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Irish Sports Desk Clubs moving forward with stadium-upgrade plans

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Sean Creedon

As we approach the millennium, clubs in the Eircom National League are finally realizing that they will have to improve their facilities if they are ever going to win back the missing fans. Gone are the days of fans clad in anoraks huddled together on muddy terraces. Today, supporters want a bit of comfort if they are to be weaned away from their television screens.

Cork City are the latest club to announce ambitious plans. Last week, they confirmed that Turner’s Cross is to be brought up to UEFA standards by building new dressing rooms and other facilities under the main stand. Covered seating will also be provided at the St. Annes Park end of the ground.

Earlier this season, Bohemians pulled down the old stand which stood since Dalymount Park was opened in 1901. The new stand at the Phibsboro venue will be known as the Jodi stand in recognition of the sponsorship they have received from the Duleek-based manufacturers over the last two decades.

Shelbourne will be the first League club to have corporate boxes when a new stand at the Drumcondra end of Tolka Park is opened in February. Shamrock Rovers have finally got the go ahead for the new Glenmalure Park in Tallaght. And St. Patrick’s Athletic are in discussions with Dublin Corporation with a view to building a stadium across the road from their current home, Richmond Park.

Improvements have also been carried out at Bray, Galway and UCD, while Government grants have been approved for Kilkenny City, Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers. Meanwhile, Drogheda United want to build a new stadium on a green field site near the town.

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GAA update

Three of the National Football League games which were postponed due to bad weather two weeks ago will be played next Sunday. Galway are not happy that they will have to travel to Armagh again two weeks before Christmas. They had brought over 1,000 supporters to Armagh two weeks ago, only to find the game called off at 1 p.m. The other rearranged League games next weekend see Meath travel to Enniskillen to play Fermanagh and Mayo taking on Kildare in Castlebar.

Also, Ger Loughnane, who was critical of Davy Fitzgerald’s omission from the All-Stars hurling team, is staying on as manager of the Clare hurlers for another season, but with new selectors. Tony Considine, Michael McNamara and Sean Stack have stepped down. They are replaced by Doora-Barefield trainer Louis Mulqueen and former Clare player Cyril Lyons. Fitzgerald’s fracas with Tipperary substitutes after the Munster under 21 hurling final probably cost him an All-Star place. The goalkeeper’s spot went to Cork’s Donal Og Cusack.

Meanwhile, Tipperary hurling manager Nicky English is set to become director of sport at UCD. English is expected to take leave of absence from his job as a senior manager with AIB Investment Managers to replace the late Dr. Tony O’Neill at Belfield.

Derry City, Athlone vie

Derry City must be hot favorites to win this season’s Eircom League Cup Final. Last Wednesday, the Candystripes traveled to Athlone Town and won 3-1. The second leg is at The Brandywell tonight (Dec 8). Athlone’s cause was not helped by the sacking of manager Joey Malone. After missing out on a summer holiday, Malone took a break with his wife in Lanzarote, but returned to find he was out of a job at the struggling first division club. Assistant Manager Jimmy Greene will take charge until the end of the season.

Istabraq still favored

Despite last week’s loss to Limestone Lad at Fairyhouse, Istabraq is still favorite for next year’s Gold Cup. Istabraq was sent off as one to seven favorite, but was beaten by the Thurles-trained horse. Meanwhile, Limestone Lad will probably go for the Stayer’s Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Hotspurs’ Carr out

Tottenham Hotspurs’ Irish international Stephen Carr will be out of action for three months. Carr was injured in the second leg of the Euro 2000 playoff against Turkey in Bursa last month.

Staunton, Cascarino testimonials

The FAI have awarded a joint testimonial to Steve Staunton and Tony Cascarino. No opposition has yet been confirmed, but the game will be played at Lansdowne Road next May.

I think testimonials are a joke and bad value for money for the people who pay to see these games. They were an ideal way of rewarding players back in the 1950s and ’60s when wages were low and players were loyal to their clubs. But nowadays players are on huge money from playing plus endorsements.

Cascarino is now The Republic’s most capped player with 88 caps, while Staunton has 82. The FAI, having raised the caps limit for a testimonial from 50 to 75, have got to honor their commitment.

Meanwhile, Ray Houghton and John Aldridge, who claim they reached the 50-cap mark before the rule was changed, are obviously not happy punters and there has been talk of legal action.

De Bruin speaks

Michelle Smith de Bruin, has given her first major interview three weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Emma. Speaking exclusively to Ireland on Sunday, de Bruin said she will tell her daughter the truth.

"Sometimes children can be cruel and I have no doubt that things will be said to Emma when she get to school-going age, but the one thing I can promise her is the truth," the disbraced swimmer said.

"I will not bombard her with swimming stories, but I will tell her that her mother was an Olympic champion she can be proud of, that after 16 years of hard work and training her mother went to Atlanta and came home with three gold medals and a bronze. I will tell Emma how I won those medals fairly and squarely, I will tell her the truth and explain to her how Erik and I did it, how we achieved what we both achieved in our respective swimming and athletics careers."

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