World news – Small town boys face major battles

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Eamonn Sweeney

Tom Brady’s incredible season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued with a shock win over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, meaning a team that hasn’t been in the Play for 13 years offs, is just one more game from the Super Bowl.

But today’s NFC championship game could be a bridge too far for the 43-year-old as he is up against a team from Green Bay Packers that is from another great quarterback and comparable stripling, 37-year-old Aaron Rodgers.

The AFC title match sees another big quarterback fight when Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs meets Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. There’s something about Bradyeske, not just Allen’s ability to be under pressure, but that he’s a late developer who didn’t graduate from high school before eventually playing unglamorous Wyoming college football.

Brady, Rodgers and Allen are all from Northern California. Brady’s hometown of San Mateo is just three hours south of Rodger’s hometown of Chico and two hours northwest of Firebaugh, where Allen grew up. Given the size of the states and the fact that the total population of the three places is near the city of Cork, this is quite a coincidence.

Has anyone ever played inter-county football as enthusiastically as Michael Darragh Macauley? The Dublin midfielder was full of energy and aggression, not least in a running style that sometimes made it seem like he was trying to attack himself.

While his midfield partner Brian Fenton embodied the classic virtues of the game Macauley overcame technical shortcomings and became an equally irresistible force.

At its peak between 2011 and 2013, it was unstoppable. In every game there was a moment when you saw your opponents simply collapse because they could no longer handle his tireless athleticism and physicality.

Macauley’s first championship start came at a time when Dublin football had its lowest Seemed to have stood for years. After a heavy loss to Meath in the Leinster semi-finals in 2010, the Dubs defeated Tipperary in qualifying 1-21 to 1-13, with their new boy scoring a goal and a point. The graphics went up after that and no one was more important to the revival than the Perpetual Motion Man in midfield.

The move from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to LA Galaxy in 2018 seemed to be a farewell to Europe’s top leagues. But since returning to AC Milan around this time last year, he has proven that it did little to lessen his edge.

His two goals in Monday’s 2-0 win in Cagliari earned him 12 from only eight league games. Although the 39-year-old missed 10 games with a hamstring injury, he is the second-best scorer in Serie A after Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Swede has sparked a revival in a club that has not been in the top three since 2013 is. They are currently fighting for the top spot with local rivals Inter.

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