Tag Archives: Luke Brennan

From top: Yesterday’s The Guardian; Luke Brennan

Luke Brennan writes:

Honestly, is the truth important?’ I think it is. Or it should be. It is to me. Not specifically to me, I do like the truth, but, I’m just a bloke, a consumer/user/reader of articles.

But when I see the headline: ‘‘They said I wasn’t hot enough’: Carey Mulligan hits out again at magazine review’ As it did yesterday, on The Guardian homepage I can’t help thinking….and I’m paraphrasing here, that a magazine said that Carey Mulligan wasn’t hot enough in a magazine review.

I think two things, actually. I think Carey Mulligan said it, but I also think, reasonably enough, that she said it, because, well, that is what the magazine said.

Committed fan of Carey Mulligan that I am, I want to know more. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to click on that particular article, it features highly in the “most viewed” articles on the site.

I am, however, a little surprised when I visit the article, what Carey Mulligan said was a bit different, it was:

Speaking to the New York Times last month, Mulligan said the Variety review “was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse”.

Now, I think we all know the difficult word here is “basically”. Has anyone else had this conversation?

Me: “Are you telling me the truth?”

The Guardian: “I’m basically telling you the truth.”

You can see ‘basically’ is a very useful word when you want to tell the truth, but find it a little inconvenient. You start to use it when you hit your late teens and you work out that you are basically a genius.

So Carey is avoiding an inconvenience here, but where the truth is being stretched, or indeed hidden, is the removal of that word ‘basically’. I’ll show you how that works:

Me: “Are you telling me the truth?”

The Guardian: “I’m telling you the truth.”

I suppose you might be wondering at this stage what the review article actually said about Carey Mulligan?

It’s not really important. But they said:

“Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly many-layered apparent femme fatale – Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her. Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on.”

Now I personally think this criticism is unfair. The film is slightly clumsy, but important. It seems ridiculous to think how Carey Mulligan looks has anything to do whether it “works”.

It is diminishing of both the actor and film to see it reduced in this way and raises questions of whether the review author is able to pull off this particular ruse, or was he just looking for a little attention.

What I care a bit more about is the truth, and whether The Guardian feels the recycling of this reduction, with a removal of their own to fan the flames, is worth it.

It just sort of bothers me, as a Joe Schmoe, reader of articles, that they don’t hold themselves to a higher standard. Truth is a good starting point for any article, isn’t it?

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet

‘They said I wasn’t hot enough’: Carey Mulligan hits out again at magazine review (The Guardian)

‘Promising Young Woman’: Film Review (Variety, January 26)

Got to keep the loonies on the path.

‘Crazy Chain’.

A new, Irish invention for powering multiple devices from a single source without electrocuting the entire rhythm section.

Luke Brennan, founder of Dublin-based MyVolts and him off the ‘telly’, writes:

It’s like a daisy chain, but you can chain the characteristics (tip size, polarity, link length) as you go along the chain. It’s very useful for those looking to power a couple of synthesisers, or guitar pedals, or both, in the simplest way possible.

It’s just a small thing, but very useful to the person who needs it.

We were lucky enough to have the wonderful synth/ bass guitar wizard Gaz Williams create a launch video (above) for us.

We designed it in-house, we’re very proud to be an Irish company making useful contributions to the world of music technology.

Wait for multi-pedal eargasm @5.07.

Crazy Chain (MyVolts)

This morning’s The Guardian

Luke Brennan writes:

If you click on the headline above that says “US scientists believe virus is mutating, becoming more contagious“….

…you click through to a page with the subhead that states “Experts believe virus is probably more contagious“…

Then in the article body it states:

“The study did not find that mutations of the virus have made it more lethal or changed its effects, even as it may be becoming easier to catch”…

The article it links through to on The Washington Post is a good one, giving an intelligent balanced perspective on the immunologist perspective on the evolution of the virus.

The lowdown is this, viruses always mutate, the first half of the Guardian headline “US scientists believe virus is mutating” is like saying “US scientists believe rain is falling”. It is a characteristic part of its being.

It saddens me, as someone who studied science, to see this sort of headline. At the heart of science is a search for truth and the honest appraisal of relationships between things to help us learn and progress.

