France Defensive Masterclass Seals Moscow Finale Spot

France put on a defensive masterclass to deny Belgium’s golden generation a place in the 2018 World Cup Final. Samuel Umtiti’s 51st minute header was the difference between the two teams.

France had a chance after just thirty seconds when Kylian Mbappe crossed from the right hand side into Antoine Griezmann but it was cleared away by Kevin De Bruyne. Minutes later, De Bruyne sent a through ball into Nacer Chadli on the right hand side who tried to cross it into the middle but it was deflected out. With about a quarter of an hour gone, Paul Pogba sent a through ball into the path of Mbappe but he couldn’t get to it and Thibaut Courtois saved easily. Moments after, Belgium struck back with a glorious chance of their own as the excellent De Bruyne sent a through ball into the path of Hazard on the left hand side who tried a shot and narrowly missed the back post. Olivier Giroud who was poor all game got the ball after Toby Alderweireld lost it and crossed into Blaise Matuidi who missed the goal just seconds later. Matuidi got the ball back a few seconds later and shot straight at Courtois. With twenty minutes on the clock, Nacer Chadli’s corner was cleared away by the excellent Umtiti. Seconds later, De Bruyne crossed from just outside the box on the left hand side into the path of Marouane Fellaini who headed narrowly wide. A minute later, Hugo Lloris saved from a fine Alderweireld shot from Chadli’s corner before Umtiti passed into Giroud who got a foot to it but could not control it properly and it went wide. As the half hour mark approached, De Bruyne tried a cross into the box but Umtiti cleared it away whilst Griezman had a free kick wich he tapped into the path of Benjamin Pavard who crossed it into Giroud who shot wide. Antoine Griezman had a great solo effort shortly before half time when he ran nearly the entire length of the pitch only to shoot wide whilst Pavard went close too when he got onto the end of a pass from Mbappe and drew a fine save from Thibaut Courtois.

Shortly after the break, Axel Witsel crossed from the edge of the box on the left hand side into Romelu Lukaku but he could only head over as he found it difficult to get into the game. Six minutes into the half, Umtiti got onto the end of Griezman’s corner and put it into the far post, grazing the curly locks of Fellaini on it’s way in. As the hour mark approached, Mbappe left the ball into the path of Giroud who shot straight at Courtois who pulled off yet another save. Belgium responded as De Bruyne passed into substitute Dries Mertens on the right hand side and crossed it into the path of Fellaini who headed narrowly wide. With twenty minutes to go, Mertens tried a cross into the box but it was headed away by Paul Pogba who was unusually excellent in defence. Witsel tried a long shot from just outside the box after Hazard was dispossessed by Raphael Varane. Two minutes from time, De Bruyne’s free from the edge of the box on the left hand side was defelcted away by substitute, Steven Nzonzi. De Bruyne ended back up with the ball and passed it into Lukaku who just could not reach it. Injury time saw France have another couple of chances as Belgium tried desperately to score, making mistakes in the process. Griezmann got the ball from a Belgian throw-in and shot straight at Courtois before substitute, Corentin Tolisso shot from the left hand side but it was saved once again by Courtois just before the final whistle blew to send France through to the final in Moscow on Sunday.

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Teenage Sensation Fires France into Last 16

France 1

Peru 0

Teenage sensation, Kylian Mbappe fired France into the Last 16 of the World Cup earlier in what was an otherwise dull and cagey affair. France had the first real chance of the game after eleven minutes when Antoine Griezmann got onto the end of an Olivier Giroud through ball on the right hand side only to to put his effort wide. Paul Pogba also had an effort go wide as he tried a shot from outside the box a minute later before Varane headed a corner from the right hand side narrowly past the post a few minutes after that. Peru had their first opportunity after twenty minutes when they were awarded a free kick but some pushing and shoving as it was about to be taken meant a free kick was given to France. A few minutes later, a corner was swung in from the left hand side and cleared only in to the path of Edison Flores who shot wide. On the half hour mark, Paolo Guerrero hit a shot straight at Hugo Lloris in the France goal. With ten minutes left until half-time, Pogba crossed the ball over the Peruvian defence and it landed awkwardly into the path of Mbappe who tried a shot but could not steer it into the back of the net. A few seconds later, Giroud intercepted the ball in the middle of the park from the ensuing goal kick and shot from the left hand side past the keeper, leaving Mbappe to tap in. Just before half time, Lucas Hernanadez shot narrowly wide from the left hand side.

