Category: Archive

Irish Sports Desk GAA to take abbreviated winter break

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Sean Creedon

Kerry will play Dublin in a rearranged National Football League game on Saturday. It will be the last major GAA game of the year and we will then have a very short winter break of five weeks in the GAA calendar. The action resumes Jan. 14 with the O’Byrne Cup in Leinster and the FBD League in Connacht. It seems strange to start again so early in January, but apparently that’s what the players want.

"We asked the counties if they wanted to start the O’Byrne Cup in January and they said yes," said Leinster Council Secretary Michael Delaney.

The Ulster Council have decided to drop their secondary competition, the McKenna Cup, next year. The competition, which was traditionally played between the knockout stages of the League and the start of the championships, has been dropped for a year because of the extra games that the revised championship will entail. Munster have yet to make a decision on their secondary competition, the McGrath Cup.

Thailand, here we come

Thailand has become the favorite holiday destination for successful GAA teams and five county teams will be heading to the exotic location in the New Year.

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All-Ireland football champions Kerry, Armagh, Kildare and the hurlers of Kilkenny and Offaly are all heading for Thailand in January.

All county teams who won something this year are being rewarded with an all-expenses paid holiday in the sun. Connacht football champions Galway are off to South Africa and Div. 2 League champions Louth head for the Canaries.

Railway Cup future

The players are to be given a say in the future of the Railway Cup competitions. A questionnaire seeking the players’ views on the once attractive interprovincial competition is being sent out by Jarlath Burns, chairman of the Croke Park-backed Players Committee. But there’s no doubt that the formation of the rival Gaelic Players Association has speeded up the debate.

"People may ask where the move for change came from, but that’s just conjecture," Burns said. "I’m not going to speculate on whether it might have happened differently with the GPA. The fact is it happened and I would hope that the GPA will come in behind us when we complete this survey which is giving a voice to the players."

Eircom Park details due

Next Monday is yet another D-Day for the FAI. By then FAI treasurer Brendan Menton should have a solicitor’s letter from FAI Chief Executive Bernard O’Byrne giving details of the entire financing of the Eircom Park project.

As I have said before in these columns, it’s very tough on the FAI, who for years were criticized for not having their own stadium. Then when they get a sponsor and a site, in steps Bertie Ahern with his backer, J.P. McManus, for their stadium in Blanchardstown.

Of course, the internal wrangling in the FAI has not helped. Menton was acting chief executive following the departure of Sean Connolly in the spring of 1996 and then was beaten by O’Byrne for the top job. However, Menton says his objections are purely on financial grounds and he now wants to know why O’Byrne allegedly agreed to pay kit sponsors Umbro £30,000 to compensate them for the change from Opel to Eircom.

O’Byrne has managed a tight ship since taking over after the tickets row four years ago. But there have been some nasty moves to undermine him, like the revelations that he was on a bonus of £250,000 if the Eircom Park project went ahead. In this modern climate most chief executives are on personal bonuses.

Olympian task

The Irish Sports Council has appointed a review group to investigate the factors behind Ireland’s dismal performance at the Sydney Olympics. The deadline for the review is Jan. 31 next year, when the group will submit its conclusions to Minister for Sport Jim McDaid. The group will meet with all the key players, including Pat Hickey, president of the Olympic Council of Ireland.

DJs Keane, Irwin?

Roy Keane and Denis Irwin are part of a consortium bidding to run a radio station in their native Cork. The Manchester United stars have joined with Today FM in an effort to win the license for a new local radio station on Leeside.

Best website

Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland star George Best has had his share of hangers-on over the years. Now the Belfast legend plans to cash in on his fame through the internet. Best has set up his own website for a venture involving sportswear and football memorabilia. Fans can log on to the site at www.georgebestofficial.com.

Carlow ref strike?

GAA referees in Carlow plan to go on on strike beginning Jan. 1 unless the local County Board lift a suspension on two local refs. The local referees are annoyed that the big games in Carlow recently were handled by referees from outside the county. Subsequently, two local referees were suspended for "bringing the games into disrepute." Their appeals to the Leinster Council were thrown out last week. Now unless GAA President Sean McCague steps in, Carlow could have no referees for their games in the New Year.

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