The Washington Port article is an excellent example of this. It starts with a simple premise, there are two strains of the virus that were prevalent in a test study, a “D” and a “G” version.They found that the virus was 71% G in the first wave, 99.9% G in the second wave. So G is more prevalent. The study states simply that.

Then there are interpretations of this data, by two scientists…

… one David Morens, had this (above) to say.

The article is then balanced by another perspective, that of Kristian Andersen (above):

You can see here that no-one is looking for a “Gotcha” moment here, the facts of the study is detailed, views are expressed, accepting that there are multiple interpretations. The article finishes up by a lament that more studies of these types are not carried out, that more data is available.

The key point of the article is this, if a record is kept of the sequencing, we can anticipate what the virus will do next. As Musser said in the last quote in the article “I think it is shameful that we are not doing that“.

Does that study, and the interpretation of it in the WP deserve to be summed up with a B – movie plotline? “US scientists believe virus is mutating, becoming more contagious”.

I’m sure it gets the clicks, but the first part is self-evident and connecting it to the second is to live on very thin moral gravy.

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet

From top: The Queens, Dalkey: A view of Sir John Hasler’s house in Dalkey by John Campbell (1757-1829)

The Queens in Dalkey is a pub which will not be opening this week. The pub is laid low with Coronavirus, staff have been made redundant; there is a possible unsightly end in prospect.

The Irish Times raised the possibility that it may be flattened to make apartments. The Queens in Dalkey is older than the Irish Times, so perhaps it is forgivable that it does not know its history.

Less forgivable is that the Queen’s pub does not know its own history. If it did, it would have more than enough reason to cry for its own preservation.

The Queens is Dalkey. More than you might think or know. I know more than most about it, so I’ll share it with you, but sit tight, because it is quite a ride. It involves shipwrecks, white slavery, hidden gold and a lot more besides.

Firstly, the key to this story is lost, missing in a typo. Like all the most important things, you wouldn’t find even if you were looking. That typo is there for all to see on the Queens’ website, under the history section, which reads:

Although The Queens was licensed to dispense alcohol from 1787 ( a date that makes it Dalkey’s and one of Ireland’s oldest inns) the origins of The Queens date back even further to medieval times when Dalkey was the commercial port of Dublin.

The Concert room of The Queen’s Royal Hotel, Dalkey, as it was then known, formed part of the famous “Castle House”, the “hospitable manor” erected by Sir John Mastor, who came to Ireland in the court of the Viceroy, the Duke of Rutland.

This very impressive claim gives a hint as to its history but would be a dead-end if you went to search further. The Castle House was indeed its name, but it was a Sir John Hasler who built this House. This is the story of how he came to do that. However, that story does not start here, it, as many good stories do, has its beginnings in Co. Cork.

On the 11th of November 1758, the HMS Litchfield set sail from Cork Harbour in a convoy of 11 ships, flying British royal navy colours, it was assigned to lead the squadron. Its mission was to transport troops to West Africa.

However, disaster struck after just 16 days at sea. As the crew bedded down, thinking themselves to be 350 miles from the African coast, they found themselves shipwrecked on the Barbary coast (modern day Morocco).

The resulting scenes are too horrific and repugnant to be repeated here. 220 of the 350 crew made it to shore, some women and children included, the others perished over a 3 day period as they tried to make it to safety. Those that did make it to shore were captured, enslaved and escorted to Marrakesh under the invitation of the Moroccan emperor.

You might ask yourself at this point, what this has to do with the Queens pub In Dalkey. Well, you could be quite sure that if that incident did not happen then, the pub that is no longer a pub would not be there in the first place. A Butterfly’s wing causes hurricanes, given enough time.

What happened next in this story, is that a John Hasler, an Englishman, was asked if he would act as secretary to the Governor of Gibraltar, the closest British port, to help resolve the crisis.

Having 220 British subjects enslaved in Morocco was not going down too well in Westminster. The Fleet street papers thought it a national disgrace.

John Hasler was sent into the court of the Moroccan Emperor and managed, to much acclaim, to successfully negotiate the slaves release after 18 months of captivity.

