By Steve Collins
Steve Collins should know tomorrow if he is to get a license from the British Boxing Board of Control to fight again.
Collins tecently got the all clear to box again after passing an MRI scan in London, but he also needs a licence. The former WBO champion is hoping to get back in the ring on Jan. 29 in Manchester on the undercard of Mike Tyson’s fight with Julius Francis.
If Collins, who admits he needs the money, is refused a license in England, he plans to turn Europe or the United States.
"Once you have passed an MRI scan, even if the British Board turn you down, it’s always an option to take out a licence in Europe or America where passing such a scan is sufficient evidence,” he said.
McIlroy takes charge
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Former Manchester United midfielder and Northern Ireland international Sammy McIlroy is the new manager of Northern Ireland. He replaces Lawrie McMenemy, who quit at the end of last year. The 45-year-old McIlroy, who won 88 caps for The North, is giving up his job as manager of English club Macclesfield to take up a full-time position with the IFA.
McIlroy’s first task will be to join IFA officials in Prague next Tuesday to arrange dates for the World Cup qualifying games. His first game in charge will be a friendly in Luxembourg on Feb 22. He will have another away game against Malta on March 27, before his first home game against Hungary at Windsor Park on April 27.
"Hopefully, by the summer I will have a settled squad ready to compete in the World Cup," McIlroy said.
Harrington for Augusta
Padraig Harrington’s great finish in `99 has helped him to gain his first invitation to the U.S. Masters. Under new criteria laid down by Augusta National Golf Club, the Irish golfer qualified by virtue of being ranked in the top 50 in the world. Harrington will be joined in Augusta by another Irish golfer, Darren Clarke.
St. Pat’s drops Buckley
Eircom League reigning champions St Patrick’s Athletic bit the bullet just before the turn of the new millennium when they sacked manager Liam Buckley. Of course, the Saints didn’t actually sack Buckley, but the former Irish international was left with little option but to quit when he was asked by club President Tim O’Flaherty to share the managerial duties with Director of Football Pat Dolan.
The Saints had lost three games in a row under Buckley. Dolan will now take charge of team affairs as the Saints try to recover some lost ground on Dublin rivals Shelbourne, Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers. The gregarious Dolan ended the Saints’ losing run when he led them to a 1-0 win over Drogheda United.
But it may be too late to catch North Dublin rivals Shelbourne, who have now gone 20 games without defeat and are five points clear of second-placed Bohemians.
Donnellan for Galway
Galway United have signed Gaelic footballer Michael Donnellan until the end of the season. Donnellan, who has not played for Galway since the Connacht final last summer, was on the bench for United’s first game of the New Year, away to Finn Harps. Donnellan has played junior soccer in Galway, but up to now had not played for any Eircom League club.
Meanwhile, Harps have put six first team players on the transfer list to try to ease their cash-flow problems. The Ballybofey club have experienced a drop of 40 percent in income this season.
"We are looking at a battle to survive as a Premier division club on and off the pitch," said club secretary Jack O’Herlihy.
Istabraq at Leopardstown
Irish racegoers will have their last opportunity to see the great Istabraq when he goes in the AIG Hurdle at Leopardstown on Jan 23.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained champion got back to winning ways at theChristmas festival at Leopardstown after an earlier defeat by Limestone Lad. Istabraq has been installed as 4/7 favorite to make it three Champion Hurdles in a row at Cheltenham in March.
New Waterville links
Work is expected to begin in March on a second golf course in Waterville. The South Kerry village, which was once a popular holiday resort for the late Charlie Chaplin, already has a fine course developed by the late John A. Mulcahy 30 years ago.
The location for the new course is an 186 acre site on either side of the Finnglas River. It should be completed by the year 2002 and will be known as Hog’s Head Golf Club.
Meanwhile, golfers around the world can now book their tee times at several Irish golf courses via the Internet. The Derry-based company Global Golf Ltd. has announced plans for a £5 million worldwide television marketing campaign aimed at establishing its website (www.globalgolf.com) as the world’s top golf Internet site.
Liam Gallagher, the founder of the company, has linked up with Irish-American Michael Hanlon and with the help of new U.S. backers Global Golf will be re-launched in Orlando next month.
O’Brien back with Cork
A major boost for beaten All-Ireland football finalists Cork comes with the news that Stephen O’Brien is making a comeback. The Nemo Rangers clubman has answered a call from new selector Tony Nation to join the squad for training. O’Brien, who has been a regular in the Cork colors since making his debut 1988, but has not pulled on the famous red jersey since the League game against Galway last April. O’Brien broke his collarbone in that game and didn’t figure in the championship campaign.
"I have only just turned 30 and I still think I have a bit left to offer to the county cause,” O’Brien said.
Eoin Sexton has made the No. 6 jersey his own of late, but I think Cork will have to find a place for O’Brien, whom I rate very highly.
Kelly in title bout
Belfast boxer Dam’n Kelly is to challenge Russian Alexander Mahmutov for his European flyweight title. The fight will be take place at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre in Sheffield on Feb. 12.
Home Farm, Leeds link
Famous North Dublin schoolboy club Home Farm have signed a five-year alliance deal with English Premiership club Leeds United. Leeds will provide technical support to the Home Farm coaching team under the supervision of former Irish manager Liam Tuohy. In return, Leeds will have first option on the most promising talent to emerge from the Farm nursery.
The Kerry village of Ballymacelligot, situated between Tralee and Castleisland, is famous for its handballers. Back in the 1960s the McEllistrim brothers dominated the sport in Ireland. Now Ballymac has its own handball world champion in Maria Daly. The 14-year-old Maria won the World Under 15 title in San Francisco at the end of December.
Ireland had two other winners: Galway’s Noel McHugh in the men’s under 15 and Michael Gregan from Wicklow in the under 17 men.