By Sean Creedon
Last year, Roscommon enjoyed a shock win over Galway in the Connacht championship semifinal, and yet it was the Tribesmen who ended up as All-Ireland football champions.
In June of last year, Roscommon, with former Galway star John Tobin in charge, caught Galway by surprise, but Galway regrouped and showed an amazing improvement when they got a second chance in the new backdoor system. They subsequently beat Roscommon in the quarterfinal stage. On
Sunday, the teams meet again in Connacht Championship at Dr. Hyde Park.
Newly crowned National League champions Tyrone are back in action on Sunday when they face Armagh in the first round of the Ulster championship. Anything is possible in Ulster, but I think Tyrone are playing well right now and should get over this hurdle.
Stephen Frampton has pulled out of the Waterford squad, just weeks before their Munster Championship opener against Cork. Following the return of Brian Greene from the U.S. in February, Frampton’s place in the Decies half-back line was no longer certain and he decided to quit.
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“There is no animosity at all and I’m not bitter. These things have to happen at some stage and I believe the time is right for me to walk away,” Frampton said.
Meanwhile, Tipperary also have injury worries in the run-up to their Munster
championship opener against Clare on Sunday. Paul Ormonde is definitely ruled out after breaking his collarbone playing football. John Leahy is unlikely to be back this year and there are also doubts about Eddie Enright, Paddy O’Brien, Mark O’Leary, John Carroll, Brian O’Meara and John O’Brien.
Mick McCarthy said that he would stand by the players who got the Republic to the World Cup finals. And Mick was true to his word and there were no surprises when the Irish manager announced his travelling panel last week.
I kept saying all along that the players who got us to the finals would be
the ones going to the World Cup. It’s not easy to tell players who walked
off the pitch in Tehran six months ago that they wouldn’t be going to the
finals. I’ve dropped massive hints all along about that. I think loyalty is
Also, the Leinster GAA Council say that the capacity of Dr. Cullen Park in Carlow for the Leinster championship game between Dublin and Wexford on June 1 will be 15,000. Not surprisingly, the first-round game will be an all-ticket affair. But it’s a Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland and it’s also the day that The Republic open their World Cup campaign in Niigata against Cameroon. And the expectation is that there will not be a huge demand for tickets.
Milk Ras Sunday
The annual FBD Milk Ras gets under way in Dublin on Sunday and over the next seven days will tour the country. This year the race is dedicated to the memory of the late Joe Christle, for many years race director when race was known simply as the Ras Tailteann. This year is the Golden Jubilee of the race. To celebrate the occasion seven of the eight stages will be dedicated to cyclists and officials where were closely associated with the race over the last 50 years. The first stage from Dublin to Ballinamore will honor Noel McGuill, a young Dunleer cyclist who was fatally injured in the 1972 race. Former winners Joe O’Brien, Ben McKenna and Paddy Flanagan will also be honored.
D.J. Carey’s hopes of making a comeback with Kilkenny this year have been hampered. The Gowran man who was making a slow recovery from a neck injury suffered in a car crash before Christmas, has now has an appendix operation.
Carey had the operation in St. Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny on May 7 and will be out of action for at least another six weeks.
Go North, young men
Before all games, the referee tosses a coin to decide which teams gets to play into a particular end of a ground in the first half. But for the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the toss of a coin to decide which dressing room a team gets is becoming very important.
Munster will be hoping that they get the “lucky” north dressing room against Leicester at the Millennium for the Heineken European Cup Final on May 25. So far, 11 soccer teams who has used the south dressing room have lost Cup finals in Cardiff and in the three major ruby games staged at the ground the winners have also stripped in the north dressing room. The Cardiff Stadium called in a feng shui expert, who seems to have failed to lift the curse of the south dressing room. So Munster will be hoping that they get the call right when they toss for dressing rooms in advance of the final.
Galwey career over?
Mick Galwey’s international career seems to be over. The 36-year-old Kerryman has not been included in the preliminary Irish squad for New Zealand. Also last week Leinster clinched the low-key interprovincial series when they beat Connacht 49-20 at the Sportsground. On the same day Leinster confirmed the appointment of former Irish international Willie Anderson as assistant manager to Matt Williams for next season.
No more Kerins?
It now looks like Galway will have to do with the two Kerins brothers for this year’s hurling championship. Hurling manager Noel Lane dropped Alan Kerins when he was not prepared to give up football. But then brother Mark failed to turn out for the county in the National league quarterfinal against Tipperary. Galway said Mark was ill, but clearly it was a show of solidarity with his brother. Now it looks like Mark could be spending the summer working in the U.S.
Big Jack speaks
Former Irish manager Jack Charlton says he would love to see the Republic play England in this summer’s World Cup Final.
“There would be nobody happier than me if Ireland meet England in the final. But I don’t believe that’s going to happen because England have no chance of getting that far.”
Charlton, who does not like giving interviews about the Irish teams since he quit six years ago, was in Dublin last week for a promotion and he said he is thrilled for his former captain Mick McCarthy.
“I am delighted for Mick because he has shown great patience, given lads their chance by playing a hell of a lot of friendlies and shown loyalty to players,” he said. “He has got the team playing the way he wants them to and don’t forget that he’s taken them out of a group that few people gave him any chance in.
“I don’t think England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson has a prayer as far as knowing what team he is going to play in the opening game. I don’t think he has made up his mind in any way, shape or form.”
Keane earns degree
Irish captain Roy Keane likes to lay down the law to his colleagues and now is he fully qualified to do that. The Cork-born captain of Manchester United and Ireland was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law at University College Cork last week.
“It’s an honor I just never thought I would get. The closest I thought I’d ever get to UCC was walking by on the road,” said a typically modest Keane.
Meanwhile, Keane’s Cork colleague Denis Irwin played his last game for Manchester United on Saturday. Irwin, who made 510 appearances for the Red Devils, is now looking for a club within driving distance of his South Manchester home.
“At this stage of my career I don’t fancy uprooting my family and I will be looking for a club somewhere within a hour’s driver of Manchester, he said.”
Wolverhampton Wanderers are reported to be interested in the 36-year-old dependable full-back.