Men of Action: Ravens Will Meet 49ers At Super Bowl XLVII

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the Baltimore Ravens will meet the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans (photo by Infrogmation, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Here we go! The path to Super Bowl has been set. The Baltmore Ravens will meet the San Francisco 49ers on February 3rd!

Both teams pulled out astounding come backs this past Sunday in their respective games.

The Baltimore Ravens turned their match around against the New England Patriots after half time, when Raven’s qurterback Joe Flacco succeeded in 2 touchdown passes. He went on to score 2 touch downs in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.

‘It was pretty awesome,’ declared Flacco. ‘We were here last year and thought we had it, but came up a little short. Guys came out in the second half and made plays… we put pressure on them like that and it worked pretty well’

Both teams’ efforts are a reminder of how to tackle adversity. Like The Wild Geese® , they didn’t quit and made every second count. The results of the first half would not determine the match outcome. The Ravens are now heading into their first Super Bowl since 2001.

But last weekend’s comeback kings were certainly the San Francisco 49s. They turned an impending loss of 17-0 against the Atlanta Falcons into a final match score of 28-24, the biggest comeback seen in an NFC Championship game! It was a fiercely fought match and running back Frank Gore (who pulled off a 9 yard run half way through the 4th quarter) was very complimentary of the competition:

‘I take my hat off to Atlanta. They played hard. They’ve got a great team. But we fought man. We fought and we deserved it’

They certainly did. Super Bowl XLVII is shaping up to be one of high drama and tough competition. It will be Raven’s great Ray Lewis’ final match before he retires. It will be a chance for 49ers newcomer Colin Kaepernick to showcase his talents. And a battle of brothers: John and Jim Harbaugh will face off on February 3rd, John coaches the Ravens and Jim coaches the 49ers.

With such anticipation, players on both sides are thinking about what the coming weeks will mean. And both are reminders of the lessons we’ve learned from The Wild Geese® : team work and maintaining a positive attitude.

The 49ers’ Kaepernick will be keeping a cool head: ‘Going out on the field frantic isn’t going to help you score points. You have to stay calm. You have to try and lead your team’

Men of Action: Paul McGinley's Wins Ryder Cup Captaincy

Eyes on the Prize: McGinley will have his eyes on maintaing his record Ryder Cup wins when he leads Team Europe in 2014 (Photo by Dan Perry, danperry.com, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Its been a very good week for Irish golf!

One of the major tournaments of the sport is the Ryder Cup, which pits golfers from Europe against the US. News has been spreading like wildfire that Paul McGinley has now been appointed the Ryder Cup team captain for Gleneagles in 2014.

McGinley has twenty two years experience under his belt and started to make a name for himself when he famously holed a 9 ft on the 18th hole of the 2002 Ryder Cup, a putt that won the tournament for Europe.

The Dubliner’s strengths are many. McGinley has won every Ryder cup he has contested and will be returning next year as captain to merge skill, experience and leadership, a task which even his competition thinks he’s perfect for. Captain of the US Ryder Cup team, Tom Watson, was quick to offer his congratulations:

‘I anticipate that his passion and love of the event will transfer to being an outstanding leader of his team in 2014 at Gleneagles’

Leadership is a vital skill. When The Wild Geese® were faced with a difficult choice in 1691, they turned to Patrick Sarsfield to continue their cause, who was loved and admired by his troops. Through this love and admiration The Wild Geese® achieved remarkable things.

Considering this, McGinley’s captaincy is not surprising. He received extraordinary support, especially from members of the Ryder Cup team itself. At the forefront was world number 1 Rory McIlroy:

‘I’m thrilled! Paul was not only my choice but the choice for most of the players on the Ryder Cup. He will do a brilliant job at Gleneagles’

McGinley has captained Rory McIlroy in the past at the Vivendi Seve Trophy in both 2009 and 2011 and he fully appreciates what this level of support has meant:

‘To have the support of someone like Rory and all the other players made my hand very strong. I’m absolutely thrilled to be leading this team. It is a huge honour and a humbling experience’

Men of Action: McIlroy 'Gives A Helping Hand' in 2013

Photo by Phillip Wilson (internetsense), via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The year is off to an excellent start for Irish golfer Rory McIlroy. At only 23 years old, he’s starting 2013 as the world number 1, and although the challengers will be lining up at the major tournaments, he’s not likely to shift from that spot for some time.

