Category: Archive

Light goes on for GAA

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The opening game of the National League between Cork and Kerry at Pairc Ui Rinn drew a crowd of 13,000 and now both counties are hoping to stage more games under lights. Cork plan to play their home League game against Galway on March 1 under lights at Pairc Ui Rinn and Kerry hope that Dublin will agree to travel to Austin Stack Park Tralee for a Saturday night game the same weekend. Monaghan are the only other county that has proper floodlights at a county ground. Dublin could use the Iveagh Grounds in Crumlin, which has lights, but it’s likely they will revert to their traditional base in Parnell Park after experimenting with Croke Park for their opening League game against Armagh.
Soccer was the first sport in Ireland to realize that family life was changing. Gone are the days when men went straight to a League of Ireland game after the pubs closed on Sundays afternoons. They switched to Friday and Saturday nights and haven’t looked back. Rugby was next and Friday night games are now hugely popular in all four provinces.

It’s been 16 years, almost to the day, since the Republic played Scotland at Hampden Park. Back on Feb. 18, 1987, The Republic beat the Scots in a European Championship qualifier with a rare goal from Mark Lawrenson. Jack Charlton later admitted that the team he put out that night in Glasgow was his strongest ever Irish selection during his 10 years in charge. For the record this was the team: Bonner, McGrath, McCarthy, Moran, Whelan, Houghton, Lawresnson, Brady, Galvin, Stapleton, Aldridge. Northern Ireland are also in action this evening in a friendly against Finland at Windsor Park. Partick Thistle defender Stephen Craigan is the only newcomer in manager Sammy McIlroy’s 19-man squad.

The GAA finally appreciate the old saying that money talks. President Sean McCague said last week that the Association face a crippling debt unless they get the $38 million that was promised by the government. And even if the government do pay up, the GAA are facing a $32 million overdraft, which would mean interest repayments of around $2 million per year. The GAA has done a magnificent job in the new-look Croke Park, but it’s an expensive stadium to maintain. But, of course, there is a simple solution, open up Croke Park to soccer and rugby internationals. If as expected the FAI and the IRFU get together and revamp Lansdowne Road there is going to be nowhere for soccer and rugby internationals to be played while Lansdowne is upgraded, except Croke Park. And think of the revenue they would earn from renting out the ground to various other bodies. The seasons are ideal, the big GAA games are played in summer, while soccer and rugby are mainly winter/spring sports.

Anglo-Irishman Ralp Firman will drive for Jordan this year. The 27-year-old former British Formula 3 champion, confirmed last week that he would be joining Giancarlo Fisichella on the Jordan team. His first race will be the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 9. Firman, who was born in Norfolk, holds dual nationality. His father Ralph was a mechanic for Emerson Fittipaldi, before founding the Van Diemen racing car business. And his mother, Angie, is from Newbridge in County Kildare. “He may be a rookie in F1 terms, but Ralph brings a lot of racing experience and a formidable track record along with his enthusiasm and commitment,” said team chief Eddie Jordan.
Further good news for Jordan when cigarette company Benson & Hedges last week confirmed that they would continue to support Jordan for another year.

Sonia O’Sullivan has confirmed that she will not be able to compete in the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham next month. But the Cobh-born runner hope to be fit to represent Ireland in the short course event at the World Cross Country Championship in Lausanne later on in March. “It took me a long time to recover from the New York City Marathon,” she said, “and I didn’t really start training again until January.”

County Down have captured the first All-Ireland title of the new year. Last week, St. Malachy’s of Castlewellan were named AIB Club of the Year. St. Malachy’s have over 600 members and fields teams from under 10 up to senior level. Although best known as a football club, they also field five hurling teams. The other provincial winners were: Connacht: St Brigid’s (Roscommon), Leinster: Simonstown Gaels (Meath) and Munster: Burgess (Tipperary).

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Glen Crowe, who in November became the first League of Ireland player since 1986 to win a senior cap, has been voted Player of the Year by his colleagues in the Professional Footballers of Ireland. The Bohemians striker, who missed the last few games of the season through injury, was the top scorer with 18 goals. The PFAI members voted Shelbourne’s Wes Hoolahan as the young player of the year in the transitional season just ended. And Waterford United goalkeeper Wayne Russell was named the first division’s Player of the Year.

Former Leeds United manager David O’Leary says he is looking for a job. O’Leary, who was sacked by Leeds last June, has not been signing on the dole. Instead, he has fought a legal battle with Leeds and last week both parties agreed to a compensation deal, reported to be worth around

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