By Sean Creedon
Kilkenny will be without star forward D.J. Carey for Sunday’s National Hurling League semifinal against Galway at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds. Carey injured his hamstring in a recent game for his club, Young Ireland’s. But the good news for Cats manager Brian Cody is the return of Canice Brennan from army duty in the Lebanon. And the powerful Pat O’Neill has also resumed light training, though he will not be fit for Sunday.
Tipperary have also been dealt a blow in the build-up to their semifinal against Clare at the same venue. Promising newcomer Paul Ormonde broke his right arm in Tipp’s last League game against Waterford. Ormonde will also miss the Munster championship meeting between the counties on June 6. The injury comes at a bad time as Ormonde is due to sit Engineering exams at University College Dublin next month.
U21 finals on tap
The All-Ireland Under 21 football semifinals will also be played this weekend, which is a Bank Holiday in Ireland. On Saturday, Kerry and Roscommon meet in Ennis, while Breffni Park, Cavan, is the venue on Sunday for the second semifinal between Westmeath and Monaghan.
And Tuam Stadium is the venue for the interprovincial Railway Cup football final between Connacht and Munster. The competition may not attract the crowds of old, but the players still have pride in wearing the provincial jersey.
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How Swede it is
Sweden will be making their first visit to Dublin in 29 years when they play the Republic at Lansdowne Road tonight. It will be the Swedes’ first-ever visit to the Ballsbridge venue. All three of their previous games in Dublin were played at Dalymount Park.
Sweden’s amateurs boxers are also in Ireland this week, for an international at the National Stadium, Dublin, on Friday night. Also on the bill at the Stadium will be the Irish senior light welterweight title between Galway’s Francie Barrett and Seanie Barrett from Rylane in Cork. The final had to be delayed as Seanie Barrett had to have a rematch against his semifinal opponent Mark Wickham.
Francie, meanwhile, will be favored, but if we wins he is still not guaranteed a place in the Sydney Olympics. The Irish champions will get their first opportunity to pre-qualify at the Black Sea Cup competition in the Ukraine in October.
Whither Yugoslavia, Macedonia
The FAI should know by May 11 if the European Championship games against Yugoslavia and Macedonia will go ahead in June. UEFA have appointed a Task Force to look at all aspects of the Euro 200 qualifying campaign affected by the continuing crisis in the Balkans.
The Republic are due to play Yugoslavia in Dublin on June 5 and Macedonia are due at Lansdowne Road four days later.
Mixed bag for Louth
It was a week of contrasting fortunes for County Louth’s two FAI National League clubs, Dundalk and Drogheda United. For the first time since they joined the League in 1926, Dundalk are relegated from the premier division. After the game, Jim McLaughlin resigned. But better news for neighbors Drogheda, who are well used to relegation. The Boynesiders have just won the first division title. So we will not have any County Louth derbies again next season.
London still in
London’s hurlers have denied suggestions that they may be pulling out of this year’s All-Ireland senior championship. After a bad run of defeats in League games, it was suggested that London may opt out of the championship. But they have decided to compete and will meet Antrim in the Ulster Championship on June 19. Last year, London almost pulled off a shock win over Antrim in the Ulster championship.
It ended in a draw, but the emigrants were well beaten in the replay.
The fun is gone
Kevin O’Brien, the only Wicklow footballer to be honored with an All-Star award, is considering his intercounty future following the tunnel incident in Mullingar when Westmeath goalkeeper Dermot Ryan had his jaw broken. O’Brien was called before the GAA’s Games Administration Committee, but was exonerated from any involvement in the incident.
"The GAC were very fair to me. I told them the truth, but the whole experience has had a shattering effect on my appetite for county football," O’Brien said. "In Mullingar, I had an elderly gentleman, about the same age as my own father, spitting at me and a youngster shouting obscenities at me. At my age I have to ask myself do I want to put up with that kind of thing."
Wicklow Team manager Niall Rennicks is trying to lift morale in the county after the suspensions handed down to Stephen Byrne and Mick Murtagh for the Mullingar incidents and has lined up challenge games against Galway and Laois before the tough Leinster championship opener against Meath on June 6.
The Limerick GAA Board is heading toward Cork to raise funds for their £500,000 development in Rathkeale. They have planned a race day at Cork Racecourse (Mallow) on June 5 with some fantastic prizes. To help relieve pressure on the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick City, the County Board have invested in a 12-acre site in Rathkeale that will be officially opened next month. It will provide three playing fields, dressing and meetings room and other facilities.