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Kilkenny and Galway are now worlds apart

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It’s always amazing how one weekend of games can change so much. This day last week, I had Kilkenny and Galway down as being two pretty similar teams. I’d say most people were the same. Probably Galway a bit further up the pecking order but not by much.

Similar make-up, similar talent level throughout the squad, similar potential. Both Leinster finalists last year and the majority of people would have been expecting a repeat of that final match-up this time around. But now, after last weekend, they exist on two completely different planets. And I have been in both.

One team is stuck now with their heads full of questions with no obvious answers. They are full of what-ifs, uncertainty and doubts. That state of mind will form the basis of the starting point of everything they do this week. They are on the back foot immediately, as if they’re staring at a Leaving Cert paper where they can do five of seven questions – the other two they won’t even attempt. Those will be for later when they have their confidence back.

For the other team, this is a week where every player has grown an inch taller. They will be filled with confidence, they will be glowing. They will be going around with a bounce in their step and that bounce will only get higher as the week goes on and the bodies recover after such a titanic battle.

So why did Galway fall flat on their face and Kilkenny get over the line? Going into the weekend, we all thought Galway would beat Dublin. We knew Kilkenny v Wexford was always going to be a tight one – maybe not extra-time tight but we knew there wouldn’t be much in it.

Let’s start with them. Kilkenny had a lovely mix of something new and fresh, blended with the old values of a Brain Cody Kilkenny team. Firstly, the new. I have never seen a Kilkenny team conceding the puck-out to an opposition and retreating beyond the opposition’s 45. For the first 20 minutes of the game, Mark Fanning kept flicking out the ball to Kevin Foley, the Wexford sweeper, while the Kilkenny forward line all fell back.

Big tactic

Dropping that deep from the opposition has never been a Kilkenny thing. The closest to it at times would have been to retreat maybe about 30 yards from goal and to let someone in the opposition full-back line receive the puck-out before pouncing on him but this was a different level. This was basically giving the ball to Foley and leaving it up to him what to do with it.

It happened at two different stages in the game. It was their big tactic for the first quarter of the game but it didn’t work. Foley’s distribution was good and Wexford pieced together possession pretty well. They ran the ball into good areas and they were able to free up their shooters, especially Lee Chin and Rory O’Connor. At the first water break, Wexford led 0-8 to 0-6.

Kilkenny Manager Brian Cody reacts during their match against Dublin in the Leinster semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Kilkenny Manager Brian Cody reacts during their match against Dublin in the Leinster semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

But by then, Cody was already making moves to put a halt to it. About two minutes before the water break, you could see him summoning Adrian Mullen over towards him on the sideline. The message was clear – Mullen went back out on to the pitch making pushing hand gestures to the rest of the forward line. Push up, lads.

And if they didn’t get the message then, they definitely had it by the time the water break was over. For Fanning’s first puck-out after it, Kilkenny were back to their more familiar setup and Wexford hit their first long puck-out of the day.

Just because something doesn’t work doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea. I liked seeing them try something new, even if it didn’t come off. They were forced to do it again in extra-time during Eoin Murphy’s sin-binning when they were down to 14 men and this time it actually worked pretty well.

Partly this was down to the fact that Wexford were visibly tiring. But also, Kilkenny didn’t just retreat this time, they packed the middle channel as well. Combine that with Wexford’s exhaustion and it shut down all the running alleys that had existed before. It meant that Chin and O’Connor weren’t getting the same quality of ball and the Wexford moves were breaking down a lot earlier. Kilkenny had learned on their feet and showed their versatility.

The other small thing we saw from Cody that he usually doesn’t really bother with was a dummy team. I’ve seen it happen before, maybe for an All-Ireland semi-final replay six days after a drawn game, where the team has to go to the printers early in the week and nobody expects either team to line out as named anyway because everything is done in such a rush. But for the first game of the year? I doubt if Kilkenny have ever named a team and then made three changes to it by throw-in time.

Even the late announcement of the team was very unKilkenny. My phone beeped at 9.31pm on Friday night with a text from the Kilkenny Supporters’ Club, naming the team for a game that was happening less than 24 hours later. Again, it’s not like them – the team was given to the players at training on Thursday night.

