Kerry have had a good relationships with Adidas for many years, but two years ago they switched to O’Neill’s for their jerseys. County Board chairman Sean Walsh said he expects a deal to be in place before Kerry’s opening game in the Munster championship against Tipperary on June 15. However, the Kerry hurlers are unlikely to benefit from a boot deal. Hurling manager Maurice Leahy said: “We are very well looked after by the County Board and I would be sure that I speak for the players when I say that I don’t care what type of boots we wear or where they come from.”
In a related story, six intercounty stars, one of them a Kerry star, agreed personal deals with Puma last week. Footballers Dara O Cinneide, Michael Donnellan, Kieran McGeeney and Trevor Giles joined hurlers D.J. Carey and Henry Sheflin in a deal to wear and promote Puma football boots and sportswear.
“I have heard talk of a possible deal between Kerry and Nike, but I don’t think it will upset my wearing of Puma,” O Cinneide said. “Kerry have a very progressive County Board and I think they will be amenable to this deal. There are couple of other players with Kerry wearing the brand and it will take a lot of persuasion for them to stop wearing Puma. And there are Kerry players wearing Nike and Kerry players wearing Adidas.”
IRWIN TO MULL DECISION
Veteran Denis Irwin said he will take some time before deciding whether he wants to return to the FA Premiership next season. The dependable Corkman figured in Wolves 3-0 victory over Sheffield United recently, a win that takes them to the top flight for the first time since it became the Premiership. But the fullback, who will be 38 in October, said he will take his time and discuss the matter with his family before making a commitment to Wolves. Mark Kennedy, still out of favor with Republic manager Brian Kerr, got Wolves first goal and Paul Butler, who won one Irish cap under Mick McCarthy, also figured in the defense.
PREZ PUSHES PLATE
Sean Kelly is certainly working hard in his new role. The Kerryman’s latest idea is to give the so-called weaker counties an opportunity to play in Croke Park on the big championship days. Full details of the Plate competition have not yet been finalized, but it’s hoped it will commence in 2004. The competition will be something similar to the old B Championship, but with the final stages to be played prior to big games at Croke Park. But there could be objections if the Plate games mean the minor hurlers and footballers missing out on their big day at Croker.
And county managers are not happy with suggestions from the GAA hierarchy that county boards should consider curbs on the number of training sessions by county teams. Retiring Munster Council Secretary Donie Nealon was among the first to moot the restricted training option.
“Central Council should bite the bullet and put a cap on the number of training sessions per week as happened when collective training was banned over 50 years ago because it was getting out of hand,” Nealon said.
But it would be difficult to implement such a rule and what would be the sanction for breaking it? It would be a bit much to suspend a manager simply because he was trying to do his best for the team.
O’DRISCOLL CONSIDERS FRANCE
Irish rugby three-quarters Brian O’Driscoll will be resting his troublesome hamstring at home in Dublin when Ireland play their upcoming game against Australia. The 24-year-old said the hamstring is an old injury that has never properly healed.
“It’s just a question of strengthening it up and continued rehab so that I will in peak condition for the World Cup later in the year,” he said.
O’Driscoll also hinted that he would like to try his luck in France after the World Cup.
“The South of France would be nice and the different way of life would attract me,” he said. “It would be nice to get away from the monotony of Dublin life.”
In Dublin, O’Driscoll is a big star and every move he makes is scrutinized, whereas in France he could probably concentrate more on rugby. Recently some Irish social columnists have been keeping tabs on where the young players goes and who his latest girlfriend is.
“At times I find it difficult to be in the spotlight,” O’Driscoll said. “There are massive perks that go along with it, but there are some cons also. Part of being a professional is that people want to talk to you all the time because it is your job. I can just about handle that. What embarrasses me is when social columnists say where I have been or who I have been with.”
BLATTER OFFERS HIMSELF
Sepp Blatter would probably be a strange choice to negotiate between the FAI and the GAA for the use of Croke Park. However, the FIFA president last week said he was willing to intervene.
“If they ask FIFA to intervene, I would not be against sitting down at a table and discussing it with them,” he told the Sunday Independent. “I will offer to negotiate. I cannot understand it. How can such developed and industrialized countries not solve such small problems? How can we then solve the big problem? It’s the same for your neighbors in the North.”
Now I wonder what Blatter meant by the reference to the North? Does he mean the current political stalemate at Stormont or is he suggesting that the Northern Ireland soccer team should play at Casement Park?
CROKER HOTEL PLANNED
The GAA plan to build a four-star, 225-bedroom hotel near the Hogan Stand in Croke Park. GAA bosses have been buying up sites near Croker in recent years and last week they revealed their plans. The hotel will be linked by a footbridge across Jones Road to the Hogan stand. The GAA are set to benefit from a massive 47 percent tax break for investors provided they get planning permission. Residents in the Croke Park area have not been happy at the disruption to their lives in recent years with all the building work going on around the stadium, together with the inconvenience most Sundays throughout the summer. They will no doubt object, but the GAA’s director general, Liam Mulvihill, pointed out that a hotel would improve the overall status of the area. Years ago the Gresham Hotel was the place to get a ticket before an All-Ireland Final. If you were not lucky at the Gresham you tried the Royal Dublin or Barry’s Hotel. Now the GAA Hotel on Jones’ Road will be a mecca for all GAA followers on big match days.