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Tyrone dig down deep to see off Kerry and set up final showdown with Mayo

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Tyrone 3-14 Kerry 0-22 (aet)

An All-Ireland semi-final that was already extraordinary before a ball was thrown in, erupted into sensation at Croke Park this evening, as Tyrone arose from their sick beds to slug it out with Kerry in a riveting match that went all the way to the last kick of extra-time.

Tommy Walsh’s tired attempt at an equaliser – forced by the pressure of referee David Coldrick’s imminent whistle – drifted wide to leave the Ulster champions winners by a point and triggered tumultuous acclaim from the Tyrone support.

With all of their Covid-related problems, the last thing Tyrone needed was additional labour but they had to cope with both extra-time and two sin-binnings, for Niall Sludden and Darren McCurry.

This was on top of an exhausting game plan, with runners unleashed from the back all afternoon. Aside from raw expenditure of effort, they deserved the win because they fulfilled the basic requirement of any contest: restricting your opponents to a smaller total that you score.

Using a couple of alternating sweepers they made the approach to goal tricky and Kerry’s lack of composure in either over-running the ball and losing possession or getting isolated with the certainty that such errors would be punished by having the ball stripped.

You could only admire Tyrone’s energy and commitment. They put in more tackles, made considerably more turnovers and struck for three goals – against none for their vaunted opponents’ attack.

They rode their luck a bit in that Kerry couldn’t complete promising attacking plays by registering the goals needed to take their total to a winning mark. They resisted mightily when faced with the horrific reality that they were half way through the first period of extra-time and losing by five after Cathal McShane’s goal.

That deficit came down to three by the break after points by Paul Murphy, Diarmuid O’Connor and a Seán O’Shea free – punctuated by a brilliant point from McShane, who demonstrated off the bench that his top form of two years ago was back after injury and some tentative displays since.

Extra-time is always a bit of a lottery. Limbs are tired and judgment frayed and in the frantic end-to-end exchanges, missed opportunities threatened calamity as soon as the ball moved in the other direction.

Kerry stitched together a barnstorming move that saw the ball flashed over the bar by Paudie Clifford. Paul Geaney added a point – the margin was down to the minimum. A menacing ball into attack was cut out by Kieran McGeary, somehow finding the energy to intervene and shortly afterwards put in a punishing run down the right to bring the fight back to the Munster champions.

David Clifford goes down with cramp during the semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
David Clifford goes down with cramp during the semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The matches that defined this rivalry were a long time ago. Only David Moran and Walsh of this afternoon’s teams survived from the 2008 All-Ireland final but the terms of engagement haven’t softened.

Tyrone once again showed the priceless ability to spook fancied Kerry teams, as surely as they had done in the 2000s.

Coming into this semi-final the big question marks over Kerry were the extent to which they had shored up a vulnerable defence and how their highly regarded forwards would function in their biggest challenge of the year.

The much scrutinised full-back line didn’t do badly in the first half. Tom O’Sullivan cleaned out McCurry in successive balls whereas apart from Matthew Donnelly’s mark and point, the Tyrone players weren’t getting much traction.

That changed in the 25th minute when a run by Sludden opened up a gap in the Kerry defence and put Conor McKenna in for a well-taken goal and a three-point lead, 1-5 to 0-5. The facility with which they managed that proved an omen and any team that concedes three and scores none is in trouble.

Kerry will be aghast at how many goal chances they spurned, most obviously when Stephen O’Brien’s 22nd-minute goal was disallowed after the build-up was penalised for his being in the square ahead of Geaney’s pass, which opened up an empty goal.

A good indication of Kerry’s problems was the extent of the dependency on David Clifford and O’Shea, who provided 16 of the 22 scores and that was with Clifford gone for extra-time after injuring himself going for a high ball in front of goal. His brother Paudie, who had been topping the FOTY betting going into the match, had an industrious day but followed all over the pitch by Conor Meyler, was short on inspiration as opposed to perspiration.

Opening exchanges were predictably cagey but the pattern established saw Tyrone driving forward out of defence and finding support runners – to the extent that the whole full-back line, Pádraig Hampsey, NMichael McKernan and Ronan McNamee got on the scoreboard.

Kerry looked more dangerous at manoeuvering openings and O’Shea got in on goal after a one-two with David Clifford in the ninth minute but he took the point. In quick succession, in the 17th and 18th minutes both Geaney and David Clifford flashed the ball across goal – maybe hopeful of making contact with a team-mate rather than attempting to find the net – and chances came to nothing.

In the second half, Kerry also failed to capitalise on Sludden and McCurry getting black-carded for bringing down Paul Murphy and Gavin Crowley respectively in the 40th and 59th minutes.

They actually lost the second black-card period on the scoreboard largely because the path to goal opened up again in the 69th minute when Darragh Canavan was released in behind the defence.

His shot was hit a bit too close to Shane Ryan, who saved well but the deflection looped up for McShane to fist to the net and reclaim the lead, 2-10 to 0-15 with a minute of normal time remaining.

Nine minutes were added for injury-time and Kerry scrambled back on level terms, first with an O’Shea free and then after McCurry had edged Tyrone ahead after some composed interplay, David Clifford equalised with a free awarded for a foul on O’Shea by McNamee.

They also got little from their bench whereas Tyrone were able to bring on Canavan and McShane, the begetters of the vital second goal.

With David Clifford and Moran off the field in extra time, Kerry struggled and although it’s to their credit that they responded as doggedly, they never looked sufficiently composed to complete the comeback.

