By Sean Creedon
The GAA and RTE have confirmed that 24 senior football, hurling and camogie games will be televised live this year. It’s about the same number as 1998, but it’s predicted that this year’s championship will be screened to a much wider audience than ever before.
"With centers across Europe, the United States and the Middle East showing the games live, the championship has never been so accessible," GAA Public Relations Officer Danny Lynch said last week.
Orbit Television will broadcast the games in the Middle East, while Fox World will be the main outlet in the U.S. Other networks and companies involved in the transmission include Fox Sports West, Madison Square Garden Network, PBS, Celtic Vision and Setanta Sport.
The first live game will be the Munster football game between Kerry and Tipperary from Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, on May 23. There will be games on 15 consecutive Sundays up to Aug. 29, with a two-week break before the All-Ireland hurling final.
GAA fine Clare
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The GAA’s Games Administration Committee has fined the Clare County Board £1,000 and reprimanded the Munster Council for the row that raged last summer following the suspension of midfielder Colin Lynch.
The Clare County Board felt that it had been unfairly singled out by the Munster Council and manager Ger Loughnane and chairman Robert Frost gave outspoken interviews on local radio in Clare.
"The Munster Council and ourselves got the same letter, and the first sentence of that letter said that we did have a grievance," Loughnane said.
Ultimately, Clare were fined for their failure to use the proper GAA channels to air their grievances, and for not apologizing to the Munster Council.
The FAI came in for some criticism before Christmas when they refused a joint testimonial request from John Aldridge and Ray Houghton. Technically, the request has to come through an Irish club, and in this instance Dalkey United made the application.
Naturally, some commentators labeled the FAI as "Scrooge" in the run-up to Christmas. But to be fair to the Football Association, they already have a heavy schedule for 1999 with European Championship, friendlies and a benefit game against Northern Ireland in aid of the Omagh Fund in May.
Had Dalkey United included Davy Langan, the man who "discovered" Aldridge and Houghton’s Irish roots while playing with them at Oxford in 1985, then the FAI would probably have had difficulty in turning down the request.
Unlike Houghton and Aldridge, Langan needs a benefit game. He now admits that he played for Ireland when he was injured and is no longer able to work. The FAI say that in the future only players who have reached the 75 cap mark will qualify for a benefit game. But, really, it’s time to call a halt to testimonial games. The money players are earning nowadays ensures that they will never be short of a few bob. It’s the old pros like Dave Langan we have to look after.
Irish international Gary Kelly is hoping to make a comeback with Leeds United reserves this weekend. The 24-year-old Drogheda-born defender has not kicked a ball in anger for Leeds so far this season. Now, after surgery to both ankles, he hopes to win back his place under Irish manager David O’Leary.
When O’Leary joined Leeds toward the end of his career, he shared a room with Kelly. Now the young Irish lad hopes that O’Leary will give him a chance to win back his first team place.
Barry gets "B"
Dave Barry, manager of the Cork City team, which is currently leading the FAI National League Premier Division, has been named as manager of the League of Ireland team that will play an Irish "B" selection at the Carlisle Grounds in Bray on Feb. 9. That’s the eve of the friendly against Paraguay and it will give Mick McCarthy an opportunity to look at the fringe players in the Irish squad.
Keane holding out
There news of another Cork man. Roy Keane is refusing to negotiate a contract with Manchester United until the future of manager Alex Ferguson is settled. Roy still has 18 months of his present contract to run, but United wanted to tie him to the club for a further spell. But with the British Monopolies Commission and Mergers Commission currently examining the proposed takeover of Manchester United to television company BSKYB, Keane has stalled.
"There are too many uncertainties at the club for Roy to be discussing a new contract at this stage," said Keane’s agent, Michael Kennedy.
Recently, United lost assistant manager Brian Kidd to Blackburn Rovers. Kidd had been mentioned as the likely replacement if Ferguson decided to retire, but it was suggested that if the new owners took over at Old Trafford, they would opt for a more high-profile manager than Kidd.
Doran’s Pride idled
Tom Doran, owner of Doran’s Pride, winner of the Ericsson Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, said the horse will not have another race until the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
"This time around we will not be going for the Hennessy Gold Cup in February and we will be focusing on the Cheltenham Festival," said the Mayo-born owner, who made his money on London building sites.
Aussies eye Irish
The Aussie Rules club Collingwood have offered six Irish players a chance of a professional career in Australia. The six players have been chosen to take part in Collingwood’s development program for 1999, which could lead to offers of professional contracts. The six are: Tadhg Kennelly (Kerry), Gary Hurney and Karl O’ Keeffe (Waterford), John Behan (Laois), John Bergin (Galway) and Cork’s David Niblock. Kennelly is the son of former Kerry star Tim, while Niblock’s father, Mickey, played for Derry and New York.