Tag Archives: Luke Brennan

From top: Yin (left) and Yang; Luke Brennan

This afternoon.

Tech entrepreneur, columnist and cat owner Luke Brennan writes:

‘What is worth doing?

‘That’s a question I wrestle with quite often.

‘It’s a bus with many stops and a circular route. I usually get off at either “Something that helps others” or “Something worth leaving behind”. The first is reasonably easy to get to, the second will often catch you up in emotional traffic, rarely your own.

‘On a recent bus trip, I got a new insight. The things that stay in your head, never get into this world, so never get left behind. Unlike our worldly possessions, you can bring them with you.

‘I want to sincerely, deeply and honestly thank all at Broadsheet for helping me get things out of my head and into the world. I’m sure that others feel the same way, all the contributors, helpers and commenters. Thank you for helping us exist. Thank you for helping us feel like we exist.

‘I was surprised when I started sending photos into BS that they were interested in publishing them. I was then thrilled that they would help let the world know about the things I worked on at in my music tech company.

‘I was honoured and surprised that they were interested in having me on the panel on BS on the telly. I grew as a person and in my own estimation at the honest encouragement I received from John and the rest of the team. They made the parts of me which didn’t feel good enough, now feel good enough. It made me feel more OK, which is sometimes all you need.

‘I often think of Quiz Kid Donnie Smith in PT Anderson’s film Magnolia. That scene where he’s crying in a bar and says, “I have so much love, I just don’t know where to put it”. I think everyone has felt like that at stages in their life, I know I have. I think Broadsheet has been a place to put love, in its many forms. I think in creating Broadsheet, John and his team have done something worth doing. They also allowed us all on his bus and broke the laws of metaphysics, allowing us to get off at two stops at the the same time.

‘I attach (above) a photo of our two boys, Yin and Yang (top), who wandered into our lives during first lockdown.

‘Sincere thanks to all.’

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet

Candycords, a unique tangle-free family of coloured curly audio cables

This morning.

Luke Brennan (him off the telly and founder of MyVolts), writes:

MyVolts got tired of black cables and decided to inject some colour into the tabletop musician’s set-up, collaborating with one of Youtube’s most exciting producers, Rachel K Collier.

It started with a conversation with Rachel, who bemoaned the lack of a simple peach coloured cable. That conversation extended to purples and pinks, and then a mini-pallete of modern colours.

We then found that in order to obtain these bespoke colours, we needed to order 3km of each cable of the six colours. Over the year, we spoke further with Rachel and expanded into a full range of cables to justify the purchase of 18km of colourful cabling.

We managed a range of ten useful cables, from a basic straight to right angled minijack, right up to a pink curly guitar lead which expands from 1 to 4 meters without ever touching the ground. We’re very proud, we are so glad to hear that musicians we have shown them to have felt the same way.

We have them live and available on Kickstarter, in stock, and ready to ship in time for delivery before Christmas.

Candycords (Kickstarter)

irish-made stocking fillers to broadsheet@broadsheet.ie marked ‘Irish0Made Stocking Fillers’

From top: striker Adam Idah; Luke Brennan

Anyone else out there been intoxicated by football recently? I had the giddy fits watching Portugal v Ireland. Pride running through my veins like wine. Ireland’s play is now something of a tightrope act, tactically short, passing the ball out from the back. Teasing the opposition out of formation, using the ball as bait. Would you like the ball? It’s right here.

Ireland’s shaky reputation and band of teenage additions adding to the opposition’s hunger. Come one, sure, take the ball, if you really want it. It’s not good for the heart, but by jeepers does it make good telly.

Steven Kenny covers teenagers in lamb’s blood, then sends them into the lion’s den. When he sent Gavin Bazuna into the cave, an early penalty save made it look like he came out wearing king-of-the-lions Ronaldo as a head-dress, only for Ronaldo to spring to life and show why he’s king of the jungle, with two late goals. Hearts were broken, but swollen with what seemed possible.

Then young Andrew Omobamidele had some sort of fit on the pitch against Serbia, a bit like the hulk changing form, or when Slaine had one of his warp spasms. He turned into something resembling Paul McGrath when he played Maradona off the park in the 1987 Rest of World vs Football league game. It was a thing of beauty, with more to come.

We also saw the potential of Adam Idah over the three matches. Strength, close control, confidence. An able internationalist, who just needs the players around him to reach his level and provide good service. This is the other part of Steven Kenny’s strategy; when the opposition do take the bait, move the ball forward with pace and accuracy. This has not yielded results as of yet, but when it does, it will be the high octane counterpart which makes the tightrope act all the more impressive.

