Initially he said he would quit after the All-Ireland final, but having reflected on events after the defeat by Tyrone O’Connor is now willing to give it another year. O’Connor said: ‘I looked at the video of the game and, while not blaming the referee, I think a few of the marginal decisions went against us. I think there is one more year in this squad, after that whoever comes in will need to do a bit of re-building.’
O’Connor’s two selectors, Ger O’Keeffe and Johnny Culloty, have also indicated that they are willing to serve for another 12 months, as will trainer Pat Flanagan. O’Keeffe, the former Kerry corner back, summed up the thinking among the Kerry backroom team when he said ‘I suppose it came down to unfinished business. Our first reaction was to walk away and leave it to somebody else, but then you think there was only one score in it at the end against Tyrone. We have learned a lot this year. If you don’t learn you should give it up. Next year we will have a tougher route, if we are to make it to the final as Munster will be paired with Ulster in the knock out stages and that can only be good for us.’
Meanwhile Michael McElkennon has officially taken over from Eamon Coleman in Cavan. McElkennon, who previously worked with Mickey Harte in Tyrone, was temporarily in charge of the Breffnimen this summer when Coleman was hospitalized with pneumonia.
And Paddy Crozier is the new Derry senior football manager, replacing Mickey Moran. Crozier, who is from the Ballymuigan club, has built up a reputation with Lavey and Dungiven.
John Allen, the manager of All-Ireland hurling champions Cork, is this week set to announce that he is prepared to stay with the Rebels for another term.
And Conor Hayes, the manager of beaten finalists Galway, has also agreed to stay on for another year with the Tribesmen. ‘We now know what is required to win an All-Ireland,’ said Hayes, who has retained his management team of: Gerry Dempsey, Pierce Piggott, Seamus Coen and Sean Silke.
GRUDGE TIE MUST WAIT
When the English Premiership fixtures were released during the summer, the grudge match of the season was to be on Oct. 15 when Manchester United visited Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. Would we see a handshake between Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy and United’s Irish midfielder Roy Keane? Alas we will have to wait a while longer to see if either party extends the hand of friendship, as Keane is out of Saturday’s game still recovering from the broken metatarsal in his left foot. United have struggled in recent weeks and are currently 10 points behind leaders Chelsea. After a dreadful start to the season Sunderland have picked up a few valuable points to lift themselves away from the foot of the table.
GARDAI ARE TOP COPS
The Garda have won the first inter-police GAA tournament. Teams from the Garda, PSNI, New York Police Department and the London Metropolitan Police met in the inaugural tournament in Dublin recently and the gardai beat NYPD 1-14 to 2-3 in the final. The winners were presented with the Tom Langan Cup and there are now plans to hold the tournament every two years. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made an appearance at the Police Forces dinner in Dublin and he was presented with a NYPD GAA jersey by Donegal brothers Peter and Paul McCormack, who are both members of the New York’s Finest.
MUNSTER TO PLAY
Leinster will play their Celtic League game against Cardiff Blues at the RDS on Saturday next. Leinster need to get their players familiar with the RDS setting prior to the start of their Heineken Cup campaign.
But former All-Black star Jonah Lomu, who recently signed for Cardiff will not play in the RDS, as he is not due to join the Welsh club until the start of the Heineken Cup later this month. Meanwhile it has been revealed that Munster had first option to sign Lomu, but they were reluctant to gamble on the powerful winger, who has played only game in the last three years. Lomu was once the biggest name in rugby union, but his career has been blighted by nephrotic syndrome, which necessitated a kidney transplant last year.
Meanwhile Munster will have to do without scrum half Peter Stringer for their opening Heineken Cup games. The Corkman, who has missed only two of Munster’s last 54 Heineken Cup games, injured his knee in training last week. Second row forward Paul O’Connell is also ruled out of the first two Heineken Cup games with a thumb injury. But the good news for Munster is that the damage done to the Thomond Park sod by vandals on Sept. 14 has now been repaired and the Limerick ground will be ready to stage their Heineken Cup at home to Castres on Oct. 29. In fact the ground will be re-opened for the AIB All-Ireland League game between Shannon and Galwegians on Oct 22.
MCGRATH OMITS BRADLEY
Derry forward Paddy Bradley was bitterly disappointed last week when he was omitted from the Irish squad for the International Rules series against Australia last this month. Bradley felt that he had done enough in the training sessions in Dublin to merit a place on the plane heading to Perth this weekend. He said: ‘When it comes to things like this and the All-Stars I always seem to be the fall-guy. It makes you wonder why you play the game. I am totally shocked.’ Manager Peter McGrath admitted that the greatest competition for places was in attack. ‘One of the things we tried to do was to get the balance between half forwards and inside forwards or strikers. We have gone for players who are adept at point scoring under pressure,’ said the former Down boss. A fair point, but it was tough on Bradley to take considering McGrath is bringing hurler Sean Og O hAilpin, but then the Corkman is a defender.
The squad includes Ireland’s two most capped players, Sean Marty Lockart of Derry and Offaly’s Ciaran McManus, who have both played 12 tests for their country. But Aussie Rules star Tadhg Kennelly is out injured and the Kerryman is currently back home in Listowel for a holiday.
MUSIC CONFIRMED FOR
CROKER, FEWER GAMES
The GAA will definitely play more games outside of Dublin next year. Attendances were down for the hurling and football qualifiers played at Croke Park this year and next year we are likely to see a lot games at the preliminary stages played at venues like O’Moore Park, Portlaoise and Semple Stadium, Thurles. GAA President Sean Kelly said the GAA also had to take into consideration the inconvenience caused to residents in the vicinity of Croke Park by having too many games at the Jones Road venue.
In other news, Bon Jovi has been confirmed for a concert at Croke Park on May 20 next year. It’s anticipated that two further concerts will be finalized for Croke Park for that weekend with Robbie Williams already mentioned as a possible act for the second night and possibly the Rolling Stones for a third night. Earlier this year U2 played to full houses on three consecutive nights at Croke Park.
Meanwhile the Connacht Council have yet to decide which two grounds will get floodlights next year. The four venues under consideration are: Pearse Stadium, Salthill, McHale Park, Castlebar, Park Sean Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon and Sligo’s Markievicz Park. The other provincial bodies have already nominated the grounds that will get funding to install floodlights. They are: O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, and Pairc Tailteann, Navan, in Leinster; in Ulster it’s Casement Park, Belfast, and Healy Park, Omagh, which the two Munster grounds chosen are: the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick and Walsh Park in Waterford.
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KURTEN ENTERS WORLD TOP 10
Showjumper Jessica Kurten was celebrating last week after she became the first Irish woman show jumper to break into the world top 10. The latest Gandini rider ranking showed the County Antrim-born rider had moved up from 12th place in September to sixth place this month. Kurten, who has refused to ride for Ireland as long as Cian O’Connor is in the team, is based in Germany. She will be bidding to boost her rankings even further when she competes in the Las Vegas invitational this weekend. The only other Irish rider in the top 50 is Cork’s Billy Twomey, who moved up from 59th to 50th place. Cian O’Connor, who had to serve a three-month ban early in the season, is well down the table in 248th place.
GAA DISTRIBUTES INCOME
What do the GAA do with all the money they take in gate receipts every year. That’s a typical question from critics of the association. Well most of the money goes back into the promotion of games, coaching and development of grounds around the country. A recent meeting of the GAA’s Central Council revealed that each county, including overseas units, that participated in the All-Ireland football championship are to receive