The second half saw fewer chances. The Peruvians had the first chance as Aldo Corzo shot from outside the box but it hit the post and went out for a goal kick. Griezmann had a free kick cleared a couple of minutes later for France. With fifteen minutes left on the clock, Jefferson Farfan got onto the end of a cross on the right hand side and shot wide from the left hand side. France responded with a chance of their own a few minutes later as Ousmana Dembele turned his marker and shot narrowly wide. Three minutes from time, Peru tried to force an equaliser as Guerrero shot his free kick straight at Lloris in the French goal. Just before the final whiste blew, Blaise Matuidi tried a shot from long range but could not find the target.

Mexico Shock World Champions Germany

Germany 0

Mexico 1

Hirving Lozano’s 35th minute goal was enough for Mexico to shock the current world champions Germany. Joachim Low’s men were the hot favourites going into the clash but they couldn’t cope with Mexico’s skill as they were outclassed by the North American side.

Mexico were on top from the word go as Lozano got the ball from Carlos Vela on the left hand side of the box and turned past the defender to shoot only to find his shot blocked by Jerome Boateng. Germany responded with a chance of their own as Timo Werner got the ball on the right hand side of the box and shot across the face of the goal but missed the target. Hector Herrera tried a shot from the edge of the box but could only find the arms of Manuel Neuer. With a quarter of an hour gone, Mexico were awarded a free kick which was taken by Miguel Layun who found the head of Hector Moreno who headed straight at Neuer. Then came a Germany onslaught as Werner got the ball in the middle but shot straight at Guillermo Ochoa in goal, Toni Kroos shot straight at Ochoa too before he had a free kick cleared. There was no keeping Mexico quiet though as Lozano fed Layun who shot over the bar. He then shot staight at Neuer a couple of minutes later. Ten minutes before halftime, Vela fed a through ball into the box for Layun but he couldn’t get to it. A minute later, Javier Hernandez gave the ball into Lozano on the left hand side who turned and shot straight past Neuer to take the lead. Shortly after, Kroos had a free kick narrowly saved by Ochoa as it glided towards the top right hand corner of the net.

After the break, it looked as if Mexico were going to settle with their lead and sat back and let the Germans come at them more. Marvin Plattenhard and Joshua Kimmich tried shots but missed the target. As the hour mark approached, Mexico had a glorious chance to double their lead and put the game to bed when Hernandez set Vela free on the left hand side of the box but his final touch was not good enough. Marco Reus tried a shot on the right hand side but steered it narrowly over the bar. Kimmich crossed from the right into Kroos in the middle but shot narrowly over, Draxler had a shot blocked by Ochoa into the path of Thomas Muller who hit the crossbar from the right hand side of the box. Layun had a rare opportunity for Mexico as he made a nice dart into the box only to shoot narrowly wide. Reus had a shot blocked by Ochoa before Jerome Boateng shot from the edge of the box which hit off the post and out, summing up Germany’s day.

Mumtaz Shines on Debut Weekend for Bagenalstown

Zeeshan Mumtaz made a name for himself instantly at Bagenalstown Cricket Club this weekend as he made 107on his debut on Saturday and 50no in his second game on Sunday.

Bagenalstown 3 competed in Division 15 of the Leinster Cricket League on Saturday at a sundrenched McGrath Park. They took on Lucan 1’s and won by a convincing 78 runs. Batting first, the home side put on a mammoth 218 from their 40 overs, losing eight wickets in the process. Mumtaz top scored with 107 and shared a 130 run partnership with young Jamie Aremband who scored 43. Set 219 to win, Lucan struggled and were all out for 140, giving the baggies the win. Ashan Wijesinghe and Asad Munir were both amongst the wicket takers, taking a caught and bowled wicket each.

