The second of the All Ireland football semi-finals takes place at Croke Park on Sunday next. The meeting of Kerry and Kildare is like something out of the old English comic "Roy of the Rovers."
Kildare, making their first All-Ireland semi-final appearance in 42 years, are managed by Kerryman Mick O’Dwyer. Yes, the same Micko who led Kerry to ten All-Ireland finals. The Kerry team is now managed by Paidi O’Sé, one of the young stars who helped Kerry make the big breakthrough under O’Dwyer in 1975.
And to make it even more interesting O’Dwyer’s son Karl, rejected by the Kerry selectors last year, is now lining out at full-forward for the Lilywhites. Joining Karl in the Kildare team will be Tipperary-born Brian Lacey, who will have the task of marking Kerry star Maurice Fitzgerald and Cork’s Brian Murphy, who got the match-winning goal against Meath in the Leinster final.
So who is going to win? Kildare were lucky to scrape home against Meath in the Leinster final, while Kerry got a bit of a scare from Tipperary in the Munster final. If Kerry can step up a gear or two from their Munster final win, then they should win, but it’s going to be very close and it looks like there will only be the proverbial ‘kick of the ball’ between the teams.
Mick McCarthy will have an almost full strength panel to select from when he names his squad this week for the European Championship opener against Croatia at Lansdowne Road on Sept. 5.
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Gary Kelly, who missed the start of English season is doubtful and David Connolly is suspended. McCarthy is expected to name a new captain for the Euro 2000 campaign. Since regular skipper Andy Townsend retired at the end of last year, McCarthy has given the captain’s armband to Steve Staunton, Kenny Cunningham and Gary Kelly. Staunton, with 74 caps may now get the job on a permanent basis. But Roy Keane could be back in favor. When Mick was appointed manager two years ago he named Keane as his captain for his first game in charge against Russia, but the Corkman didn’t show great example and was sent off late in the game. He subsequently missed the Republic’s trip to the U.S. and the leadership job reverted to Townsend. Keane has now made a successful comeback after injury and is captain of Manchester United once again. In a recent radio interview Roy revealed that he cannot change the way he plays and maybe the captaincy is too much pressure for him.
NEW GAA POLICY
The GAA have finally given in and copied from soccer. In the upcoming National League yellow and red cards will be used. After the confusion this summer when it was not clear whether a referee had warned or booked a player the Association finally decided that you can learn from other sports. From next season goalkeepers will not be allowed to hand pass the ball out of defense and will have to resort to the old fashioned kick.
The Central Council of the GAA has agreed to a proposal by the Games Administration Committee to form a new League of two divisions. Div. I will be made up of the top 16 teams in the country divided into two groups of eight. Division II will comprise of 17 teams in one group of eight and one group of nine. This is good news for the likes of Kerry, who were relegated from Div. I last season and Dublin, who had gone down to Div. III.