McIlroy is also now one of the highest earning golfers, second only to Tiger Woods, after he recently signed a new sponsorship deal. The deal will see him change equipment for this year’s tournaments, but with a game as good as his, this may only be a minor adjustment.

It’s inspiring to see someone so talented climb the ranks so quickly, but what’s more, the Co. Down native is keen to give something back. Like The Wild Geese® , there is a cause that calls to him and he’s in the position to make a difference.

McIlroy has set up a new charity, to help disadvantaged children from around the world. ‘The Rory Foundation’ will help fund children’s charities and through his ‘6 Bags Project’ will aim to raise awareness of the organisations striving to make a difference. At each of the first 6 tournaments of the year, McIlroy’s golf bag will carry the name of a different charity. After the respective tournament, the bag will be auctioned, with all proceeds going to the chosen charity.

‘Having support from my family gave me the opportunity to chase my dreams,’ McIlroy explains.

‘But I know that every child is not so fortunate. My aim is that The Rory Foundation will support children’s charities, big and small, around the world, that try to give kids that helping hand’

The Wild Geese® fought their situation to achieve their potential. Now, McIlroy’s initiative will help those less fortunate to reach theirs. He’s in the perfect position to take action and make a difference.

Men of Action: 'An Experience that I'll Treasure', Daniel Day-Lewis On The Path To Oscar Glory (Again!)

Photo by chloe004, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The awards season is well and truly underway, with the annual Golden Globes taking place this past Sunday in Beverley Hills, California.

The Golden Globes are a celebration of some of the movie industry’s top talent and this year was no exception. One performer at the forefront of awards conversations this year has been Daniel Day-Lewis, who left the Golden Globes with the award for Best Actor (Drama).

Day-Lewis’ performance in Steve Spielberg’s latest biopic ‘Lincoln’, sees him play the renowned 16th president of the United States and has been thrilling audiences and critics alike over the in US.

As he accepted the Golden Globe (his 7th nomination at the awards) he thanked Spielberg for ‘an experience that I’ll treasure until the end of my life’.

Widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest actors, Day-Lewis is a true example of what we can achieve with the right level of determination. He currently lives in Co. Wicklow, Ireland and like The Wild Geese® , has experienced the majority of his success overseas, and awards like the Globes are testament to how far he has come.

Some see the Globes as an indicator to the Oscar results. Although this wasn’t the case last year for George Clooney, the last time Daniel Day-Lewis won a Golden Globe was for his role in ‘There Will Be Blood’ in January 2007. We all know what happened a few weeks later at the Oscars, so we could soon see this great actor win his third.

 

Men of Action: Young Pretenders For 2013 Grand Slam Titles

Tennis has been dominated by ‘The Big Four’ for many years now. Names like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have battled between themselves for the World Number One over the last 12 months.

Although all four are outstanding to watch, the game may be shaken up even more this year with the arrival of a new generation of young pretenders for the tennis throne.

A New Chapter
Jerzy Janowics started 2012 with an ATP ranking of 222, having never played in a Grand Stand tournament. A year later and he is a very real contender for a Grand Slam title in 2013. The Pole has shot to number 26, reaching the final in the Paris Masters final, beating four of the top 20 players in world along the way.

He impressed with victories against Andy Murray, Janko Tipsarevic, Marin Cilic and Philipp Kohlschreiber, and was only stopped by David Ferrer. But this isn’t a case of close but no cigar, and is instead an excellent foundation for all he can achieve in 2013. For Janowics, its about taking one step at a time. But that’s not to say that he isn’t ambitious:

‘I aim to go over 250 km/h [in his serve] and beat every record. With my coach, I’ve already been able to increase the speed of 2-3 km/h thanks to hard work we are doing, but I aim to improve to 10 km/h by the end of this year’

Janowics started training again only a week after his run in the Paris Masters. A positive attitude he is maintaing for the year a head:

‘What happened in Paris is for me a closed chapter. In front of me, there is a new season and new challenges’

The Wild Geese® Card
Grigor Dimitrov is another player who has already come a long, long way. The Bulgarian was entered into the Queen’s Club Tournament in 2009 as a ‘Wild Card’. As the world number 361, initially his entry was a shock. But Dimitrov impressed with his elegant style and sheer skill.

Grigor Dimitrov, photo by Ian Gampon (iShot71), via Flickr

Last summer he returned to Queen’s, where he reached the semi finals. This performance has helped to rocket him up the API rankings, where he now sits at number 41! Earlier this month he participated in the Brisbane International Tournament. Beating fellow young pretender Milos Raonic, as well as Jurgen Melzer, Dimitrov was on course to wining his first tournament. He reached the semi finals, where he was beaten by Andy Murray, however, this has got 2013 off to an excellent start.