Bagenalstown 2 beat North County 4 in Division 12 on Sunday in Dublin. Batting first, the hosts put on 145 from their 40 overs with the experienced head of Ray Stapleton being the key to restricting them to a chaseable total. In reply, the Baggies chased it down with four wickets to spare. Mumtaz again top scored on 50no whilst Sean Farrell ended up on 12no at the close of play.
They had previously taken on Merrion 7 on Bank Holiday Monday and won by 49 runs. Batting first, the visitors put on 112 from their 40 overs with seventeen year old, Robbie O’Neill top scoring on 29. The top order struggled for runs as they were out for 16 runs between them but the team was rescued by their middle and lower order. O’Neill looked comfortable at the crease before he was stumped. Khuram Mumtaz came in at number seven and also did well getting 23 before he was bowled out. Pardeep Hooda at number nine came in and built a partnership with him and was 26 not out at the end of their allotted batting period. They then bowled the home side out for 53 with captain, Dammar Budhathoki the pick of the bowlers, getting four wickets, conceding just nine runs from his eight overs. O’Neill and Mumtaz both got two wickets each, ending with figures of 2-31 and 2-5 respectively. Mumtaz ended with four maidens off his seven overs. Hooda also picked up a wicket, going for nineteen runs off his five overs.

Bagenalstown 1 competed in the Middle Cup on Sunday as they took on Adamstown 1 at McGrath Park. Adamstown batted first and put on 245 from their 40 overs. Pardeep Hooda (2-45) and Lijo Joy (2-28) ended up taking two wickets each off their alotted eight overs. Off spinner, Anees Shah (1-38), Nadun Srimal (1-42) and Azaz Ahmed (1-53) each got a wicket apiece, rounding off the wicket takers. The baggies then fell well short of the target as they were all out for 111, losing by 133 runs with the Adamstown bowlers proving too strong as they ripped through the home side’s batting line up. Captain, Bernard O’Mara and Srimal started well at the top of the order but again, the middle order crumbled with nobody able to get past single figures. They were rescued slightly by Ahmed at number nine who ended on 23no but ran out of partners at the other end.

Bagenalstown train on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at McGrath Park with kids training on Friday evenings. New members are always welcome, for more information contact Mat Baker on 0867835656 or baggiescc@gmail.com.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid- Champion’s League Final Preview

The Greatest Show on Earth reaches it’s climax tomorrow night as European giants, Liverpool and Real Madrid contest the Champion’s League Final in the heart of Kiev. The Champion’s League is and has been for many years, the greatest prize on offer to European teams. Both teams have won the tournament before and have experienced the glory that comes with being the best team in Europe. No team has more Champion’s League titles than these two. Real Madrid top the list with twelve titles, making them the most successful team in the competition’s history whilst Liverpool are tied for second with five titles alongside Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

The two sides have impressed in this season’s competititon with the Spanish team having had by far the hardest route to the final, beating European heavyweights such PSG, Bayern and Juventus en route, having finished runners up in their group. Liverpool had the easier route having had to beat Premier League champions, Manchester City, Portuguese champions, Porto, Spanish team, Sevilla and Italian giants, Roma.

Ballon D’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo is the leading goalscorer in this season’s Champion’s League with 15 whilst Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino are tied for second on ten goals apiece with Sadio Mane just behind on 8. The figures suggest that Real Madrid are a one man team and may struggle if their star man is off form. This was the case in their Quarter-Final second leg against Juventus where the Italian giants beat them 3-1. However, Liverpool’s back four has struggled at times when put under pressure as we saw when they played Roma in the semi-finals where they conceded six goals in the space of two games. Young Trent Alexander-Arnold has impressed at times but has also been caught for pace down the right hand side at various stages and may be something Real seek to exploit via their left wing-back Marcelo. Dejan Lovren has looked very ordinary throughout the season and will a cause for concern for the team from Merseyside. However, their front three has been exceptional all season and will be looking to cause Real’s defence, which has looked shaky at times, headaches.

