By Sean Creedon
Bohemians will play Dundalk in this season’s FAI Carlsberg Cup Final at Tolka Park on April 7. On Sunday, Bohs, the Cup holders, came from behind to beat Derry 2-1 at Dalymount Park.
What a difference manager Stephen Kenny has made at Dalymout Park. Before his arrival in December, Bohs looked like they would be relegated.
Meanwhile, on Friday night Dundalk qualified for their first final in nine years when they hammered Shamrock Rovers 4-0 at Oriel Park. It’s turning out to be a miserable end of season for The Hoops. At one stage they were in with a shout of the treble — League, FAI Cup and League Cup. Their League form has slipped in recent weeks and two weeks ago they were surprised by first division Limerick in the League Cup semifinal. Joe Colwell announced that he was standing down as chairman following Friday’s shock defeat. Colwell said he was fed up with the way recent results have gone and he is also clearly unhappy with the delay in funding for The Hoops new stadium in Tallaght.
Mick to name squad
Mick McCarthy says he will name his 23-man World Cup squad well in advance of the FIFA deadline of May 21. Mick says he intends to take the World Cup squad to Sunderland for Niall Quinn’s testimonial game on May 14.
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“I will name 23 players for the testimonial game against Sunderland and the international against Nigeria at Lansdowne Road two days later,” he said. “And they will be the players who will fly the flag for the Republic in Japan. I can’t wrap the players in cotton wool for those two games and someone might get injured, but that’s the chance we take every week when the players line out for their clubs.”
Club finals at Thurles
With Croke Park resembling a building site the traditional St Patrick’s Day AIB All-Ireland club finals have been switched to Semple Stadium in Thurles this year. Nemo Rangers, who have won the football title a record six times, will have happy memories of Thurles. They won their first title there in 1973 when they beat St. Vincent’s of Dublin in a replay. This time, the Cork city club face Ballinderry of Derry, who will be making their first-ever final appearance.
Colin Corkery, has had difficulty losing weight, but he is still a brilliant free-taker and has been a vital cog in Nemo’s good run. I think Nemo will have too much experience for the Derry side.
In the hurling final Birr will be bidding to win the title for the third time. The Offaly side won the title in 1995 and ’98 and Brian Whelahan and his brother Simon will be bidding for their third medal. Galway clubs have a very good record in the competition and Clarinbridge will be bidding to keep the Cup West of the Shannon after Athenry won it for the last two years.
After the cancellation of last year’s festival due to foot and mouth disease in England, there will be even greater than usual Irish interest in this week’s Cheltenham Festival. Willie Mullins, with 10 runners, will have the largest Irish representation. And Mullins could win the big one, the Gold Cup tomorrow (March 14) with Florida Pearl or Alexander Banquet.
Wood eyes return
Irish hooker Keith Wood is still hoping to be fit for Ireland’s next game in the Six Nations Championship, against Italy on March 23. Wood, who has missed Ireland’s first three games — against Wales, England and Scotland — was left off the 32-man squad named for a four-day training session in Belfast this week. But he is still hoping to have made a full recovery from the calf injury that has been troubling him.
GPA sponsor deal
The Gaelic Players Association have signed a new sponsorship deal with e-hub, a leading electronic business software firm. The latest deal will allow the GPA to conduct their entire business online and will be a big boost to the unofficial players group after their last deal with the Marlborough Recruitment group collapsed.
Still no sign of Kilkenny star D.J. Carey returning to training. The Gowran star injured his neck in a car accident before Christmas and has not been able to train. Also, no word in Kerry from Maurice Fitzgerald. Many in the Kingdom feel that he has played his last game in the green and gold. But with Kerry struggling a bit this year, Paidi O Se may yet extend the olive branch to the Cahirciveen man. But one man who is definitely back is Cork dual star Sean Og O hAilpin. He was injured in a car accident last week, but is now back to almost full fitness.
Meanwhile, former Galway defender Niall McInerney has been added to the Galway hurling backroom team as a selector for this season’s League and Championship campaigns. Manger Noel Lane says he decided to extend the management team because of the extra number of games this year. Clareman Mike McNamara will once again train the squad with John Connolly continuing as coach. Pat Kearney will also join the management team to help out with administration, but he will not be a selector.
Cup dream team
Selecting any type of all-star team is always going to cause controversy. And when the Irish Independent ran a competition to choose the Republic’s World Cup dream team, there was sure to be debate over the final selection.
Only players from Jack Charlton’s 1990 and ’94 squads and players used by Mick McCarthy in the current campaign were considered. The judges were former Irish managers Johnny Giles and Eoin Hand, together with FAI technical director Brian Kerr. And their XI in 4-4-2 formation read: Given; Irwin, O’Leary, McGrath, Staunton; Houghton, Keane, Whelan, Townsend; Aldridge, Stapleton.
It seems that old hurlers just will not go away. Some, like Martin Storey, give great service to their club and county and when they retire they usually take up coaching. But Storey has opted instead to help coach the Wexford camogie team. Already former Tipperary star Michael Cleary has coached the Tipp women to All-Ireland success.
Cameroon will not be allowed wear their sleeveless shirts in their opening World Cup game against the Republic in Niigata on June 1. Cameroon wore the sleeveless shirts on their way to victory in the recent African Nations Championship in Mali, but FIFA have outlawed the jersey for the World Cup on commercial grounds. All 32 finalists will have to wear the 2002 World Cup logo on their sleeves, thus ensuring Cameroon won’t be stealing the fashion headlines in Japan this summer.