So we have the 3 new young international standard players mentioned above, you can also add the injured Jason Knight and Dara O’Shea, both have been sent over the coals by Steven Kenny this year and performed admirably. So, 5 new international standard players with an average age of 20 this year. Bearing in mind that the most valuable young new player (Nathan Collins, bought by Burnley for EUR12M) has not made the pitch through injury, you’d have to say it has been an excellent year.

To appreciate how good the year has been, you would have to look past the results. If you can, you would see that repeating this production for another two years (and it seems the stocks are there in Irish underage players) would yield 15 international players who have proven themselves to be of the requisite standard, average age, 22. You’d have to agree, that if we had started this World cup qualifying with such a luxury, we could have different ambitions entirely.

I know it’s not as simple as that, but it’s the heart of what is required. We’ll never have the money to create facilities like they do in the UK, or have the influence to turn heads the way double agent Rice got turned. But I do believe Ireland, at it’s heart has something special to say. Ireland is a little bit special, the way freckles on your arm are a bit special, or the way the colour on the rocks in Connemara are a little bit special. Sport is an honest way to explain it to the world.

An experienced team is a requirement of giving a good account of yourself, showing the world what you’ve got.

What if we entered the qualification for the 2030 World cup with a squad of players, average age 26, with 5 years of international football under their belt?

Ireland for the World cup 2030, that’s all I’m sain’.

Luke Brennan is an Ireland born, Portugal-based writer and entrepreneur.


From top: Ali Coote of Bohemians celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Macedonia’s PAOK Thessaloniki at the Aviva on Wednesday; Luke Brennan

It’s a numbers game, innit?

Football, that funny old game, often comes down to numbers.

Irish clubs are fond of roulette.

Cue the sound of a ivory roulette pill running around the wheel…

Place your bets folks, last call!

You can do the numbers on this week’s European adventure, Bohemians (Ire) vs PAOK (Gre), as simply as this. The squad value of Bohemians is 1.42M, dwarfed by PAOK’s squad valuation of 65.08M.

To continue with the roulette analogy (No more bets!), making the very unscientific assumption that the squad value determines whether team A beats team B, that would mean that PAOK gets beaten one time in every 40 matches. That equates approximately to the owners of PAOK covering numbers 1-36 on the roulette wheel and Bohemians (for the convenient purposes of this analogy) allowed to bet on Zero.

Tic – tic – tic – tic -ta – du – dah. And the number it lands on is….. Zero!

*Orders another Martini*

Bohemians beat the well funded Greek club 2-1 with a mix of youth, grit and that most Irish of things, passion. I’m not sure you can fluke a 2-1, that will be revealed in the return leg in Greece, in Toumba Stadium, know to it’s visitors as “The Black Hell”.

It seems no coincidence that youth is part of the mix in Bohemians’ success, their team including three Irish Under-21 squad members, Dawson Devoy (19), Ross Tierney (20) and Andy Lyons (21). It was even said that the last two gave former Man Utd. midfielder Shinji Kagawa a bit of a schooling.

It seems Irish football is rich with youth and that youth is rich with talent. Perhaps the DDSL (Dublin District & Schools League) has been effective hothouse for talent. Perhaps there are people who care enough about football (of which there are many) are putting the work in at grass roots, in the clubs, despite the FAI and all it’s disfunction. Perhaps we are just rich enough to afford and care for a generation of sports stars.

Either way, I’m glad things have moved on, I remember well being asked by a hairdresser in the 90s what football team I supported, I told him I supported Shamrock Rovers, which he thought was hilarious.

“No”, he said, (Thinking I was being cute (I was)) “In the premier league, who do you support?”.

If Bohemians beat PAOK next week, the formula will not need to be re-written, but a re-evaluation of Irish football and Irish footballers will be required. Perhaps there is gold in their boots after all.

To give a further update on Ireland’s young guns, just a few weeks before the Irish U21 team kicks off their first group match (I’m tipping them to win their group, qualify for an U21 Euro finals for the first time, get to at least the semi-final, allowing them to qualify for the Olympics in 2024, which they win in the centenary year of the Republic’s first football game, allowing them to build the team spirit which will bring a core of players through to win the World cup in 2030). They’ll come close in 2026, but the lessons learnt will drive them on for 2030.

Things are hotting up nicely. You could now create a team of Irish U21 footballers who has a realistic chance of playing in the top European leagues this year.

The goalkeepers are the biggest stretch. Gavin Bazunu would have to be recalled from loan to play for Man City. There are number of defenders that are looking to make an impact this year in the Premiership this year, Nathan Collins had a big money transfer to Burnley (£17M) making him the most valuable Irish player around, the sort of money that forces a club to make him play. Andrew Omobamidele at Norwich looks just as good a player. Jake O Brien, from Cork, was so impressive in captaining Crystal Palace’s U23 team, he was shifted up to play senior in the pre-season.