The hammer fell in the 76th minute when a McGeary shot looked to be going wide, fell short and was disastrously poked at by Jack Barry. It ran for McKenna who drilled it back into the net for a five point lead that Kerry could chase but never catch.

Mayo await in the final that hardly anyone foresaw a month ago let alone at the start of the season.

TYRONE: Niall Morgan (0-2, one free, one 45); Michael McKernan (0-1), Ronan McNamee (0-1), Pádraig Hampsey (0-1); Kieran McGeary, Frank Burns, Peter Harte (0-1); Brian Kennedy, Conn Kilpatrick; Conor Meyler, Michael O’Neill, Niall Sludden; Darren McCurry (0-4, two frees), Mattie Donnelly (0-1, mark), Conor McKenna (2-0).

Subs: Cathal McShane (1-3, one free) for Kennedy (44 mins); Tiernan McCann for O’Neill (55); Ben McDonnell for McCann (temp, 64-67); Darragh Canavan for Sludden (64); McDonnell for Kilpatrick (74); Mark Bradley for McCurry, Ronan O’Neill for Harte (both 76).

Sin-bin: Sludden (40-50 mins); McCurry (59-69).

KERRY: Shane Ryan; Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan (0-1); Michael Breen, Paul Murphy (0-1), Gavin White; David Moran, Jack Barry; Dara Moynihan, Seán O’Shea (0-8, six frees, one 45), Stephen O’Brien; David Clifford (0-8, two frees, two marks), Paul Geaney (0-1), Paudie Clifford (0-2).

Subs: Killian Spillane for Moynihan (half-time); Gavin Crowley for Breen (50 mins); Adrian Spillane for Geaney, Diarmuid O’Connor (0-1) for O’Brien (both 55); Tommy Walsh for Moran (60); Tadhg Morley for Ó Beaghlaoich, Geaney for D Clifford (both 71 mins); Jack Sherwood for Barry (77); Graham O’Sullivan for Foley (80); Micheál Burns for O’Sullivan (87).

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).

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At the Ryder Cup, would 12 divided by three equal victory for the US?

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“Pod” is not a golf word. And yet it has been on the tongue of nearly everyone in the golf community during the past, tense days before this week’s Ryder Cup, the biennial, pressure-packed team competition between American and European pro golfers that begins Friday.

Paul Azinger, the American Ryder Cup captain in 2008 and a former PGA Tour pro, deserves the credit, or the blame, for injecting “pod” into the golf vernacular. Thirteen years ago, after learning that Navy Seal units bonded by training and living together in small, carefully selected platoons, Azinger decided he would divide his 12-man team into three four-man units before that year’s Ryder Cup. The hope was that a finite, close-knit group could match the unity exhibited by Europe’s triumphant teams.

Called the pod system, Azinger’s four-man corps were chosen after each player took a personality test. Grouped together based on compatibility, the players did almost everything together before the Ryder Cup matches – practice rounds, meals, nightly table tennis games. When the competition started, they were paired together in matches and routed the Europeans to claim the first US victory in nine years and just the second since 1993. Azinger was celebrated for his innovation.

But in a show of the stubborn individualism that may be hampering the overall American Ryder Cup effort, the US captains who succeeded Azinger rejected or diluted his approach. Only one of those teams won, in 2016, when Davis Love III embraced the pod system.

‘Good concept’

At other team competitions in professional golf, including the Solheim Cup, which pits women’s golfers from the United States against those from Europe, leaders chose to adopt Azinger’s model with success and failure. Last month, the American Solheim Cup captain, Pat Hurst, implemented the pod system and her team lost, 15-13.

Even Azinger, now an analyst for NBC, has questioned the current efficacy of his idea. “The way I did it wouldn’t even work today, to be honest, even though the concept was good,” he said last week. “I just think the pods, they don’t work all the time. We keep getting beat. If everybody’s still using the pods, pods isn’t the answer. It’s something bigger than that.”

The pod debate has not stopped or impeded the discussion about the best way to replicate Azinger’s success on the American side. In the run-up to the event, the overarching intrigue is how Steve Stricker, this year’s US captain, will make up the two-man partnerships he sends out for the 16 matches against Europe’s two-man teams on Friday and Saturday. (On Sunday, the Ryder Cup concludes with 12 one-on-one singles matches.)

The American hand-wringing about their player pairings has generally been a source of quiet amusement for the European squad. Devising the pairings on their team is rarely controversial or the product of profound, multilayered planning. Players often form natural partnerships based on which European country they represent.

“The Europeans are bonded by blood, which means everything to them,” Azinger said. “The Spaniards play together. The Englishmen, the Irishmen, the Swedes, they’re bonded by something that really gives them a full-blown 1 per cent advantage.” Azinger said a 1 per cent advantage may not seem like much, but in the three days of a Ryder Cup competition, more than 4,000 shots are likely to be put in play. A 40-stroke swing, or 1 per cent, could conceivably decide a couple of matches, where one point is awarded for each victory and half a point for a tie. Europe has won nine of the past 12 Ryder Cups, but on four occasions the margin of victory was a single point.

Seizing on that 1 per cent edge, Azinger said of the Europeans: “They bring an intangible with them. It’s a fact.” Outside the golf world, there may be some precedent to explain how the European team’s geographic make-up improves its Ryder Cup results. Some of the strongest, most effective troops during the second World War were soldiers assembled from the same town or village, according to Charline Russo, a senior lecturer in organisational dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania and a consultant on executive coaching and team development.

