Earlier this year O’Connor lost his Olympic Gold medal after it was discovered that Waterford Crystal had failed a drugs test in Athens last year. Kurten was not available for comment last week, but her husband Eckerd said: ‘At the beginning of the year, Jessica and I made a decision that we would not compete with Cian O’Connor in one team.’ Eckerd also revealed that the Irish selectors tried unsuccessfully to get his wife to sign a “code of conduct” letter. The selectors wanted Kurten to ride alongside anybody they selected. Taylor Vard, head of the Irish selection committee, said: ‘I am sick. It looks as if she is prepared to go to Spain rather than help her country. Jessica’s unavailability is a major blow. There were efforts to have Jessica and Cian sit down together and work this out, but it didn’t happen.’
Kurten’s place will now be taken by Clement McMahon. The other riders in the Irish team are: Capt. Shane Carey, Harry Marshal and Billy Twomey. The other countries competing for the Aga Khan Trophy in Dublin this week are: Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.S. This is the 132nd year of the famous Ballsbridge show and an estimated 100,000 people are expected to attend over the five days.
RAILWAY CUP SET
FOR BOSTON FINAL
This year’s inter-provincial Railway Cup hurling final could be played in Boston on Nov. 6. The venue has yet to be officially confirmed, but Central Council are expected to shortly ratify the venue as it looks like the GAA want to move away from Europe, where there has as much apathy for the competition as there is at home in Ireland. A GAA source said: ‘Nothing has been confirmed yet but certainly there is a desire to move the final away from mainland Europe this time around. Unlike Paris or Rome, where the final has been played in recent years, there is already a GAA ground in Boston and it’s a very attractive reward for the players. A number of English cities were also considered, but a game in Britain in November wouldn’t have the same appeal to players as America.’
RUGGERS TO TOUR
AUSTRALIA IN ’06
The Irish rugby team will undertake a tour Down Under next year. On June 10, 2006 Eddie O’Sullivan’s team will play Australia. The following two Saturdays, June 17 and June 24, Ireland will play Test matches against New Zealand. Venues have yet to be confirmed for all three tests. But before the tests and the Six Nations championship, Ireland try to do what the Lions couldn’t do this summer — beat New Zealand. The famous All-Blacks are due to visit Lansdowne Road next November.
BOSSES MOVE ON
With the All-Ireland dream over for another year in many counties we are seeing “Situations Vacant” signs going in several county boards. The latest intercounty manger to quit is Padraig Nolan. He was in charge of Kildare for three years, but after promising much earlier in the year, The Lilywhites had a disappointing season, losing to Laois in the Leinster semifinal and going out to Sligo in the backdoor route. Prior to the Kildare job, Nolan had spent three years with Offaly. A few days earlier Liam Kearns quit as manager of the Limerick senior footballers following their defeat by Derry. Also gone are: Paidi O Se in Westmeath, Pat Roe in Wexford and Brian McEniff in Donegal. So far, Dinny Cahill is the only hurling intercounty boss to quit. The Tipperary coach walked away from Antrim following a poor turn out at training.
John O’Mahony’s name is being linked to nearly all the football vacancies, but don’t be surprised if Paidi O Se’s bounces back. The Kerryman said he was going to take a break after quitting Westmeath earlier this month, but as the late writer Dave Guiney often used to say, once managers get used to the limelight, they find it difficult to resist the call.
Meanwhile there is growing speculation in Meath that Sean Boylan will stand down after 23 years in charge. The Meath County Board say that no decision will be made until their September meeting. Under Boylan, the Royals won the Sam Maguire Cup four times, but it has been all downhill for Meath in the past four years. Former Meath star Gerry McEntee recently suggested that Boylan would eventually leave Meath in the same mess he found them in all those years ago.
In Clare the County Board is expected to make a decision on John Kennedy’s future at their monthly meeting on Aug. 2. And Hugh Kenny has confirmed that he is staying on as Wicklow manager for another year.
CULLOTY CALLS IT A DAY
Killarney-born jockey Jim Culloty last weekend announced his retirement form the saddle. The man who partnered Best Mate to successive Cheltenham Gold Cup triumphs in 20002, 2003 and 2004, said: ‘The decision was for health reasons. I have been thinking about it for some time. Whenever I have had a fall lately, I have been left feeling dazed, which I didn’t in the old days. As much as I love riding, I have to put my health before my career.’ The 31-year-old had two heavy falls at his home-town meeting recently.
Best Mate missed the Cheltenham Gold Cup last March as he was injured a week before the big race. Trainer Henrietta Knight said there would no rush to find a new jockey for the horse. ‘Jim suited the horse as he is such a quiet rider, but then again anyone could ride Best Mate. We will not rush into making a decision and of course we will have to talk at length to the horse’s owner Jim Lewis.’
RED-CARDED DUO AVAILABLE
Peter Canavan and Stephen O’Neill will both be available to Tyrone for Saturday’s All-Ireland quarterfinal against Monaghan at Croke Park. Both players had the red cards they picked up in the replay of the Ulster final replay rescinded on appeal last week. Canavan was unlucky to be singled out by the Cork referee Michael Collins at the end of the second half brawl which occurred shortly after Peter’s arrival on the pitch as a substitute. And Collins admitted that he erred in sending off O’Neill as the full forward had not got a yellow card earlier in the game.
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STAR TO TAKE
UP RULES OFFER
Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh is expected to take up the offer of a trial with Aussie Rules club Brisbane Lyons when Tyrone’s interest in this year’s All-Ireland championship is over. However, Tadhg Kennelly, one of few Irish players to make a successful switch to Aussie Rules, said he hopes to return home and play for Kerry next year. Kennelly, who is playing regularly for Sydney Swans, said: ‘I have a year left on my contract, but I’ve always said that I want to come home and play for my native county. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. I want to come home while I’m still young and to have a good Kerry career. I’ve been here five years, but I’ve watched every one of Kerry’s championship games on television in that time.’
Kennelly’s father Tim was one of the stars of the great Kerry team of the 1970s and ’80s and his brother Noel has played for the Kingdom, but is currently out injured.
CATS’ DELANEY RETURNS
Former Kilkenny star P.J. Delaney is back playing hurling. The young man, who suffered a serious head injury outside a Thurles nightclub in September 1999, now lives in Dublin and made a comeback with the Thomas Davis club in Tallaght. P.J. has since rejoined his old club Fenians in Kilkenny where he is currently playing junior hurling. All going well P.J. hopes to play senior hurling for his club, but a return to the Kilkenny senior team is unlikely.
CLAMPING WOES SPUR
In the old days spectators going to Croke Park could park their cars anywhere in the vicinity of the stadium, on the streets, avenues, even sidewalks around the Drumcondra area. Now the dreaded clampers are busy and it’s not unusual for supporters up from the country to find their car clamped when they return to it after the game. It costs