By Sean Creedon
After the excitement of the All-Ireland championship, trips to Australia and Boston it’s back to the less glamorous National Football League this weekend.
The League kicks off a day early on Saturday with reigning League champions Cork at home to their great rivals Kerry. The game has been brought forward 24 hours because of the Cork County hurling final on Sunday.
Both Larry Tompkins and Paidi O Se are likely to try out several new players, but Kerry will have most to prove, after their disappointing display in the Munster final in July. Galway, will be without Sean Og de Paor for their game against Roscommon. De Paor has decided to stay in Australia for the winter and has signed for Aussie Rules side Sydney Swans.
All-Ireland champions Meath begin with a home tie against Clare and the only team that will not be in action are London. They have a bye in the first round as their opponents Kilkenny have opted out.
Irish, Aussie series
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The GAA and the Australian Football League are both committed to the four-year Compromise Rules series and next year it will be the turn of Croke Park to play host. But the Sydney Olympics could indirectly influence the date for the games. Because of next year’s Olympics, the Australians will finish their season early, with the Grand Final on Sept. 2. That would mean a big break for the players selected for the trip to Ireland.
AFL Chief Executive Wayne Jackson said: "We will have some players finishing in early August and it’s a long time to mid October."
GAA President-Elect Sean McCague, meanwhile, says it’s unlikely that they will change the dates for their All-Ireland finals to suit the Aussies. "We have to plan our calendar that takes cognizance of the importance of our own finals," he said. "After all, in the final analysis that has to be of more importance than the international rules game."
New track body
Bord Lutchleas na hEireann and the National Athletic and Cultural Association both will be dissolved on Nov. 6. This will be done at two separate meetings in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin. The two Athletics body will then come together to form a new body: Athletics Associations of Ireland.
Fallon wins 200th
Despite losing the job as stable jockey to Henry Cecil during the summer, Irish jockey Kieron Fallon last week rode his 200th winner in England. It’s the third year in a row that the Clare-born jockey has ridden 200 winners. He is the first jockey since Sir Gordon Richardson in 1952 to ride 200 winners in three consecutive seasons.
Wexford hurlers get a manager
The Wexford County Board have finally got a new hurling manager after reports that 30 people refused to take the job. Former Offaly star Joachim Kelly is the man they have appointed to replace Rory Kinsella, who quit during the summer.
Ladies football is certainly going well in Laois. And the county will have two teams in the upcoming National League. Their strongest teams will play in Div. 1, while a second XV will line out in Div. 3B, after convincing the Ladies Football Board that they had enough players to field two teams.
Foley quits Tipp
Tipperary star Derry Foley says he is finished with intercounty football, but will continue to play for his club Moyle Rovers. Foley says he made up his mind after the controversial goal by Kerry in the first round of this year’s Munster championship. "I know we were not good enough on the day, but at the same time you hate to lose under such circumstances," he said.