Men of Action: Bradley Wiggins Ends The Year With BBC Award

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year was awarded to Bradley Wiggins this past Sunday. The Olympian has had a stand out year, racing into the Guinness World Records for being the only cyclist to win an Olympic Gold Medal and the Tour de France in the same year.

For many, his victory at the BBC’s Sport’s Personality of the year was unsurprising, but in a year filled with sports stars, its a huge achievement in its own right.

His award has spurred him on to get back on his bike in 2013 and build on the momentum from this year.

‘You reset your goals, I’m still hungry to do other things, but I’m never going to top this. I don’t mind accepting that’

‘I always wanted to win a second tour,’ Wiggins explains. ‘I want to win the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France behind it. It’s a new challenge. People said it can’t be done – winning two tours in one year – so let’s have a go.’

Based on the skill and determination he’s shown this year, we’re excited to see what next year has in store for him!

 

Men of Action: Daniel Day-Lewis Plans A Heart-Warming Premiere

There’s already alot of buzz surrounding the new epic from Steven Spielberg, Lincoln. Its already received rave reviews from early screenings and there is already talk of Oscar nominations.

Excitingly, Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays Lincoln, will be leading his cast to Dublin for a premier like no other. The premiere will take place at Dublin’s Savoy Cinema on January 20th and will be followed by a ‘Lincoln-themed’ ball hosted by Day-Lewis. After Day-Lewis lost his mother to cancer in 2009, he was humbled by the level of care she received from the Petersfield community hospital in England. The post-premiere ball will raise money for the Wicklow Hospice near his home in Ireland.

‘She was given great dignity that saw her through to the end of her life. So I was very grateful when Wicklow Hospice made contact with me as I wanted to get involved in nay way that I could to establish something of that kind in my county of Wicklow’

Its inspiring to see such an acting legend take a stance for what matters to him, helping to establish care will help those in the same situation he found himself in.

Men of Action: Remembering A Jazz Legend

Dave Brubeck is a well known name. Its well known because it is synonymous with ‘cool’ and ‘laid back’. It is well known because it is a name which catapulted jazz from the shadowy scene in Oakland to a global stage. But this week Dave Brubeck passed away. Only hours after his death, he received a posthumous Grammy nomination.

His major hit ‘Take Five’ is recognisable even from the first few bars, and like the music he made, his career took many swerves and unexpected turns.

As a jazz pianist, he formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951, which was famous on the jazz scene before accomplishing worldwide success. Although the faces would sometimes change, the Quartet kept hold of the fiery passion it injected into its music. Perhaps one of Brubeck’s greatest achievements was his partnership with saxophonist Paul Desmond, who composed the hit ‘Take Five’. This was the first jazz record to sell one million copies, along with the album it came from ‘Time Out’.

Brubeck disbanded the Quartet in 1967 and focused on his first love – composing. Now a titan on the jazz scene, he experimented with his talents, creating a musical, two ballets, four cantatas and many works for jazz groups and symphony orchestras.

Brubeck was certainly an inspirational figure, who knew that there are parts of each of us that can go beyond the expected:

‘And there is a time where you can be beyond yourself. You can be better than your technique. You can be better than most of your usual ideas. And this is a whole other category that you can get into’ – Brubeck

This is true of The Wild Geese® . It is true of ‘Men of Action’. And it is certainly true of Dave Brubeck.

 

Men of Action: McDowell Wins His Second World Challenge

Graeme McDowell is one of the world’s top golfers, earlier this year aiding in the European win of the Ryder Cup. But last Sunday was McDowell’s turn to hog the spotlight when he won the World Challenge in California.

McDowell beat off 18 contenders including the defending champion Tiger Woods and Keegan Bradley, who secured second place. McDowell and Bradley battled it out, and although at one point it became too close to call, McDowell ended the 2012 World Challenge with a laser accurate sure birdie putt.

This is McDowell’s second win in the World Challenge, following a victory in 2010.

Although this is an out of season event, the World Challenge is an important step in preparations for the upcoming season. McDowell will use this momentum to start 2013 on a positive note.

‘This really caps off my season. We try not to put winning on a pedestal, but this one feels very sweet because it’s been a grind all year’

‘Certainly I will draw some confidence from this one’

With this degree of confidence supporting McDowell’s skill and determination, we’re looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish in 2013.

