By Sean Creedon
A decision on whether to go ahead with building Eircom Park has been deferred for another month.
At their meeting in Dublin last week the FAI gave Chief Executive Bernard O’Byrne until Jan. 27 to present a fundamental review of the cost. Pat Quigley, the FAI president and one of O’Byrne’s strongest supporters, now admits that he does not know the real cost of the stadium and admits that the idea of bringing equity partners on board needs to be looked after.
Meanwhile, the FAI’s treasurer, Brendan Menton, an outspoken critic of the project, has claimed that the stadium will cost £130 million, double the original figure given at the launch in January 1998.
The FAI have got planning permission, but there are a few objections which will be heard by An Bord Pleanala next year. At some stage the FAI will have to row in with Bertie Ahern’s planned stadium in Blanchardstown.
Meanwhile, the redevelopment of Croke Park is also going well over budget, too, and there have been many calls for the GAA to earn revenue by staging soccer and rugby internationals. Among the latest people asking that the GAA should look at their options are former referee Paddy Collins, now the Westmeath secretary, and Kilkenny secretary, Pat Dunphy.
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Hassett packs bags
Kerry star Liam Hassett is leaving his hometown club, Laune Rangers, and will play for Dublin club St. Anne’s of Bohernabreena next year. Hassett is a teacher in Firhouse, near St. Anne’s, and he has been coaching underage teams with the club.
Meanwhile, Liam’s brother Mike will continue to line out for Laune Rangers. The brothers dropped out of the Kerry squad when Mike was denied an All-Ireland medal in 1997, but they came back this year and both played major roles in Kerry winning the first All-Ireland title of the new Millennium.
Kerry manager Paidi O Se and Galway’s John O’Mahony have been confirmed as the managers of the 1999 and 2000 Eircell All-Stars football team that will play each other in Dubai at the end of January.
Intercounty managers are not happy with the early start to next year’s Alliance National Hurling League. The League gets under way on Feb. 4 when the big game is the meeting of Cork and Kilkenny at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. There is another series of games planned for Feb. 11 and 18.
Playing hurling in Ireland in February is not an ideal situation. Limerick manager Eamonn Cregan agrees.
"Everyone knows that hurling is a summer game, yet instead of having more action in spring and summer, we are going back to winter," he said.
However, the Games Administration said they had no alternative but to start early as counties are opposed to doubling up hurling and football League fixtures and they also want a break before the start of the championship. It seems there are not enough Sundays in the year.
The meeting of minnows Dublin Bus and 14-time Cup winners Shamrock Rovers is the David and Goliath clash thrown up in the second round draw for the Harp Lager FAI Senior Cup.
Rovers were beaten by the non-League club in a pre-season friendly, but they will hardly be surprised twice.
Another of the minnows to draw a premier division club are Rathcoole Boys. The club from South Dublin have been drawn at home to Derry City, but their ground may not be up to Cup standards and they could play at Baldonnel, home of neighbors St. Francis. Cup holders Shelbourne are at home to Monaghan United. The ties will be played on the week ending Jan. 7.
Good goods in small parcels
November was a great month for Eircom League premier division side Longford Town. And it was no surprise when their goalkeeper Stephen O’Brien picked up the Soccer Writers’ Player of the Month. O’Brien, at 5-foot-7, is the smallest goalkeeper in the League and is the first-ever Longford player to win the award.
Thieves last week stole a haul of medals from the Thurles home of former Tipperary star Sean McLoughlin. Among the medals taken were five All-Ireland senior hurling, seven Munster senior medals as well as five National League, Oireachtas and minor All-Ireland medals.