In midfield, you could have Conor Coventry, who got a couple of goals and a Man of the Match award under his belt for West Ham seniors pre-season, think Declan Rice with a better passing ability. Ryan Johnasson has being getting game time at Sevilla, playing friendlies with the likes of PSG and Roma in the last few weeks. John Joe Patrick Finn has been doing the same at Spanish side Getafe, getting game time, while committing to joining Ireland’s U21 for their first outing of the campaign. There is also a German based contingent; Conor Noss has been scoring goals for B. Moncheglabach in the Bundesliga, 2 goals in 4 matches during July. Wolfsberg’s Anselmo Garcia McNulty, Irish mother, Spanish father, captain of the youth team, has been moved up to training with the senior squad.

Up front, there are a growing number of options. Aaron Connolly seems to be maturing into a player that will start when fit at Brighton. Adam Idah has scored 4 goals in 4 pre-season games for Norwich as they re-enter the premiership, making his presence felt, as they say. Michael Obefemi seems to have put his injury worries behind him, he may well start matches for Southampton, Danny Ings has left for Aston Villa, Shane Long is looking like moving towards the great big premiership glue factory in the sky.

There are others too, boy wonder Armstrong Oko-Flex moved down from Celtic to West Ham, then immediately returned to play Celtic in a friendly at Celtic Park, scoring a goal against a team he couldn’t get a start for, which must have felt like a special moment in paradise. Paradise is what they call Celtic Park, although it has been something of a purgatory for young Irish players of late.

There are others who have trained with senior top level clubs, made the bench, but the real prospects for the Irish team lie in the lower divisions. You could put a team together from Championship level players, notably Jason Knight (currently injured a result of a training ground tackle from his own manager, Wayne Rooney) at Derby and 3 others there.

But the standout Championship player should be Gavin Kilkenny for Bournemouth. He took at bit of time to get to grips with the Chelsea midfield when they played a July pre-season friendly, but when he did, he pulled them apart and created a goal which had the European champions scrambling for dignity with two late goals. A MOTM performance last week has new manager Scott Parker wanting him to show to the world what he’s got.

So that’s where we are, greatly improved, moving at a glacial rate, but as Declan Rice used to say “Tiocfaidh ár lá”.

Luke Brennan is an Ireland born, Portugal-based writer and entrepreneur and regularly appears on Broadsheet on the Telly.


From top: The women of Paris march to Versailles by by Valentine Cameron Prinsep, 1894; Luke Brennan

Could a song change the world?

One without lyrics, just the banging of a marching drum?

Could it take down a monarchy? Could it cause the beheading of Kings and Queens, while thrusting a cold blade into the dark heart of imperialism?

This week, I read about a young woman who seemed to change the world more than anyone I have ever heard of. I stumbled upon it, reading through letters from an Eighteenth century visitor to Dublin Castle.

An antecedent of mine, Sir John Hasler, who I wrote about here previously (his house in Dalkey now stands as the Queens Pub, which I was glad to hear has now been restored to normal service with a new owner) had been engaged as Gentleman Usher in Dublin Castle.

If there was a ball at Dublin castle, he arranged it. If a visiting Lord arrived, he would tend to their Lady. In this case, in 1773, the visitor was Viscountess Nuneham, daughter in law of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the time, the Earl Harcourt.

The Earl Harcourt seemed like a decent skin, he proposed a 10% levy on absentee landlords, which was Ireland’s biggest problem at the time (other than the obvious occupation by a foreign power, but I will come back to that) he served his time in Ireland, then died shortly after by falling down his own well.

His son married his first cousin, which seems like the genetic equivalent of falling down your own well. It seems strange by today’s standards, to marry your cousin, but Charles Darwin did it; if anyone should have known better, it must have been him.

The reasons people marry their cousins tend to be driven by a desire to hold on to family wealth, of titles, or prestige, of a sort. It seems to be what people did with their time before they had Quake or Instagram. It ties in with something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, Imperialism.

Was Imperialism some sort of mind-virus ponzi scheme that people got sucked into for a few centuries? It seems to have been. A lot of things seemed to be acceptable, which, were, let’s say “not cool”, I say, in the understatement of the millennium.

But anyway, I digress. The interesting thing I found, was a little later in Vicountess Nunehum’s correspondences, in October 1789 she wrote to her husband to give him the bare facts of the French Revolution. She was employed at this stage as a lady of the Queen’s bedchamber, so was on daily speaking terms with the British King and Queen. She writes:

“The accounts from France are very bad ; whether they may get immediately into the newspapers I do not know, and therefore will repeat to you what the King told me.

