By Sean Creedon
Although I’ve been living away from Kerry for more than 30 years, the adrenaline always begins to pump on the weekend of a Kerry vs. Cork Munster football championship game. Growing up in East Kerry on the Cork border, we had good relations without Cork neighbors and I have fond memories of great Munster finals at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney and the old Athletic Grounds in Cork. In the 1950s and ’60s in Killarney, the players used to change in St. Finian’s Hospital, which overlooks the ground and the memory of the Kerry players strolling out in their famous green and gold jerseys and the Cork players dashing from the dressing rooms in their bright red shirts will stay with me for as long as I live.
I hope to be in Killarney this weekend to witness yet another Cork-Kerry meeting. So what if it’s only the Munster semifinal, you can call us over confident, but for us Kerry folk it IS the Munster final.
Kerry and Cork are the last counties to go into football championship action this year. And for one of them it will be just one game in ’98. As All-Ireland champions, Kerry will be favorites, but that will only make Cork more determined to dethrone them. Little has been heard of Cork apart from the rumors that Larry Tompkins may return. They qualified for the playoff stages of the League where they were well beaten by Donegal. Not surprisingly, Kerry didn’t take the League seriously after winning their first All-Ireland in 11 years, so we don’t really know their form either. Many people felt that last year Kerry were a one-man team, with Maurice Fitzgerald the only star. But manager Paidi O’ST should have another 14 players to wear those famous jerseys which have been the subject of many column inches over the last few weeks. The GAA want money from manufacturers, Adidas, to produce replica Kerry jerseys. Croke Park insists that the jerseys must be produced in Ireland, but that may be against the spirit of Article 30 of the Treaty of Rome.
Meanwhile, in Leinster, Kilkenny will probably be favorites to take the hurling title when they play Offaly at Croke Park. With D.J. Carey playing well, the Cats are purring, but Offaly under Babs Keating are beginning to believe in themselves again. Either way the teams know that for the losers there is always the back door to the McCarthy Cup.
Euro 2000 TV
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Come September Ireland will have a new independent television station. TV3 has already secured the rights to all the Republic’s away games in the Euro 2000 qualifying series which starts in the autumn. I don’t know what that will mean for the Irish in the U.S. who like to watch these games in various bars. The only change will probably be a new commentator.
Moves are under way in Tipperary to get Nicky English to take over as manager of the senior hurlers. Len Gaynor’s two-year term as Tipp boss is up, and while he has expressed a wish to continue the rebuilding process, there are definite moves to bring in a new man. As everybody knows, great players don’t necessarily make good managers. And English’s only coaching experience has been with Dublin City University in the Fitzgibbon Cup last year.
Maughan a wanted man
The Mayo County Board want John Maughan to stay for another two years. “There is a lot of good will in the county toward John and the Board feel that he is the man to carry on, having done an excellent job for us, winning two Connacht championships and reaching two All-Ireland finals,” said Board Secretary Sean Feeney. “We are keen to have John remain on and are confident that he will accept,” he added.
Wimbledon for Belfast?
With the “Wimbledon for Dublin” campaign appearing to be going nowhere, we now have a “Wimbledon for Belfast” call. Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam has given her blessing to the proposed “Wimbledon to Belfast” by the London Premiership club. FIFA are definitely against the move to Dublin, but, of course, Belfast would be considered part of the United Kingdom and the move could be on, but Dublin is obviously a more attractive move for Wimbledon.
Linfield for Solitude?
With the peace agreement holding, it now looks like Linfield will be making their first visit to Solitude, home of Cliftonville in 18 years. There was trouble outside Solitude when Linfield played Ballymena there in the Irish Cup final in 1970. Since then Cliftonville have had to play all their home games against Linfield at Windsor Park. But Linfield are due to return to Solitude next November.
Sherlock for soccer?
Now that Dublin are out of the Leinster championship there’s speculation that Jason Sherlock will pursue his soccer career once again. Sherlock is reported to be on his way to Shamrock Rovers from University College Dublin.
Mahon steps down
Peter Mahon, the longest-serving manager in the League of Ireland, has resigned. Mahon, who has been manager of first division St. Francis for 18 years, has stepped down.