By Sean Creedon
Olympic swimming champion Michelle Smith De Bruin will have her appeal against her four-year swimming ban held on Friday, Feb. 5, in Switzerland.
De Bruin, winner of three gold medals at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, was found guilty by FINA of tampering with a urine sample that she provided at her Kells Grange home in County Kilkenny on January 10 last year. This is her second appeal and if she fails this time, she will almost certainly retire.
De Bruin has not swum competitively since March last year, when she won a race in Paris.
Barrett to stay
The new Wexford football manager, J.J. Barrett, has decided to stay on. The former Kerry star, now a journalist in Dublin, was frustrated at the lack of support from a County Board, who obviously have much more interest in hurling.
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Meanwhile, there’s good news for Down manager Peter McGrath. Barry Breen and Ross Carr are expected to rejoin the Down panel for the Ulster championship this year.
Also, Dublin manager Michael O’Grady will have to carry on without at least one of his Kilkenny imports for this year’s Leinster Hurling Championship. "I am resigned to losing Jamesie ‘Shiner’ Brennan, but I hope that Eamonn Morrissey will change his mind about retiring," O’Grady said.
Brennan has transferred back to his hometown club, Erin’s Own, in Castlecomer from Dublin club O’Tooles. Morrissey is staying with O’Tooles but said he feels that at 33 it’s time to hang up his intercounty hurley.
Injury will prevent Catherina McKiernan defending her Rás na hEireann title at Dunleer, Co. Louth, on Sunday, Jan. 17. A knee injury that the Cavan runner recently suffered kept her out of the big international cross-country race in Durham, England, earlier this month. It has not cleared up.
The FAI National League resumes this weekend after a break for the first round proper of the FAI Cup. The premier division is certainly a two-horse race between holders St. Patrick’s Athletic and Cork City. Cork have made all the pace, but the Saints are still only three points adrift.
This weekend, Cork face the long journey to Ballybofey to play Finn Harps, while St. Pat’s are also in the North West against Sligo Rovers.
A week from Sunday, we may get an indication of who the champions will be when St. Pat’s travel to Turner’s Cross to play Cork. When the clubs met a Inchicore in October, the Saints won by 2-0. Since then, Cork have won the League Cup and with the FAI Cup already on Leeside from last season, Cork are confident that all three major domestic trophies will be resident on Leeside come next April.
Danoli for Cheltenham
Trainer Tom Foley has confirmed that Danoli will run in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. The "people’s favorite" has been out of action for more than a year. In fact, he has not run a race since this correspondent visited his stables in Carlow last January. But the 11-year-old hopes to get a run in the Hennessey Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown next month, before joining the Irish pilgrimage to Cheltenham.