This success brought him some good fortune, but also the friendship of George Townsend, as in the Marquess Townsend, who was in the locale helping protect the Portuguese from the Spanish in the years that followed.

It’s the same George Townsend that became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1767. And who do you think he called up (it was pre-internet, so he had to ring him) to offer a job when moved to Dublin?

Our John Hasler.

And when he came to Ireland, where did he choose to buy?

Only Dalkey. The big shot and saviour of the Moroccan escapade. He was the Matt Damon of the day.

The Dalkey that he met in 1767 had seen better days. Although it had been a medieval port of significance, it had “dwindled to a few miserable fishing huts”.

Continue reading →

From top: lockdown loneiiness study report in The Observer; Luke Brennan

Significantly more woman will feel lonely after reading this article than men.

The above statement is true. It is a fact. The truth of that fact, however, depends on our interpretation.

Let us first accept that more women than men feel lonely, as was recorded in a recent phone poll by the UK’s Institute for Social and Economic Research:

More than a third of women (34%) said they now sometimes felt lonely, and 11% said they often felt lonely. Among men, 23% were sometimes lonely while only 6% were often lonely.

More women than men feel lonely, so therefore, even if the same proportion of women suffer increased loneliness after reading this article, it will be significantly more.

Perhaps you are asking yourself why you are reading this article at this point? You should. Perhaps it is because of the engaging photo of the lonely girl above, or, that on some unconscious level you feel you will understand yourself or the world better by adding to the information you have about it.

Perhaps you wish to avoid loneliness yourself? All of these are valid reasons. The why is not important, the important thing is that you read on, regardless, about the lonely girls. Who could leave them here on these cold paragraphs?

Another question. What if you saw the above pictured girl, with an article which opened with the following statement?

Significantly more women than men are experiencing problems with their mental health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s how an article online at The Observer started out last week. We have the picture, we have the statement, what about the facts? The article following with:

New research by Lisa Spantig and Ben Etheridge, economists at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, suggests it is because women are more adversely affected by social isolation during lockdown.

The study reveals that the proportion of people who are reporting that they are experiencing at least one severe underlying mental health problem has increased among both genders. Among men it has risen from 7% of men before the pandemic to 18% after its onset. But for women, it has risen from 11% to 27%.

On the basis of these facts, the article’s author, Jamie Doward, continued his theorising with further information, quoting directly from one of the report’s authors, Ben Etheridge:

“It’s well documented that women have drawn the short straw on several different fronts,” Etheridge said. “For example, they are more likely to have lost their jobs.”

Other possible factors include the effects that restrictions on exercise and greater demands involving childcare and domestic work have had on women.”

He then links it with the statistical evidence regarding loneliness at the start of this article. He wraps things up with some useful web search data:

The findings are bolstered by online data which shows that many are struggling with isolation. Results from analyses of Google trends reveal that searches involving words such as “loneliness”, “worry” and “sadness” are increasing in many countries.

It seems very authoritative.

Yes. Yes, Yes. But. Does anyone else feel that their buttons are being pressed?

Jamie is a journalist of 20 years’ experience. He is writing articles for a newspaper which, as part of the Guardian, claims:

Leadership is broken. From the coronavirus pandemic and police brutality to the marginalisation of minority communities around the world, our leaders are failing us. Self-serving and divisive, they are gambling with public health and the future of younger generations. We have to make them raise their game.

This is what the Guardian is for. As an open, independent news organisation we investigate, interrogate and expose the incompetence and indifference of those in power. Your support helps us produce quality, trustworthy, fact-checked journalism every day – and publish it free so everyone can read.

Is the Observer/Guardian ever so slightly over-estimating it’s position in the world? Could it just be another newspaper?

I’m not in any doubt that the Guardian is well intentioned, or that it doesn’t do world class investigative reporting. But. In order to keep this gleaming rocket ship pointed at the stars, they have opened up a donut shop on the ground floor.

We don’t really need the lonely girl articles. Perhaps if the Guardian were a little less morally ambitious, it would be less blind to this. There is no point in being woke, but not awake.

If you look carefully at the numbers on which this article is built:

Among men it has risen from 7% of men before the pandemic to 18% after its onset. But for women, it has risen from 11% to 27%.

