By Sean Creedon
Croke Park will be packed this weekend, but there won’t be a hurley or football in sight. Veteran rockers Elton John and Billy Joel will give two sell-out concerts at the Jones Road ground. So hurling aficionados will have to make their way to Parnell Park on the north side of the city to see the championship return of hurling’s brightest star.
D.J. Carey will be back in the Kilkenny lineup as they face the Dubs in their own backyard. And if the Dublin back can curtail Carey, they could well produce an upset here.
Parnell Park is a sell-out and there probably will be “house full” signs also up at the Ennis Road grounds in Limerick, where the home county take on newly crowned National League champions Cork. This is a big test for Eamon Cregan in is first season in charge of the men in green. Cregan won an All-Ireland with Offaly and is an expert analyst of the game. Jimmy Barry Murphy has done a good job rebuilding Cork, and with the League title under their belts, they will be confident, but maybe not good enough to topple Limerick at home.
Derry’s footballers are another team who should make full advantage of home venue as they take on Monaghan in Celtic Park. When the counties last met in the League semifinal at Croke Park on Easter Sunday, Derry won, but Monaghan showed true grit then and you just never know in Ulster.
Elsewhere in championship football on Sunday, Wicklow travel to play Louth at Drogheda. And Tipperary, one point winners over Limerick in the first round in Munster, should be too strong for Waterford at Clonmel. In Connacht it’s Sligo’s turn for the weekend trip to London. And they should have little difficulty against the emigrants at Ruislip.
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GAA to shut out media
The GAA has decided that Saturday’s May 30 special congress to discuss the controversial Rule 21 will be held in camera. The congress, which will decide if the rule banning members of the security forces in Northern Ireland from joining the GAA, will be held in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel and County Boards will be allowed the usual delegations. But the media will not be allowed to report on what will certainly be an emotive debate.
Bank of Ireland sponsor women
A boost for Ladies Gaelic Football. Bank of Ireland, sponsors of the All-Ireland Football Championship, last week took over from Allied Irish Banks as the sponsors of the Ladies Gaelic Football Championship. The bank will spend _1 million in an advertising and promotional campaign to support both the men’s and women’s championship. This year’s women’s final on Oct. 4 will be televised live by RTE for the first time.
Meanwhile, there have been no moves by Guinness to sponsor the camogie championship. But both Guinness and Bank of Ireland are not at all happy with RTE’s idea to introduce a third sponsor. They wanted to bring Cadbury’s Chocolate on board as the program sponsors.
Soccer scribes name Dolan
Pat Dolan, the manager of FAI National League champions St. Patrick’s Athletic, has been voted Soccer Personality of the Year by the Irish Soccer Writers. Now the youngest manager in the League wants to do well in Europe.
“First we have to develop our stadium at Inchicore, then we have to look at putting together a team capable of competing in the champions League. It’s no pipe dream, just look at the progress made by clubs from Norway in recent years,” the 30-year-old said.
Ball staying on in Tyrone
Danny Ball is staying on as manager of the Tyrone senior footballers. It was thought that the knives would be out for Ball following Tyrone’s first-round loss to Down in the Ulster championship, but Ball is expected to stay on.
“Danny has a three-year contract and he has another year to run,” Tyrone County Board secretary Dominic McCaughey said.
Meanwhile, the RUC have now been asked to investigate the incidents at the friendly game between Tyrone clubs Errigal Chiaran and Dungannon Clarkes. The game ended on far from friendly terms, with Peter Canavan having had his jaw broken and Donaghy knocked unconscious in the communal shower area.
Quinn offered 3-year deal
Sunderland manager Peter Reid has offered Niall Quinn a three-year extension to his current contract. The lanky Dubliner had hoped to return to live and train horses in County Kildare at the end of next season, but he will now have to put his retirement plans on hold.
The news wasn’t so good for Ray Houghton, who has not officially retired from international football but is unlikely to wear the green again. haughton, a World Cup veteran, has been released by First Division Reading.