By Sean Creedon
The chances of the GAA’s Football Development Committee’s radical suggestions to overhaul the All-Ireland football championship being passed at Congress next month are in the balance with the County Board votes on the proposals running 50-50 at present. With 12 of the 32 counties having voted, the result is deadlocked at present.
Cavan, Clare, Down, Kerry, Limerick and Wexford have all voted for the controversial changes. But the list of counties saying no is also growing by the week: Cork, Derry, Galway, Meath, Tipperary and Wicklow have all voted against.
In Galway, the home county of outgoing GAA President Joe McDonagh, not one delegate spoke in favor and on that basis a vote was not necessary. Form Meath star Colm O’Rourke, one of the committee, who came up with the proposals, was disappointed that his own county rejected the proposals.
"Obviously I would like to have seen a yes vote in my own county, but the result was far from unexpected, as the Meath County Board had signaled well in advance that they were opposed to the FDC’s proposals," McDonagh said.
However, FDC Chairman Noel Walsh is still upbeat.
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"At the moment, we’ve a pretty chance of getting the proposals through. It’s very difficult to make any change in the GAA and we are talking about major change here,” he said.
Minister for Sport Jim McDaid has intervened in the row between the Olympic Council of Ireland and the Athletics Association of Ireland.
The Minister issued an invitation to both parties last week to meet him in an attempt to settle the ongoing row over which gear Ireland’s Olympic track and field thletes will wear in Sydney.
Adidas sponsor the OCI, while rivals Asics have a deal with the track body.
The row came to a head four years ago in Atlanta when Sonia O’Sullivan had to change gear just before going on to the track and it still has not been resolved.
In a hurry
Barry McGuigan used to be known as the "Clones Cyclone" when he was a boxer. Now working as a television analyst, McGuigan is still fast, but too fast for the British Police. McGuigan was stopped on a motorway in Berkshire last November when doing 117 miles per hour. Last week in court he was banned from driving for three months and fined £1,500.
Clare sponsor row
Clare supporters are not happy that their County Board appear to want to change sponsors. Hurling sponsor Pat O’Donnell and Martin Donnelly, the Banner’s football sponsor, have been asked to make a joint bid to sponsor both hurling and football teams. But the speculation is that Clare have an offer from Eircell to sponsor both hurlers and footballers.
Esat who are Eircell’s rivals in the mobile phone market in Ireland, sponsor the Cork hurlers and footballers, while Eircell sponsors the All-Stars.
The Tommy Carberry-trained Bobbyjo is 12-to-1 favorite to win the Aintree Grand National on April 8. Last year’s winner had his first outing of the season over hurdles at Leopardstown recently, but winning the English Grand National two years in a row, is a rare feat.
Still, Bobbyjo will not be forgotten in his home town of Mountbellew, Co. Galway, where a life-size statue in his honor is to be erected. The Mountbellew Development Association hope to have the bronze sculpture unveiled at The Square in the town in time for the annual agricultural show in September.
But we will not see Cheltenham hero Istabraq in the Martell Hurdle in Liverpool. J.P. McManus’s champion will not run again season. McManus and trainer Aidan O’Brien had considered taking Istabraq to Aintree or going in the Shell Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in early May. The champion very nearly didn’t run at Cheltenham when blood was found in the horse’s nose on the eve of the big race. However, there is still a chance that Limestone Lad will go in the Martell Hurdle, depending on the weather between now and Grand National Day.
Leopardstown Racecourse in South County Dublin has been confirmed as the venue for next year’s World Cross Country Championship. The dates for the event are March 24-25. The last time the race was held in Ireland was in 1979 at Limerick Racecourse when John Treacy retained the title he had won in Scotland a year earlier. Dublin has hosted the international championships, as it was then known at Baldoyle in 1937 and 1949 and at Leopardstown in 1964. Initially, the Phoenix Park was mentioned as a likely venue, but while there is plenty of open space in the Park, Leopardstown offers more spectator and corporate facilities.
Sonia eyes record
Sonia O’Sullivan, who had two disappointing runs in this year’s championships in Portugal 10 days ago, is planning another attempt on a world record. O’Sullivan will be bidding to set a world record for the five-mile road race at Balmoral Castle on Easter Saturday. The Cobh runner posted a world record time in Loughrea last year, but it may not be ratified as the early part of the race was downhill.
Aldo is hot water
Tranmere Rovers manager John Aldridge has been hit with a third misconduct charge by the English FA. The former Irish international, who got into trouble with the fourth official in Orlando back in June 1994, will appear before the FA for remarks made to the fourth official during a recent Tranmere game against Portsmouth.
Aldo is still waiting to answer two other FA charges. First, he was charged with misconduct for alleged comments to a referee at a game against Birmingham in November. Then Aldridge got involved in an altercation with one of the Leicester subs in the Worthington Cup Final at Wembley, where he apparently gave the player an old-fashioned clip across the ear.
Bad news for Kildare in the run-up to the Leinster championship. Niall Buckley has returned to work in Chicago and will miss the championship. And Anthony Rainwbow has been suspended for 12 weeks after being reported for striking an opponent off the ball in the League game against Fermanagh.
Meath’s Ollie Murphy has been luckier. He escaped with a four-week ban after it was proved that he did not head butt Derry’s Sean Martin Lockhart in the recent League game between the counties.
O’Leary for Utd.?
Former Irish defender David O’Leary is already being mentioned as a likely replacement for Alex Ferguson, when he retires as Manchester United manager in June 2002. O’Leary has done very well in his first season in charge of Leeds United, but Man. Utd. is the big job in England and he would probably jump at the chance if offered. But there’s a long way to go and we will see many names linked with the job over the next two years.
For United fanatics the news from Old Trafford is that David Beckham, husband of Posh Spice, has had his blonde locks shorn and now sports a haircut similar to Roy Keane. The so-called "No. 1." haircut, once the preserve of U.S. Marines, is reported to have cost £300. He flew his personal hairdresser from London to Manchester to shave off his blonde locks. But it could cost Beckham millions as it may jeopardize his sponsorship deal with Brylcreem. Wife Posh Spice has dyed her hair blonde, while baby Brooklyn is also reported to have got a haircut to match his dad.
For all you Spice Girls fans Stateside, Posh says that she is going to the United States shortly to finish off an album with the others girls in the group. And she also says that she was only joking in January when she said that Beckham likes to wear her G-strings.
Sheffield Wednesday, one of the favorites to be relegated from the English Premiership, have sacked manager Danny Wilson. The former Northern Ireland international has been replaced at Hillsborough by Peter Shreeves.