By Sean Creedon
GAA President Joe McDonagh told delegates at the annual GAA congress in Dublin last weekend that British Secretary Mo Mowlan had assured him that the British Army intend to start moving out of the Crossmaglen Rangers ground this week. McDonagh also revealed that Crossmaglen would be compensated for the occupation of their pitch.
Some GAA members are worried that the move to centralize the appointment of referees and the disciplinary bodies will remove power from the provincial councils. Leinster Chairman Seamus Aldridge said it would be the death knell for the provincial councils. Offaly delegate Andy Gallagher agreed. "At present we have five bodies, the four provincial Councils and Croke Park, and only one official guide. If people are not applying the rules they should be taken to task. Power should be handed down and not centralized at the top," he said.
However, the motion to experiment for a one-year period was carried. The change should regularize suspensions and could see the introduction of referees from outside the province for championship games.
Man. Utd. madness
The main topic throughout Ireland tonight,Wednesday, will be the European Cup semifinal second leg between Manchester United and Juventus.
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I like soccer and I’m always interested in how the Irish players are doing with their English clubs, but I cannot understand how so many Irish people are obsessed with Manchester United. It’s got so bad that RTE’s Des Cahill has formed a mythical club called ABU, Anyone But United. Even poor ould Eamon Dunphy, back in favor with RTE television, was under pressure recently for criticizing RTE’s commentary team during United’s quarterfinal win over Inter Milan.
So all us ABU’s will be hoping that the Italian club take us out of our misery tonight and end United’s European Cup dream. I know United are captained by Roy Keane and have fellow Corkman Denis Irwin in their team. After the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford two weeks ago, the ball would seem to be in Juventus’s court, but their great FA Cup semifinal win over Arsenal last week will have given the Reds a lift. And to be fair, if they do manage to beat Juventus in Turin, then United do deserve to get to the final.
Naturally, there’s very little interest in Ireland in the second semifinal between Bayern Munich, which is home to Dinamo Kiev. They drew 3-3 in the Ukraine two weeks ago and Bayern’s three away goals should be enough to see them through.
The nation should be back to normal by Sunday for the semifinals of the Church and General National Football League. And after the poor fare at the quarterfinal stage, everybody is writing off the league as a serious competition.
Cork, which had a facile win over Derry two weeks ago, will have a much sterner test against Meath, which appear to be as good as ever.
In the other semifinal Dublin, which is also looking good, should be too strong for Armagh. Much is always expected from The Dubs. Tommy Carr has built up a young team, but as in previous years they still have a problem at midfield. Enda Sheedy and Ciaran Whelan did fairly well against Kildare, but may struggle against the men from the Orchard County.
International in Birr
History will be made in the Offaly town of Birr on Tuesday, April 27, when the Republic of Ireland play Sweden in an Under 21 international.
It will be the first time that the town, famous for its telescope, will stage a soccer international. The game, which will be all ticket, will be played at Woodfield Park, with a 4 p.m. kick-off.
Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy has named a full-strength squad for the senior game against Sweden on April 28. But with the English league season nearing completion, there’s likely to be several defections and McCarthy has said that he is likely to experiment.
"A lot will depend on what sort of squad I have available. So it could be a good time to give the likes of Stephen Carr, Lee Carsley, Keith O’Neill, Ian Harte and Phil Babb a game," McCarthy said.
The manager is unlikely to call up either Damien Duff or Robbie Keane, both of whom have been on under 20 World Cup duty in Nigeria.
One player who is certain to be released is Niall Quinn. The Dubliner scored his 20th goal of the season last week in Sunderland’s win over Bury, which ensured their promotion back to the Premiership next season.
What Northern Ireland manager Lawrie McMenemy badly needs is a striker. For their game against Canada at Windsor Park next Tuesday, April 27, Lawrie has called up Norwich striker Adrian Coote to try and solve his goalscoring problems. Coote has scored three goals in seven under-21 appearances, including the winner against Germany last month.
However, McMenemy has ignored the claims of old timers Gerry Taggart and Jim Magilton, both of whom are playing regular first team football for Leicester City and Ipswich respectively.
Good news for Irish emigrants and fans of the GAA all over the world. The official GAA website was launched last week. It has a comprehensive results and history service. The news section will be provided by the Examiner newspaper in Cork. The web site address is: www.gaa.ie
Mayo manager John Maughan has called in former soccer goalkeeper Tom Lally to give some team talks to the Mayo squad. Lally, who played for Glasgow Celtic before returning home to Ireland, was assistant manager of Galway United for a few years.