It is likely to be a high scoring game with both teams boasting great attacks. Whilst Ronaldo may be the star man, the likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Luka Modric will all be seeking to try and stamp their influence on the game and show that Real are more than a one man team.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid is on from 7.45 on RTE Two.

Manchester United vs Chelsea- FA Cup Preview

Two of England’s biggest clubs will fight it out at Wembley later for English football’s oldest trophy, the FA Cup. Once upon a time, it was the most coveted prize in the domestic season. In recent years, it has become less significant with television companies piling money into the league. However, for one of these clubs it is a season without a trophy, for the other, an opportunity to save their season and make up for their disappointing league campaigns.

Antonio Conte’s men won the title last season but suffered a dip in form this campaign as they failed to even get Champion’s League football. Star man, Eden Hazard looked a shadow of his former self this season which was key to their misery this season. A failure to replace top goalscorer, Diego Costa, with an equally as prolific striker cost them dearly in front of goal as his replacement, Alvaro Morata was unable to step up. The selling of their midfield dynamo, Nemanja Matic also had an effect on them as he seemed to be the glue that was holding the team together. Club captain, Gary Cahill, also fell out of form in the defence and sat on the bench for the majority of the season.

Jose Mourinho’s style of play has been branded boring this season as they finished in second place, nineteen points behind Manchester City. They started off brightly, seeming to match City each week but fell away slowly. Their star striker, Romelu Lukaku went through a dry spell where he struggled to find the back of the net. However, Mourinho kept faith with him and refused to replace him with one of the club’s young talents, Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial. Their club record signing of Paul Pogba failed to reach his potential once again this season and only occasionally showed glimpses of brilliance. Alexis Sanchez, bought from Arsenal in January endured a miserable start to his campaign and like Pogba only occasionally showed glimpses of his potential.

The two encounters between the sides this season have been fascinating contests. The first game back in November ended in a surprising 1-0 victory for Chelsea whilst the tables turned in the encounter in February as United claimed a 2-1 victory with Romelu Lukaku scoring against his old club. Chelsea’s star man this season has been Willian and he will be crucial if Chelsea are to have any chance at lifting the famous trophy at the home of soccer. They will also be hoping that Eden Hazard can produce the goods and help them claim the once most coveted trophy in English football. For United, they will be hoping that Romelu Lukaku will be on raring to go after a month out with injury. Alexis Sanchez showed his brilliance in the Semi-Final victory over Spurs and United will be hoping be can continue his excellent record at Wembley. Jesse Lingard has been a revelation this year and stepped up and became one of their best players, earning himself a starting berth throughout the season. He also has a great record at Wembley which United will be hoping will continue today.

Chelsea vs Manchester United is on BBC One from 16.10.

Carlow College St. Pats Go Down Fighting

Rathmines College of Further Education 3
Carlow College, St. Patrick’s 2

It was a case of so close but yet so far for Carlow College, St. Patrick’s in the Quarter-Finals of Division Four as they came within minutes of taking Rathmines to Extra-Time. Goals from Kevin Sanz, Brian Sofola and Jack Moore put the home side 3-0 up and in control. However, the Carlow team did not give up and fought back through Columb Sheridan and Shane Murphy to make it 3-2 but time was against them as the final whistle blew.

The game started off brightly with both teams having chances. The away team had the best of the early chances as Chris Conway’s free kick was headed over the bar and Craig Henderson had a shot blocked. Daniel Mackey blocked a shot from the Rathmines forward, Brian Sofola. Carlow College, St. Patrick’s came closest to opening the scoring midway through the first half as the Rathmines keeper only just palmed Dan Greville’s shot from the halfway line from a rebounded free kick over the bar. However, it was Rathmines who took the lead as Kevin Sanz got onto the end of a corner just before half-time.