“It wasn’t just because they grew up together, there was also that accountability factor,” Russo said. “You didn’t want to go home and admit that you screwed up.” Russo, who has a PhD in organisational leadership, has a deep familiarity with the personality tests that Azinger used 13 years ago.

Cautioned

Stricker, who was on the 2008 team, last week conceded that he would employ a variety of tactics to devise his pairings, although he declined to be specific on whether he would use the pod system. Russo said the assessments could be valuable tools, but cautioned, “You need somebody who knows what they’re doing with it because these things can be dangerous.” Azinger, for example, consulted at length with a clinical psychologist.

It may be even more difficult if Brooks Koepka, who qualified for the team but injured his wrist last month, is healthy enough to play. Koepka and his American team-mate Bryson DeChambeau have spent most of this year feuding on social media. Stricker has asked the two men to put aside their differences during the Ryder Cup, and each player has been discreet of late, but do not expect Koepka and DeChambeau to be paired for a match, or even assigned to the same pod – if there is a pod system.

Justin Leonard, who was a member of several American Ryder Cup teams including the 2008 squad, said that keeping Koepka and DeChambeau apart should be “real easy”, especially if the players are in pods. “We ate breakfast together, we ate dinner together, we played our practice rounds together, and when we were in the same room with the whole team, we sat at a table together,” Leonard said of 2008, adding that the arrangement provided a level of comfort because there were no surprises when the pairings were announced.

Additionally, Leonard, who is now an NBC golf analyst, said he expected the pod system to return for the Americans this week because Phil Mickelson, who was on the 2008 team, is a non-paying vice captain to Stricker. “Phil Mickelson was a big proponent of the pods,” Leonard said. “He loved that system. Him being a vice captain, I feel fairly confident that we’ll see something similar to that.” Azinger said he did not have a clue how Stricker might proceed. “I don’t know what’s he’s doing,” Azinger said. “He’s not told me.”

– This article first appeared in the New York Times

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Florist finalise their colourful displays at the Chelsea Flower Show as it returns

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Celebrities turned out in force for the Chelsea Flower Show preview day today as the event prepares to launch its first ever autumn edition after the traditional spring event was delayed due to Covid.   

The show, which usually takes place in May, was postponed to autumn for the first time in its 109-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will run from Tuesday 21 to Sunday 26 September in a special one-off event. 

Stars including Dame Judi Dench, Guy Ritchie and Call The Midwife’s Helen George turned out in force for today’s preview, which is also open to the press.  

The Queen, who attends the event every year, is set to skip it this year for the first time since 2005 as she remains in Balmoral, where she is expected to stay until October. It will be only the tenth time she has missed the Flower Show.

Instead, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and of Kent, and Princess Alexandra will represent to Royal Family at the event.

Celebrities are flocking to the Chelsea Flower Show ahead of the opening of its first ever autumn edition today including Gemma Collins (pictured)

Celebrities are flocking to the Chelsea Flower Show ahead of the opening of its first ever autumn edition today including Gemma Collins (pictured) 

Ben Fogle and his wife Marina were in attendance at the big event

Ben Fogle and his wife Marina were in attendance at the big event, as well as producer Guy Ritchie and his wife Jacqui Ainsley (pictured)

Ben Fogle and his wife Marina were in attendance at the big event (left), as well as producer Guy Ritchie and his wife Jacqui Ainsley (right) 

Presenter Alexa Chung donned a black knitted jacket and short co-ord for the occasion in London earlier today (pictured)

Presenter Alexa Chung donned a black knitted jacket and short co-ord for the occasion in London earlier today (pictured) 

A suspend egg made of wood and surrounded by brushes and wild flowers welcomed visitors at the Yeo Valley Organic garden today

A suspend egg made of wood and surrounded by brushes and wild flowers welcomed visitors at the Yeo Valley Organic garden today

Wildflowers and literary quotes carved in a wooden wall awaiting visitors at the very pretty Florence Nightingale garden today

Wildflowers and literary quotes carved in a wooden wall awaiting visitors at the very pretty Florence Nightingale garden today 

Guy Ritchie, 53, was joined by his wife Jacqui Ainsley as they unveiled his £50,000 luxury BBQ on the first day of the Chelsea Flower Show

Guy Ritchie, 53, was joined by his wife Jacqui Ainsley as they unveiled his £50,000 luxury BBQ on the first day of the Chelsea Flower Show  

Celebrities including actresses Dame Judi Dench, 86, Sally Phillips and Helen George, as well as fashion designer Paul Smith were among the first stars to tour the show.

ITV presenter Charlotte Hawkins, wearing a floral day dress, was also among the people in attendance.

They got to admired the beautiful Parsley Box Garden, which was designed by Alan Williams and delighted visitors with a table set with Parsley inspired tableware and small pumpkins. 

Meanwhile, the Psalm 23 garden wowed with its pond and zen fountain, offering a autumn-inspired oasis within the show.

Established in 1913, the flower show has become one of the world’s biggest showcases for horticultural excellence, attracting visitors and exhibitors from across the globe. 

It has grown from 244 exhibitors in 1913 to more than 500 today, including gardens, nurseries, floristry, educational displays and trade stands. The show attracts 168,000 visitors. 

