Monday, July 12, 2010

This Sporting Life - July

The World Cup eh, the apotheosis of all that's trite and overblown - presided over by the super-annuated suspender expert Sepp Bladder. Even the bloody ball was garish and unreliable. And don't tell me South Africa benefited - apart from generating an awareness that you may not get car jacked if you steer clear of Johannesburg. From time to time there was magic - a couple of the Argentinian goals, Germany's devastating counter attacking against England and Argentina, the spirit of Landon Donovan and the Yanks, the pure skills of Spain before the clogging started, and the passion of teams like Ghana and Uruguay (especially the splendid Forlan).

The flat racing season is getting interesting. Despite the fact I bet on him I do feel that Workforce will prove to be an overrated Epsom Derby winner. He was beaten easily by Cape Blanco in the Dante and that horse flopped in the French Derby. Though he did redeem himself in a workmanlike way in the Irish Derby. The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Ascot, when these two meet the older horses, will show us the wiser.

Wimbledon had its moments. The Ladies Final was effectively the match between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova in the last 16. Two big hitters pounding each other over two close sets. The only difference is that Sharapova's service technique has too many moving parts, which leaves her prone to double faults, especially at tight moments. This proved the difference between her and the Williams juggernaut. The Wimbledon ladies finals have been deeply monotonous in recent years - Serena Williams' powerful and reliable serve repels all boarders except, occasionally, her big sister. The best woman's match I've seen this year was the final of the French Open where the Italian Francesca Schiavone defeated Samantha Stosur from Australia. Here we saw skill, shot variety and protracted rallies. I do like a sliced backhand and and a subtle drop shot. On the men's side we saw that as long as Nadal stays fit Andy Murray will never win Wimbledon. The reason is simple - Nadal's looped forehand is reliable, Murray's forehand falters under pressure. Of course Nadal retrieves better as well but Murray's service is marginally stronger if less reliable. Both have excellent temperaments but Nadal is a machine and Murray is a mere mortal.

Another great match between Cork and Waterford yesterday. Looking at it selfishly as a Tipp man I'm delighted with the draw - the ultimate loser will be vulnerable in the playoffs. But it's hard to call. That Cork half back line are the fulcrum of that team. Gardener, Curran and Sean Og are mighty men and Cusack is a hero in goal - but they are lacking in the forwards and this may undo them down the line. Mullane and Kelly may prove decisive in the replay especially if the Brick Walsh and newcomers like Shane O'Sullivan repeat their performances. As for Tipp's pyrrhic victory over Wexford, it'll take more than that to rekindle my enthusiasm. I need a win over Galway, Kilkenny or Cork.

Will Padraig Harrington ever win a golf tournament again? He's so bloody erratic off the tee these days that I doubt it. But I do feel that Graham McDowell, after his ice cold US Open win, has another one in him. He's got the right stuff temperamentally and a rock solid technique. What to do with Darren Clarke? He's playing well, especially tee to green, but he looks so bloody rueful all the time you suspect he's waiting for something to go wrong - as it did in the Scottish Open last weekend. If you could combine his accuracy off the tee and the fairway with Harrington's short game you'd have a decent golfer. As for the British Open this week, I fancy anybody but McElroy who will never win a major because he can't putt. This spake Zarathustra.