By Sean Creedon
Although he may be short a few senior internationals, Mick McCarthy says he wants to win the Nike Cup competition in the United States next month.
McCarthy reckons that a tournament win, no matter how big or small it is, will lift the morale of the team. "Shortly after Jack Charlton took over as Irish manager back in 1986, we went to Iceland and won a triangular tournament," McCarthy said. "I remember it well as I was the captain and it gave the team a great sense of pride. I’m hoping that a similar success in the States will give my team the boost they need."
Four years ago McCarthy had mixed fortunes in the same competition. He was dismissed from the dug-out in the game against Mexico in Foxboro, but, as a manager, had his first win by beating Bolivia 3-0 in New Jersey.
McCarthy will get his squad together this week-end for the Cascarino-Staunton testimonial at Lansdowne Road when an Irish XI will play Liverpool. Then there’s the game against Scotland on May 30, before we get a clear idea of who will and will not be traveling to the States.
Munster semifinal tickets
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Tickets for the Kerry versus Cork Munster football semifinal in Killarney on June 18 may be hard to come by. Following crowd problems two years ago, the capacity of Fitzgerald Stadium is being reduced by 15 percent and now only 33,000 spectators will be able to see the game live.
One small problem with Kerry teams in recent years was the difficulty in making out the number on the players’ jerseys. However, Chairman Sean Walsh has said that their new jerseys will have numbers that are clearly visible.
Derry, Meath meet again
The replay of the Church and General National Football League between Derry and Meath will be played at Clones on Saturday next. One can only hope that we get a cleaner, more open game than we got at Croke Park two weeks ago.
The championship continues with the Round Robin football in Leinster where Wicklow play Wexford and Carlow meet Longford at Dr. Cullen Park.
Row over sponsorship
The Dublin County Board recently renewed its sponsorship contract with Arnotts, but the Dublin players wore Umbro gear on a recently holiday to Spain. Umbro have recently clinched a deal with the Gaelic Players Association.
Waterford, who lost out to Kilkenny in the promotion-relegation play-off, have sacked manager Mike Flanagan. Ironically, he is replaced by Tramore-based Paul Power, who was in charge of Kilkenny when they The Blues in a two-leg play-off. Power had temporarily taken charge of Kilkenny City when Pat Byrne was forced to resign. Byrne had refused to pay a £400 fine imposed by the Eircom League and was banned from all of the clubs home and away games.
Now the speculation is that Byrne will return to Kilkenny.
Other managerial changes in the Eircom League saw Eddie May quit at relegated Drogheda and Mick Lawlor leave Home Farm Fingal.
Testimonial for Irwin
Denis Irwin, who has spent 10 years with Manchester United, is to be rewarded with a testimonial game in August.
United will play newly promoted Manchester City at Old Trafford on August 16 in a benefit game for the dependable Corkman. It will be the first meeting between the two Manchester clubs since April 1996.
Irwin recently signed another one-year contract with United. "I am happy with the deal that was offered to me. It will take me past my 35th birthday and I don’t want to be too greedy," he said.
St. Mary’s College qualified for the All Ireland League rugby final for the first time in the club’s history with a 32-22 victory over Ballymena at Templeville Road last weekend. St Mary’s will meet Lansdowne, winners against Terenure in their semi-final, in Saturday’s all-Dublin decider.
Victor Costello was the catalyst for Mary’s success with an outstanding individual performance which was capped with the game’s decisive try a quarter of an hour from full time. Internationals Malcolm O’Kelly and John McWeeney also scored tries as did hooker, Peter Smyth, while while Mark McHugh kicked 12 points.
Out-half Barry Everitt was the star for Lansdowne who eased past Terenure at Lakelands by 29-13. Everitt contributed an impressive 24 points of his side’s total including two tries, three pens, a drop goal and a conversion.
Update on Best
Soccer great George Best has a reputation of failing to turn up at events, but the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland star had a good reason for missing the Premiere of the film on his life in London last week.
Best, who collapsed at home two months ago with liver failure after a lifetime of heavy drinking, was tired after an appearance on a breakfast Television program.
Meanwhile, Best says that he is definitely off the drink for good this time. "In the past I gave it up for a couple of months, maybe a year, but this time I don’t have a choice. It’s just not on, I can’t do it. You have to sit down and think there are a lot of good things in life, so why spoil it by having a drink."