Celebrities are flocking to the Chelsea Flower Show ahead of the opening of its first ever autumn edition today. Dame Judi Dench, 86, stole the show as she attended

Celebrities are flocking to the Chelsea Flower Show ahead of the opening of its first ever autumn edition today. Dame Judi Dench, 86, stole the show as she attended 

Helen George showed off her blooming baby bump today

Pregnant Call The Midwife's star Helen George showed off her baby bump in a floral dress as she toured the show this morning

Pregnant Call The Midwife’s star Helen George showed off her baby bump in a floral dress as she toured The Chelsea Flower Show preview day on Monday. The event, which takes place in autumn for the first time, opens to the public tomorrow

A show-stopper! Gemma's yellow cape had a train which elegantly swooped the floor as she walked around the flower show today

A show-stopper! Gemma’s yellow cape had a train which elegantly swooped the floor as she walked around the flower show today

Pictured, a performer entertaining guests at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon in central London

Pictured, a performer entertaining guests at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon in central London

Feeling peckish? A carved pumpkin, tomatoes, yellow courgettes, carrots, turnips and more were used in this artful display celebrating our five a day

Feeling peckish? A carved pumpkin, tomatoes, yellow courgettes, carrots, turnips and more were used in this artful display celebrating our five a day

Designers created beautiful butterflies out of flowers for some of the displays on show at this year's Chelsea Flower Show today

Designers created beautiful butterflies out of flowers for some of the displays on show at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show today 

Careful where you put your hands! A selection of small cacti in all shapes and colours was also on display at the event today, pictured

Careful where you put your hands! A selection of small cacti in all shapes and colours was also on display at the event today, pictured

Single flowers, branches and twigs suspended mid-air in vials of water made up one of the show's most delicate displays, pictured: Charlotte Smithson, Great Oaks from little Acorns grow, 2021, Commissioned by The Oak Project

Single flowers, branches and twigs suspended mid-air in vials of water made up one of the show’s most delicate displays, pictured: Charlotte Smithson, Great Oaks from little Acorns grow, 2021, Commissioned by The Oak Project

Dame Judi Dench made friends with Chelsea, a 18-weeks-old Golden Retriever who is training to be a guide dog and was named after the show

Dame Judi Dench made friends with Chelsea, a 18-weeks-old Golden Retriever who is training to be a guide dog and was named after the show 

The actress could not get enough of the adorable pup, which was at the Artisan Garden alongside other guide dogs in training

The actress could not get enough of the adorable pup, which was at the Artisan Garden alongside other guide dogs in training 

A model dressed in forest green commanded the stage in the Bodmin Jail 50 degree East - A garden between continents also on show at the exhibition

A model dressed in forest green commanded the stage in the Bodmin Jail 50 degree East – A garden between continents also on show at the exhibition 

One fruit and veg aficionado in attendance today wore a tomato tie for the event as nature fans put their best fashion forward

One fruit and veg aficionado in attendance today wore a tomato tie for the event as nature fans put their best fashion forward 

Dinner is served! A woman was seen adjusting a beautiful floral centrepiece with matching tableware and glasses during the show

Dinner is served! A woman was seen adjusting a beautiful floral centrepiece with matching tableware and glasses during the show

Models wore traditional Himalayan dresses at the Trailfinders 50th anniversary garden, pictured, which celebrated Asian culture

Models wore traditional Himalayan dresses at the Trailfinders 50th anniversary garden, pictured, which celebrated Asian culture 

The reality star appeared in high spirits as she chatted with passersby

The reality star appeared in high spirits as she entered the event wearing a vibrant yellow gown

Gemma Collins appeared in high spirits as she chatted with passersby before entering the event wearing a vibrant yellow gown 

Actress Sally Phillips couldn't hide her excitement as she toured the Psalm 23 garden, which incudes a pond and a fountain, at the show today

Actress Sally Phillips couldn’t hide her excitement as she toured the Psalm 23 garden, which incudes a pond and a fountain, at the show today

The ITV presenter gave an enthusiastic smile as she prepared to wander around the beautiful displays at this years Chelsea Flower Show

The ITV presenter gave an enthusiastic smile as she prepared to wander around the beautiful displays at this years Chelsea Flower Show 

Presenter Nick Grimshaw looked relaxed in a leather jacket  with a floral shirt underneath

Phone and coffee in end, comedian Lee Mack sttop by the event in central London today

Presenter Nick Grinshaw looked relaxed in a leather jacket, while comedian and presenter Lee Mack stopped by the show with a coffee in hand 

Dame Judi Dench, 86,  seemed delighted to be attending this year's event today

The actress smelled on of the flowers on display when she arrived at the show in Chelsea

No wallflower! Dame Judi Dench seemed delighted to be attending the show and stopped to smell some of the flowers when she arrived, wearing a linen jacket

Take your pick! Tantalising cherry tomatoes were beautifully displayed into round bushes at the show/s press day ahead of its opening tomorrow

Take your pick! Tantalising cherry tomatoes were beautifully displayed into round bushes at the show/s press day ahead of its opening tomorrow 

Some of the designers who put forward displays for this year's Chelsea Flower Show wowed visitors with the pretty Alliums they used, pictured

Some of the designers who put forward displays for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show wowed visitors with the pretty Alliums they used, pictured

Curtains of pink, yellow and red Chrysanthemums were also used abundantly at the show which celebrates horticulture, pictured

Curtains of pink, yellow and red Chrysanthemums were also used abundantly at the show which celebrates horticulture, pictured

Autumn and its vegetables and fruit are the guests of honour this year, because the show usually takes place in May, but was postponed due to coronavirus

