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Irish Sports Desk Footballers gear up for league play

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Sean Creedon

DUBLIN — The Church and General National Football League gets into full swing on Sunday, Feb. 14, with games in all four divisions. It will be a strange feeling for Dublin’s Declan Darcy lining out for the first time against the county he helped win the Connacht championship in 1994. Darcy was born in Dublin but declared for the county of his father and still travels to Leitrim to play his club football at weekends. The Dubs and Cork share a spot at the top of Div. 1A, but Cork have a much tougher assignment against All-Ireland champions Galway at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Much attention will focus on Val Andrews in what will be his first competitive game in charge of Cavan. The Breffnimen, who play Longford, will be anxious to improve on their League position after some poor performances at the end of Liam Austin’s term in charge.

Tinley: Hamed ducking McCullough

Wayne McCullough has virtually given up hope of a rematch with Prince Naseem Hamed, and his promoter, Matt Tinley, says that Hamed is afraid to fight the Belfastman.

"A rematch with Wayne is the biggest fight out there, but Hamed has turned it down," Tinley said. Wayne hopes to make a return to the Super-Bantamweight division and maybe get a shot at the WBC title of Erick Morales.

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Meanwhile, it now seems that there is after all a good chance that Steve Collins will box Roy Jones on May 1 or May 8. Promoter Murad Muhammed claims that Sky Television are willing to back the fight in Europe with HBO involved in the U.S. But I think we will have to put up with quite a lot of kite flying before we eventually get details of a proper date and venue.

Testimonial for Irwin?

Irish international Denis Irwin is now in line for a generous testimonial game at Manchester United after he agreed a new one-year contract with the Red Devils. The 32-year-old Corkman who joined United from Oldham in 1990 will qualify for a benefit game in June 2000.

Meanwhile, there’s some not-so-good news for another Irish defender, Drogheda-born Gary Kelly, who plays for Leeds United. Kelly will be out for the rest of the season. He recently had surgery for shin splints but broke down before a recent reserve game. He has not played a first team game for Leeds or for The Republic this season.

Fennelly appointed

Former Kilkenny manager Kevin Fennelly is back in management. He has been appointed boss of Wexford club Glynn-Barntown. And former Donegal star Brian Murray has taken his first step into management. Murray, who is a Garda in Dublin, takes over as manager of the Trim senior football team in Meath.

Clare star Ger "Sparrow" O’Loughlin will decide in April whether he intends to play for the county this year. Ger has not rejoined the panel for the League campaign, but will decide whether to carry on for another year in April.

North to play Canada

Northern Ireland will play Canada in a friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast on Tuesday, April 28. The Associations last met in Edmonton in 1995 when Canada won 2-1 during the Canada Cup competition.

Kerr names U-20 team

The Irish under-17 team failed to qualify for the finals of the under-17 Meridian Cup in South Africa recently. But manager Brian Kerr has not wasted any time dwelling on the setback and has already named a preliminary squad of 35 for the Under-20 World Cup in Nigeria in April. Damien Duff of Blackburn Rovers is the only player from the team which took a bronze medal at the last Under-20 World Cup in Malaysia two years ago, still eligible to play in Nigeria.

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