By Sean Creedon
Galway, the recently crowned National Hurling League champions, are now Connacht champions — without playing a game. Roscommon, have pulled out of the Connacht championship, which means Galway are the
Roscommon, who recently lost their manager, former Galway goalkeeper Michael Conneely, decided there was no point in taking another heavy beating from Galway.
"The problem is that we just don’t have the numbers playing the game, which is confined to a very small area, with just seven clubs,” said hurling board secretary Johnny Haughey.
Galway’s first championship game will now be in the All-Ireland quarterfinal on July 23.
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The problems are mounting up for Mick McCarthy as he plans for next Tuesday’s game against Scotland and the Nike Cup games in the United States. With five players, including captain Roy Keane already out, deputy skipper Kenny Cunningham is now doubtful with a groin strain.
And on Sunday both central defenders Gary Breen and Richard Dunne were injured in the Staunton/Cascarino testimonial game against Liverpool.
"We are getting a bit thin on the ground and may have to call up some of the under 21 players," McCarthy said. "We’ll have to make do with the best we can. We discovered Gary Breen, David Connolly, Ian Harte, Shay Given and Keith O’Neill on the last trip to the United States in 1996. If we get half as many through this time it will have been worthwhile.”
Tipp face test
They say League form can be discounted when the Championship begins, but Tipperary supporters will be very worried on Sunday when Tipp face Waterford in the first round of the Munster hurling championship at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Tipp were well beaten by Galway in the National League final two weeks ago and morale is low in the county since then.
Waterford did well in the League and went down by only three points to Galway at the semifinal stage. Don’t be surprised if they beat Tipp on Sunday.
There is no doubt about the other hurling game in Munster, where reigning All-Ireland champions Cork travel to Tralee to play Kerry. The Kerry hurlers will be the first team in the county to wear the new green and gold jerseys which once again are being manufactured by O’Neills, but they are unlikely to seriously trouble Cork.
A more important hurling game in Leinster where Dublin and Laois playoff to decide who will meet Kilkenny in the semifinal.
Up north, Antrim have not won a Ulster championship game since 1982 and are unlikely to end that woeful run against Down, who should progress to meet Derry in the next round.
Players challenge GAA
The Gaelic Players Association are really putting it up to the GAA with the announcement last week of their own monthly players awards scheme. The awards, which will be voted on by the players themselves, are being sponsored by the Carphone Warehouse, who sell mobile phones.
Coincidentally, mobile phone company Eircell already sponsor the official GAA’s monthly award and the Clare hurlers and footballers, while Esat, another mobile phone company sponsor the Cork hurlers and footballers. The GPA also plan to organize an end-of-year gala dinner, similar to the Eircell All-Stars banquet.
GAA committee appointments
GAA President Sean McCague has appointed a cross-section of people with varying interests from outside the Association to the new Strategic Review committee. They include Paddy Wright, incoming Chairman of the RTE Authority; Pat O’Neill of Avonmore Creameries, and former Minister of State Eithne Fitzgerald. The Committee will be chaired by former GAA President Peter Quinn and will also include the four provincial secretaries. The broad terms of reference will be to review the role and structures of the Association.
To me it seems like a job for the boys and girls! We all know that the GAA is a thriving, vibrant association which has something no other sports body in Ireland has. That’s a fierce interparish and intercounty rivalry, which still thrives in the 21st century. All they have to do is to look after the players and give their wives or partners a few tickets for games and a meal afterward.
New drink for Best
George Best, who says he has definitely given up the drink "for keeps" is now going to advertise milk. Best, who advertised eggs and sausages at the height of his career, is one of many celebrities signed up to advertise milk in England for the National Dairy Council. Best, who is not a rich man, has been well paid for recent television work and is obviously keen to make a few bob while he is back in the news.
Galway’s Mannion out
Galway football manager John O’Mahony will have to play without star defender Tomas Mannion this year. The Monivea Abbey man has been troubled with a back injury for some time.
"He has been suffering from a back problem for some time, but we were hopeful that he would come good after a few club games. Instead he has aggravated it once more and Tomas won’t be without us this season,” said O’Mahony.