our support. So please, please donate, even something small.

Thanks for taking some time out and reading my story…… Please share it with all your family and friends 👍

“Live life to the fullest and focus on the positive”…. Be happy….Lester Cassidy.

https://www.idonate.ie/LesterCassidy

Please Donate 🙏

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.