Sunday Long Reads: Anomaly scans not offered to all Irish woman, In defence of potatoes and the man who played with Pele and for Dundalk

Kick back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the best long reads from Newstalk

It's been a busy week in the Newstalk towers and beyond, the news has been dominated by a man's attempted attack on soldiers guarding The Louvre in Paris and the US court's ruling which overturned Trump's travel ban. 

In this week's long reads we look at why there are calls for more pregnant women to be offered anomaly scans on their babies.

We also look at how although they've recently been linked to cancer, there is still plenty that potatoes have to offer.

Elsewhere Newstalk's Peter Carroll talks to MMA star Aisling Daly following her retirement announcement this week and finally we meet the man who played for Pele's Cosmos and for Dundalk.

Anomaly scans not being offered to all pregnant women in Ireland

There are calls for more pregnant women to be offered anomaly scans on their babies.

The check is carried out at around 20 weeks into pregnancy, but it is currently not available as a routine scan to every expectant mother in Ireland.

Grainne McSteen's baby Ethan died 12 years ago, a few days after being born with a serious heart problem.

She believes the anomaly scan would have picked up the condition before he was born, and he could have been given specialist treatment as soon as he arrived.

Aisling Daly: Pioneer, Champion, Legend

It’s been a tough two months for Aisling Daly.

Having discovered a brain injury during a routine scan, the MMA star has had to negotiate her way through conversations with fans and some friends with caution lately.

Aisling Daly in action against Ericka Almeida in Dublin's 3Arena in 2015. Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Knowing that she would eventually announce her retirement from the sport she helped cement into the Irish consciousness, Daly found a way to answer the inquiries about her next fight in the most genuine fashion that she could.

"I felt really bad making up little fibs about it. There are so many people I didn’t reply to that were getting in contact with me asking when I would be fighting again. You know, I’d tell them 'not anytime soon' or 'I’m riddled with injuries'


Matter of Taste: In defence of the potato

So now they’re coming for our spuds? The scientific community has revealed that roast potatoes, those crunchy starch nuggets that look like buoys bobbing in a pool of gravy, could well be carcinogenic, putting the humble tuber right at the top of the list that starts with asbestos and ends with X-rays.

Acrylamide is the problem. It’s a chemical that forms in some starchy foods during high-temperature cooking, such as frying, baking, and, regrettably, roasting. It all happens when going for that crisp, when a chemical reaction between certain sugars and an amino acid in the potato forms acrylamide, a chemical that is also found in cigarette smoke.

It’s bad news for those who like their potatoes fried, baked, broiled, or roasted, and better news for those who like them boiled, steamed, or nuked in the microwave – though microwaves do also cause cancer, and some people really don’t like how much fluoride is in our water supply


Did Tyson Fury spoil Anthony Joshua's "signature fight"?

English garage band The Streets open their critically acclaimed second album - 'A Grand Don't Come For Free' - with the wonderfully hectic and, in equal measures, overwhelmingly frustrating track 'It Was Supposed To Be So Easy'.

In the song, main protagonist Mike Skinner sets about a list of daily chores to get done before he has to "hurry" to an unknown destination. 

"Just take back the DVD/Withdraw that extra money/Tell mum I wouldn't be back for tea/Then grab my savings and hurry," he sings, before detailing how each task goes pear-shaped and pig-eared.

How Anthony Joshua must feel a certain twinge of that frustration.


Meet the man who played for Pele's Cosmos and Dundalk

New York Cosmos’ forward Bob Smith beats Portlani Timbers’ forward Clyde Best, right, to ball on Sunday, July 17, 1977 in first half of match at East Rutherford, N.J.’s Meadowlands Stadium.

For a generation of US soccer players in the 1970s and early '80s, the international stars they saw in magazines would go on to become team-mates.

Robert "Bobby" Smith was one of those American players who formed the homegrown base around which the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, George Best, Johan Cruyff and Eusebio dazzled in the old North American Soccer League (NASL).

Smith was highly regarded as a defender, winning 18 caps and being elected into the US National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007. 

He was signed by Cosmos in 1976 as the newly arrived Pele began to be surrounded by team-mates capable of helping the New York franchise to dominate.