By Sean Creedon
Sonia O’Sullivan will have her first competitive race on home soil since the Olympics when she takes part in the Loughrea Road Races in Galway on Sunday. O’Sullivan will be joined in Loughrea by Paula Radcliffe, who made the final of the 10,000 meters in Sydney only to finish out of the medals, and 1,500 other runners. Entries are limited to 1,500 and O’Sullivan will be trying to set a record for a five-mile road race. The Cobh-born runner won the IAAF Grand Prix final in Qatar last Thursday in what was her first race after Sydney.
Winter hurling debut
The revamped Waterford Crystal Hurling League, which this year will involve eight counties, gets under way this weekend. With the exception of Galway and Offaly, all of the top hurling counties are involved, making you wonder about the old argument that there should be no hurling in winter.
On Saturday, Kilkenny play Laois at Nowlan Park, while on Sunday we have Wexford vs. Waterford at New Ross, Clare vs. Tipperary in Ennis, and Limerick at home to Cork. The second and third rounds will be played on Nov. 5 and 12, with the semifinals on Nov. 19, and the final in Walsh Park, Waterford on Nov. 26.
Carr gets 2 years
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Tommy Carr as expected has been confirmed as Dublin senior football manager for another two-year spell. Carr will have the same backroom team, with former goalkeeper John O’Leary, Richie Crean and Dan Twomey also staying on.
Meanwhile, the "two Brians" are to continue with Armagh, Brian McAlinden and Brian Canavan, who have led the Orchard County to back-to-back Ulster titles are to continue for another year.
McCullough Belfast bout
Wayne McCullough will have his first fight in Belfast since his amateur days when he takes on Hungary’s Sandor Koczak in the Ulster Hall on Oct. 20. The Barcelona silver medalist and former WBC bantamweight champion recently signed a three-fight deal with Dan Goosen of American Presents.
Meanwhile, Galway’s Francie Barrett will have his third professional fight against a yet-to-be-named opponent at the Wembley Conference Center on Oct. 21. The Galway-born traveler has won his first two professional bouts with ease and promoter Frank Warren has lined up another two fights for Barrett before Christmas.
Utd. To rescue
Manchester United are the latest club willing to help out Derry City, who are in major financial difficulties. Last month, the visit of Glasgow Celtic to the Brandywell helped raise £70,000 for The Candystripes. Now United have penciled in Nov. 13 for their visit, which is guaranteed to be a sell-out. SDLP leader John Hume played a major part in securing the game after he personally wrote to United manager Alex Ferguson. "Derry City is an important part of the city and I’m sure this match will go a long way toward securing the club’s future," Hume said.
Antrim impose ban
The Antrim County Board has imposed severe penalties on the Cargin and St. Paul’s club by banning both from all adult activity until 2002. The action comes after an investigation into the brawl at the end of last month’s county football final between the clubs at Casement Park. Cargin, who won the gam,e have been stripped of their county title and will not be allowed to represent Antrim in the Ulster club championship. Between them, the two clubs supply 12 of the county senior football panel and it’s not yet clear whether the ban will apply to intercounty football.
Irish international Steve Staunton has got a free transfer from Liverpool. "Stan" rejoined Liverpool in 1991 after seven seasons with Aston Villa, but has failed to hold down a regular place at Anfield under manager Gerard Houllier and has not started a game this season. "I need to be playing first team football if I am to have any chance of getting back into the Irish team," said Staunton, who has won 85 caps. Everton, West Ham and Bradford are reported to be interested in the defender.
Lester rides again
Former top jockey Lester Piggott is to ride again, on the day before he officially becomes an old age pensioner. Piggott will take part in a race for retired jockeys at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne on Nov. 11, the eve of his 65th birthday. Meanwhile, Piggott’s daughter Tracy, who works as a TV journalist in Dublin, is currently cycling across America with the Blazing Saddles. The Blazing Saddles raise funds for the Irish Council for the Blind.