By Sean Creedon
With Cork City slipping up in their League challenge, St. Patrick’s Athletic now have a chance to go for the League-Cup double for the first time in their history. This weekend, Pat Dolan brings his so-called "Super Saints" to Galway, the home of his father.
Dolan is a gregarious character. Born in England of Irish parents, he played youth football for the Republic of Ireland and eventually moved to Ireland to play for Galway and St. Patrick’s. Now chief executive of the Dublin club, he is fiercely proud of the League of Ireland and is trying to improve the League with each passing day.
The Saints should be too good for first division Galway, who, coincidentally, are managed by a Dubliner, Don O’Riordan.
Elsewhere, Finn Harps should also make it to the semifinal by overcoming Kilkenny. And Sligo Rovers, the club that loves that Cup, should be able to account for Bray Wanderers at the Showgrounds. The remaining and most difficult tie to call is at The Brandywell, where Derry City host Shelbourne. Shels have a great Cup record in recent years, but Derry have bounced back after a poor start to the season and could make it to the semifinal.
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The GAA is set for a major administrative reorganization designed to take the association into the 21st century. The GAA recently advertised for four high-powered new positions at Croke Park. The four new positions are director of corporate financial affairs, director of commercial and infrastructure development, director of legal, insurance affairs and event coordination, and director of games.
For any Irish emigrants who feel they may be qualified, the company who are handling the recruitment are Price Waterhouse Coopers.
Meanwhile, at the grassroots level there’s good news for loyal Dublin supporters. The Dublin County Board are now printing coupons on their match program that, when collected, will entitle the holders to tickets for big games involving Dublin. About time that the "real" fans are being rewarded.
Training camp shift
Republic of Ireland Manager Mick McCarthy has had to abandon plans to have a training camp for his squad in Brittany at the end of May. Changes to the French League have caused the cancellation.
McNamara at limit
Martin McNamara is unlikely to be minding the net for Galway as they bid to retain the Sam Maguire Cup this year. The Corofin clubman says that he cannot afford to be away from his pub business in Tuam for long periods.
"I was hardly ever in the bar last year and I just couldn’t go through another season like that," he said. "The truth is that the modern Gaelic footballer is an unpaid professional. That might be fine for someone in a 9 to 5 job, but when you are running your own business, there’s a limit to what you can do."
Thirty-four-year-old Pat Comer was Galway’s sub keeper last year and the Galway selectors are likely to look for a younger goalkeeper to replace McNamara if he stands by his decision to quit.
Enda Sheridan must be the oldest intercounty hurler in Ireland. The 52-year-old still pulls on the goalkeeper’s shirt for Cavan as they battle away in Div. 3 of the Church and General National Hurling League. Although Enda kept a clean sheet in the opening game of the League against Louth, the Breffnimen went down by a few points. On Sunday, Enda will be back in action, this time for the trip to Donegal.
Iam the world
We Irish love to see the world, and the latest to let his football boots take him to foreign lands is former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Iam McFaul. Iam, who has had managerial experience with Newcastle United, has recently taken up the post of national coach of Guam, in the South Pacific.
Magee on mend
Jimmy Magee, one of Ireland’s best-known commentators, is on the mend after undergoing major heart surgery a few weeks ago. Jimmy, often referred to as the "Memory Man" had a triple bypass operation at the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin. He is best known as a soccer and boxing commentator, but has also done Gaelic games for Ulster Television.
Barrett aims high
Most attention on the National Senior Boxing Championships in Dublin last weekend was on the performance of Galway traveler Francie Barrett. Francie, who carried the Irish flag at the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics Games, has made no secret of his ambition to represent his country at next year’s Olympics in Sydney. But first he has to win a National title.
Barrett, who has dropped down to light-welterweight, was not impressive in his first-round win over Dubliner Gavin Middleton. But he had an easy 19-2 victory over Moate’s James Galvin to guarantee him a place in next Friday’s semifinals.
Another familiar name at the Championships was Charlie Nash Jr. The son of the former European Lightweight champion has also progressed to the semifinal stage.
Still on boxing, Michael Carruth had his 16th professional win of his career in London at the weekend. The 1992 Olympic gold medalist stopped Birmingham’s Paul Denton in the fifth round of a welterweight contest at York Hall in London’s Bethnal Green. Carruth is expected to defend his WAA title in May.