By Sean Creedon
Ireland’s minister for sport, Jim McDaid, insists Stadium Ireland will be built if Fianna Fail win next year’s General Election. With the economic downturn since the events of Sept. 11, the so called “Bertie Bowl” seems to have been put on the long finger by the government.
“So long as Bertie Ahern is taoiseach, the Stadium will be built,” he said last week. “I will introduce legislation in the Dail in January to get the project under way.”
However, Fine Gael’s leader, Michael Noonan, said that if elected, he will scrap plans for the stadium in Abbotstown in North Dublin and spend the money on schools and local projects.
Last week, Ahern said he remains “as committed as ever” to the project.
“The swimming pool is already open and when the sports campus is complete, the facilities will benefit all sports,” he said.
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Korean comfort inns
Irish supporters traveling to South Korea for next summer’s World Cup could find themselves sleeping in what were formerly brothels. Due to a severe accommodation shortage, the South Korean government has had to enlist the services of so called “love hotels” to solve the problem.
The recently renamed “budget inns” have had to get rid of their waterbeds, mirrors on the ceiling and pornographic posters. A spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said: “The only difference in the accommodation is that these motels have no lobby.”
North golf championship?
Northern Ireland is poised to stage a major international golf championship. Officials from the Northern Ireland Events Company are on the verge of sealing a deal bringing the first main PGA European tour event to the North.
Chief Executive John Walker said: “We have been working for a long time to bring a major PGA European event with all of Europe’s top golfers. We hope to finalize details next month.”
If the deal goes ahead, it’s hoped that the event would commence in 2003 and continue for a number of years. The company, which is involved in the staging of the British Open Golf, is also working at attracting table tennis, gymnastics, judo, ice skating and yachting events to the North.
Support for Railway
Munster Council GAA Chairman Christy Cooney says that the Railway Cup competitions should be retained, but re-structured.
“The competition . . . must be organized and structured in a better way and
possibly enhanced through sponsorship,” he said.
But we have had various sponsors and that didn’t help revive the once healthy competition. The truth of the matter is that the club is now much more relevant to GAA people than their province.
Westmeath Secretary Paddy Collins says the GAA should “bite the bullet” and get rid of the ailing competition. The former top referee said: “To what depths must the competitions descend to before our legislators agree to the obvious humane course of action of terminating them.”
People from other Munster counties in Ireland will tell you that Tipperary people are arrogant when it comes to hurling. Indeed, on the Dublin-to-Cork road they have a sign welcoming you to Tipperary — “The Home of Hurling.”
It’s only three months since Tipp won the McCarthy Cup, but some people in the county are already talking about future homecomings. Traditionally, winning Tipp teams are feted in the town center in Thurles, but now some people are suggesting that for safety reason future homecoming parties should be held in Semple Stadium.
“I believe Semple Stadium is the only place to stage the homecoming because it has the room for the kind of crowds turning up,” said Tipp’s chairman, Michael Bourke. “Last year we were fortunate not to have a serious accident due to the massive crowd.”
I’m sure the hurlers of Cork, Clare, Limerick and Waterford will try and defer those homecomings for a while.
Tickets for All-Ireland finals are like gold, so not many people will mind paying the few extra pounds, or euro, for the coveted tickets. Tickets for the best seats at the finals will increase by one pound to _36, that will be around 45 Euro. For the semifinal prices for the main stand will increase by _3, to _28. Tickets for the Hill 16 terrace for the final will cost _16, while for the semifinal the Hill price stays at _12.
The GAA collected fines totaling _58,000 from counties who broke minor rules in this year’s hurling and football championships. In a bid to clean up their act, the GAA imposed fines for teams parading with their socks down, teams coming out late after the halftime break, and for standing around in clusters for the national anthem. Sligo picked up a _250 fine for wearing black jerseys instead of their traditional white against Dublin. Galway goalkeeper Alan Keane picked up a _200 fine for wearing black cycling shorts under his white knicks in another game and the Clare subs indulged in a kick about during halftime in one of their games.
In the past, these were all perfectly innocuous activities, but the GAA are trying to improve the image of the association and are right in trying to impose the rules. Cynics might say that the referees should also implement the playing rules.
Warren Gatland, who was sacked by the Irish Rugby Football Union, is wanted by English club London Wasps as forwards coach. Gatland and his family will spend Christmas in their native New Zealand and return to Ireland at the end of January.
Soccer legend George Best looked in good shape last week when he was awarded an honorary doctorate in his native Belfast in recognition of his services to football. Best was described by Queens University Registrar James O’Kane as “noteworthy, sometimes notorious, but never ignored.”