There were a number of half chances from both sides at the start of the half but it was the Carlow side who almost scored first as Kevin Anthony’s shot went narrowly wide. Sanz went close too as he was one on one with Kevin Nolan who came off his line and cleared the danger. Rathmines got their first midway through the half as Brian Sofola got onto the end of a long ball from the midfield. They got their second just two minutes later as Conway slipped and failed to pick up his marker, leaving Jack Moore with a clear shot at goal. With five minutes left in the game, Columb Sheridan got onto the end of a Kevin Anthony ball and put it in the back of the net. This seemed to rally them on as four minutes later, Shane Murphy scored after a scramble for the ball to make it 3-2. However, try as they did, time was against them and the final whistle blew on their chances of reaching the Semi-Final.

Carlow College, St. Patrick’s: Kevin Nolan, Daniel Greville, Daniel Mackey, Chris Conway, Darren Fortune, Shane Murphy, Adam Connor, Columb Sheridan, Kevin Anthony, Craig Henderson, Adam Colton. Subs: Adam Bazziz, David Kilkelly, Philip Flynn.

Coutinho to sign for Barcelona

One of the longest running transfer sagas is set to come to an end tonight as Barcelona have agreed a €145 million deal with Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho, who joined the club in 2013 from Inter Milan for a measly €8.5 million, has fast turned into one of the Premier League’s best attacking midfielders. His ability to score from outside the box and set up others earned him a lucrative move away from Anfield and makes him the second most expensive player in the world.

At Liverpool this season, he found himself slightly out of position as part of a front three alongside Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firminho at different stages of the season and scored twelve goals in nineteen appearances. He came through the youth system at Vasco da Gama in Brazil and found himself called up to the Brazil u-15’s squad. He was then bought by Inter Milan for €4 million but stayed with Vasco as he was only 16 and Italian FA rules state that nobody under the age of 18 can play first team football. He became a regular in the first team at Vasco and was an integral part of their Serie B win in 2009 whilst in 2010 he made 31 appearances, scoring five goals in the process.

He completed his move to Inter in the summer of 2010 and struggled to adapt, scoring just one goal and one assist in all competitions from 34 appearances. The following season was the same and his disappointing form saw him sent to Espanyol on loan where he scored five goals in sixteen appearances. On his return to Inter the following season he made 23 appearances and scored three goals. His form attracted the attention of Liverpool who bought him in January of 2013. He scored three goals and provided six assists in his fourteen appearances before the end of the season. His first goal came on his full debut against Swansea. He received the player of the month award for March of that year as he made his name in the Premier League.

He was injured at the start of the 2013/14 season and was out for two months but that didn’t stop him from making an impact as he scored another five goals and set up seven. The following season saw him improve on that tally by scoring eight goals and assisting five in all competitions. He went on to get the club’s Player of the Season award that season. He was also nominated for the PFA Player of the Season and PFA Young Player of the Season awards that season. In 2015/16, he took his goal tally into double figures and provided seven assists and was starting to prove the €8.5 million they paid for him a bargain. He was an integral part of the club’s League Cup and Europa League runs that season and was again nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Season award. He was constantly improving and improved his stats again as he scored fourteen goals and assisted eight. This saw him become the all-time leading Brazillian scorer in the Premier League and promting Barcelona bid €72 million for him in the summer. When this was rejected, Coutinho handed in a transfer request but Liverpool turned down two new improved bids. They then came back in for him in January to help shore up their forwards line.

Carlow College knocked out of Cup

Cork IT ‘D’ 2
Carlow College St. Pats 1

Carlow College St. Pats were knocked out of the CFAI Eustace Cup last week by a Cork IT ‘D’ side who finished bottom of their group in the League. Discipline was an issue for the Carlow side who found themselves frustrated at the way the game was going. Adam Colton gave them the lead midway through the first half after Craig Henderson played him in on the left hand side and it was all downhill from there with chances that ordinarily would have been converted, missing the back of the net.

