By Sean Creedon
Saturday’s friendly against Mexico at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, will be Mick McCarthy’s last opportunity to look at new players as he prepares for the European Championship qualifying campaign. And with several regulars ruled out through injury, it looks like Mick will have another chance to experiment before the Euro 2000 campaign begins in September.
Out of contention through injury are Roy Keane, Steve Staunton, Jeff Kenna, Niall Quinn, Mark Kinsella, Jason McAteer, Alan McLoughlin, Damien Duff, Robbie Keane and goalkeepers Alan Kelly and Keith Branagan.
Recent meetings with Mexico have been stormy affairs. Many will remember John Aldridge’s four-letter argument with the FIFA official in the World Cup in Orlando four years ago. And there were also fireworks when the countries met in Giants Stadium in June 1996. Liam Daish was sent off and both Niall Quinn and manager Mick McCarthy were ordered from the dug out. Luis Garcia, who scored twice in Orlando, also hit two in New Jersey. And he is in the squad for Lansdowne on Saturday.
Irish soccer is on a high right now and the Under 16s, recent winners of the European Under 16 championship, will be presented to the crowd at half-time in Saturday’s game.
Championship Sunday in offing
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Next Sunday is a busy one on the championship scene, with important games in all four provinces. The big one is probably the meeting of All-Ireland finalists Mayo and old Connacht rivals Galway in McHale Park, Castlebar. Many commentators have high hopes for Galway this year, but it will be difficult to knock out the Connacht champions in their own backyard. Mayo will be without midfielder Pat Fallon, who broke his leg in training last week.
Meanwhile, at Croke Park reigning Leinster champions Offaly could also fall at the first hurdle. Not much has been heard of Meath during the winter, but they will be anxious to atone for the heavy defeat by Offaly in last year’s final. The counties will also meet in hurling and Offaly should have no difficulty in that code.
In Ulster Donegal’s footballers should be too strong for Antrim as should the Waterford hurlers against Kerry in Munster.
Tipperary have serious worries about the fitness of John Leahy in the run-up to the Munster hurling championship meeting with either Waterford or Kerry on June 7. Leahy has played one match and a half for Tipp in the National League and is still struggling with a thigh injury.
New role for Charlie Swan
Champion jockey Charlie Swan is taking over his father’s stables at Modreeny near Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary this summer. The 30-year-old Swan, who has ridden over 1,000 winners will continue to ride for at least another year. His father, Donal, who has been training in Modreeny for the last 25 years, will lend his experience to his son in his new role.
Collins suit settled
An action against boxer Steve Collins by his former American manager Pat Petronelli, was settled last week. The settlement was announced in the Dublin High Court only months after Collins had successfully defended an action against him by another former manager, British-based Barry Hearn. The terms of the settlement are unknown, as is whether it will have any impact on Collins’s decision to quit boxing late last year.
Best in legal row
Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland star George Best was back in the news last week in a legal row with his former manager Bill McMurdo. Best and McMurdo had teamed up in 1982 to try to revive Best’s career and formed a company George Best Management Ltd.
The company in which McMurdo had the majority shares, owned the Chelsea apartment where Best lived with his wife. Best argued that all the money generated by the company was earned by him, and so he should control it. After a three-day legal battle, Best agreed to vacate the Chelsea apartment and McMurdo will now provide cash to enable Best to buy another home nearby.