By Sean Creedon
Kilkenny will be hoping to beat Clare at the first attempt in the second of the All-Ireland semifinals at Croke Park on Sunday, Aug. 15. The Bannermen have a great record in replays this year, after getting a second chance against Tipperary and Galway.
Clare manager Ger Loughnane is a clever manager and you just never know what attacking lineup he is going to opt for. In the past he has named players in midweek, only to drop them on Sunday morning. In their five championship games this year, Clare have used 15 different forwards. So there are going to be nine players disappointed on Sunday. But the Clare players seem to accept the attitude that hurling, like many other team sports, is now a squad game. They last met in the semifinal in 1997 when Clare went on to win the All-Ireland.
The Cats now have a fresh looking team under new boss Brian Coady and look for them to lick the Bannermen,
Meanwhile, the search has begun in Wexford to find a replacement for hurling boss Rory Kinsella, who quit after the Leinster championship defeat by Offaly. So far the only big names mentioned are Babs Keating and Cyril Farrell.
The list of people who don’t want the job is much longer. Liam Griffin, the man who led the Yellow Bellies to success in 1996, is not interested, nor are former stars George O’Connor and Tony Doran, while former under 21 manager John Conran has also ruled himself out.
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Gay Sheerin is staying on as manager of the Roscommon senior footballers and Declan Bonner has also decided to stick with Donegal for another year.
St. Pat’s, Shelbourne beaten
Two out, two to go. That sums up the FAI National League club’s European record this season. With League champions St. Patrick’s Athletic hammered 10-0 by FC Zimru, the Moldova champions, in the Champions League qualifying round, and Shelbourne going out to Swiss side Neuchatel Xamax, we have lost two of our best hopes. Now it’s the turn of the FAI Cup winners, Bray Wanderers, who play the first leg of the UEFA Cup tie against the Swiss club Grasshoppers of Zurich tomorrow, Aug. 12.
Grasshoppers last week appointed former Blackburn Rovers boss Roy Hodson as their manager. He was previously in charge of the Swiss national team and he is likely to get off to a good start against the FAI Cup winners. Cork City will also be in action to-morrow. They travel to Sweden to play IFK Gothenburg.
Meanwhile the Eircom National League also kicks off this weekend. St. Patrick’s Athletic, who are bidding for three in a row, begin their campaign at home to Derry City on Friday night. Cork stop off in Dublin on their way home from Gothenburg to catch a coach to Ballybofey for their opening game against Finn Harps on Saturday night. Tough going for the amateurs, who look the most likely club to stop the Saints in their bid of a hat trick.
Also, Shelbourne, who played promoted Galway United on Sunday, have signed a three-year "strategic alliance" with Manchester United. The Dublin Reds will play the Red Devils in a series of friendlies and there will be a "free flow of personnel and ideas" between the coaching staffs of each club, he organizations have announced. Shels will use the money from the deal to finance the next phase of stadium development at Tolka Park.
Smurfit says pay for play
Dr. Michael Smurfit wants a better date in future years for his Smurfit European Open at his K Club in Kildare. Smurfit says he wants a date nearer the British Open to attract more American players. But the millionaire will not pay appearance money.
"I don’t get paid to go to work, I’m paid when I’m at work," he said.
Fighting talk there from Mick, who says he expects more Americans to play the Kildare course before the Ryder Cup comes to town.
Meanwhile the North Kerry business people have pledged at least £30,000 to help the Ballybunion Golf Club to stage next year’s Murphy’s Irish Open. Following an EGM of the Golf Club it was decided to reopen negotiations with Murphy’s for the first Irish Open in the new millennium.
Lawlor for Home Farm
Mick Lawlor is the new manager of Home Farm Fingal. He replaces Liam Brien. Lawlor’s appointment means that for the first time in many years there are two brothers managing FAI National League clubs. Mick’s younger brother Martin is manager of Drogheda United. But they will not meet each other in the League this season, as Martin led the County Louth club to promotion last season.