The game started brightly with both teams having half chances. The first real opportunity of the game came when Kevin Nolan saved from Dean Sexton of Cork. The Carlow side had their first chance when Shane Murphy shot wide from Colton’s pass. Carlow College continued to press during the first half and went close when Colton tried a shot and it was saved before Murphy hit the rebound and Owen McLoughlin in goal collected it. Nathan O’Mahony also shot at Nolan shortly before the goal. Cork had a hat-trick of chances after the goal with Craig Sukis and Eoin Kelly having opportunities cleared by Chris Conway and the Carlow defence, and Simon O’Shea shooting wide. Colton had an opportunity to double Carlow College’s lead when he shot straight at McLoughlin from Adam Connor’s free kick.

Cork IT equalised just before half time when O’Mahony was fouled by two Carlow defenders in the box and they were awarded a penalty which he then slotted to the right of Nolan. Cork started the second half the best and had an early opportunity to take the lead when Alex O’Brien hit O’Mahony’s shot wide. They then took the lead ten minutes after half time when Sexton shot and the ball bounced off Nolan and into the goal. The rest of the half saw fewer chances as the two teams cancelled each other out. 

The action continued right to the end as Kevin Anthony found himself one on one with McLoughlin but could not find the back of the net whilst Conway had a shot deflected off a defender at the death. There was a scramble at the very end with Carlow College pushing everybody up in search of an equaliser but it was ultimately not enough as the Cork defence dealt with the danger. Sexton almost made it three for Cork when he shot at goal but it was easily cleared by Columb Sheridan.

Carlow College St. Patricks- Kevin Nolan, Columb Sheridan, Daniel Mackey, Chris Conway, Darren Fortune, Adam Connor, Shane Murphy, Craig Henderson, Kevin Anthony, Adam Bazziz, Adam Colton. Subs: Daniel Greville, Sergei Kapik

Henderson Shines as Carlow College St. Pats Reach Quarter-Finals

Carlow IT (Wexford Campus) 1

Carlow College St. Pats 1

‘The hard work only starts now’, said coach PJ Lawler as Craig Henderson struck late on in the game to send Carlow College St. Patricks through to the Quarter Finals of Division Four of the Colleges and Universities Football League at IT Carlow grounds last week. He said that ‘we have a few weeks to prepare for what is bound to be a very tough Quarter-Final’, stressing that ‘the players are well up for it’.

Carlow College were slow to get into the game with the early chances falling to Wexford Campus. However, Danny O’Keeffe and Adam Connor in defence particularly were excellent in closing down the Wexford Campus attack. As the half went on, Carlow College started to put together chances of their own but could not seem to find the target at all. Their best chance came after fifteen minutes when Adam Colton was fouled inside the box and they were awarded a penalty. Columb Sheridan stepped up to take it but Jamie Hawthorn in goal went the right way to deny him.

Wexford Campus had their best chance of the half shortly after when Leigh Wilson got onto the end of a cross from Kevin Li. which had been deflected into his path by O’Keeffe but hit it straight at Kevin Nolan in goal. O’Keeffe was on hand again just minutes later to slide in and stop what would be a certain goal when Barry O’Driscoll found himself one on one with the keeper.

Carlow College came out in the Second Half looking like a different team and they looked closest to scoring as they especially found joy from the boot of Sheridan from the corner flag with attempts either going over the bar or slightly wide. Twenty minutes into the half, Carlow College had a chance to take the lead when Colton’s shot hit off the post and went out. Adam O’Grady went close at the other end when Nolan palmed his effort over the bar.

The first goal of the game came after 75 minutes when Henderson got onto the end of a pass from Kevin Anthony on the left hand side and shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net to put Carlow College into the lead. However, the celebrations were short-lived as Wexford Campus found an equaliser when Sean McNamara headed the ball in at the far post.

Carlow College: Kevin Nolan, Columb Sheridan, Daniel Mackey, Danny O’Keeffe, Darren Fortune, Adam Connor, Kevin Anthony, Adam Bazziz, Shane Murphy, Craig Henderson, Adam Colton. Subs: Kenny Ajike, Daniel Greville