Ireland’s soccer manager, Mick McCarthy, will take his squad to France for three days next May to prepare for the end-of-season European Championship games. While in France, the Irish will play a friendly against a Breton selection at Stade La Beaujoire, home of French club Nantes.
"With two competitive internationals in early June, we will use the trip to France as a three-day training camp. It’s the perfect way to fill the gap between the end of the English Premiership on May 16 and our Europe qualifying games in early June," McCarthy said.
It promises to be a busy year for McCarthy and his team. On Feb. 10, Paraguay will pay their first-ever visit to Dublin for a friendly. Then it’s a Euro 2000 game away to Macedonia on March 27 followed by another home friendly against Sweden on April 28. The proceeds of the "Peace International" against northern Ireland at Lansdowne Road on May 29 will go toward the Omagh Fund.
Yugoslavia will visit Lansdowne for a Euro qualifier on June 4 and Macedonia will follow four days later. A trip to Poland is planned for Aug. 18 as a warm-up for the away game against Croatia on Sept. 4. The final Euro 2000 qualifying game is away to Malta on Sept. 8 and a friendly has also been penciled in against Denmark in Copenhagen on Oct. 9. And of course we could also be involved in another playoff for the Euro 2000 Finals, unless we win our group.
FAI appoint Hand
Former Irish manager Eoin Hand has been appointed to the new post of Career Development Officer with the FAI. Hand’s new role will be to advise young players and their parents on what’s on offer to them if they join a League of Ireland club or opt, as most youngsters do, to go to England. Since quitting as Irish boss in 1985 Hand has managed clubs in Saudi Arabia and South Africa and Huddersfield in England. He also had success as manager of Limerick in the League of Ireland and has played the game at the highest level in England with Portsmouth.
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Clare hurling push
Club hurling supporters are being asked to make a financial commitment to the development of the game in the Banner County. A limited company has been set up with the idea of raising funds through voluntary contributions to aid promotion of hurling, specifically at underage level.
Clare Hurling Future Limited is the brainchild of former county star Barry Smythe. He is a member of the five-man committee formed to raise funds. The group’s slogan is "Are you prepared to give one pound a week toward the future of Clare hurling?"
"The long-term legacy of the present Clare team will only be determined by the success that we have into the next century and this project will help that cause," manager Ger Loughnane said.
Omagh fund boost
The GAA’s national fund to aid the Omagh bombing victims has received a further boost with a contribution of £25,000 from Eircell, the sponsors of the All-Stars program. A grant from Central Council and the receipts from the replayed Clare-Offaly All-Ireland hurling semifinal raised a quarter of a million initially. Further contributions came from the provincial councils.
President Joe McDonagh says that he expects the total from the GAA fund to reach £1 million.
"We have extended the closing date to facilitate county committees and overseas units," he said.
FAI National League Premier Division leaders Cork City must now be favorites to take the League Cup trophy. Last Wednesday, Cork drew 1-1 in Dublin with Shamrock Rovers in the first leg of the final, and with the second leg at Turner’s Cross on Dec. 30, Cork must now be favorites to take the Cup.
‘F’ as in film
Galway’s sub goalkeeper, Pat Comer, who is also a film buff, has produced a fly on the wall video of Galway’s All-Ireland football win. Due to the good form of regular goalkeeper Michael McNamara, Comer was not called into action this year, but his presence in the dressing room gave him unique access to the players and manager John O’Mahony.
"A Year ‘Til Sunday" tells the story of Galway’s success. More than 100 hours of footage has been squeezed into 73 minutes that chart Galway’s road to Croke Park. But parents be warned, there is a liberal sprinkling of the ‘F’ word throughout — real dressing room stuff.
Good news for emigrants who still follow the fortunes of Manchester United. The Red Devils, with Corkmen Roy Keane and Denis Irwin in the team, drew with Bayern Munich at Old Trafford last week to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League. United are now the only English club left in any of the three European competitions. So much for the line that the English Premiership is the best League in Europe.
Lights on Limerick
Limerick City plan to switch on their new floodlights at a rearranged game against Drogheda United at Rathbane tonight, Dec. 16. Limerick are the last first division club to get proper floodlights.