Men of Action: Ireland 46 – 24 Argentina

We were thrilled to see Ireland’s victory over Argentina at the weekend!

With many of the star players missing, expectations of the score were anyone’s guess, but the team brought some strong Irish spirit to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The Test game also puts Ireland in good stead as we head into the draw for the 2015 World Cup, which is expected next Monday.

On the pitch was Insider Centre player Gordon D’Arcy, who saw and reacted to the action as it unfolded.

‘I take my hat off to them. It’s a very Irish thing not to tell people when they do stuff well, but I was the first one over to those guys’

He paid particular tribute to Jonathan Sexton who picked up the pace after a missed penalty against South Africa two weeks before. Sexton not only scored vital tries for his team, but added points with his conversions as well.

‘You might take Johnny for granted but we don’t,’ D’Arcy continued, ‘we’re absolutely blessed to have him. His selection of plays was first class and he showed why he’s one of the best out-halves in the world. He controlled the game’

A great game and as George Hook described in the Irish Independent, ‘happy days may be here again’.

 

Men of Action: Rory McIlroy's Time to Shine

Thrilling scenes ran through the Ryder Cup at the weekend and there have already been whispers that we saw ‘sports greatest comeback’.

The biennial tournament sees Team Europe and Team USA tee off against each other and this year we all saw a remarkable comeback from the Europeans who ended the tournament with a 14 1/2 lead over the USA’s 13 1/2.

At the centre of this was the world number 1, Rory McIlroy. All eyes were on him going into the tournament. McIlroy has already proved time and again that he is the competitor to beat. But confusion over different time zones meant that he was running late for his tee off.

But he made it with only 10 minutes to get warmed up. He putted a few practice shots, but what happened next really showed what McIlroy is capable of and why he’s the world No. 1.

‘In a way it wasn’t really a bad thing because I didn’t have time to think about it – and I played probably the best I played all week’

McIlroy beat the US golfing titan Keegan Bradley and secured a point for his team, which was all important to the Man of Action:

‘This week I’m not the No. 1 player in the world,’ he explained last Wednesday. ‘I’m one person in a 12-man team, and that’s it. It’s a team effort. There’s 12 guys all striving towards the same goal. I’m just part of that’

So when Team Europe came away with a victory, the winning feeling was that little bit sweeter.

‘I know all the boys put their heart and soul into this. It’s unbelievable… to win as an individual is great, but when it’s part of a team it doesn’t get better than that.’

‘To share this moment and to know they gave everything like you have and to walk away as the victors is great’

McIlroy was a strong cog in the mighty European wheel. Like The Wild Geese® , he understands how important team work is, and although you can shine individually, when a whole team work together and support one another, the result is remarkable.

But its hard to ignore that fact that McIlroy is the world No. 1, something which could have overshadowed him going into the tournament. But he’s kept his cool and not caved to that pressure. Like a true world class athlete he’ll face the challenges as they come.

‘I don’t think I have a bulls-eye on my back. I think it’s a huge compliment that people are saying they want to beat me and whatever. Whoever wants to take me on, they can take me on’

Congratulations to McIlroy and Team Europe!

Wild Geese Today: J. W. Anderson, Irish Design At Its Best

Fashion and drama are familiar bedfellows and combine for some memorable clothing designs.

J. W. Anderson blasted onto the scene in 2009, with a collection based on fantastical adventures. His fall 2009 collection got heads turning at the Topman/Fashion East MAN – a scheme that supports emerging designers – where he fused two of his major obsessions: a love of mystical characters and sinister phenomena.

Although he caught the fashion industry off guard, this collection was perhaps a long time coming.

Anderson moved from Ireland to Washington D. C. in the USA to study drama. His eyes were beckoned by stage and screen. Upon graduation, he found his way into the costume department, which brought about a new opportunity. Like The Wild Geese® , Anderson found himself in an expected situation and decided to run with. He enrolled in fashion school in London. Like The Wild Geese® , he made the right choice.

Since his fall 2009 collection, based on fantastical adventures, he has grown within the fashion industry. Earlier this year he championed the Irish Designers Create project in Dublin, which brought together a whole mix of Irish designers and placed them in the ‘House of Irish design’ – Brown Thomas.

Considering that his new collection (now available in the UK’s Topshop) is one of the hottest ranges of the year, Anderson has graduated from the new kid on the block and is now a powerhouse of the fashion industry with only the sky as his limit.