The Longshot: Snubs not subs more concerning for Pep

City still favourites despite having to face Bayern Munich and being on tough side of Champions League draw
The Longshot: Snubs not subs more concerning for Pep

City head coach Pep Guardiola takes on former club Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.

PEP Guirdiola’s hopes of finally adding to the two Champions Leagues he collected with Barcelona took a hit last Friday when his Man City side were drawn against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.

They will be a different prospect to the German opposition they comfortably disposed of in the round of 16 last week, when Pep decided to deny Erling Haaland of the chance to hit a double hat-trick by whipping him off after 62 minutes against RB Leipzig.

Munich was the club that the Catalan coach notably failed to find success in Europe with (he joined after Jupp Heynckes had guided them to a fifth European Cup) and if he fails to do so with City it would be two major blots on his legacy as a manager.

Not that he believes this himself, claiming in the post-match press conference last Tuesday that even if he won three European Cups in a row with City, the press would not acclaim him. He also said a snub from his favourite actress would rankle with him more and he hasn’t got over her ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’.

“Julia Roberts came to Manchester - not in the 90s when Alex Ferguson was winning titles and titles and titles. She came when we were better than United, in these four or five years, right? And she went to visit Man United. She didn’t come to see us. That’s why even if I win the Champions League it will not compare to the fact that Julia Roberts came to Manchester and didn’t come to see us. It will not compare to this disappointment I had.”

Puts Haaland’s complaints about being subbed instead of getting the chance to create history in the ha’penny place really.

City are 3/4 to qualify and six-time winners Munich 11/10, while they are 5/2 and 3/1 respectively to lift the trophy.

The winner of this tie will meet Chelsea (11/10) or Real Madrid (3/4) if they reach the semis, as the last two winners were drawn to meet. Judging by the odds on ultimate glory in the competition, the reigning champs should be shorter to go through as they are 7/1 to retain the title and win for a 15th time, while the Blues are 16/1. Last year’s quarter-final tie between them ended 5-4 on aggregate to the Spaniards, with Madrid winning 3-1 at Stamford Bridge and the Blues triumphing 3-2 in the Bernabeu after extra time, during that astonishing Real run.

Napoli, who we advised to back at 22/1 back in the group stages, have been installed as 10/3 third outright favourites, as much because they are on what looks to be the easier side of the draw as because they have been the form team in Europe this season.

They meet AC Milan (20/1 outsiders), who are currently 20 points behind them in their canter to just a third Serie A title and first since the Maradona years in 1990.

The third Italian side on this side of the draw are Inter, who after edging past Porto, meet Portuguese opposition again in the form of dark hoses Benfica. Both are offered at 14/1 to win outright. These two clubs had their heyday in the 60s, winning twice each, with the Italians defeating Eusebio and co. in the 1965 decider at the San Siro.

Benfica are 11/10 to reach the next round, with Inter evens.

The action returns on this day in three weeks.

Barry’s pals roar Dunmanway jockey Sheehan home

CHELTENHAM week wasn’t the complete disaster it usually is for me and I ended up being down just a crisp €20 note by the end of it. Inexplicably failing to back The Real Whacker and Langer Dan were the low points.

It was good to hear that some of you out there got on a bit better. John Arnold, well known to Echo readers, got in touch to tell us there was some cheering at the telly going on a few miles north of the city on Thursday, thanks to an extraordinary coincidence.

“A few people around Bartlemy and Rathcormac won a few bob on the Jack de Bromhead Mares’ Hurdle in Cheltenham,” according to John.

That race is named in honour of trainer Henry de Bromhead’s boy, who so tragically died when he fell from his horse at races on Glenbeigh beach in Kerry last summer.

“On Tuesday the Closutton Syndicate’s Shewearsitwell ran in the race [the other mares’ hurdle] won by (de Bromhead’s) Honeysuckle. The horse won at Christmas with a poignant victory just a few days after one of the syndicate’s members, Denis Barry, had died.

“Denis was involved in horses and ponies all his life, breeding, racing, training, selling and buying. He was our publican here in Bartlemy but in 2009 he had a horrendous fall while taking part in a charity ride in Lismore.

