Formula One is back. Coverage is fantastic, as I've already pointed out in my last post, but the racing is looking equally hot. There is a New World (Championship) Order and the biggest loser seems to be Lewis Hamilton. The much-beleaguered Team Formerly Known As Honda (Brawn GP) have started on a flyer, as have Williams and Toyota. The common link - a controversial and potentially illegal diffuser at the rear of the car. The cars have cleared scrutineering but an objection from the Red Bull team will be heard next month. I hope that the authorities see sense and ban the diffusers. For my reading, they controvene the spirit of the rules if not their letter. However, the last thing the sport needs is for a winner to lose a race win in a court one month after the event. I'm not sure if what I propose is possible, but Formula One is technical enough as it is and does not need help to exclude a casual fan. Let's hope the FIA agree.
We've had one week since Ireland won their first Grand Slam in 61 years. Sweet isn't the word. The ending gave a new definition to squeaky bum time but a win's a win and we would have taken it, and then some, two months ago. By and large, little has changed in the team under new coach Declan Kidney, yet everything has changed - nine of the fifteen men who started in Cardiff last Saturday were also in the starting lineup for Ireland's abject performance against Argentina in the 2007 World Cup. So what has changed? What X-Factor does Declan Kidney have that has led him to success wih Ireland now and previously with Munster? His self-effacing manner makes that difficult to figure out, but Kidney's strong backroom staff of Gaffney, Smal et al must have a lot to do with it. Kidney has surrounded himself with the best, and it has paid off. However, those who are hailing Kidney must remember the role Lady Luck played in this Grand Slam win - if Stephen Jones slots over his penalty at the end last Saturday, if England have a few more minutes left after they score their try at Croker or if Scotland's defence holds out like it oh-so-nearly did, we're discussing another 'what-might-have-been' season for Irish rugby. Thankfully, the oval ball bounced our way.
The rugby wasn't our only sporting success last Saturday. Bernard Dunne's fantastic win over Ricardo Cordoba got a lot of attention, but on any other weekend it would have been the biggest story in town. You may have noticed that I've been nudged to write about this topic - that would be my not so subtle better half who joined me in the magnificent O2 Arena last Saturday night. It was a truly amazing fight, but I do have some comments to make. I've rewatched a lot of the fight between a TV repeat and on RTE.ie - I was right about Jimmy. And the legitimacy of the WBA as a sanctioning body must be called into question when Dunne is not their only Super Bantamweight Champion of the World. But don't let that take away from last Saturday. Dunne done good.
Oh yeah, Marty Morrisey is a great warm-up guy. I kid you not.
March Madness has reached the Elite Eight stage. My bracket is ruined but Blake Griffin of Oklahoma has continued his regular season form. Last night's 30 points and 14 boards against Syracuse left the Orange feeling Blue. I just took 9-1 on them to go all the way and I was glad to do so. A kiss of death? Probably.
Part Three of Qualifying is on. Back to live timing. I won't leave it as long before I return next time.