Among men you’ll see that a 7% to 18% rise, is a 157% rise. ((18/7 *100)-100)

For women you’ll see that an 11% to a 27% rise is a 145% rise ((27/11*100)-100)

Considering that, do you think this (again, the article opener from above) is true?

‘Significantly more women than men are experiencing problems with their mental health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.’

I do not understand how there could be any interpretation other than that mental health issues have increased at a greater rate in men than women. Unless you wanted it to be so.

Unless you got so good at making donuts, you forget they weren’t always good for people. Unless you had trained millions to carry around a tray of those donuts on their phones.

I don’t think it’s intentional malice, I think there is an important “but” in the author phrasing:

“But for women, it has risen from 11% to 27%.

The only reason he would add that “but”, is that he believes that the women’s rate increase is higher. His crime is not an intentional one, but rather one of poor mathematics.

One has to ask also, where are the much-vaunted fact-checkers? With these ambitious intentions, it is important part of making sure things add up.

Build a spaceship if you wish but be sure it’s foundations are rock solid. Perhaps pay more attention to morality in how the message is delivered.

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

One third of UK women are suffering from lockdown loneliness (Jamie Doward, The Observer, June 14)

Luke Brennan (him off the telly) writes:

My brother Kevin runs an online phone management service, and wanted to do something useful for people working from home over the next few months.

He put together an offer (see below) that would allow people to move their office phone to a home phone, without any cost, for 6 months.

He’d also be happy to help if anyone has any questions about moving your phone to home working…

Kevin Brennan writes

To help businesses work from home we’re offering 6-month free migration of any existing business phone number to callbrix (normally €4.99 per month, migration usually takes 24 hours) .

If you need an additional local phone number for a covid-19 information line we will also provide that 6-months free of charge (normally €4.99 per month).

In fairness.

Special ‘work from home’ offer during covid-19 crisis (Callbrix)

From top: Ireland Under-19s during their 5-0 win over Romania in  the UEFA European Under-19 Championship Elite Round in March; Luke Brennan

How healthy is Irish underage soccer?

Answer: A little bit too healthy.

Before heading off to a respectable semi-final exit in the Toulon tournament, the Irish under-21 team beat the senior team 2-1. The funny thing about that, is that most of the talent on the under- 21 team comes from the under-19 team.

If they were able to keep their own players, the under-19 team would most likely beat the under-21 team.

For this reason, the Irish under-19 team head off to compete in the European finals in Armenia this month as victims of their own success.

Eight of their top players have been held back from competing by their UK clubs.

Nathan Collins (who was rumoured to be the subject of a £7M move to Man Utd. earlier this summer) has been held back with a guarantee of more first team football with Stoke City, in order to develop him as a player (or more likely to fatten him up with first team action to attract more offers).

Luca Connell has made his big move to Celtic, first team action is not guaranteed, but it is most likely that potential Champions league qualifier action will hold him back from the trip to Armenia.

Conor Coventry has been held back by West Ham, travelling with the first team to Switzerland to see if he is good enough to provide cover for Declan R**e – and he is.

Jason Knight, the box to box teenage sensation from Cabinteely is off to Florida with Championship side Derby for a pre-season tour with new manager and ex- Barcelona midfielder Phillip Cocu; an experience in itself.

Lee O’Connor is being held back at Manchester United, after his outstanding performance at the Toulon tournament, they may more greatly prize him as an asset.

Adam Idah has signed a professional deal with newly promoted premiership team Norwich, with the guarantee of first team training and the hope that appearances will follow.

Similar assurances were given Aaron Connolly at Brighton, who is the other multi-award winning goal-scorer which Ireland now have representing them in the Premiership.

Troy Parrott occupies his own stratosphere. Should he justify the hype, and there is nothing to suggest he can’t, he will be a once in a generation player that will repay the faith that Mauricio Pochettino intends showing him.

Indications are that he will be named in their summer squad for a trip to Singapore. A chance to prove that he is deserving of a first team place at 17 years of age.

Now that is a lot of quality to be missing out on, surely they can’t compete without eight of their starters?