Small little changes like that might not amount to very much. Dummy teams are hardly anything new in the game, neither is waiting until late the night before a game to release it to the public. But if Cody is deciding after all this time not to show his hand before he has to, I think that’s an interesting development.

On the pitch, it looks like TJ Reid will spend more time inside than outside, keeping him closer to goal. Maybe there is a changing of the guard also. Paul Murphy and Colin Fennelly are no longer there. Cillian Buckley, Joey Holden, Conor Fogarty, Walter Walsh and Richie Hogan are not starting. Has Brian moved to a younger team, favouring the links of Richie Leahy, Tommy Walsh, Alan Murphy and Darragh Corcoran? It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Saying that, there is still plenty of the old Kilkenny on show too. It was never summed up better than by Cody after the match when he said, “The turning point was the sheer refusal of our players to lie down or to stop and to never say the game was gone and to keep fighting and fighting and fighting.” That is the given with Brian and Kilkenny.

You can guarantee that will be there for the next day, as much as you can guarantee Brian will be wearing a black and amber face mask. He is his own man, but he doesn’t flinch one bit in demanding that effort, drive and fire every day you go out.

He does not give you the choice between working really hard and going through the motions. That is not up for debate or question. Of course, Brian always emphasises the importance of the bench and panel, and this was evident on Sunday. He doesn’t hang around either, as we saw with changes at half-time.

All in all, Kilkenny got 1-9 from his subs, which was a huge impact. Walter Walsh was the key man off the bench, not just with 1-1 scored but also his work rate, positioning and turnovers at key times.

As always – although it is never really spoken about – Kilkenny were a well-conditioned team and had the better fitness levels and freshness. A lot of key Wexford guys flagged in extra time and some had to come off, like Chin due to cramp.

All in all, it’s not the same old Kilkenny. The changes might only be small but they’re built on an old template that has worked in the past. I think it sets them up in a really good place.

As for Galway, they were lacklustre and unfocused. They took Dublin for granted and they did not play with the required level of work rate, application and attitude. For that they got burnt alive by a hungrier Dublin team who sized them up and cut them down.

Errors

This had a stench of Galway of old from them; pre-2017 Galway. I hope it is just a blip, because there is no doubt they have the panel and players to win this year’s All-Ireland. But serious questions need to be asked within that group.

It is not acceptable to pick and choose when you prepare properly for a game. I have no problem with mistakes or errors but I have no time for lack of effort. Galway went through the motions – how did they think that was going to get it done?

When Conor Whelan got the goal in the 43rd minute and reduced the margin to a point, the Galway we all thought we knew should have found a way to see out that game. That’s what good teams do: recognise they are below par but still sense with a push of one or two big players, this can be turned around. All it would have taken was a couple of leaders to show the way and others would follow.

But other than Whelan, nobody else came forward. That is a sure sign that complacency had eaten them from the inside out at this stage. Too many players assumed that they would figure it out, or that the game would come to them. There’s a fine line between not panicking and not showing enough urgency to turn things around and when you are complacent, you fall the wrong side of that line.

I have seen this before from Galway. They have it in their locker. But they also have men of substance who need to stand up this week. Daithí Burke, Joe Canning, Gearóid McInerney, Whelan, the Mannions – they’re men of principle and I expect them to get things going this week.

Some harsh words. Eye-to-eye stuff. Players-only meetings, whatever it takes. The job is to get to the bottom of why they were so casual last weekend. They haven’t much time to turn the ship but the good news is that their problem isn’t tactical. Maybe the odd positional or personnel change here and there but really it’s an attitude change they need and you can turn that around in the space of one session.

I expect a reaction from Galway. They have too much about them to go out like this.

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Rule number one of ‘Fight Club’ in China: The police always win | USA

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The first rule of Fight Club in China is that the police always beat the criminals. The second rule is that buildings are not demolished. And the third is that if the ending is considered unsuitable, change it.

David Fincher’s 1999 cult film, which was shown just once in Chinese theaters during an edition of the Shanghai Film Festival, is now available on tech giant Tencent’s streaming services in China. But with a different outcome. Warning this article contains spoilers.

