By Sean Creedon
Manchester United have always had strong Irish interests, but never in a seven year old! Yes, that’s correct, United want to sign up seven year-old Ross Murtagh to their under-age academy when he is eight and a half years old next June. Ross is reported to have great balance and has kicks equally well with both feet.
United are not the first big name club to show an interest in the young Dubliner. When the Murtagh family lived in Majorca, Spanish club Real Mallorca offered Ross a place in their under-age academy.
If the deal goes through Ross’ parents will move to Manchester where their young son will get a private education.
Memories of a nasty Munster Hurling Final replay in 1998 will be recalled when Clare and Waterford meet in the first of this year’s All-Ireland hurling semifinals on Sunday next (Aug. 11).
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That replay at Semple Stadium, Thurles four years ago saw some nasty pulling and Clare’s Colin Lynch was later the unfortunate player to be singled out. He got a three-month ban.
Ger Loughnane, who was in charge of Clare back then, maintained that the Bannermen were treated unfairly by the GAA hierarchy and overall a lot of bad feeling existed.
Now following their one-point win over Galway in the quarterfinal Clare will be facing up to the newly-crowned Munster champions once again. Clare got the run-around from Galway in the first half of their quarterfinal tie, but they fought back for a narrow win.
The Bannermen have a great record in Croke Park in recent years and have lost only once in ten games at headquarters since 1995. Waterford have not had a competitive game since their shock Munster final win over Tipperary on June 30, but they have been kept in trim by playing a few challenge games.
It’s 39 years since Waterford last won the Munster title. And amazingly every year they won Munster they went on to qualify for the All-Ireland final. The only time Waterford lost a semifinal was in 1998 when they were beaten by Kilkenny, having qualified via the ‘back door’ route. It’s a hard one to call, but I fancy Justin McCarthy to lead the Decies to the final this year.
Breen out of friendly, O’Shea to come aboard?
Meanwhile Gary Breen, who last week joined West Ham from Coventry City, could also be out of the Finland game. West Ham’s League game against Newcastle United has now been put back to Monday Aug. 19 to accommodate television coverage. That would mean that Breen would not be able to link-up with the squad in Helsinki until Tuesday, which is only 24 hours before the game.
Seeing as it’s only a friendly it’s likely that Mick McCarthy may decide to leave Breen out. He has plenty of cover in central defense.
Richard Dunne and Andy O’Brien were both in the World Cup game, but didn’t get a game in Japan or Korea.
Also there’s the promising John O’Shea, who made his Irish debut last season, but was considered inexperienced for the World Cup.
O’Neill shaky at Celtic?
Speculation continues at Glasgow Celtic with regard to Martin O’Neill’s future. The Irishman, whose contract expires at the end of next season, is reported to have refused to sign an extension of his contract to keep him at Parkhead. Last week O’Neill had talks with major shareholder Denis Desmond, but no new deal was confirmed.
Derry board meet
The Derry County Board met last Wednesday to discuss the appointment of a replacement for Eamon Coleman, who quit as manager last week. It was Coleman’s second term in charge of Derry, having taken over from Brian Mullins in 1993.
Six years earlier he guided Derry to their greatest triumph when they won the Sam Maguire Cup. The speculation in Derry is that Anthony
Tohill may retire from playing and take over as manager or player-manager.
Meanwhile Mick O’Dwyer, who says he is definitely finished with Kildare has already been linked with vacancies in Laois and Clare.
And former Meath star Colm O’Rourke has been linked with vacant football job in Offaly. O’Rourke, a teacher in Navan, is already in demand by the media.
He works as a match analyst for RTE’s ‘Sunday Game’ program and also
writes a weekly column for the Sunday Independent.
The other Keane may return
It now seems very unlikely that Roy Keane will rejoin the Republic of
Ireland squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers. We should get the first inklings of what Keane has to say about the FAI and Mick McCarthy when the News of the World begin serializing Keane’s new book on Sunday next (Aug. 11).
Last weekend Roy was playing for United at a tournament in Holland and missed his sister Hilary’s wedding in Cork, but made it home to his native city for the reception.
Best got 40 pints… of blood
George Best is reported to making a good recovery in a London hospital following his liver transplant operation last week. Best apparently needed 40 pints of blood during the life-saving operation.
Surgeons are reported to have had difficulty removing the liver as 56 year-old George had a very deep ribcage.
George’s wife Alex said that if Best didn’t have the liver transplant right now he would not have lived for more than three months.