By Sean Creedon
Sonia O ‘Sullivan gave birth to a 8-pound baby girl in London last week and is already planning her return to competitive running.
O’Sullivan said at the weekend that she plans to compete in a half marathon in October and has set her sights on running in the Sydney Olympics.
O’Sullivan and her partner, Australian Nick Bideau, have named their baby Ciara.
”Ciara’s our first grandchild, so we are really delighted,” said O’Sullivan’s mother, Mary, in Cobh before catching a plane to London to see the new arrival.
Cork over Kerry
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Since the open draw was introduced in Munster nine years ago, only Clare have broken the Cork-Kerry dominance. So we have yet another Cork vs. Kerry final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday.
Cork, the National League champions, are slight favorites, although they didn’t look great in the semifinal win over Limerick.
Kerry were very lucky to get by Tipperary in the first round and had a very easy semifinal win over Clare.
I like the look of this Cork team and I think they can make it a Munster hurling/football double for the Rebels.
In the West, I fancy Mayo to dethrone Connacht and All-Ireland champions Galway in Tuam. It’s a tall order for John Maughan’s men to travel to Tuam and win, but this is a good Mayo side and they are capable of causing an upset.
Hill 16 uproar
There is uproar in Dublin with the news that the GAA are being forced by the planning authorities to get rid of Hill 16. Under new safety rules, the GAA will have to put in seats on the famous Hill. The Hill is still popular with Dublin supporters, but there is very little support for this unproved Dublin team. When they drew with Laois two weeks ago the attendance was only 28,000. Gone are the heady days when Croke Park was packed for a first round Leinster championship game, but to be fair to Dublin, the opposition then was Meath.
Dublin were very lucky to get a draw two weeks ago, Ian Robertson clearly picked the ball off the ground before punching the equalizing point. But as Tipperary in hurling and Sligo in football will testify, you only get one chance of a giant killing act in the championship and the Dubs will probably advance for another final tilt with Meath.
Last season for Micko
Mick O’Dwyer, one of greatest GAA managers of all time, has confirmed that next season will be his last in intercounty management.
"I have given a commitment to return to management for the Millennium championship, but I have already told Jack Wall, the Kildare County secretary, that this will be my final fling with county management of any kind," O’Dwyer said. " I have never, ever said that before, so it can be taken as gospel, next year the curtain comes down for good and I will retire.”
O’Dwyer, who has clocked up thousands of miles commuting from his home in Waterville to Kildare for training and games, said that the manner in which Kildare exited this year’s championship was especially frustrating, and one of the driving forces in the decision to stay for another year.
" I have never been involved with a side that has had so many interruptions to key players in the one season," O’Dwyer said. "We will soon have a players’ meeting to gauge the mood of the camp. Most of the squad are on the right side of 30, so appetite should not be a problem.”
Meanwhile, Brendan Lowry is favorite to take over in Offaly from departing Tommy Lyons. Lowry, a former star corner forward with Offaly, has served his managerial apprenticeship with Westmeath.
Kennedy for Man. City
Republic of Ireland international Mark Kennedy last week signed for Manchester City. City paid Wimbledon £1m for the winger and the fee could increase to £1.5m depending on the number of first team appearances the Dubliner makes with the Maine Road club. Kennedy showed great promise with Liverpool but couldn’t command a regular place. A move to Wimbledon didn’t help and he is now hoping to revive his career for a club that has never had many Irish players.
Sept. 1 has been confirmed as the new date for the Republic of Ireland vs. Yugoslavia Euro 2000 game. Apart from the fact that this means three games in eight days for Mick McCarthy’s team, it also means that McCarthy could have to wait until the last moment to secure the release of some of his players. It’s not an international weekend, so most of the players, who play in England, will have games on the Saturday and Sunday. And Manchester United play Newcastle United on Monday Aug. 30. That means that there could be a doubt about United pair Roy Keane and Denis Irwin, plus Newcastle’s Irish goalkeeper, Shay Given.
No bout for Barrett
Galway-born boxer Francie Barrett, has been ruled out of the Irish boxing team’s tour to New Zealand later this month. Barrett, who turned down an offer to turn professional so that he could try to win a place on the Irish team for the Sydney Olympics, could not be accommodated by the New Zealand Boxing Association. A suitable opponent could not be found for Bernard Dunne and he is also out of the trip, while seven-time national champion Neil Gough is unavailable. Barrett is replaced by Ciaran Smith from Wexford, Gough by Kevin Cumiskey of Tralee, and Dunne by Francis Maughan of Dublin.
St. Patrick’s Athletic plan to spend some time in Moldova if they get through their first round against Zimbru Chisnau. The FAI National League champions play the Moldova champions in the first leg in Dublin tonight, July 14. The second leg is in Moldova on July 21, and if the Saints win the tie over two legs, then play to spend a few days in Moldova before traveling to play Dynamo Tbilisi in the second round, rather than return to Dublin and make the long journey to Eastern Europe again. But first, the Pat’s have got to win the tie.
Mark Carroll, the dual Irish record holder, has been told that unless he competes in the BLE National Championships he will not be selected for the World Athletic Champions in Seville next month. Carroll, who is based in Rhode Island, will now run in the Irish National Championships at Santry on July 25 and 26.
Ryan ranked seventh
Irish Squash player Derek Ryan is now rated seventh in the world. Following a good performance in the Maastricht Open in Holland last month, Ryan has jumped up three places from 10th. The world number one is still Canada’s Jonathan Power.
Frenzen on Jordan team
Heinz-Harald Frentzen has confirmed that he will be driving for Eddie Jordan next year. Jordan was quick to sign up the 30 year-old German for another year after his Grand Prix win at Magny-Cours last month.
Changes for Glasgow Celtic
Big changes at Glasgow Celtic as they try to end the dominance of Old Firm rivals Glasgow Rangers in Scotland. Former Celtic and Liverpool star Kenny Dalglish is technical director and John Barnes, Dalglish’s old pal from his Liverpool days, is the head coach. And there’s another Liverpool connection with the appointment of another Anfield old boy Terry McDermott as "social manager." This is the first time I have seen such a term for a soccer club, but McDermott, whose last job was with Dalglish at Newcastle United, says that it’s to be more than just "club comedian." McDermott says his job will be to make the atmosphere right in the dressing room.
Houlier shakes up Liverpool
At Liverpool, French manager Gerard Houlier is finally getting an opportunity to put his own stamp on the team. Already gone is erratic goalkeeper David James, and former England midfielder Paul Ince will shortly be on his way from Anfield. Houlier has brought in six foreigners: Dutch stars Sander Westerveld and Erik Meijer, Swiss defender Stephane Henchoz, Sami Hyypia of Finland, Guinean Titi Camara and Czech Vladimir Smicer. And Houlier says he would like to sign Arsenal midfielder Stephen Hughes, to keep a "British heart" at the club.