“When any new Regiment comes to Versailles the Gardes du Corps always make an entertainment for them. Upon the arrival of the Regiment de Flandre, a few days since, this custom was observed, and in a moment of pleasure they threw away the National Cockades, and put on black ones. It is supposed that no objection was made by the King to this proceeding, and it was soon known at Paris.

The next morning more than three thousand women, armed with such offensive weapons as they could collect, marched to Versailles and attacked les Gardes du Corps, who fired upon them and killed four; the confusion soon became general, and the King and Queen were carried off to Paris and lodged in the Tuilleries, unaired and unprepared as it was for their reception.

This is all that was known when the account came away. The King and Queen are wholly at the mercy of the mob, and no one knows what will be their fate. La Fayette would have interceded for them, and only saved his own life by agreeing to what the many headed monster proposed.”

Now, a few things surprise me about this account. Firstly, it doesn’t seem to be the central events of the French revolution as has trickled down to me. My knowledge goes something like this…food riots, storming of the Bastille, beheading of the King and Queen, Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Vive la France. My knowledge of the french revolution is quite limited, I did see the film version of “Les Misérables”, and was under the impression it was about the Revolution. However, that misunderstanding is more to do with my inability to understand musicals than French or history.

You can see in the account above which side our Lady is clearly on, the many headed monster of the third estate (the 98% of the population who had less voting rights than the 2% in power) was attempting to take away the system which kept them in such splendid and entitled surroundings.

She goes on in her letter to say that the King does not seem too worried, he continued to go on a scheduled hunt regardless of the news from France. The implication here, is that the game is up, that the days of monarchies are over, but the king is acting coyly. I am surprised to find that more that 200 years later, history has not yet caught up the British Royal Family.

When I think of imperialism, colonialism’s cousin, I also think of Imperial leather, Imperial soap, or any other adjunct to the British Empire. I’ve been thinking about the 53 countries colonised by Britain. I can’t make out whether the British empire is an extremely well run company, or the world’s most efficient killing machine. Or maybe both.

Regardless, the empire leads back to the monarchy, who seem, for some reason, to be getting away with it. 200 years ago they were grateful they were not being pulled out in the streets and hung. Yet somehow, they seemed to brushed it off as a wobble in perception and got back to enjoying a reality somewhere outside the realms of what seems reasonable. One would think that a truly democratic world would mean this can no longer exist. Checks and balances please universe? Karma?

How and ever. I have a feeling that the central truth in the modern democratic world we are aiming for was born in France during the revolution, possibly forged, or perhaps glimpsed at for the first time. It’s to do with liberty, fraternity and equality. This is the next step past the imperialist monarchist past, into a better future. They say history is written by the victors. I’m not sure if that is why this episode, this march of 3000 women has not yet found it’s way into the central narrative of this bigger than French revolution.

But have a look and get to know this story, it does have a Wikipedia page. What happened in Paris in October 1789 was that in the midst of great hunger, with bread prices rising, a young woman started to beat a marching drum at the edge of a group of market-women and refused to stop. More women joined her.

They then forced a nearby church to toll their bells. The numbers grew, so they began to march. With the bells from several church-towers ringing in, women from more local marketplaces joined them.

They gathered kitchen-blades and home-made weapons, marching on towards the Hotel de Ville, where they demanded not only bread, but arms. The crowd had swelled to as many as ten thousand. Newly supplied, they decided to march through the driving rain, to Versaille.

As they left, thousands of National Guardsmen were intended to block their path, but such was the crowd’s energy, the guardsmen were convinced to join with them, in returning the King to Paris. On arrival, there was many attempts to calm the crowd, but they would not be distracted from their intention. There were skirmishes, attempts to storm Versailles, Marie Antoinette at one point sent barefoot from her room, chased by intruders.

In the end the King left Versailles, it denuded him of his royalist collaborators and he remained in Paris as a virtual prisoner until his execution.

As to whether it was worth it? banging that marching drum?

Too early to tell.

Luke Brennan is an Ireland born, Portugal-based writer and entrepreneur and regularly appears on Broadsheet on the Telly

Painting via Mary Evans Picture Library

Revolt (above) is a new system for retrofitting battery devices with USB

This afternoon.

Broadsheet pal and entrepreneur Luke Brennan’s battery-free future is about to go live on Kickstarter.

It could be the best investment you’ll make this year.

Luke sez:

Our project goes live at 3pm, it’s what I’ve put most of my effort into over the last 4 years.

In fairness.

Watch live here

Interested in a battery-free future?

Your time has come.