Well, all but Luca Connell and Jason Knight were unavailable in the qualification process. It didn’t stop the U-19s beating Romania 5-0, Azerbaijan 3-1 and Russia 2-0.

They have quality and confidence in depth.

Adam O’Reilly looks every bit the flinty ambitious midfielder from Cork with an eye for goal that we’ve been missing these last few years.

Ryan Cassidy looks like the player that Robbie Keane wanted to be. Good enough for Liverpool, if he ever makes his dream move to there from Watford.

Where is all this quality coming from? Everywhere.

We may even have to re- assesses the Ross O Carroll Kelly stereotype; the under-19 right back Andy Lyons went to Blackrock College.

When I heard Greystones-born Simon Power interviewed after the under-21 game, he sounded like he just scored a try for Clongowes.

We also have the Reghbas, the Eboseles, the Afolabis, the Omobamideles. All welcome and a great addition. I’m great believer in the theory that the more you represent, the more you can be. The many faces of a new Ireland, with a new team to prove it.

A football team should represent changes in a society, all changes.

I hope it’s true, I hope the change is coming from all corners. I hope also that part of the change is that Irish people are beginning to realise that the best way to support the national team is to support their local team.

Attendances are up 15% at League of Ireland matches this year. No reason why that can’t happen every year.

It’s part of the reason why, when UCD’s highly rated teenage winger Neil Farrugia was offered a move to Man City, he choose to move to Shamrock Rovers instead.

Farrugia earned 600 points in his leaving certificate and is a gifted Biomedical Science student; he has options. The idea of turning out for a team that had an attendance of 6,414 in a recent derby game with Bohemians is also something which wasn’t always on offer in Ireland.

I think Irish football has a lot to gain from the rising affluence in Irish society. Along with increasing the genetic diversity, it means that there is a few quid to pay for a physio, have the video analysis gear, or think a bit more about diet.

When I was young, sports teams were managed by whoever’s dad had a car and could drive to matches. That wasn’t so long ago. Now we are an affluent nation, with cars, a few quid, well organised leagues and people with a few spare hours to volunteer and run them. These things make a difference.

I think every type of diversity is useful, even our sporting diversity. It may well be why Ireland punches above our weight in sport. Consider that Soccer competes with Gaelic football, Hurling, Rugby and the rest for it’s playing pool.

No other European country has such diverse sporting interest and there is a growing acceptance that a range of sports may be better for development than a relentless Tiger Woods style focus on one sport. Perhaps diversity is the reason for success, rather than a hindrance to it.

Go diversity, Go Ireland.

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

Uefa Under-19 Championships

Previously: Green Shoots (Or: Why I Think We Might Win The 2030 World Cup)

From top: clockwise from top left: Nathan Collins, Max Murphy, Ryan Cassidy and Aaaron Connolly; Luke Brennan

I bear the saddest news.

It seems the English have taken Michael Collins.

I watched him rifling one into the back of the net for the Everton’s FA Youth Cup side, mobbed by fellow blueshirts.

Moments later I was on his twitter page, shocked to find that he has left behind his Irish heritage, thrown in his lot with the English. He’s too far gone lads.

They have taken him in body and mind. He’s already sharing photos of his abs and looking for someone to join in his snapchat stories.

All is not lost, we still have Max Murphy, he’s alive and well and playing for Stoke City. I hear Steve Coogan is on the way back to us too, Irish passport in the post. Good man Steve. It’s a difficult station for the Irish-ish.

Word on the street is that out at Green Acres retirement home, things are still very tense around dinner time. Quinner has come over all Tony Robbins, telling Mick he has to”awaken the giant within”, telling him “Food is the medicine we don’t know we are taking”. Mick still wouldn’t eat rice for a week. Cas still thinks he might come back to us, thinks we should try one more roll of the dice.

We arrive at the International break just a few days after the last Irish captain in the FA Youth Cup has fallen. On St Patrick’s day, of all days, Ryan Cassidy lived out a childhood dream and scored into the Kop end at Anfield.

It was the semi-final, and not enough to carry his Watford team into the final, they lost 2-1. It’s not an exaggeration to say he carried the team, as captain, scoring two goals in each of the three previous rounds.

