The terrace will be split in two to accommodate rival supporters, not that there is much need in Gaelic games for that.
The original planning permission stipulated that a stand should be built where Hill 16 stands, so it’s very good news for the ordinary fan who still likes to stand and watch a game. But work on the completion of the stadium cannot begin for some time as the GAA are not prepared to go further into debt. Croke Park is currently $70 million in debt following the massive work already done and unless the government come up with their promised $38 million it’s going to be a few years before the GAA can begin work.
“Nothing will happen in the immediate future,” said GAA spokesman Danny Lynch. “We have a commitment to the Special Olympics opening and closing ceremonies and it wouldn’t do to have the place looking like a building site, even if we had the money to plough ahead.”
When completed, Croke Park will be able to hold 82,000 supporters.
HURLERS FOR ROME
This year’s Railway Cup hurling final will be played in Rome on Nov. 9. The idea of staging the interprovincial hurling final in different European cities was the brainchild of Clare’s Noel Walsh and the idea has now been accepted by the GAA’s management committee.
A delighted Walsh said: “Already we have a sponsor in the wings. The pairings for this year’s semifinals have yet to be made, but we feel that by playing the hurling final in Rome, will be a big incentive to hurlers from all counties. We decided to give the hurlers a trip because the footballers travel to Australia every second year for the international rules series. And we also see this as an opportunity to show off the fastest field game in the world in a city where there is a strong Irish population.”
And the 2003 Vodafone Hurling All-Stars will play an exhibition game against the 2002 All Stars in Phoenix Arizona in January next year. The Phoenix venue was confirmed following an invitation from the local GAA club to GAA headquarters in Dublin. This will be the fourth tour by All-Star teams since Vodafone took over as sponsors. In 2001 the All-Star footballers traveled to Dubai, the following year it was the hurlers turn and they went to Buenos Aires in Argentina. Then in January this year the footballers played an exhibition game in San Diego.
LAST DOOLEY RETIRES
An era has ended in Offaly with the news that Johnny Dooley, the youngest of the famous Dooley brothers, has been forced to retire. A recurring knee problem has forced 31-year-old player to retire from the county scene, but he hopes to continue with his club Seir Keiran. In their prime the Dooley brothers — Joe, Billy and Johnny — were the backbone of the Offaly hurling team and between them won seven senior All-Ireland medals. Johnny has been troubled with knee problems for some time and his last appearance for the county was against Tipperary in an All-Ireland qualifier last July.
And after 14 years as an intercounty player with Dublin, Paul Curran has decided to retire. Curran made his debut as a half-forward in 1989, but later switched to the halfback line where he put in some stylish performances. And John Maughan has stepped down as manager of Crossmolina following their defeat in the AIB All-Ireland club football final by Nemo Rangers. Maughan said he wants to concentrate on his job with the Mayo senior footballers.
HORSE’S SUSPENSION UPHELD
The owners of Davids Lad, one of the favorites for the Aintree Grand National on April 5, have failed in their bid to lift the horse’s 42-day suspension. The owners went to the High Court in Dublin last week in a bid to lift the ban imposed by the Naas Stewards. The long-running saga began on Feb. 23 when Davids Lad finished last in a race at Naas. The stewards found that the racecourse had been used as a training ground and that jockey Timmy Murphy had not made sufficient effort aboard the horse.
Murphy was banned for seven days, trainer Tony Martin was fined and the horse was banned for 42 days. What’s infuriating for the connection is that the ban is due to expire on April 6, the day after the Aintree Grand National. The syndicate that own Davids Lad now intend appealing to the Supreme Court, but in the end they may have to settle for the Power Gold Label Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.Meanwhile, 12-year-old Papillon, who won the Aintree Grand National for trainer Ted Walsh in 2000, has been retired. Walsh’s other star performer Commanche Court will represent Ireland at the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan on April 19 where he will ridden by Ted’s son Ruby.
STADIUM TALK REVIVED
With Croke Park unwilling to open their doors to other sports, the government are trying once again to revive plans for a stadium, which can accommodate rugby and soccer games. Sports Minister John O’Donoghue hasgiven the FAI and the IRFU two more weeks to come up with a viable joint stadium proposal. O’Donoghue was anxious to receive proposals by the end of March, but has extended the deadline as both the FAI and the IRFU are currently tied up with preparations for crucial games. Lansdowne Road remains the preferred option, but the IRFU also own a green field site at Newlands Cross on the Naas Road in Dublin. The former Irish Glass Bottle site in Dublin has also been mentioned. If Lansdowne is developed there is the possibility that some home soccer and rugby internationals might have to be played at English venues while construction work is under way, unless the GAA change their policy and open up Croke Park.
Meanwhile, Lansdowne Road, which will stage rugby’s Heineken European Cup in May, has been short-listed as one of the venues for the tournament’s semifinals. The Dublin 4 venue, Villa Park in Birmingham and Le Stadium de Toulouse in France are the three possible venues for the semifinals. The semifinal draw is: Toulouse or Northampton versus Leicester or Munster; Leinster or Biarritz vs. Llanelli or Perpignan. The quarterfinals will be played on the weekend of April 13.
MORTGAGE COMES FIRST
Cork’s Philip Clifford said he is retiring, at just 24. Clifford, who was named the GAA’s Young Footballer of the Year in 1999, said he now wants to concentrate on his pub business in Clonakilty. Clifford recently invested in the Galley Bar with two business partners. And Clifford said that he is also taking a break from club football with Bantry Blues. The player, who captained Cork in 1999, had a poor year in 2002 and was unable to command a regular place. “Now I have to focus on my pub business. Playing football is not going to pay the mortgage,” he said.
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