Autumn and its vegetables and fruit are the guests of honour this year, because the show usually takes place in May, but was postponed due to coronavirus

Florists put the finishing touches to their displays, making sure each detail was sorted ahead of the show's first day tomorrow, pictured

Florists put the finishing touches to their displays, making sure each detail was sorted ahead of the show’s first day tomorrow, pictured

Actor and writer Reece Shearsmith looked smart in a black suit, crips white shirt and red and black tie as he stayed in the Dobbies garden

Actor and writer Reece Shearsmith looked smart in a black suit, crips white shirt and red and black tie as he stayed in the Dobbies garden

Ronan Keating, Alex Jones, wearing a beautiful floral number and Jermaine Jenas opened the BBC One Show and RHS Garden of Hope today

Ronan Keating, Alex Jones, wearing a beautiful floral number and Jermaine Jenas opened the BBC One Show and RHS Garden of Hope today

The three BBC presenters opened the garden with Arit Anderson, pictured right, who designed it for the BBC on the show's occasion

The three BBC presenters opened the garden with Arit Anderson, pictured right, who designed it for the BBC on the show’s occasion

Sporting a bouncy blow-dry, Alex Jones, who welcomed a baby daughter on August 21, looked beautiful in the light blue day dress

Sporting a bouncy blow-dry, Alex Jones, who welcomed a baby daughter on August 21, looked beautiful in the light blue day dress

Guy Ritchie, who is exhibiting his very own barbecue at this year's edition of the Chelsea Flower show, looked relaxed with wife Jacqui Ainsley

Guy Ritchie, who is exhibiting his very own barbecue at this year’s edition of the Chelsea Flower show, looked relaxed with wife Jacqui Ainsley

Anthea Turner wore a beautiful see-through floral blouse and white jeans for today's event

Ballroom dancer Anton Du Beke, wearing a smart blue blazer looked enthusiastic during the event

Anthea Turner, wearing a beautiful floral blouse and white jeans, and ballroom dancer Anton Du Beke looked happy to attend today’s event 

In excellent spirits, Dame Judi put on an animated display at the show as she posed with Chelsea pensioners in uniforms with whom she held a big flower garland

In excellent spirits, Dame Judi put on an animated display at the show as she posed with Chelsea pensioners in uniforms with whom she held a big flower garland 

Dame Judi exuded elegance as she posed with Chelsea pensioners on the RHS Queen's Green Canopy Garden at the event this afternoon

Dame Judi exuded elegance as she posed with Chelsea pensioners on the RHS Queen’s Green Canopy Garden at the event this afternoon

Judi appeared in high spirits as she attended the event this afternoon

The iconic actress appeared to be deep in conversation with one of the Chelsea pensioners at the event this afternoon

The iconic actress appeared to be deep in conversation with one of the Chelsea pensioners at the event this afternoon 

Presenter Nick Knowles was among the celebrities who stopped by the Chelsea Flower Show's autumn edition today, pictured

Presenter Nick Knowles was among the celebrities who stopped by the Chelsea Flower Show’s autumn edition today, pictured 

Singer Alexander Burke stunned in a striped white and blue co-ord suit at the Italian Piazza, Villagio Verde Garden

BBC presenter Fiona Bruce headed to the Parsley Box Garden in a long white jacket

Singer Alexandra Burke inside the It looked stylish in a stripy suit at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden designed by Jason Hales, while Fiona Bruce headed to The Parsley Box Garden

Judi Dench was caught in deep conversation with Allan Williams, who designed the Parsley Box Garden for this year's show, pictured

Judi Dench was caught in deep conversation with Allan Williams, who designed the Parsley Box Garden for this year’s show, pictured

Dame Maggie Smith was spotted admiring the several displays at the show, wearing a coral jacket over a navy ensemble, pictured

Dame Maggie Smith was spotted admiring the several displays at the show, wearing a coral jacket over a navy ensemble, pictured

DJ Trevor Nelson played it cool with sunglasses and a hat as he explored the Dobbie garden

X Factor judge Louis Walsh seemed in great spirits as he toured the show today

DJ and presenter Trevor Nelson put his sunglasses on and took his hat off as he explored s Dobbies’ garden while X Factor judge Louis Walsh seemed in great spirits  

The show is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, of which the Queen is patron, and traditionally takes place mid-May.

However this year it was blighted by Covid, and The Royal Horticultural Society announced in January that the show, in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, would be moved from May 18-23 to September 21-26.

Last year the event had to be scrapped completely because of coronavirus, with a virtual show staged online.

As many as 140,000 are expected to attend the event, which will ensure planned safety measures, included spreading the show over an extra day and reducing visitor numbers.

