By Sean Creedon
Croke Park is certainly in the news right now with constant speculation that it’s only a matter of time before the GAA will be forced to stage rugby and soccer internationals to pay for the upkeep of their modern stadium.
Leasing out Croke Park is possible from October to April, but next year the Jones Road venue could stage at least 25 big football and hurling games.
The Leinster Council will stage at least 10 of their championship games at Croke Park and Croker is also likely to be used as the venue for games between counties getting a second chance in the football championship.
At present the only games played at Croke Park between the end of September and St. Patrick’s Day are the Dublin Primary Schools finals.
The only problem is that the GAA don’t as yet have planning permission for floodlights and lights would be essential for soccer and rugby games as kick-off times are nowadays determined by television stations.
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New York vs. Roscommon
New York’s footballers will meet Roscommon in the Connacht championship at Hyde Park on May 19. New York’s hurlers will play Down in the Ulster championship on June 10.
For the first time in my memory the All-Ireland championship commences in April with the Leinster Hurling Round Robin series between Laois, Kildare, Meath and Westmeath, due to start on April 22.
Pool recall Staunton
Steve Staunton is back with Liverpool. The Republic of Ireland defender was on loan to Crystal Palace, but after an injury crisis at Anfield, Stan was recalled for last week’s UEFA Cup game against Olympiak.
Meanwhile, Manchester City have failed in a bid to get Irish striker Robbie Keane on loan from Inter Milan until the end of the season. Keane is currently out of favor with the Italian club but City’s bid has failed.
This is a worrying week for the top Gaelic footballers and hurlers in Ireland as the Eircell All-Stars will be announced. This year it’s the turn of the football team to be announced midweek, but the hurlers having to wait for the television broadcast on Friday night before they know who will be honored.
Last year there was consternation when Kerry’s Seamus Moynihan was not honored, but with Kerry the reigning All-Ireland champions it seems certain that the Glenflesk man will get an All-Star award.
As usual there are several good GAA books published in the run-up to Christmas. Former Galway great Jack Mahon has compiled a history of Gaelic football and Mike McNamara, who was trainer of the Clare hurling team in 1995 and 1997, has got in ahead of former manager Ger Loughnane to give the inside track on the Banner county’s success.
In his book "To Hell and Back" McNamara describes his misgivings with the Clare set-up, which ultimately led to his departure from the Clare backroom staff.
"I wasn’t happy with the training and could see signs that the team weren’t working as well as in the past," he writes. "I would have brought in more sweeping changes because I was worried about the pace of a number of players and the cracks that were appearing around the field."
Ciaran Carey is facing an uncertain future with Limerick hurlers. The former All-Star has not figured in recent Waterford Crystal League games. And Limerick manager Eamonn Cregan says that Carey does not figure in his immediate plans, but the situation might be reviewed in the New Year.
Clinton for K Club
Bill Clinton will play a round of golf in the K Club in County Kildare when he visits Ireland next month. Clinton played with former Tanaiste Dick Spring and Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy when he visited Ballybunion a few years back. This time around McCreevy will be teeing off with Bill again.
The K Club, which is owned by Michael Smurfit is in McCreevy’s constituency.
Following Dr. Crokes victory over An Gaeltacht in last Sunday’s Kerry County Final, the burning question in Kerry right now is who will captain the reigning All-Ireland football champions in their bid to retain the Sam Maguire Cup next year?
The Killarney club have one only one player in the Kerry panel, Eoin Brosnan, but he is unlikely to make the team. So Crokes will have to nominate a player and they are unlikely to give the honor to anybody outside of East Kerry.
Neighbors Glenflesk have the current Kerry captain in Seamus Moynihan and his club colleague Johnny Crowley also had a spell as Kerry skipper. They could opt for goalkeeper Declan O’Keeffe (Rathmore), Donal Daly (Firies) or Mick McCarthy (Kilcumin).
Cross-country runner Catriona McKiernan is recovering from a long-term injury at present, but she took a break from Athletics when got married to RTE Agricultural reporter Damien O’Reilly in Cavan last Saturday. After their honeymoon in the Domincan Republic, Catriona hopes to get back into full training before Christmas.
Mosney chalets claimed
Butlins Holiday Camp, in Mosney, Co. Meath, has been synonymous with the Community Games finals. It’s no longer called Butlins, but Mosney will not be hosting the finals for schoolchildren from all over Ireland next September as the holiday chalets will be used for asylum seekers. Changes times indeed.