In the original, the narrator, played by Edward Norton, has just “killed” his imaginary alter ego, Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, and watches the explosion of several nearby buildings with his girlfriend Maria, played by Helena Bonham-Carter. The anarchist revolution advocated by Durden is underway.

In Tencent’s version, on the other hand, there are no explosions and no scenes of Tyler and Maria holding hands as they watch the destruction. Instead, the screen turns black and writing appears, explaining that the police “arrested all the criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.” According to this alternative ending, Durden is sent to a psychiatric hospital, from which he is released in 2012. Screenshots of the new ending went viral last weekend in China, with comments mocking the changes. Although the film was shown just briefly in movie theaters, many fans have been able to watch pirated versions of the original over the past two decades, and considered the ending one of the film’s fortes.

“When a director comes to present his film in China, people will ask: director, why is your film so avant-garde that it completely dispenses with audiovisual language, ending it instead with just a poster and a story about respecting the law? Is it a satire on censorship in your country? And the director will answer: What? I filmed that?” wrote one user of Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. “Probably everyone in Ocean’s Eleven would also get arrested. And the whole Godfather family, too,” scoffed another. “But the ending was great! A bunch of foreigners in a terrible situation setting off terrorist bombs – a perfect scene to encourage [Chinese] nationalism,” joked another.

(l-r) Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee in 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' another movie that was altered for audiences in China.
(l-r) Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ another movie that was altered for audiences in China.

It is unclear whether it was Tencent or the film’s original producers who made the changes. On the Chinese movie review platform Douban, the original film is rated nine out of 10 and has 744,000 comments.

China currently has a flourishing movie market, one in which just over 30 foreign films are released on the big screen each year. In fact, it overtook the US market for the first time in 2020, due in part to a quicker recovery from the pandemic. And, according to research portal researchandmarkets.com, it is expected to gross $16.5 billion by 2026, annual growth of 30.1%, with respect to the $3.4 billion in 2020.

Within this market, Fight Club is not the only Hollywood movie to be changed. In 2019, scenes from Bohemian Rhapsody that alluded to Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality were carefully cut out in the Chinese version. While same-sex relationships are not illegal in the world’s second-largest economy, it is considered a sensitive issue and scenes portraying it are often, but not always, removed. Theoretically, they have been banned on television and also on streaming platforms since 2017.

The ending of ‘Lord of War,’ starring Nicholas Cage, was also altered in China.
The ending of ‘Lord of War,’ starring Nicholas Cage, was also altered in China.

Lord of War (2005) endured a similar fate to that of Fight Club. In its original version, the main character, an arms dealer played by Nicholas Cage, manages to escape prison and resume business. The film alludes to the fact that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council ­– the US, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China – are the planet’s main arms dealers. But the version for the Chinese market, which is half an hour shorter than the international version, removes the original ending and replaces it with a text stating that the Cage “confessed to all the crimes of which he was officially accused during the trial, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.”

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High Court orders man to repay €30,000 awarded over fall on slippery tiles

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The High Court has ordered a man who fell on slippery tiles on the porch of his rented council home to pay back €30,000 he received in part compensation.

Mr Justice John Jordan also ordered solicitors who acted for Thomas Keegan (53) to repay €20,000 received in part payment of fees.

The judge made the order in relation to monies paid by Sligo County Council as a condition of being allowed to appeal a €105,000 award made by the High Court in 2017 to Mr Keegan over the accident at his home at McNeill Drive, Cranmore, Co Sligo.

Mr Keegan, who previously worked as a paver, had claimed the slippiness of the terracotta tiling originally installed in the porch, as well as the angle of the porch to face the prevailing wind and rain in Sligo, created a particular hazard.

In 2017, the court found the council was liable and there was no contributory negligence on Mr Keegan’s part.

However, the council was permitted to appeal on the basis of paying €50,000, including the monies to Mr Keegan’s solicitors on his behalf.

Failed to prove

The Court of Appeal (CoA) ordered a retrial and, earlier this month, Mr Justice Jordan found that the plaintiff had failed to prove the council was “in any way responsible” for the accident. He also found it “artificial” for Mr Keegan to suggest he was a visitor to his home, which he rented and occupied.

The case came back before Mr Justice Jordan on Friday for the matter of costs in relation to the second High Court hearing.