Dame Judi Dench and her daughter Finty Williams seemed the best of friends as they took a break from touring the several displays available at the show

Dame Judi Dench and her daughter Finty Williams seemed the best of friends as they took a break from touring the several displays available at the show 

Presenter Mel Giedroyc donned a pretty pink blouse, navy 7/8 trousers and white sneakers as she explored Dobbies' garden today

Presenter Mel Giedroyc donned a pretty pink blouse, navy 7/8 trousers and white sneakers as she explored Dobbies’ garden today

Dancer Anton Du Beke and Hannah Summers held hands as they walked around the event during a surprisingly sunny September day

Dancer Anton Du Beke and Hannah Summers held hands as they walked around the event during a surprisingly sunny September day 

Charlotte Hawkins, Alexandra Burke, a friend and Zo' Ball guest showed off their stylish outfits at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden

Charlotte Hawkins, Alexandra Burke, a friend and Zo’ Ball guest showed off their stylish outfits at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden

Anthea Turner, Zo' Ball, and Alexandra Burke playfully posed with a giant pumpkin which was grown by Ben White, centre, at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden

Anthea Turner, Zo’ Ball, and Alexandra Burke playfully posed with a giant pumpkin which was grown by Ben White, centre, at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden

A judge inspected on the displays during today's press day. A the end of the week, one display will take home the best in show title

A judge inspected on the displays during today’s press day. A the end of the week, one display will take home the best in show title 

Guy Ritchie and wife Jacqui Ainsley appeared in high spirits today as they stepped out to attend the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The director donned a pair of orange trousers, plaid shirt and casual coat while his wife was stylish in a white shirt and fashionable sunglasses

Guy Ritchie and wife Jacqui Ainsley appeared in high spirits today as they stepped out to attend the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The director donned a pair of orange trousers, plaid shirt and casual coat while his wife was stylish in a white shirt and fashionable sunglasses 

Ben and Marina Fogle visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show COP26 Garden, a feature garden, designed by Marie-Louise Agius

Ben and Marina Fogle visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show COP26 Garden, a feature garden, designed by Marie-Louise Agius 

Model Alexa Chung put on a fashionable display in a black romper and tights paired with an oversized grey coat and black leather heels

Model Alexa Chung put on a fashionable display in a black romper and tights paired with an oversized grey coat and black leather heels

Model Alexa Chung put on a fashionable display in a black romper and tights paired with an oversized grey coat and black leather heels 

A model showcases the delicate detail of her flower collar, which incorporates dried and fresh flowers in neutral tones, with touches of yellow, orange and green

A model showcases the delicate detail of her flower collar, which incorporates dried and fresh flowers in neutral tones, with touches of yellow, orange and green

A woman took the time to sit *on one of the ricks and reflect by the fountain by the pond of the Bible Society: The Psalm 23 Garden

A woman took the time to sit *on one of the ricks and reflect by the fountain by the pond of the Bible Society: The Psalm 23 Garden

Reality star Gemma Collins put on a very elaborate display as she stepped out for the The Chelsea Flower show in London this afternoon

Reality star Gemma Collins put on a very elaborate display as she stepped out for the The Chelsea Flower show in London this afternoon

Gemma, 40, donned a floor-length yellow gown decorated with gem stones paired with a pink bedazzled dress and matching metallic trainers

Gemma, 40, donned a floor-length yellow gown decorated with gem stones paired with a pink bedazzled dress and matching metallic trainers

Gemma, 40, donned a floor-length yellow gown decorated with gem stones paired with a pink bedazzled dress and matching metallic trainers 

Gemma made sure she put on a show in her yellow cape as she took a break from her tour to enjoy a glass of Prosecco, pictured

Gemma made sure she put on a show in her yellow cape as she took a break from her tour to enjoy a glass of Prosecco, pictured

Dave Myers, who is one half of the Hairy Bikers - who were beloved by the late Prince Philip - attended with his wife Liliana Orzac who wowed in a pretty dress

Dave Myers, who is one half of the Hairy Bikers – who were beloved by the late Prince Philip – attended with his wife Liliana Orzac who wowed in a pretty dress

Excited children posed with resident act Daisy the Drag Queen Garner and other models during the press day ahead of the show

Excited children posed with resident act Daisy the Drag Queen Garner and other models during the press day ahead of the show

Interior designer  Matthew Williamson looked stylish as he explored Dobbies' garden

Chris O'Dowd cut a casual silhouette in pair of jeans and tan jacket as he enjoyed a drink at the show

Interior designer Matthew Williamson looked stylish as he explored Dobbies’ garden while Chris O’Dowd, right, cut a casual silhouette in pair of jeans and tan jacket as he enjoyed a drink at the show

A royal event! Weather queen Carol Kirkwood, wearing a floral dress under a navy blazer, met Drag Queen Daisy the Gardner during the show

A royal event! Weather queen Carol Kirkwood, wearing a floral dress under a navy blazer, met Drag Queen Daisy the Gardner during the show

Television presenters Johnny Ball and his daughter Zoe Ball were seen posing together at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Television presenters Johnny Ball and his daughter Zoe Ball were seen posing together at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Director Guy Ritchie was spotted at the event with wife Jacqui Ainsley who looked casually chic in a camel coat and pair of green trousers

Alexa Chung arrived in a practical purple raincoat, black tights and patent pumps

Director Guy Ritchie was spotted at the event with wife Jacqui Ainsley who looked casually chic in a camel coat and pair of green trousers (left). Alexa Chung arrived in a practical purple raincoat, black tights and patent pumps

Chelsea Pensioners in uniform wave from the top of a repurposed double-decker bus in the Bowdens garden hosting bamboo shoots and ferns

Chelsea Pensioners in uniform wave from the top of a repurposed double-decker bus in the Bowdens garden hosting bamboo shoots and ferns 

Florists Tara and Valerie Pain, pictured, wore beautiful flower collars in the Parsley box garden during the show's press day today

Florists Tara and Valerie Pain, pictured, wore beautiful flower collars in the Parsley box garden during the show’s press day today 

The Chelsea Flower Show is readying to open its doors to the public as it returns following the coronavirus pandemic. The show, which traditionally takes place in May, was postponed to September for the first time in its 109-year long history, and will go on from tomorrow to Sunday 26 September. Visitors in matching hats, pictured, toured the show for a sneak preview today