MyVolts MD Luke Brennan (him off the telly!) writes:

Do you have something that you are tired of feeding batteries? Or would you like to put your Walkman on a permanent solar loop? Or just want to say goodbye to batteries forever?

Revolt (top) is our new system for retrofitting battery devices with USB and about to go live on Kickstarter.

If you would like to get a freebie cable with any campaign reward, visit this page: Maybe also tell us what you think about it in the comments?



From top: the author’s grandmother (Helen Ennis, née Yates) being carried by her mother in Blessington Street, Dublin in 1907; Luke Brennan

I didn’t know it at the time, but I used to watch the British Empire crumble on Sunday afternoons as a seven year old. Empires crumble very slowly, but that wasn’t why I did not see it. I wasn’t aware that my grandmother, then suffering from Alzheimer’s was the end of the line for those that suckled directly on the Empire’s tentacles.

My grandmother, wonderful woman that she was, had been given every opportunity in life to realise her gifts. The late and only child of two doting parents, her father was a former newspaper editor and sports writer with the Irish Times, he had lovingly home-schooled her, providing all the care and attention a child could need.

She had put it to good use; an eager student, she won Feis Ceol gold medals at piano and also won national awards in both sculpture and painting while at the National College of Art.
My mother was eager on Sunday afternoons to share at least the faint echo of who her mother had been with us, for, more than her accomplishments, she had been a kind, generous and warm person.

My grandmother had shown her disinterest in any privilege by eloping to Merrion Square with an Ennis from County Wexford, my grandfather was neither approved of by her family or by his.

He was the eldest son of a proud farming family, he lived the wild life and was almost a destitute when she started dating him. His sister had been in Art college with my grandmother, and had almost tripped over him on Grafton Street, or so the story goes.

My mother was the third of six children. She was also her mother’s daughter, marrying a Brennan from Glasthule, to further diminish any chance the empire had of striking back.

The point made here, is that it is a separate thing, national identity versus any idea of empire. Irishness or Britishness is one thing. The British Empire is another entirely. It is an idea, or a series of ideas, and a system.

A highly effective system, most significantly effective at enriching the British nobility. Of course, there was trickle down, those that supported that system all shared the spoils to some extent. I saw the aging tendrils around my Grandmother’s house on Sunday afternoons. I see the same type of rooms, with the same fireplaces, the same objects in period dramas now. It seems the British empire is dying everywhere, all the time.

The British Empire is best portrayed on film by the actor Anthony Hopkins. You can see his latest, Oscar-winning masterpiece performance as ‘The Father’, a once respected highly skilled engineer succumbs to the ravages of dementia. An angry old man becomes fitful and nasty, along with provoking a sympathy that he finds hard to accept. He becomes a burden on those that care about him.

You can look further back and see the earlier phase of the demise in ‘The Remains of the Day’, when the reality of being a servant is made clear. The Empire was made to serve the nobility. Those who serve blindly with no opinions or conscience do as much damage to themselves as others.

Or you can look at the Silence of the Lambs and see the danger of a confused butcher who thinks he is smarter than everyone else in room and thinking that makes it all OK.

Again, important to separate the British people from the British Empire. The British people are the closest thing that Irish people have to cousins. Never mind that most Irish people have British cousins. Which is the real point of this piece, in that I don’t think we are fully cognisant of our relationship with the British Empire and it’s latest death rattle, Brexit.

Pause for a moment to consider the British post boxes around country of Ireland. Did painting them green really stop them being British post boxes? Now think about the postal system behind the post boxes, do we have any green paint that will cover them? What about the legal system? Tax system? Banking? Or the civil service?

Most commentary regarding Brexit revolves around how the English are shooting themselves in the foot, or the potential damage to cross-border trade, or tensions in the North. Are we not forgetting that our closest companion for many hundred years is no longer by our side?

We have one foot in the EU for the last 50 years, but that doesn’t amount to the same thing. Barry Andrews, MEP,  last week visited Portugal as special guest for the Irish Portugal Business Network, his comments indicating we have some work to do, he said:

“With the UK out of the EU, Ireland has been left a bit isolated. Ireland would have been in alignment with the UK on certain issues, like justice and home affairs, tax issues, financial services, etc. As both countries are common-law and outside of the Shenghen zone, the MEP says, “we could have shared our homework.”

Andrews explained that the geographical isolation also makes it difficult for Ireland because it doesn’t have physical or regional alignment with anyone, the way that Portugal’s has a Mediterranean relationship with countries like Malta. Nor does it have proximity to the Nordic/Baltic nor the Franco-German relationships, so Ireland has to find less obvious ways to forge its own alignments, therefore Ireland is actively working to build on existing friendly relationships with these countries.