Peter Bland SC, for the council, argued his client was entitled to those costs but he had no objection to a stay in the event of another appeal to the CoA. He sought the repayment of the €30,000 for Mr Keegan and the €20,000 for his solicitors given the outcome had been overturned.

John Finlay SC, for Mr Keegan, said he could not oppose the costs order or an order for the return of the monies.

Mr Justice Jordan granted the council its costs for the retrial with the exception of one day’s costs related to the evidence of an expert introduced by the council “who made a difference” to the case.

It was unfortunate the council did not engage this expert at an initial stage in the case and Mr Keegan might have been spared all of this time and expense that followed, he said.

Difficulties

He also ordered the return of the monies paid out but noted that if the council had difficulties with that money being paid as a condition of it being allowed to appeal, it could have appealed that matter itself but it did not.

The court heard the accident occurred on November 18th, 2013, when Mr Keegan was returning home sometime after 5pm after visiting a number of pubs in which he had consumed five pints of Guinness.

He suffered a significant injury to his left ankle, with X-rays revealing a fracture to his left distal tibia and fibula.

The council did not argue the consumption of this level of drink was an act of contributory negligence but argued it as a factor in regard to Mr Keegan’s duty to take reasonable care for his own safety and in his conflicting accounts of how the accident occurred.

Having heard expert evidence, Mr Justice Jordan was satisfied the unglazed tiles did not pose a danger.

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Two fans sue Universal for $5 million for cutting Ana de Armas out of ‘Yesterday’ | USA

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There are risks to being an actor. A common one is what’s known in the industry as “winding up on the cutting room floor.” You get hired for a project, and based on the script you’ve read and the time that you spend on the set, you assume that you are one of the characters; that is, until the day the movie is released and you realize that your scenes have been cut out entirely.

In the case of the Cuban-Spanish actress Ana de Armas, who featured in the latest James Bond movie No Time to Die and is on an unstoppable path towards Hollywood stardom, it went further than that: she actually appeared in movie trailers advertising Yesterday, a 2019 film by the British director Danny Boyle in which actor Himesh Patel plays Jack Malik, a struggling singer-songwriter who wakes up after an accident into a world where nobody has heard of the Beatles or knows any of their songs, except himself.

Almost three years after Yesterday’s release, two fans of de Armas are suing Universal Pictures for cutting her scenes out of the final version, claiming the studio engaged in “false, deceptive and misleading advertising.”

Conor Woulfe, a 38-year-old resident of Maryland, and Peter Michael Rosza, 44, from California, rented Yesterday on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99 (€3,52). In their federal class action lawsuit, they claimed that they only rented it because they thought De Armas would be in the movie after watching the trailer. In the promotional material, she is depicted as Roxane, a character who becomes a love interest for Malik – that is, until the movie creators realized that this would draw attention away from the main love story between the songwriter and a character played by Lily James.

It is unclear whether the plaintiffs are as interested in De Armas as they may be in the $5 million (€4.5 million) they could take home if a court rules in their favor. The lawsuit states that the case is being brought “individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated.” It also claims that “by paying to view the falsely advertised movie,” the plaintiffs “suffered injury-in-fact and lost money.”

Regardless of the case’s chances, the story illustrates a US penchant for resolving disputes in court with astronomical figures in the balance, as a first step in the conversation.

The entertainment news website Variety, which first reported on the case, noted the resemblance with a 2011 case brought in Michigan by a movie viewer who was disappointed with Drive, by Nicolas Winding Refn, which she expected to be a “high-speed action driving film” but turned out to be a tortured drama about a solitary driver who finally finds the right girl.

Cutting actors out of final versions is nothing unusual. Terrence Malick, the director of Badlands and The Tree of Life, has a habit of hiring more stars than he will later need on the screen. Adrien Brody, for example, showed up for the premiere of the 1998 The Thin Red Line, convinced that he would be one of the main attractions – in the end, he only showed up in a few scenes. But the prize probably goes to To The Wonder, also by Malick: Rachel Weisz, Jessica Chastain, Michael Sheen, Amanda Peet, Barry Pepper and Michael Shannon all wound up on the cutting room floor.

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