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O’Dwyer, Laois aim to dethrone champs

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

And O’Dwyer has been that in his first term in charge. Under the 66-year-old Kerryman, Laois have been a revelation and on Sunday they face Tyrone in the Allianz National Football League final at Croke Park.
It will be the O’Moore County’s first league final since 1986 when they beat Monaghan by one point. And after beating reigning All-Ireland champions Armagh in the semifinal, who is to say they cannot repeat the dose against the reigning league champions?
O’Dwyer can certainly call on more talented forwards in Laois than were at his disposal in Kildare. Peter Canavan seems to be back to his best for Tyrone, and after winning their first-ever national league title when beating Cavan in Clones last year, the county will be anxious to break their Croke Park hoodoo and win a title at headquarters.
Meanwhile, Limerick’s footballers have been denied permission for a training session at the new-look Croke Park in advance of their Div. 2 final against Westmeath on Sunday. Limerick, who will be making their first appearance in Croke Park since 1972, wanted a two-hour session, but when they were only granted a 20-minute walk-about they declined the offer.
“We are going up to Dublin on Saturday and maybe we will approach Croke Park again about a walk-about before the game,” Limerick manager Liam Kearns said.

Damien Duff picked up the Eircom/FAI senior player of the year for 2002 at a banquet in Dublin on Sunday night. Steven Reid was voted young player of the year. Replying to questions about his future at Blackburn Rovers Duff said that he was very happy at the club and had recently signed a new contract. But then I suppose he was hardly going to say that he would love to join Liverpool or Manchester United.

Catherina McKiernan is on the comeback trail. The Cavan-born runner, who has been troubled with injury in recent seasons, made a return to racing on Easter Sunday, finishing third in a four-mile road race in Dunboyne, Co. Meath.
McKiernan’s next outing will be on May 18, when she plans to take part in her new club Annalee’s 10K in Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan. The 33-year-old hasn’t ruled out a return to marathon racing later this year, with the Dublin Marathon in October the obvious target.
“It’s a great feeling to be running injury free again and I am looking forward to getting back into racing mode,” McKiernan said.

It looks like the intercounty career of Tipperary hurler John Leahy could be over. Leahy returned to the Tipp team on Easter Sunday, after being out for nearly two years after injuring his left knee. But three days later the Mullinahone star, who has been playing well at club level, damaged the cruciate ligament in his right knee in a training incident. Leahy had injured his right knee when he fell awkwardly in the Munster championship game against Clare at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in July 2001.
Tipperary’s PRO, Liz Howard, said: “After coming back so successfully from his last cruciate injury, this is absolutely devastating news. John made an unbelievable effort to get back into shape and had spent much time in the gym, swimming pool and also cycling.”

Rounders, Ireland’s answer to baseball, is one of the GAA’s four official games, along with football, hurling and handball. Camogie is still a separate entity, although moves are under way to integrate the women’s game in the GAA proper.
Last week, the GAA presented its first-ever all-star awards to 24 male and female players who have excelled at rounders in the last five years. At present there are approximately 2,500 registered rounders players in Ireland with the sport strong in counties: Dublin, Carlow, Cavan, Derry and Laois.

Promoted Waterford United are the surprise team in the Eircom League premier division. After four rounds of games Waterford were in the second position, behind joint leaders Cork City and Shelbourne. Derry City are really struggling having lost all four games to-date and if they go down to the first division, would find it difficult to survive. However, one bit of good news for Derry is that Spanish club Barcelona have agreed to play a friendly at The Brandywell on Aug. 12.

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Dublin will tomorrow announce their new hurling development plan. Central to the plan will be the appointment of Diarmuid Healy as director of hurling. Healy, a Kilkenny native, who had success with Offaly in the 1980s, said his target is “to get more people in Dublin hurling associated with skill.”
The 55 year-old, who has been working on a local radio station in Kilkenny in recent years, believes that Dublin hurlers have the basics.
“It’s only a case of speeding them up. After that, it’s a case of having enough confidence. A lot of counties have huge inferiority complexes due to a lack of success.”
Healy will also act as an advisor to current Dublin senior manager Marty Morris and managers of other county teams. Hurling is strong in some Dublin clubs and the county board now seem to be serious in their efforts to promote the game in our capital city.
Meanwhile, Kilkenny hurling star D.J. Carey has leant his name to a new campaign in neighboring Wexford urging teenagers to give booze and cigarettes the “red card.” A confidential telephone line has been set up by gardai in New Ross to tackle young drinkers, a problem that is now common to every town and village in the country.
“I have never drank or smoked,” Carey said. “And I firmly believe that I would never have achieved what I have achieved, particularly in coming back from a number of serious injures, if I had been abusing myself in terms of drinking or smoking.”
And former Offaly star Michael Duignan has changed his mind about quitting as Meath hurling manager. Annoyed at the reluctance of the Meath County Board to treat the county hurlers as well as the footballers and postpone club games, Duignan threatened to quit, but changed his mind for the sake of the players.
“I don’t want to walk away from the players now with the Leinster championship coming up shortly,” he said.

Niall Quinn, the Republic of Ireland’s top goal scorer with 21 goals, made a comeback to Gaelic football last week. Quinn, who is now back in Ireland and living in Kildare, lined out for Eadestown in a Junior B championship game against Rathcoffey. Prior to signing for Arsenal Quinn was a budding GAA player and played for Dublin in the 1983 All-Ireland minor hurling final against Galway.

A 96-year-old Meathman won gold in the European Senior Games in Ghent, Belgium, last week. Gerry Smith, from Trim was part of a team of 30 from the Summerhill Active Retirement Group who competed in the games and he won the 1,500 meters in a record time. Gerry said the gold medal was his first, but he will keep trying for more.

Top horseracing trainer Aidan O’Brien will not now be moving to the U.S. O’Brien had threatened to quit the famous Ballydoyle stables near Cashel and move to the U.S. if plans to build a meat and bone meal incinerator at Rosegreen had gone ahead. Over 23,000 people in South Tipperary formed an alliance against the incinerator and last week plans for the development were dropped.

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