This is just one small part of the significant firepower that Irish youth football has at it’s disposal. All Ryan’s exploits didn’t even get him into the U19 squad for the important Elite qualification phase in Russia, only into the Irish U18 team playing a friendly double-header against Turkey.

My thoughts in these matches are often with the players who don’t make it. We have the injured Aaron Connolly, who was the reserve premiership top scorer before his hamstring went. He was soon replaced by another Irishman, Adam Idah, who has been pulled up to the Irish U21 team.

The 17 year old captain of Stoke City’s Under 23 team, Nathan Collin, scored a goal on his last outing, but injured himself and won’t make it to Russia.

Then there is Glen “The Goal machine” McAuley, who has spent the year fighting for his place on the Liverpool U23 team after two years as top scorer for their U18 team. It’s been tough. Tough to get game time and tough to score when he has.

He’s managed  three goals in cup competitions, but none in the league. Yet he has managed two Man of the Match awards this year. He is a prodigious talent, he scored the goal vs Slokavia that qualified Ireland as Under 17s to the finals in England last year.

It is a thing of beauty.

Reminiscent of Zidane’s first senior goal for France, where he slaloms left and right without even touching the ball to beat the first two players. Great players do great things without thinking, the very best can do them without even touching the ball.

McAuley is a fighter, for his goal, he wins ownership of the ball without having any right to it. Feigns right, then casually sidefoots the ball into the goal past the back-pedalling ‘keeper. One touch, temporary immortality achieved, for a few years, you would think. Yet, he still hasn’t made it to Russia.

The thing is, it’s a viciously competitive arena, youth football. It’s full of promise, not only your own dreams, but family, friends, loved ones. There isn’t much room for a u-turn, so everyone keeps on going. Nothing has the potential to crush like punctured expectation.

Who would be a Troy Parrott, a Ryan Cassidy or a Glen McAuley. Or a host of other names, celebrated, but soon forgotten.

We have Irish youth football teams lining out this week at U21, U19, U18 and U17 levels.Let’s cheer them on, but also hope they get support in years to come for all their hard work and sacrifice. I’m guessing success is the easy bit….

…My interest in football this year has been rekindled by a 5 a side football group (above) I set up in Porto. Football, and all sport is a way we have to share our playful nature.

I’ve always found it’s a great way to know people, and get to know people. It’s the little things, like those in our group that have given others a spare room, or helped someone find a job, that makes it seem worthwhile to me.

My wish for these brave young footballers, is that football always supports them, even in these small simple ways.

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

Previously:Green Shoots (Or: Why I Think We Might Win The 2030 World Cup)

Top pics: FAI


From top: Troy Parrott (second left), celebrates with, from left, Jason Knight, Cameron Ledwidge and Barry Coffey during the UEFA U17 Championship Finals group between Bosnia & Herzegovina and Republic of Ireland in Burton-upon-Trent, England last May; Luke Brennan

When I first saw Robbie Keane play football, I thought “I know a Robbie Keane when I see one, and that Robbie Keane, is a Robbie Keane”. The question on every football fan’s lips these days, is “Where will we find the next Robbie Keane?”.

The FAI now have one of the most useful tools available in unearthing another Robbie Keane. They have, Robbie Keane. The thinking is that it takes a Robbie Keane to catch a Robbie Keane.

As they revealed Keane to the press, they had only one question, but dared not ask it: as Robbie leant down to sign on the dotted line, winking at the cameras, humming “There’s only one Robbie Keane” to himself.

“Will you be ringing Declan Rice, Robbie?”

I will in me swiss, thought Robbie, humming quietly to himself. “Yeah”, he said, “Meself and Mick will get the boy sorted”, wondering why anyone with half a million followers on Instagram would ring anyone.

You see, we don’t need another Robbie Keane, nor do we need Declan Rice.

It doesn’t matter if you are making sausages or running the Irish football team, the recipe for success is a steady supply of good raw material.

When you get that part right, you don’t end up relying on one player being your only goal-every-second-game striker for 20 years. We were lucky to have him, but we’re even luckier to have moved on.

