By Sean Creedon
Turkey have chosen the remote town of Bursa for the second leg of their Euro 2000 playoff against the Republic of Ireland on Nov. 17. To get to Bursa the Irish party will have to fly to Istanbul and take a ferry to Bursa, which could take them about 13 hours. The FAI are not taking any chances and have canceled their annual Awards Dinner on Nov. 14 so that the players can leave Dublin the day after the first leg at Lansdowne Road.
"Because of the Logistics in getting to Bursa, we feel it’s better that the team should have an extra day to travel,” said FAI Chief Executive Bernard O’Byrne.
Meanwhile, Blackburn Rovers winger Jason McAteer could be back in the Irish team for the first leg on Nov. 13. McAteer is now fully recovered from the calf injury and is included in the preliminary squad of 31. Mick McCarthy originally named 30, but then added Sunderland’s Paul Butler, when his passport came through on time. However, the total is now back to 30 as goalkeeper Shay Given is ruled out with a wrist injury.
Butler qualifies for an Irish passport through his Kildare-born wife. He ha salready played for an Irish "B” selection but could not play for the senior team until his passport application was sorted out.
Roy Keane, who has missed the last three games against Croatia, Malta and Macedonia, is also included and Irish supporters will be praying that he stays free of injury between now and Nov. 13. However, Charlton midfielder Mark Kinsella will miss the first leg, after picking up a one match ban following two yellow cards.
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Soccer TV flap
Irish fans at home and abroad are awaiting news of live television coverage of the second leg from Bursa, which will kick off at 6 p.m. Irish time. The Turkish FA have signed a deal with Star TV for the exclusive rights. RTE and TV3 are both bidding for the rights, but apparently Star TV are demanding a fee of $1 million.
"We are very disappointed at how the Turkish FA have behaved," said RTE’s Head of Sport Tim O’Connor. "We spoke to them at the draw in Aachen last month and they assured us that the bids for European rights would be put out to tender. A few days later they did a deal with Star TV, the Turkish equivalent of the Sky TV. We are not interested in securing the European rights for £1 million, it’s a nought too many."
There are still two weeks to go and no doubt a deal will be done by either RTE or TV3.
The All-Stars hurling and football teams create a fair bit of healthy discussion each year. This year, the debate has already begun and we have only reached the nomination stage.
The big talking point is the omission of Cork’s midfield pairing of Mickey O’Connell and Mark Landers. Landers, the captain, had been injured prior to the All-Ireland final win over Kilkenny, but the omission of O’Connell, who scored 14 points in the championship for Cork, is a big surprise. And proof, if proof were needed that the awards only honors winners, is demonstrated by the fact that Galway, All-Ireland football champions last year, have only one nominee this year in Padraig Joyce.
One player who had a good chance of winning an All-Star award was Clare goalkeeper Davy Fitzgerald. But last week he was handed a two-month ban after being involved in a fracas at the end of the Munster Under 21 hurling final. Fitzgerald may appeal the ban, but it’s likely to rule him out of contention. The hurling and football teams will be named at the annual banquet in Dublin on Dec. 3.
Clare hurling manager Ger Loughnane says he will wait until after Christmas before deciding whether to continue with The Banner for another year. And it looks almost certain that Larry Tompkins will stay on as manager of the Cork senior footballers. However, the Cork County Board have not yet decided on the selectors for next year.
Rocket not retiring
Belfast boxer Wayne McCullough is not retiring. The "Pocket Rocket," who lost to Mexican Erik Morales in Detroit recently, is likely to have another fight in Dublin or Belfast in the Spring of next year. McCullough will rest for a few months, but a bout against England challenger Michael Brodie could be on the cards. "He needs to rest a while, but what I saw in Detroit last Friday week was a guy who still has a lot left in the tank,” said promoter Matt Tinley.
There will be great interest in O’Donoghue Cup final in East Kerry next month when Glenflesk and Rathmore meet. With East Kerry already crowned County champions the winners of the East Kerry final will be entitled to nominate the captain of the Kerry team for next year.
Glenflesk have provided the captains for the last two years in Johnny Crowley and Seamus Moynihan. But history will be made if Rathmore win. That would mean goalkeeper Declan O’Keeffe will become the first man from the village on the Kerry-Cork border to captain The Kingdom.