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Irish Sports Desk: Clare and Offaly prepare for semifinal

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Sean Creedon

Good and bad news for Clare in the run-up to their All-Ireland Hurling semifinal replay against Offaly at Croke Park on Saturday, Aug. 22. The Bannermen, who were odds on favorites to beat Offaly at the first attempt, welcome back powerful full-back Brian Lohan, who missed the first game through suspension. But they will be without star forward P.J. O’Connell, who broke his thumb in the drawn game.

Meanwhile, the farce of the dugout bans continue. Clare’s manager, Ger Loughnane, who was banned from the dugout for the first game, will now be allowed to return to the bench, while his selectors, Tony Considine and Mike McNamara, have been banned for the replay. The ban means very little. Loughnane was able to sit in the stand immediately behind the dugout and convey instructions to his players via the selectors. Clare will also appeal to have the three-month ban on midfielder Colm Lynch reduced to two months and that way he would be free to return for the final, provided Clare win on Saturday.

Offaly, who looked like a different team under their new manager, Michael Bond, will have grown in confidence and the replay should be a classic.

Semis on Sunday

It’s going to be a bumper weekend for GAA followers, with the first of the All-Ireland football semifinals also on at Croke Park on Sunday. Galway, who up to a few weeks ago were many people’s favorites for the Sam Maguire Cup, have now dropped back in the betting after struggling to get by Roscommon. They now face a tough task in trying to get to their first All-Ireland final since 1983 when they come up against a rugged Derry team. Derry could recall selector Enda Gormley, who was very impressive in a recent friendly game against an Ulster selection.

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Meath star Trevor Giles is expected to be out of football for almost a year after sustaining a knee injury in the Leinster final against Kildare. Giles fell awkwardly and now needs surgery to rebuild a torn cruciate ligament. Giles, who is a physiotherapist, has up to now been very lucky with injuries.

Galway selector

Former Galway footballer Tomás Tierney has been appointed a selector to work with manager John Maughan next season. Maughan’s selectors from last year, Tommy O’Malley and Eugene Lavin, have not yet confirmed their availability. If they don’t, its thought that Maughan may go outside the county in search of a second selector.

Farrell’s resignation

The race is on in Galway to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Cyril Farrell following the county’s defeat by Waterford in the All-Ireland hurling quarterfinal tie. Former Galway goalkeeper Mike Conneely, the current Roscommon manager, is among the favorites. Conneely took Sarsfields to two All-Ireland club titles before taking over in Roscommon. Others in the reckoning are Noel Lane, the current Galway under-21 manager and former Tipperary hurler John McIntyre. John has previously managed Offaly, but is based in Galway where he is sports editor of the Connacht Tribune.

Some must pay

Irish swimmers will have to pay their own way to Sheffield in December for the European spring championships. This farcical situation arises because of the withdrawal of government funding for swimming in the light of the sex-abuse scandals. Sprinter Nick O’Hare has had to turn down an offer to train full time with U.S. coach Pierre la Fonta in Phoenix.

But now there’s a twist in the tale with the news that the Olympic Council of Ireland plan to fund training for the elite swimmers like O’Hare. Obviously another ploy for the Olympic Council to embarrass the minister for sport.

Smurfit Euro Open

Ryder Cup hero Colin Montgomerie has been added to the field for the Smurfit European Golf Open which will be held at the K Club in County Kildare this weekend. The Scot will be joined by fellow Cup stars Jose Maria Olazabal, Ian Woosnam, Constantino Rocca and Thomas Bjorn. Other big names coming to Ireland this weekend include American, Payne Stewart and teenage English sensation Justin Rose.

Texas Angel

An Angel has landed at Rathbane, home of Limerick FC. The League of Ireland club has signed 20-year-old Texan college player Regan Angel.

Whose colors?

Glentoran supporters will have to be careful with their red, green and black flags when they travel to Isr’l next week to support their team against Maccabi Haifi in the Cup Winners Cup. Glentoran’s flag has the same colors as the PLO, who are hated in Isr’l.

Buckley Park, Kilkenny will stage its first-ever international soccer game next month. The Republic’s under-21 game against Croatia on Sept. 4 will be played at the Kilkenny venue.

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