By Sean Creedon
Offaly, who are still waiting for a decision from hurling boss Michael Bond, have pulled out of the Oireachtas hurling competition. Bond, who did a brilliant job after coming in to replace Babs Keating during the summer, is committed to his school in Loughrea and has yet to confirm whether he is prepared to continue to take charge of the All-Ireland champions next year.
In Galway, Mattie Murphy is back in charge of the County’s senior hurlers. Murphy takes over from Cyril Farrell, the man who replaced him in the hot seat two years ago. Murphy led Galway to national League title four months before the end of his last term. His two selectors will be Jarlath Cloonan and Michael Fogarty, who served with him between 1994 and 1996.
Meanwhile, Keating says that he will never again take an intercounty job because of the jealousy involved. Keating claims that the players are jealous of the generous expenses earned by team managers, while the players themselves have to be content with the official GAA mileage rate. After a successful spell with his native Tipperary, Babs had little success with Laois or Offaly.
New hurley debuts
The "clash of the ash" could become the "clash of the fiberglass" as a new Ashmore hurley was launched in Galway last week. Galway footballer Gary Fahey was one of the people working on the development of the carbon fiber hurley as part of a research team at Galway University.
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The hurley will be initially manufactured for the juvenile market by Killarney Plastics next year. In the past, Wavin in Balbriggan in North Dublin made plastic hurleys, but without much success. However, GAA President Joe McDonagh says he can see a time when the new hurleys will be used in senior All-Ireland finals.
Galway nominees in spotlight
All-Ireland football champions Galway are certain to supply the Guinness GAA Writers Player of the Year for 1998. All three nominations are from Galway: Michael Donnellan, Jarlath Fallon and goalkeeper Martin McNamara. Donnellan is also in the running for the Young Player Award, with another Galway player, Padraig Joyce, and Kildare’s Dermot Earley.
The Hurler of the Year will go to one of the following: Tony Browne, Waterford, Brian Whelahan, Offaly, or Clare’s Sean McMahon. The young hurler nominees are Simon Whelahan, brother of Brian, and two goalkeepers, Offaly’s Stephen Byrne and Waterford’s Brendan Landers.
Tolka Park, Dublin will be the venue for an unusual international between Ireland and France tonight (Nov. 4). The game is Rugby League, which is gaining a foothold in Ireland thanks to the work of English coaches in schools in some of the poorer areas of Dublin.
Leeds appoint O’Leary
One of the longest running managerial sagas in English football is over and former Irish international David O’Leary has been appointed manager of Leeds United. O’Leary, who was assistant to former Leeds boss George Graham, got the job after Northern Ireland’s Martin O’Neill was refused permission to talk to Leeds by his present club, Leicester City. Leeds obviously wanted O’Neill, but had to settle for O’Leary, who has got a two and a half year contract.
Healey quits Derry
Felix Healey is the latest League of Ireland manager to quit. He parted company with Derry city last week. Healey, a former player with Derry, was appointed manager at The Brandywell in December 1994. He led them to FAI Cup success in 1995 and the League in 1997, but Derry have struggled in recent months and after threatening to quit a few times, Healey has finally stepped down. Derry’s chairman, Kevin Friel, says that they have already received six applications for the job but would not be rushing into naming a replacement.
Kildare’s Dalton retires — again
Kildare fullback Davy Dalton has announced his retirement from intercounty Gaelic football. It’s the second time that the 35-year-old Kilcock clubman has quit. He was persuaded to make a comeback by Mick O’Dwyer when the Kerryman returned to take charge of Kildare two years ago. But now with a Leinster title and an All-Star award to his credit, Davy had decided to call it a day.