By Sean Creedon
A date will be confirmed for the FAI’s postponed game against Yugoslavia in Los Angeles on July 8.
The FAI have proposed Sept. 1 for the game, which was postponed in June when the Irish government refused visas to the Yugoslavs. Opting for Sept. 1 means three games in eight days for The Boys in Green as they are due to travel to Croatia on Sept. 4 and Malta on Sept. 8.
FAI President Pat Quigley and Chief Executive Bernard O’Byrne will meet with UEFA officials at the FIFA Congress in Los Angeles to confirm the date.
Because of the Rugby World Cup at Lansdowne Road in October, Sept. 1 is the only free date available. That’s one of the reasons why the FAI are pushing full steam ahead with plans for their own stadium at Citywest, just off the Naas Road in Dublin.
Last weekend, the FAI revealed at their AGM in Dundalk that 54 of the 76 corporate boxes have already been sold for the Arena and over 1,300 corporate seats have also been snapped up. Planning permission will be sought in the autumn and provided there are hold ups, the stadium should be ready for September 2001.
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Meanwhile the FAI have confirmed that the proposed friendly against Poland in August, has now been canceled.
St. Pat’s look north
FAI National League champions St Patrick’s Athletic are hoping for some cross-border cooperation in the build up to their Champions League first first qualifying round against Zimbru Chisnau. The Moldova champions have eight Moldova internationals in their squad and the Saints general manager, Pat Dolan, is hoping that Northern Ireland manager Lawrie McMenemy can help out.
Moldova are in the North’s Euro 2000 group and having played each other twice. Lawrie should know a bit about the opposition by now. Pat’s play the first leg in Dublin on July 14 with the second leg in Chisnau the following week. If Pat’s manage to win the first round, they also face an ever longer trip to Eastern Europe for the second round against Dynamo Tbilisi. In the UEFA Cup Cork City were drawn with IFK Gothenburg, while FAI Cup winners Bray Wanderers will also play in the UEFA qualifiers and they have a tie with Grasshoppers of Zurich.
Hurling classic in offing
Sunday’s Leinster senior hurling final between Kilkenny and Offaly at Croke Park should be a classic. Both counties had comprehensive semifinal wins, but of course there will be no real loser, as both teams now go through into the All-Ireland series. Meanwhile veteran Ross Carr is back training with the Down squad and will be available for selection for Sunday’s Ulster semifinal against Tyrone in Casement Park.
The Connacht hurling final between Galway and Roscommon, which was postponed last week, will now go ahead at Dr. Hyde Park on July 10 at 6 p.m.
Kennelly out, Russell in
Good and bad news for Kerry manager in the run up to the Munster football final against old rivals Cork a week from Sunday. Noel Kennelly, son of former great Tim, broke his ankle in a recently club game and is out of the final. However, Michael Francis Russell recently returned to club action with Laune Rangers and should be available for selection.
Gear row grows
The four year old gear row between BLE and the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) rumbles on. After the fiasco in Atlanta when Sonia O’Sullivan was forced to make a late change to her running gear, Minister for Sport Jim McDaid asked both parties to get together to try and sort out the mess. BLE, who apparently have the backing of the IAAF, say that Irish athletes will have to wear Asics gear, while the OCI claim that everybody on the Irish team will have to wear Adidas. Last week, BLE withdrew their athletes from the upcoming European Youth Olympics in Denmark. They will instead travel to the inaugural World Youth Championships in Poland.
Ruggers want Gregory
The Dublin Rugby League team want former Great Britain scrum-half Andy Gregory as their coach, if they win a place in next season’s Super League. 37 year-old Gregory, who recently parted company with Salford Reds, admits to being tempted by the prospect of returning to coaching with a new club. “I rejected two first division clubs because I wanted a complete break, but if Dublin get into the Super League we’ll talk then,” he said.
Sky soccer saturation
Good news for soccer fans and followers of Manchester United in particular. The Red Devils will feature on the Sky Sports first live Premiership game of the season, against, Everton on Aug. 8. And for Monday night fans everywhere the Spurs vs. Newcastle United game on Aug. 9 will also be live on Sky. That will be followed on Tuesday by Derby vs. Arsenal. So big soccer games three days in a row on the big screen before many people even get to take their summer holidays.
With the dawn of the millennium less than six months away, there are going to be several teams and personalities of the century. Already the Irish independent have a competition to name the GAA football team of the century. And SportsWrite, the new Sports magazine published in Ireland, is trying to find the Irish Sportstar of the Millennium. Readers are asked to vote for the sportsperson whom they think has had the biggest in Irish sport. It’s a long list and names already mentioned include: Ronnie Delaney, Eamon Coghlan, Stephen Roche, Sean Kelly, Sonia O’Sullivan, Christy Ring, Mick O’Connell, George Best, Johnny Giles, Pat Eddery. Meanwhile in Kerry the local `Kerryman’ newspaper and Radio Kerry have combined to try and find the greatest Kerry teams of this century. They have made it a little easier by dividing the Millennium into two — one team from 1900 to 1949 and the other from 1950 to 1999.
Design by Daly
John Daly, who was a big hit with the Irish fans at Druid’s Glen in Wicklow last week, is due to return to Ireland to design a golf course. Daly has been commissioned to design at least one new course in County Kildare.
Galway stadium drive
A major fund-raising drive is under way in Galway to raise £4 million to refurbish Pearse Stadium in Salthill. Already almost half the amount has been raised through grants from the GAA, the National Lottery and Galway Corporation. But now a full-time fund-raiser is to be employed to get the extra cash which is needed to make Pearse Stadium the mecca of the West once again.
Kerr names squad
Republic of Ireland Youths manager Brian Kerr has named his preliminary squad for the European Youth Championships in Sweden. There are nine players from the FAI National League and among the newcomers is Warren Kenna, younger brother of senior international Jeff. The finals kick off on July 18 and Ireland’s first game is against Spain in Atvidaberg the following day. Georgia are next on the list in Fingspang two days later and our final group match is against Italy in Norrkoping on July 23.
Wexford’s hurling manager Rory Kinsella was the first inter-county manager to quit in the wake of a championship defeat. He was closely followed by Niall Rennick. It was the Meathman;s second term in charge of the Garden County
The new manager of Sligo is former Scottish international Jimmy McInally. McInally last week quit as coach of Dundee and he takes over at The Showgrounds from Nicky Reid, who was released after keeping Sligo in the FAI National League premier division last season. And Kilkenny city’s new boss is former Irish international Pat Byrne. Byrne, who last year was general manager of Shamrock Rovers, played for several League of Ireland clubs and in the USA for Philadelphia Fury. He has previous managerial experience with Shelbourne and St James’ Gate.
United for Australia
Gone are the days when the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United were regular pre-season visitors to Ireland. Now pre-seasons games are big money and most of the big English clubs opt for trips to Australia or the Far East. United will play pre-season games in Melbourne and Sydney, before returning to England via Shanghai and Hong Kong. United begin the defence of the Premiership title against Everton at Goodison Park on Aug. 7 and during next season The Reds could play an amazing 77 games.