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Irish Sports Desk Time stops for GAA

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Sean Creedon

The GAA will have an automatic clock in place at Croke Park for Saturday’s replay of the All-Ireland football final between Galway and Kerry, but it won’t be used. The clock was installed for the women’s final and will be used again for the Compromise Rules series against Australia. But the clock cannot be used on Saturday as any change in match procedure at an All-Ireland football final would have had to be approved at the GAA’s annual Congress.

It will still be a historic occasion, however, as it’s the first time in the history of the GAA that we will have an All-Ireland final on a Saturday. The referee will be Wexford’s Brian White, but that does not mean that Monaghan’s Pat McEnaney had a day in the drawn game. No, a new GAA rule introduced for this year’s championship means that there is a change of referees for replays. In fact, McEnaney must be a popular man with the GAA right now as his decision to play only 39 seconds of injury time has meant an extra _2 million for the Association.

As I said a few weeks back, it’s time to introduce the soccer system whereby the fourth official holds up a digital board telling the players and spectators how much injury time is to be played.

Sonia for GOAL

Olympic silver medalist Sonia O’Sullivan will run a lap of honor around Croke Park in aid of the GOAL charity prior to Saturday’s replay. Two year’s ago Sonia did a similar lap of honor prior to the Galway versus Kildare final when she sported a Kildare jersey underneath her T-Shirt. But Galway won that year and no doubt John O’Mahony’s team will be hoping that Sonia brings them luck again this time round.

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Soccer update

Keith O’Neill and Stephen McPhail are the only surprise omissions from Mick McCarthy’s squad for the upcoming games against Portugal (Oct. 7) and Estonia (Oct. 11). Back in favor are Ipswich captain Matt Holland and Lee Carsley of Blackburn. Around 7,000 Irish supporters are expected to travel to Lisbon for the game, which will have a 9 p.m. kick off (Irish time). It promises to be a hectic night for publicans with the replay of the All-Ireland football final on earlier in the evening.

Michelle and the law

In the week that Sonia O’Sullivan won a silver medal in Sydney, Michelle Smith DeBruin embarked on a new career. The disgraced swimmer was photographed arriving for lectures as a first-year law student at University College Dublin. Michelle, who lives in Kells Grange in County Kilkenny with husband, Erik, and daughter Emma, faces a long hike every day to the Belfield campus. But of course the family home is in Rathcoole, outside Dublin.

Butting out of snooker

Organizers of the long-running Irish Masters Snooker Tournament are confident that the competition will survive and that a new sponsor will be found. Last week, Benson & Hedges cigarettes announced that it was forced to withdraw as sponsor under a ruling introduced earlier this year. Dr. Fenton Howell, chairman of the anti-smoking group ASH, said that tobacco companies had monopolized the sponsorship of sporting events and now others will get a chance to become involved.

The sight of Alex Higgins, cigarette in mouth, was familiar to viewers of snooker. But now the Belfast man is battling cancer and denounces cigarettes and cigarette manufacturers.

Tobin for Roscommon

Former Galway star John Tobin is the new manager of the Roscommon senior footballers, replacing Gay Sheerin.

Coincidentally Tobin’s first competitive game in charge will be against Galway when the National Football League kicks off on Oct. 29. League champions Derry begin the defense of their title away to Mayo, while Cork, champions of two years ago, will play their first game in Division Two against Armagh.

Gatland turned away

Romanian refugees have been pouring into Ireland the last few years, but Irish rugby coach Warren Gatland was recently refused entry into Romania. Normally Europeans don’t need a visa to enter Romania, but Gatland, a native of New Zealand, was refused entry at Bucharest Airport and had to fly back to Dublin.

Gatland was on a fact-finding mission to Romania with IRFU officials as the Irish rugby team are due to tour Romania next June.

An Irish Rugby Union spokesperson said it was all a misunderstanding. “Warren was told by his travel agent that he wouldn’t need a visa, but when he arrived he was told he had to have one,” the spokesman said.

Morgan may be selector

Former Cork football manager Billy Morgan could be back as a selector next year. With Nemo Rangers winning the Cork senior championship last Sunday, the club now has the right to nominate a selector. But whether Morgan would work under a former player of his Larry Tompins is unlikely.

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