Doing your own homework may be more a burden than one might think, especially when you have no friends and someone else has been doing it for 800 years. This runs deep into who we are. We may have to re-assess our relationship with our oldest companion, also our most common foe.

We might even need to make some new friends.

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet

From top: Action during Serbia’s 3-2 defeat of the Republic of Ireland in a World Cup qualifier last month; Luke Brennan

Picture yourself on a beach. Your favourite beach – that sandy bank of childhood memories.
Unusually, it is dark, cold and as you sit down, you find the sand is wet beneath you. You cannot see the water’s edge, the tide is out, only feint silhouettes of rocks and seaweed are visible, the stench is that of a place which is not as it should be.

You hear a radio, tuned to Radio Luxembourg. You don’t like the song they are playing.
You raise your gaze to the heavens, hoping to see some stars, but there are only clouds. As you try and make out their shape, it begins to rain.

You consider again the tide, trying to figure out if it is going out, or on its way in. You cannot tell in the darkness, so you wonder instead when dawn will arrive, but all you can do is wonder; nothing is clear. In fact, you start to forget what the dawn looks like at all.

Welcome, Irish football supporter. They saw the darkest hour is before the dawn, the problem there is, how to know which hour it is darkest? You can only tell that by looking backwards.

Having failed to qualify for another major tournament, can we see any sign that light is on its way?

To give a swift analysis of the Republic of Ireland soccer teams current status, it is this. Eleven matches without a win, five draws and six losses. This last international window was seen as a success of sorts, two competitive losses and a friendly draw with Qatar, as we managed to score 3 goals in 3 games.

Prior to that, the last goal we scored was 8 games ago, to achieve a draw against Bulgaria. There are good years and bad years, but Ireland did not win a single game in 2020, which has not happened in the modern era.

On the goalscoring front, things also improved, in that striker James Collins scored a goal last week. In 2020, we didn’t have any scoring strikers. We did have goals in September 2019 from David McGoldrick and James Collins. If you want to find another goal scored by a forward, you need to go back to John Walters in 2015. It is not uncommon for Ireland to be fielding a strike force with a combined total of zero international goals. Robbie Keane goalscoring record will be safe for a while yet.

Add to that a new manager trying to play an attractive brand of football, while admirable, it needs both the players and the time to transition.

Can we see the light? We can, but we will have to look very, very, very carefully. We may not even see it; we may just have to feel it. Divine it from our waters. Predict it from the stars we cannot see.

But I still think Ireland have a chance of winning the 2030 World cup.

Ireland at a World cup, those bright sunny days. A warm wind blowing through your hair as you laugh with friends, sipping your cold drink, dodging the beachballs. Happiness with the beach tribe. Old songs, sung like an ice-cream van, calling us to let us know the joys are close at hand. Johnny Giles, and the way he might look at you.

To find the positives, we need faith. We have to believe that the glacial rate of young players development may be visible to us if we measure carefully. It would be easy for us to look at the
performance of this season’s Ireland U21 team, missing out on tournament qualification with a loss to Iceland sealing their fate and see that as the final verdict.

However, there are two truths to go with that assumption which must be considered. Firstly, that the U21 team which topped the group during the first half of the campaign was a far superior team to that which played out the latter matches.

The reason for that? Take the best eight players and move them up to the senior squad, the right thing to do for Steven Kenny, but Ireland does not have the strength and depth in underage football to suffer such a loss. Players such as Caoimhin Kelleher, who recently cemented his position as Liverpool’s second choice ‘keeper with a man of the match performance against Ajax in the Champions League.

Dara O’ Shea and Aaron Connolly have established themselves as ‘starters’ in their respective premiership sides. Jayson Molumby has debuted for Brighton and is Stephen Kenny’s current favourite workhorse midfielder, he is not looking out of place in the senior Ireland squad either, a man of the match recipient on his international debut.

If you look further down into the Championship, you not only have players like Nathan Collins and Jason Knight playing for their sides, but a few months back they both scored winning goals while captaining their respective sides. So not just playing for their sides, leading the way, both at just nineteen years of age.

This brings us to the second fact is that Ireland were not so much in possession of a great U21 team, but a spectacular U19 team with a few older players. The vast majority of the players are young enough to qualify for the 2023 U21 squad. They will be a hardened, determined, capable group with all the experience they require in the next campaign.

If you wanted a way to measure this glacial growth, you’ll need a measuring stick. Have a look at the players eligible to play in Ireland’s U21 team next year, there are weeks when you can count a full team of Irish teenagers in match day squads for Premiership or Championship sides. True, some of them are warming the benches, but just a few years ago, it was a struggle to make a similar team from the senior internationals.