I haven’t watched Premiership football in 20 years. I still won’t watch it. Everything from the prawn sandwiches to the wall-to-wall betting slogans winds me up, never mind the harm it does the Irish game.

I was living and working in the UK when I turned my back on it. I was placing in the top 5 of a company-wide fantasy football competition and had a “moment of clarity”, thinking I’d be better off spending my time working out what makes the factories of the world work than wasting any intellectual real estate on the Premiership.

I’m slightly disgusted with myself for even writing about it in passing; but it’s a necessary part of the good news that I bring.

Ireland are on the up.

They have been steadily improving their underage performance, the U17s were ranked 24th in Europe back in 2015, they’ve moved to 12th this year (Irish players Adam Idah and Aaron Connolly winning the golden boot for most qualification goals in the 2017 and 2018 competitions along the way).

At very least, we’ve got a golden generation.

There are half a dozen Irish teenagers making the bench in the Premiership this season, one even got a goal (Michael Obafemi scored the first premiership goal of the season by an Irish forward, in December). There are as many Irish teenagers in the English second division making it onto the pitch.

But that is nothing compared to what they are doing in the second string and underage
teams. In English underage football, the Irish are providing 5% of the players, but 12% of the goals.

They are learning their craft, captaining their teams, scoring winning goals with a relish that implies a new confidence. Heroism is an art; leadership a learnt skill. The Irish captains of the future are lining out for their club’s FA Youth cup teams in far greater numbers.

Last week Southampton’s youth team was captained by Kameron Ledwidge, formally of St.Kevin’s boys, Dublin. They were beaten 2-1 by Watford, captained by scorer of both goals, Ryan Cassidy, another St. Kevin’s alumni.

In another fourth-round tie, Preston beat Norwich, captained by Adam O’Reilly, defeating his former Cork schoolboy team-mate (and Norwich leading underage goal-scorer) Adam Idah.

There are other young captains, such as Stoke City’s Nathan Collins and Bolton’s Luca Connell. There is Troy Parrot at Tottenham. James Jennings, Ethan Varian, Will Ferry and Jason Knight all average a goal every other game for their Premier league youth teams. Parrot averages a goal a game.

I saw Ryan Nolan from Limerick captaining Inter Milan’s U19 team. I saw Ryan Johansson come on for 20 minutes as centre forward for Bayern Munich’s U19 team against Barcelona U19. He was the best player on the pitch.

All these players should put in a good performance at this year’s U19 championship. The 2020 U19 championship is being held just up the road in Northern Ireland, we can expect a good result in what is almost a local tournament.

Ireland’s U21 team will be building towards the 2021 finals in Slovenia. The hope is that the 2023 finals, when this golden-age of Irish football comes good, will be an all-Ireland hosted event.

A good result in that, would mean an Irish team would qualify for the 2024 Olympics. Plenty of opportunity to practice heroics, make mistake, learn, grow, yielding a mature and practiced squad.

We should also ask another question. What if that is the new normal? What if the wealth, prosperity, new genetic input and solid sports management is giving that result as a constant?

What if we’ve got the product pipeline right? What if there is another generation to follow?

Truth is we would need it.

Again, It doesn’t matter if you are making sausages or building an international football team; you need a product pipeline. Unlike sausage recipes, players wear out. You need to have been producing consistently over time to have a shot.

Did someone say we have a chance at a World cup? The future is bright, but the future is ten years away. Roll on World Cup 2030.

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

Top Pic: Malcolm Couzens/Sportsfile

fancy a little pot?

At the Dublin Flea Christmas Market, Point Square, Dublin 1

Luke Brennan, of ‘Broadsheet on the Telly‘ fame, writes:

My mother [potter] Helena Brennan has taken  a stand in the Dublin flea-market this week. She will be there from today until Sunday.

She has just opened up a kiln after 3 months of making through the Autumn, she sent me these photos (above) of a miniature teapot she will have on sale there, along with a lot else besides. She would of course be very happy to see any Broadsheet readers there.

Helena Brennan

Dublin Flea Christmas Market

Irish-made stocking fillers to Broadsheet@broadsheet.ie marked ‘Irish-made Stocking Fillers’. No fee.