“His injuries left him paralysed from the neck down. He spent time in the Mater in Dublin, in the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire and spent the last number of years in St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork.

“Despite his awful injuries Denis was positive always. An ambulance was bought locally for him a few years back so he was able to come to races, drags, hunts, etc.He was a mad racing fan and was a proud member of the Closutton Syndicate– and they had great fun with Shewearsitwell. The most amazing coincidence though is with the other Mares’ winner You Wear It Well, no relation at all of Shewearsitwell.

“Years back PJ O’Mahoney from Midleton was a jockey in England. He came back home and bought Glendonagh House in Dungourney where he bred horses – Silver Kumar was one stallion he had there. One filly foal bred by PJ was named Julie’s Birthday (born on his daughter Julie’s birthday). Denis bought Julie’s Birthday and a daughter of hers was Katie Kumar – raced by Denis.

“Katie Kumar was the dam of As An tSli and in turn she was dam of Annie’s Answer who was sold by Denis. That mare, Annie’s Answer, is the dam of You Wear It Well.” 

The late Denis Barry from Bartlemy with Mick O'Connell and staff nurses from CUH Samuel Baricaua and Heather Murphy at Bartlemy point-to-point races at Hightown in 2013.
The late Denis Barry from Bartlemy with Mick O'Connell and staff nurses from CUH Samuel Baricaua and Heather Murphy at Bartlemy point-to-point races at Hightown in 2013.

It’s no wonder that plenty of Denis’s pals had a few bob on it as Dunmanway’s Gavin Sheehan guided it home at 16/1.

“Although we all miss Denis so much his memory and legacy will live on,” says John. “What makes it even more poignant is the fact that Denis never knew his own father – he was killed after a fall from a horse while out hunting in 1949, a few months before Denis was born.”

Ferguson one to watch in Latvia test

QUALIFICATION for the European Championships in Germany next summer begins this week, although we will have to wait until next Monday to kick off our campaign against France in Dublin. It will be a tough campaign, with two other former winners in the Netherlands and Greece also in our group.

Ireland and Latvia are two of six European sides not in competitive action this week, and so they have decided to play each other tomorrow evening for a tune-up.

The Baltic side are ranked 133rd in the world, and the majority of their players perform in the domestic league, but they did achieve promotion from Group D in the Nations League last year.

Evan Ferguson is surely going to start up top for Stephen Kenny after two late sub appearances against Norway and Malta last November.

The 18-year-old bagged brace for Brighton in their 5-0 FA Cup victory over Grimsby on Sunday, bringing his tally to seven and four assists this season for the upwardly mobile club on England’s south coast.

Ireland are 2/7 to win, the draw is 9/2 and a Latvian upset (they should have plenty of local fans) is 13/1. Ferguson is 7/2 to score the first goal (and 33/1 for a hat-trick) with Cork’s Chiedozie Ogbene 4/1.

Kisner looks too big a price for matchplay form

IT has been announced by the USPGA that this week’s WGC Matchplay event will be the final edition, and that might bring an end to the format on the US tour.

Some players take to head-to-head better than others. World No. 1 and defending champion Scottie Scheffler (10/1) edged out Kevin Kisner last year, after finishing runner-up in 2021.

The tournament takes place in front of partisan fans in Austin, in Sheffler’s home state of Texas.

Kisner will also be in with a shout as he has won the event once (2019) while he has also had a pair of runner-up performances (2018 and last year), which makes his odds of 100/1 worth noting.

Two-time winner Jason Day has been returning to form this season and is rated 35/1. Rory McIlroy has won this once (albeit on a different course in California in 2015) and is 12/1, just ahead of 2017 runner-up John Rahm on 14/1. Norwegian Victor Hovland is quite big at 28/1.

The Bet

FORMER Masters runner-up Jason Day has all but qualified for Augusta following a fourth straight top-10 finish on the PGA Tour at Bay Hill a few weeks back, and followed that up with a 19th in the Players.

That form and in a format he favours means 35/1 looks like a decent price on the 35-year-old Aussie for the Matchplay.

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