There is also a blight of injuries. I counted 15 players which couldn’t turn out for Ireland’s 2-1 U21 win over Wales this week, but we still won. Between senior call ups and injuries, the players unavailable for that match are the best Ireland U21 team to ever not line up for Ireland.

Those missing include the calls ups to the full international squad: Gavin Bazunu, Troy Parrot, Aaron Connolly, Jason Knight, Conor Coventry and Dara O’Shea. Then there are the obvious injured: Adam Idah, Will Smallbone, Michael Obafemi, Nathan Collins, all thought to be premiership stars of the future.

Then there are the highly rated surprise possibilities. Young Mipo Odupeko has already made his West Ham senior debut, but was rested, so did not make the Irish squad. Jordan McEneff is a highly rated Arsenal reserve player on his way back from injury. Ryan Cassidy has had his Watford contract extended but is currently injured on loan at Accrington Stanley.

Then there is John Joe Patrick Finn. His late father is from Ballyhaunis, his mother a Cameroonian model: He plays football for Getafe in La Liga (Spanish top tier) and is wanted by both Spanish and English FAs. It looks like he’s opting for Ireland, most likely because Ireland U21 Boss Jim Crawford and Stephen Kenny convinced him in a personalised zoom presentation.

I am sure they told him that we were not perfect, nor the best. But we are Ireland, and a family; that we think you will fit well into that. One advantage of U21 squad being plundered by the senior squad, is that they could point to the pathway which has been created.

So that’s the team that didn’t make it to Wales last week. They are backed up by a full squad that made it there and won. It included two players who have already made it to Senior International camps (Lee O’Connor and Luca Connell), plus Jonathan Afolabi who was included in the team of the tournament when this Ireland team made it to the semi-final of the U19 European Championship. The remainder have mostly played senior football at some level – Premiership, Championship or League One.

The Imperious Mark McGuinness, an Arsenal centre back on loan at Ipswich looks like a modern-day Tony Adams. Andrew Omabomidele made his senior debut for Norwich in the championship last week and got a deserved man of the match award (Whisper it, but if you look at the game’s highlights, you will see he his play has a pearly quality).

The good news is that when this group do come together for their first Euro U21 qualifier in September, the injury list should be greatly reduced. By a wonderful turn of co-incidence, there is a very special prize available to them if they do qualify. If they reach the semi-finals of that competition, they qualify as an Irish team in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Did you know that the Irish free state soccer team was first represented in the 1924 Paris Olympics? The Irish Free State, sovereign, barely born and still in chaos, entered a team in the FIFA organised Olympic competition. Imagine that? The centenary year in the city where it all began, in the same competition.

This makes me think of my late father, born in Glasthule in 1916, at 8 years of age in 1924. He lost his father to the Civil War, his family then moved back into his mother’s family home with his grandparents and 9 uncles. His (Weafer) uncles had lined out for the newly formed Edenville football team in the Leinster Senior League: my father had memories of making his pocket-money polishing the team’s football boots.

Different times, right? But think about what it would mean, in those difficult and uncertain times, to have a national soccer team. Hearing that Ireland beat Bulgaria 1-0 in Paris; it must have been special. We wouldn’t mind a 1-0 win over anyone some time soon, either.

Edenville passed on it’s distinctive Black and White shirt stripes to St.Joseph’s Glasthule, which gave them to St.Joseph’s Boys. Or Joeys, as they are known. They continue to produce international players today, including Jonathan Afolabi and Mipo Odebuko in this current U21 squad.

Note: If anyone wants to know more about Ireland’s first football team, you should check out this article by Ireland’s most fascinating sports historian, Paul Rouse, here.

Luke Brennan is an Ireland born, Portugal-based writer, entrepreneur and sports fan.

Pic: Inside Qatar

From top: The Irish Times, February 15, 2021; Luke Brennan

‘Bill Gates: “I’m not trying to take anything away from Greta Thunberg, but…”’

Can you spot the difference between the above, and this, speaking about Greta Thunberg…

“I’m not trying to take anything away from her. And every movement needs iconic leaders who speak, and that’s a pretty good thing. But there’s probably some teenager who believes that the Rohingya should be treated better, and another who thinks we’re not investing enough in good education. So the world has sought her out to speak in this clear, almost innocent way about a cause that we’re trying to orchestrate our energy around, and say, hey, can we maintain this and convince people to make sacrifices? And how big do these sacrifices need to be? So I’m glad: you can’t have a movement without high-visibility figures. I hope she’s not messing up her education. She seems very clever.”

