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Shane Lowry shines for Europe but USA stand on the brink of victory

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USA 11 Europe 5

Park the fact that Europe will need more than a miracle if they are to retain the Ryder Cup. For a moment, just wallow in the performance of Shane Lowry who signaled just why team sport is in his very DNA and why making and playing in the match meant so much to him.

The reason why was evident on the 18th green of Saturday’s fourballs where – in tandem with Tyrrell Hatton – he conjured up some breathtaking moments, among them six birdies, and yet it was a balls-of-steel par save on the last to defeat Harris English and Tony Finau that demonstrated the fire that lies within his belly.

Lowry celebrates his winning putt. Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA
Lowry celebrates his winning putt. Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA

A poor drive on the hole known as Dye-abolical for its gargantuan challenge left him with no option other than to splash out from a sandy waste area. It was what followed, though, that spoke volumes for Lowry’s character and competitiveness as he hit a long iron approach in to 12 feet and sank the par putt to keep their one hole advantage and secure a desperately needed win.

In truth, the task ahead is another gargantuan one: Europe shared the fourballs 2-2 but when the numbers were added up, it left the USA in a position of strength, carrying an unheard of 11-5 lead into the final day’s 12 singles. Europe would need to win nine points (against a team with eight players from the world’s top-10) to retain the trophy.

On Saturday, Lowry and Hatton’s win was augmented by another from the Spanish duo of Sergio Garcia and world number one Jon Rham who have been incomparable. The Garcia-Rahm combination remained unbeaten, beating Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth by 2 and 1.

Jon Rahm his birdie on the 16th. Photo: Anthony Behar/PA Wire
Jon Rahm his birdie on the 16th. Photo: Anthony Behar/PA Wire

For a time, it looked as if some other blue would materialise but, ultimately, the USA took the bottom two matches: Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau beat Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland 3 and1; while Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa were 4 and 3 winners over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.

A third loss in three matches only served to highlight McIlroy’s poor play. Remarkably, he went through two fourballs without managing a single birdie (he did have one eagle on Friday) and his body language spoke volumes for how out-of-sorts he had been for two days.

In contrast, Lowry was fired-up and delivered in spades. For much of the front nine – where he started birdie-birdie-birdie and added further birdies at the sixth, 10th and 16th – Lowry was very much the strong man of the partnership but his deeds seemed to inspire Hatton who contributed hugely on the homeward run before sealing an emotional win on the finishing hole.

McIlroy and Poulter were soundly beaten by Morikawa and Johnson. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
McIlroy and Poulter were soundly beaten by Morikawa and Johnson. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

“I felt like it was a great opportunity to do something. When you’re in a great frame of mind, that’s the stuff you think about when you’re over putts like that. It was great fun. I would enjoy it. But obviously we look like we’re probably going to halve the session or not as many points as we would like,” said Lowry, adding:

“But we’re still not out of it. It’s a long day tomorrow, 12 matches. If any 12 of us were going out against any of them in the match play, we would fancy our chances. We just have to believe. It’s all about believing.

“I read a quote last night, I was looking at stuff on my phone, and for some reason it popped up, and it was like if you’ve got a 1 per cent chance, you have to have 100 per cent faith. And I just think that we really need to live by that tonight and tomorrow and go out and give it our best.”

That he certainly did.

Now, how about another miracle akin to Medinah?

Friday results – Morning foursomes

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth lost to Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia 3 and 1

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa beat Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland 3 and 2

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele beat Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5 and 3

Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick lost to 2 and 1

USA 3 Europe 1

Afternoon fourballs

Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele beat Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger 2 and 1

Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler halved with Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton

Tony Finau and Harris English bt Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry 5 and 3

Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay halved with Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland

USA 3 Europe 1

Saturday results – Morning foursomes

Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger lost to Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm 3 and 1

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa bt Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton 2 and 1

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth bt Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger 2up

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay bt Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick 2 and 1

USA 3 Europe 1

Afternoon fourballs

Tony Finau and Harris English lost to Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton 1up

Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth lost to Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia 2 and 1

Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau bt Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland 3 and 1

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa bt Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy 4 and 3

USA 2 Europe 2

Overall score: USA 11 Europe 5

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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