By Mark Jones
Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) 0-10
Enniskillen Gaels (Fermanagh) 0-9
Crossmaglen Rangers’ victory in last Sunday’s Ulster football final at Clones means now that the Armagh club are now zoning in on a remarkable third All-Ireland title in four years.
Their progress was by no means smooth sailing and it took a late point by John McEntee to snatch the result from a dejected Enniskillen. When McEntee scored, it was the only time Crossmaglen had been in front during the second half and they had been laboring with 14 men since the 28th minute of the first half.
Gavin Cumiskey’s dismissal for a high challenge on Paul Brewster made life all the harder for the champions, but their experience bubbled to the surface. As Enniskillen frustratingly squandered several chances to finish with a total of 13 wides, Crossmaglen only shot three.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
"It was always going to be tough once we went down a man," said the winners’ manager, Joe Kernan, "but we had to keep our shape and increase our workrate."
Kernan was also quick to dismiss talk of his team’s gradual decline. "They say we’re a team on downward spiral," he said. "That’s nonsense, there’s no fatigue, just a very gutsy bunch of players."
Roscommon Gaels 0-9
Crossmolina (Mayo) 0-9
From a position of dominance, Crossmolina were mightily relieved in the end to settle for a draw following last Sunday’s Connacht club football final at Hyde Park.
Comfortably in charge at the interval, they hadn’t banked on the dead-ball expertise of Roscommon’s Michael McHale, who kicked his side back into contention. In fact, McHale had an opportunity to settle the issue with the last action of the game, but his long-range free swung left of the posts.
Michael Moyles and Joe Keane had driven Crossmolina into an early lead and with James Nallen controlling affairs in the middle of the pitch, it seemed as if there would be only one winner. However, Roscommon responded with Michael Ryan and Ciaran Heneghan in impressive form to earn a replay this Saturday.
Railway Cup woes
The Railway Cup’s gradual slide into oblivion wasn’t halted in any way when only 487 people turned up to witness last Sunday’s hurling final at Thurles. An all-Galway Connacht team defeated Munster by 2-13 to 1-15 with Ollie Fahy scoring the winning point in injury time.
Meanwhile, Na Fianna of Dublin qualified for the Leinster club football final when they got the better of Portlaoise by 1-13 to 0-10 and their opponents will be Kildare’s Sarsfields who accounted for Kilanerin of Wexford by 0-11 to 0-5. UCC and Rathgormack of Waterford will have to meet again following a 0-12 to 1-9 draw for the right to play Doonbeg of Clare in the Munster football decider.
Trevor Giles was the inspiration as favorites Skryne ran out 1-12 to 0-8 winners over Dunshaughlin in the Meath county football final. Giles proved to be the difference between the teams scoring a superb goal as well as four points.
Morley gets Cork record
Pat Morley broke the club’s all-time goal scoring record as Cork City consolidated their place at the top of soccer’s Premier Division with a 3-0 win over Galway at Turner’s Cross.
Morley’s header finally brought him to the 163 mark, one ahead of Donal Leahy who was Cork’s main striker in the 1950s and ’60s. The leaders are a point clear of Shelbourne, who beat UCD 2-0 and a further five points clear of Shamrock Rovers.
The first tentative steps in Ireland’s battle against drug cheats were taken this week when the country’s first official doping agency was launched. A total of 600 tests on Irish sportsmen and women will be carried out in 2000 with nearly half of those administered out of competition.
According to current statistics, that figure of 600 could generate at least 15 positive tests.
"We would be naive to think that what is going on in other countries is not practiced here," said Al Guy, the new agency’s operations manager. "We are no different in the area of misuse in sport than we are in any other area."
The likelihood of further positive tests in the wake of the Michelle Smith de Bruin saga won’t come as a massive culture shock, but the Irish Sports Council chief executive, John Treacy, warned of a difficult road ahead.
"There’s no doubt we’re all on a steep learning curve here," said Treacy. "History has shown that even after testing positive, most high-profile athletes deny they have ever used a banned substance. Most then threaten legal action and it’s up to all the Irish sports federations, professional and amateur, to hold their nerve."
With over $500,000 pledged to the scheme by the Irish government at the outset, all the main sports will come on board almost immediately, with the exception of the GAA, which has to change its constitution to endorse testing at next year’s Congress.
Leinster over Leicester
Leinster, whose early-season form has been hugely disappointing, made a sensational start to rugby’s European Cup when they defeated English champions Leicester by 27-20 at Donnybrook last week.
New out-half Mark McHugh kicked all the winners’ points with seven penalties and two drop goals as Leicester’s challenge faded badly during the second half.
Munster’s 32-10 victory over Welsh side Pontypridd at Thomond Park was no surprise. The Interprovincial champions were much too strong for their opponents and Ronan O’Gara’s 22 points were supplemented by tries from Alan Quinlan and Killian Keane.
However, the news wasn’t so positive for defending champions Ulster as they lost tamely to French club Bougoin by 26-12 in Lyon. Four first-half penalties by Simon Mason kept Ulster in contention, but they struggled badly after the interval.
Power runs to victory
Seamus Power won the National Intercounties cross-country title for the fifth year in a row when he had 18 seconds over his nearest challenger in what were demanding conditions at Carrignavar, county Cork.
Limerick’s Rosemary Ryan made it a Munster double by taking the women’s race in convincing style, with Dublin winning the team award. Antrim, meanwhile, clinched the men’s team prize for the first time in 12 years.