By Sean Creedon
The National Football League kicks off this weekend with a new sponsor on board. Insurance company Church and General, who have sponsored the hurling and football leagues for the last seven years, are replaced by parent company Allianz.
A marketing drive is to take place to boost the Leagues, and although admission charges for adults will increase by _2, all primary school children will be admitted free of charge.
There will be also be several new managers in dugouts on Sunday, with eight counties having different managers from those that started the championship last May. The new men in charge are: Johnny Tobin (Roscommon), Peter Forde (Sligo), Mickey Moran (Donegal), John Maughan (Fermanagh), Colm Browne (Laois), Pat Roe (Carlow), Luke Dempsey (Westmeath) and Pat Begley (Clare). At the time of writing, Tipperary had not found a manager to replace Colm O’Flaherty.
Defending champions Derry open their program away to Mayo, while last year’s runners-up Meath travel to play Clare. Newly crowned All-Ireland champions Kerry are home to Louth in their first game.
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The InterLeague series between North and South will be revived next Wednesday (Nov. 1) when the Eircom League play the Smirnoff Irish League at Terryland Park, Galway. It will be the first time that the fixture, which dates back to 1926, will be played in Galway. Dermot Keely, the Shelbourne manager, has got the job of managing the Eircom League and he has included six players from Shels in his 18-man squad.
Dunne in form
Some excellent performances at the heart of the Irish defense have rescued Richard Dunne’s club career. The 20-year-old Dubliner was languishing in the Everton reserves until three great performances against Holland, Portugal and Estonia. Now Richard has linked up with his old manager, Joe Royle, at Manchester City in a _3 million move. Royle gave Dunne his Everton debut as a 17-year-old back in January 1997, but the Dubliner fell out with current Everton manager Walter Smith, who played him at right back.
The Showjumping World Cup qualifier, which was due to be held at its traditional venue in Millstreet on Nov. 4, has been canlled due to the continued withholding of Irish Sport Council funding. The ISC withheld funding from the Show Jumping Association of Ireland in 1998 due to the controversy over the SJAI accounts. Funding was restored in 1999, but has again been withheld this year while the ISC awaits confirmation that the SJAI house has been put in order.
McEniff for Rules team
Brian McEniff is almost certain to take charge of the Irish International Rules team for the trip to Australia next year. McEniff, who took over from Colm O’Rourke, was hampered in his preparations by injuries, club games and a drawn All-Ireland Football Final in the build-up to this year’s tests, which the Aussies won.
Ireland had won the last two series, and while it’s good to see the trophy going Down Under for a change, there’s no doubt that the GAA will have to give the players more time to prepare for future tests.
Of course, the travelling team always have more time together in these tests, but as Kerry’s Seamus Moynihan pointed out, “some of the amateur [Irish] players had to play club games 24 hours before the second test, the professionals [Aussie] had a week’s rest between the tests.”
Former Kerry star Pat Spillane says he wouldn’t mind having a go at managing the Irish team, but I think McEniff is safe for the trip Down Under.
The death occurred last week of well known journalist and author Dave Gurney, 79. From Kanturk in North Cork, Gurney represented Ireland in the shot putt at the 1948 Olympic Games. He was sports editor of the Irish Press for many years and wrote an amazing 28 books. But Gurney never forgot his Cork roots and the name on the gate outside his house in Sutton in North Dublin read “Dunhallow.”
There seems to be no doubt that D.J. Carey and Seamus Moynihan are the best hurler and footballer in Ireland right now. Both players were honored by the GAA writers and by their own playing colleagues by picking up the GPA and the Eircell Player of the Month awards for September.
Offaly are on the lookout for a new hurling manager following the resignation of Pat Fleury after just one year in charge. Fleury and his selectors, Pat Cleary and Ger Coughlan, quit last week and now Offaly are looking for their eighth hurling manager in nine years.