Meath star Trevor Giles has been named 1999 Guinness Player of the Year. And Cork’s Brian Corcoran is the choice of the GAA Writers’ for the hurling award. Cork made it a double in the young players awards. Football captain Philip Clifford was named Young Player of the Year, while Diarmuid O’Sullivan was rated the Best Young Hurler.
Meanwhile, dual star Liam McHale has announced his retirement from the intercounty scene. McHale, who is also an international basketball player, has worn the red and green for 15 years. Liam will continue to play for his club, Ballina Stephenites and will also stay on the role as a selector for the county under-21 team. McHale played in three all-Ireland finals for Mayo and was unlucky to be sent off in the 1996 replay when he was one of many players involved in that famous brawl against Meath.
Another departure from the West is Jason Ward. The St. Brigid’s clubman declared for Leitrim a few years back, but is now prepared to line out for his native Dublin.
A 22-4 victory for a soccer club is a fairly comprehensive result at any time. Last week, Shamrock Rovers supporters were celebrating a big win in the chambers of South Dublin County Council, where the councilors voted 22-4 to give The Hoops the go-ahead to build a parking lot adjacent to their proposed new stadium in Tallaght. Rovers, who had permission to build a stadium for some time, were held up when locals objected to the building of a lot next to their new stadium. A strange decision, considering huge stadiums in Dublin such as Croke Park and Lansdowne Road have very little parking.
Rovers, who have been renting various grounds since the Kilcoyne family sold Glenmalure Park in Milltown for houses in 1988, hope to start work on the new stadium next month and the intention is to play their first game in the new Glenmalure Park next September.
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Rovers manager Damien Richardson was naturally delighted with the decision. "This is the best result Rovers have had for 12 years. It’s more important than winning a League or Cup," he said. "A League title lasts a year, this is going to last a lifetime."
GAA proposes sectionals
The GAA are finally realizing that a large number of intercounty players want more than one big game each summer. The National Development Committee, which included several former intercounty players, have come up with a proposal which that merge the League and Championship. The proposal is that all 32 Counties, plus London, be divided into three sections. This would guarantee them a minimum of 11 competitive games each year.
New York and the North American Board would also be brought into the equation for a competition separate from the All-Ireland championship. First of all these plans will first have to go before next year’s annual Congress for approval and if accepted would be introduced for a trial period in 2001 and 2002.
Who says the GAA are not looking ahead? The date for the 2005 All-Ireland Football final will be brought forward one week to avoid a clash with the final day of the Ryder Cup at the K Club in Kildare.
Meanwhile, there has been no official reaction from Croke Park to the founding of the Gaelic Players Association. The players had their first meeting in Belfast last month and are currently recruiting members in every county in Ireland. However, there has been no formal meting between the Association and officials from Croke Park. Membership of the new association is £40.
A snail could hold up a shark on the west coast of County Clare The Vertigo Augusion is a protected species in the Doonbeg area where permission was recently given for a golf course to be designed by Greg Norman, the so-called "Great White Shark." Work on the £12 million project is due to start next month, but it now transpires that a special report commissioned by the government was not made known at the oral hearing in Ennis last June when objections to the proposals were heard. The report recommends the preservation of a greater area of the sand dunes in Doonbeg than previously mentioned.
Terry Rogers, one of Ireland’s most successful bookmakers, died in the Canary Islands last week. The 71-year-old was also a well known poker player in Ireland and in Las Vegas. Rogers started the amusement arcades in Courttown, Co. Wexford, and in Salthill, Galway. He later moved into the taxi business in Dublin, which is now run by his family.
The Celtic Tiger continues to roar and Minister for Sport Jim McDaid last week announced grants totaling £1.15 million under the Sports Capital Program. The beneficiaries are Sligo Rovers, Cork City and Finn Harps soccer clubs. The latest GAA grounds to get funding are: McHale Park in Castlebar, Dr. Hyde Park in Roscommon, Austin Stack Park in Tralee, and Breffni Park in Cavan. In all cases the money will be used to improve facilities for spectators facilities at the grounds.
Athlone v. Derry
Athlone Town and Derry City will meet in this year’s Eircom League Cup final. The first leg will be in St. Mel’s Park on Dec. 1, with the second leg at The Brandywell a week later. Athlone Town ended the great run of Cork non-League side Rockmount to qualify for their first final since 1984. And last week Derry beat Bray Wanderers to qualify for their first final since 1992.
U-18s for Malta
Brian Kerr, the successful Irish manager, is off on his travels again. Kerr brings his under-18 squad to Malta for an under-18 European Championship preliminary round mini tournament in Malta from Nov. 22-26. The Irish lads play Liechtenstein on Nov. 22 and Malta two days later.