The Chelsea Flower Show is readying to open its doors to the public as it returns following the coronavirus pandemic. The show, which traditionally takes place in May, was postponed to September for the first time in its 109-year long history, and will go on from tomorrow to Sunday 26 September. Visitors in matching hats, pictured, toured the show for a sneak preview today

Narture meets disco! During the show's press day, a drag queen made sure the party started early, with models wearing futuristic gear danced next to a pink barbecue set

Narture meets disco! During the show’s press day, a drag queen made sure the party started early, with models wearing futuristic gear danced next to a pink barbecue set 

Presenter Nicki Chapman looked beautiful in a pink dress as she walked among the grandiose flower displays around the event

Television presenter Nicki Chapman appeared in high spirits as she stepped out in a summery pink dress at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Presenter Nicki Chapman looked beautiful in a pink dress as she walked among the grandiose flower displays around the event 

In 2019, the Duchess of Cambridge designed one of the gardens and gave the Queen a guided tour.

The RHS said the September show will ‘celebrate the best of autumn horticulture’ and at this year’s event, the Royal Family contingent will see displays including the RHS Queen’s Green Canopy Garden.

The garden runs alongside Her Majesty’s unique tree planting initiative created to mark the monarch’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

Lisa Snowdon was a vision in brown boots and a vibrant animal print gown as she attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Lisa Snowdon was a vision in brown boots and a vibrant animal print gown as she attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Sally Phillips, wearing a floral dress, stood in the middle of the Psalm 23 garden's pond

The actress put her balance to the test during the press day of the Chelsea Flower Show

Sally Phillips put her balance to the test as she stood on a rock in the middle of the pond, wearing heels, while touring the show’s Psalm 23 garden

The Bridget Jones star added a chic pink coat to her stylish floral dress as she posed for a picture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The Bridget Jones star added a chic pink coat to her stylish floral dress as she posed for a picture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The Bridget Jones star added a chic pink coat to her stylish floral dress as she posed for a picture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Model Valerie Pain showed off a beautiful autumn-inspired flower colour at the show this morning Due to the change in dates, this Year's flower show with celebrate Autumn-trends rather than Spring

Model Valerie Pain showed off a beautiful autumn-inspired flower colour at the show this morning Due to the change in dates, this Year’s flower show with celebrate Autumn-trends rather than Spring

Alan Williams, designer of The Parsley Box Garden, proudly posed in front of his confection

Designer Paul Smith was one of the first to visit the Parsley Garden at The Parsley Box Garden Chelsea Flower

Alan Williams, left, who designed the Parsley Box Garden, proudly posed in front of his creation as celebrities like the designer Paul Smith, right, flocked to the show 

A pregnant Helen George showed her baby bump as she stood with nurses in the Florence Nightingale garden at the show, pictured

A pregnant Helen George showed her baby bump as she stood with nurses in the Florence Nightingale garden at the show, pictured

The effort got underway in secret in March – the end of the official planting season – when the monarch and the Prince of Wales, who is patron of the initiative, met at Windsor Castle to plant an inaugural ‘Verdun Oak’ .

Everyone from individuals to Scout and Girlguiding groups, villages, cities, counties, schools and companies, will be encouraged to plant trees from October 2021, when the tree planting season begins, through to the end of the Jubilee year in 2022.

From October, details of contributions can be uploaded onto an interactive map on the new QGC website, so people can see the canopy’s development.

A table laid with little pumpkins and autumn-inspired sets awaits visitors who venture in the Parsley Box garden, which was designed by Alan Williams, pictured

A table laid with little pumpkins and autumn-inspired sets awaits visitors who venture in the Parsley Box garden, which was designed by Alan Williams, pictured

Models Valerie, left and Tara Pain were the belles of the ball with their amazing flower collars and white dresses at the show today

Models Valerie, left and Tara Pain were the belles of the ball with their amazing flower collars and white dresses at the show today

Models Valerie and Tara Pain appeared in high spirits as they attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in elaborate collars made from dried flowers

Models Valerie and Tara Pain appeared in high spirits as they attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in elaborate collars made from dried flowers 

The Woodland Trust, the largest woodland conservation charity in the United Kingdom, has committed three million free saplings to schools and communities across the UK as part of the QGC initiative.

Trees can be planted either singularly or in copses by individuals, schools, community groups or businesses on private land, or even as a new Platinum Jubilee Avenue of medium-sized or large trees – ideal for cities, large estates, housing developments and parishes.

The project is not-for-profit and is being funded by private donors and supporters including Royal Mail, Coutts, The John Lewis Partnership, Coupa and Rentokil Initial plc.

While the QGC has not received government funding, it is also being supported by DEFRA.