The first quote is an Irish Times headline, leading to an article, which contains the text below it. The article was first published in The Guardian on February 15, then reprinted under the above headline in the IT on February 16. Nothing unusual in that, much of The Irish Times content these days is articles reprinted from The Guardian, The New York Times, Financial Times, etc.

The article went straight into the Irish Times “most read” articles category, staying there for four days. It even made a second appearance last week, I was surprised to see a three-week old article finding such readership, but it really is quite a headline.

What surprises me more, is the difference between the implication of the headline and the text to which it refers.

My (basic) understanding of grammar would lead me to believe that what they should say is “Bill Gates: ‘I’m not trying to take anything away from Greta Thunberg…but’”. In that the ‘but’ does not appear in the same sentence, or the following sentence, but the one after it.

That is some serious ‘but’ searching they have carried out. Based on their example, you could take any book with the word ‘but’ in it, then quote from it, taking any statement you wish then add ’,but…’ to create a headline quote.

It’s not as if they don’t have a roster of international standard journalists, a room full of editors and more grammar junkies than would comfortably exist in a room together. I am imagining grammar pedantry is not off the menu. I’m guessing that when something is incorrect, everyone is very aware.

But what exactly happens when they review the most popular stories each week and see that this ‘truth gap’ is clearly present. Do they argue that it should be corrected? Does everybody look at their shoes? Is it squeaky bum time?

And what happens when the same article appears again three weeks later? Do they say “That headline is unbelievable”. Or is it like a fart at an executive meeting which is best ignored? It must be difficult to ignore. But it brings me back to a question they must ask…‘Is this true?’.

It is a noble act to wind the clock over in D’Olier street and I do not mean to diminish it. But it must be remembered that they are not manufacturing truth, merely endeavouring to present an accurate representation of it.

You might say, “Who is harmed?” But I would say that more people see a headline than read the article. Bill Gates? I’m sure he cares little, but It would be disappointing to him to be misrepresented in this way.

Greta Thunberg? Thick skinned, but I’m sure it get a little tiresome the way newspapers use her name and image as a way to ‘trigger’ all those that feel they don’t need to be lectured by a teenager about the world. Bill Gates does a good job of showcasing the good reasons for her deserved world profile in the article, the headline implies he’s taking her down.

I presented a similar situation here on Broadsheet two months back, where a similar disconnect existed between a headline and article in The Guardian. The headline in that instance, “They said I wasn’t hot enough: Carey Mulligan hits out again at Magazine review”. My issue with that? They removed the word ‘basically’ from between wasn’t and hot.

Within 24 hours of that article, it was aped (the killer headline, rather than the article) by Donald Clarke at the Irish Times, with the headline “Not hot enough: Why has Variety apologised to Carey Mulligan?”

I know that Donald Clarke, a fine journalist, is not to blame for this, his phone probably rings to ask him if he has his copy to file at 4pm. He admits he has not and then, I imagine,  is told in no uncertain terms to “deliver 2000 words by 5pm and make it clicky!” He says, “Yes boss.”, the result is the above article.

So, both article titles leave out the ‘basically’ but there was another gift in this, as another Broadsheet reader pointed out to me that what Carey Mulligan actually said was “It felt like it was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse.”  (my italics)

Now the “It felt” in there, which I was not initially aware of, is significant for me. Not in terms of what Carey says, but in terms of the bigger picture of the article, why the truth of it was important to me.

For me, life has two realities, how it is, and how it feels.

It is something that I’ve often had to remind myself of in tough times, that things might feel a certain way, but that may not be how things ‘are’. I think that is something fundamental to our human perspective. Often it is an obstacle we must overcome to resolve a problem.

Back in my days as a laboratory assistant, when we wanted to measure the make-up of a sample (Science has a more effective set of rules for discovering the truth of a situation) there was a process of calibration any machine would go through before it would start measuring.

This is the purpose of truth. We use the truth to calibrate our emotions, it allows us to see the difference between how it is and how it feels. I think it is an Irish thing, this emotional streak. We like to live close to our skin.

That may seem to go a bit deep for an analysis of newspaper headlines. We know why they do it, newspapers are scared senseless of becoming irrelevant in the Internet age. It is the high stature I hold the Irish Times in that makes me feel their version of the truth should be held to high account.

But what use is the clock on D’Olier street, if it is not accurate?

‘Just before our love got lost you said
“I am as constant as a northern star”
And I said, “Constantly in the darkness
Where’s that at?’

Joni Mitchell

We need truth, constancy and accuracy to accurately know things. With enough hands, you can carry the sundial of truth around your garden to change the perceived hour. You may look silly today; but you will render it useless tomorrow.

As Joni says, we need constancy, without it, we’re in the dark.

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet