By Sean Creedon
All-Ireland champions Kerry and Dublin are both struggling in Div. 1A of the Allianz National Football League. The counties, who are due to play their rearranged game on March 4, are pointless after three games and next weekend they are unlikely to win any easy points.
Kerry are away to in-form Roscommon, while The Dubs travel to play Donegal.
Kerry make no secret of the fact that they are not taking the League seriously, but they will still be anxious to preserve their proud record of never having been relegated since the League was revamped in the 1950s.
Dublin, on the other hand are still building a team, but manager Tommy Carr is coming under pressure from the demanding Dublin fans. Apart from losing all their League games to date Dublin were also beaten by Wicklow in the O’Byrne Cup competition last month. And one has to go back to July last year for their last competitive win — against Westmeath in the Leinster championship semifinal.
"I know the supporters are very disappointed, but I can assure them they aren’t half as disappointed as the players and management," Carr said.
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Meanwhile Galway and Tyrone, the only two unbeaten teams in Div. 1A, meet in Tuam on Sunday.
Keane named for friendly
Captain Roy Keane is named in the Republic of Ireland squad for the friendly against Denmark on Feb. 28. But most cynical observers feel that Keane is likely to be pulled out of the squad by Manchester United in the days before the game.
The Denmark game is sandwiched between Priemiership games against Arsenal and Leeds and the chances are that the Corkman will be withdrawn.
Kenny Cunningham, who has missed all of this season through injury is back and McCarthy has also called up Tottenham’s Gary Doherty, but there is no place in the squad for Keith O’Neill, who must now fear that his international career is over. McCarthy had said a few weeks back that he would like to give O’Neill another try, but Cunningham picked up yet another injury just days before McCarthy named his squad.
Meanwhile Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy has called up Linfield part-timer Glenn Ferguson for the friendly against Norway at Windsor Park on Feb. 28. The 31-year-old Ferguson, who won one cap against Canada in April 1999, has scored 24 goals for runaway League leaders Linfield this season.
McEnroe, Borg for Point
The tennis golden oldies are returning to Dublin this week and we will probably see the last-ever meeting between John McEnroe and Bjorn Bjorg on the tennis court. The Swede and Mac will be joined at The Point Exhibition Centre by Pat Cash, Henri Leconte and other big names from the past from Feb. 22-25 in the KPMG Challenge.
Pat’s win Cup
St. Patrick’s Athletic took the first major domestic soccer trophy of the season last week. Although the Saints only drew 2-2 with the Scholars from UCD in the second leg, it was enough for them to take the Cup as they had won the first leg 3-1. It’s the first time in their history that Pat’s have won the League Cup competition, have won the League seven times and the FAI Cup twice.
AIB hurling semis
The AIB club hurling semifinals will be played this weekend. Dunloy from Antrim will meet Connacht champions Athenry at Parnell Park, Dublin, while the game between Sixmilebridge and Graigue Ballycallan will be played in Thurles. Many observers feel that AIB don’t get the credit they deserved from sponsoring the club championship. Most of the preliminary round games are played in October, November and December, which is not a great time for games.
With Ireland having moved to the top of the European League for underage drinking, it looks like there will be pressure brought on the GAA to drop their Guinness hurling sponsorship. If that happens it would leave the way clear for AIB if they wish to take up the hurling championship and go head to head with rivals Bank of Ireland, who are the current All-Ireland football championship sponsors.
Rule series set
The GAA have confirmed the dates for this year’s International Rules series against Australia. The first test will be played in Melbourne on Oct. 12 and the second in Adelaide a week later. Two years ago, a crowd of 75,000 turned up at the world famous Melbourne Cricket Ground for the first test and a record 46,000 filled Footie Park in Adelaide for the second game.
Tadgh Kennelly, son of former Kerry star Tim Kennelly looks like he could be about to break into the Sydney Swans team. Kennelly, who decided to try his luck Down under over a year ago, played his first senior game for the Swans in a pre-season friendly against Essendon last week.
Munster Euro semi in Lille
Munster’s European Cup semifinal against Stade Francais will be played in Lille on Saturday, April 21. Stade Francais had initially hoped to play the game at Parc de Princes in Paris, but Lille will be able to handle the 30,000 crowd that is expected.
The Gaelic Players Association and the official GAA Players’ Committee will meet on March 2 when they plan to discuss issues that are common to both associations. Former Armagh star Jarlath Burns, Chairman of the Players Committee and Dublin’s Dessie Farrell, chairman of the GPA, have confirmed that both groups will meet to discuss issues which ultimately will lead to better conditions for all GAA players.
Best to pen autobiography
George Best, who was discharged from hospital in Belfast last week, is to write a candid tell-all autobiography. Best, who has been suffering from pneumonia, has collaborated on a few books in the past. This time he says he will discuss his relationship with his second wife, Angie, and his late mother’s alcoholism. The book will be ghost written by sports writer Bob Collins.
Railway Cup retained
The GAA has got rid of the All-Ireland "B" football championship, the Oireachtas hurling competition and the South East Hurling League. But after a plea by the Players Committee and Ulster Secretary Danny Murphy, the Railway Cup competitions in hurling and football have been retained.
Thanks, son, but . . .
Most soccer player buy their parents a new home when they hit the big time with regards to earnings. Leeds United’s Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane is no different. He wanted to buy his parents a new home, but they were happy to stay in the council house in the Tallaght estate where Robbie was born.
"When I signed for Wolves, the first thing I did was to have central heating installed for my parents," Keane said. "Now I have bought the council house they live in. They didn’t want to move, that’s where all their friends are and it’s their home."