Neon lights and hot pink accessories offered a stark contrast with the peaceful set-up of the Show's display as a drag queen Djed at the show

Neon lights and hot pink accessories offered a stark contrast with the peaceful set-up of the Show’s display as a drag queen Djed at the show 

Charlotte Hawkins showed summer is not over just yet in her floral dress and sandals

Everything is coming up roses! Charlotte and other celebrities picked floral fabrics to attend the show today

Everything coming up roses! Good Morning Britain’s presenter Charlotte Hawkins donned a floral day dress to the event today

Charlotte wore her blonde tresses curled and loose around her shoulders while opting for a pale pink manicure and light make-up look

Charlotte wore her blonde tresses curled and loose around her shoulders while opting for a pale pink manicure and light make-up look

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice was pictured attending the Chelsea Flower Show today

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice was pictured attending the Chelsea Flower Show today

A fitting guest! Actress Dixie Egerickx, who started in the recent remake of the Secret Garden, looked darling in a floral babydoll dress

A fitting guest! Actress Dixie Egerickx, who started in the recent remake of the Secret Garden, looked darling in a floral babydoll dress

Helen George, who is expecting her second child this year, put on an animated display as she talked to fellow visitors and members of the press at the show today

Helen George, who is expecting her second child this year, put on an animated display as she talked to fellow visitors and members of the press at the show today

The Call the Midwife actress beamed as she cradled her baby bump with her hands during her visit of the show today, pictured

The Call the Midwife actress beamed as she cradled her baby bump with her hands during her visit of the show today, pictured

Helen chatted with some of the models working around the show and bringing the displays to life, who was wearing a pilgrim outfit

Helen chatted with some of the models working around the show and bringing the displays to life, who was wearing a pilgrim outfit 

The performer is pictured acting in front of a stunning garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a garden show held by the Royal Horticultural Society

The performer is pictured acting in front of a stunning garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a garden show held by the Royal Horticultural Society

Mel Reynard put on a fashionable display at the Landform Balcony Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Landform Balcony Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Mel Reynard put on a fashionable display in a mask and gown at the Landform Balcony Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Making an impression with her outfit, Gemma posed as she arrived at the Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

Making an impression with her outfit, Gemma posed as she arrived at the Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

A gust is pictured admiring a stunning floral display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

A gust is pictured admiring a stunning floral display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

One guest grinned in front of the plants as she donned a tomato-themed headdress and gown at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

One guest grinned in front of the plants as she donned a tomato-themed headdress and gown at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

Designer Martha Krempel is pictured discussing her Arcadia balcony garden with visitors at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Designer Martha Krempel is pictured discussing her Arcadia balcony garden with visitors at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Dame Judi Dench and her daughter walked arm in arm as they toured the different displays of the show today, pictured

Dame Judi Dench and her daughter walked arm in arm as they toured the different displays of the show today, pictured

Alexandra Burke took a moment to sit down in a beautiful wicker chair as she visited Dobbies Garden at today's event, pictured

Alexandra Burke took a moment to sit down in a beautiful wicker chair as she visited Dobbies Garden at today’s event, pictured

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Fraser to attend Oireachtas committee on Zappone controversy

Voice Of EU

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The State’s highest ranking civil servant will appear before an Oireachtas committee to explain the circumstances around the now-scrapped appointment of Katherine Zappone as special envoy.

The secretary general of the Department of Taoiseach Martin Fraser will appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs next week.

Members of the committee are expected to ask Mr Fraser to explain in detail when precisely Ms Zappone’s name was communicated to the Department of the Taoiseach.

Controversy erupted in late July over an attempt by Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to appoint Ms Zappone as a special envoy for freedom of expression and LGBTQ+ rights.

On Monday, former minister Zappone turned down an invitation to appear before the committee to discuss the matter.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was not aware of plans to appoint her before they came before Cabinet just before the summer recess.

Moreover, Fianna Fáil has disputed a claim from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s that Ms Zappone was named as a UN special envoy in a memo sent to the Taoiseach’s office the day before the Cabinet discussed the proposed appointment.

“The memo with the name of Katherine Zappone was in the Taoiseach’s office, the day before the Cabinet meeting,” Mr Varadkar said earlier this month.

“Notwithstanding that, Simon Coveney and I had a responsibility to flag that to him as a Minister, me as a leader in Government, there should be good faith and no surprises, and I’ve spoken the Taoiseach about that, and apologised.”

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath disputed this and said that an “under the arm memo” sent to the office of the Taoiseach the day before the Cabinet meeting on July 27th did not mention Ms Zappone.

Mr Fraser’s decision to appear before the committee means the controversy will continue into another week.

Mr Fraser, who has been secretary general at the Department of the Taoiseach for a decade, is to move from Government Buildings late next year to become the Irish ambassador in London.

In mid-September, the Dáil voted confidence in Mr Coveney by 92 votes to 59.

Separately, Mr Varadkar has now sought to downplay reports of a “sting” operation arising from the Zappone affair, whereby a junior minister reportedly gave false information to a senior minister during a phone call, which then made its way to a journalist.

The Tánaiste said he had spoken with Patrick O’Donovan, reportedly the junior minister involved, but said he had not been shown text messages arising from the “sting” and that “there have been no confrontations” about it.

“He’s shown me no text messages or anything like that. This is an internal matter that will be dealt with within Fine Gael,” Mr Varadkar said. “I’m aware of what’s been reported and I’ve spoken to all the Fine Gael cabinet Ministers about this.”

Asked whether Ms Zappone should attend or otherwise respond to written questions from the Oireachtas committee, Mr Varadkar said it was a matter for her and the committee, arguing the Government had “moved on”.

Speaking in New York on Monday, the Taoiseach also sought to draw a line under the controversy, saying Ms Zappone was a “private citizen”. Mr Martin said: “As far as I’m concerned we’ve had enough debate about it now.”

“This was in effect, an under the arm memo which means it is brought to Cabinet on the morning of the Cabinet meeting itself and that was the first time that the name Katherine Zappone was with the Taoiseach and with all of the other Cabinet colleagues so that is certainly the case.”

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