Saturday, February 28, 2009

Newspaper coverage doesn’t make sense!

A man I know places Moses’ 40-year trek across the Sinai in the shade; his efforts to guide the fortunes of junior and schoolboy football in Limerick dwarfs that biblical character’s commitment to the cause. And what thanks does he get for it, well very little - at least Moses’ got his hands on the Ten Commandments.
My man doesn’t mind though, he loves what he’s doing, but he does have a point to make: he believes the coverage of soccer in Ireland is utterly skewed.
Here’s his point: next week in Leader Sport we will attempt to make a fuss about the launch of the 2009 Eircom League season in general and Limerick FC in particular. On Friday night Limerick will travel to Belfield to take on UCD in their opening game of the season and will probably take a 20-man squad to Dublin.
But here’s the rub: despite the attention we will foist on Limerick FC for the remainder of the season the involvement of those players will only represent 1% of the total number of players taking to the soccer fields of Limerick on a given weekend. This weekend, between junior and schoolboy football, 153 games will take place in Limerick. So if you assume that 22 players start every game with a possible six players introduced as substitutes you have 2,142 kicking a ball in anger.
Now although Leader Sport makes a genuine effort to cover junior and schoolboy soccer on Shannonside as best it can, the figures suggest we should be trying harder. Indeed the media as a whole should be trying harder.
Every week the national newspapers are flooded with coverage of the English Premier League and while they often fail to do the domestic league (Eircom League) justice they often ignore junior and schoolboy soccer completely.

Tomorrow, right here in Limerick, you can sample what junior soccer is all about by toddling along to what promises to be one of the most entertaining games of the season when Janesboro (starring Shane Clarke who is pictured above) take on Clonmel Town in the last 16 of the FAI Junior Cup at Pearse Stadium (2.30pm).
Put those eyebrows down immediately. This is going to be a serious game with the winners claiming their place in the last eight of the biggest amateur soccer tournament in Europe (680 teams entered).
Don’t bother watching the Carling Cup final - for God’s sake you know Man United are going to win the damn thing. Get along to Pearse Stadium and give it a go, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Brian McDonnell

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I’ve just read this story and I can’t believe it . . .

Being, as I am, a big fan of Eamonn Dunphy I spent the last half an hour trying to come to terms with the details of Mr. Dunphy’s debut for the Republic of Ireland in 1965. There I was happily hopping from one electronic link to another wasting time on the internet until the Copa Libertadores kicked into action only to happen upon the details of Ireland’s clash with Spain 44 years ago.

Anyway here goes: the Republic faced Spain in a two-legged affair in 1965 with the winner destined to claim their place in the 1966 World Cup.
Now the Republic were fairly handy at the time with the likes of John Giles, Charlie Hurley, Noel Cantwell and Shay Brennan in the side. They won the first leg 1-0, but seemingly the result failed to do their efforts justice. Ireland travelled to Seville for the second leg and lost 4-1.
Thankfully FIFA didn’t use aggregate scores at the time so a winner-takes-all play-off was required at a neutral venue.
The Irish players wanted Wembley and the Spanish plumbed for Paris. The boys at FIFA suggested they toss for it, but then the Spaniards, cute as bees these lads, threw a cat among the pigeons and offered to pay all of the Republic of Ireland’s travelling expenses if the game was played in Paris.
Playing in London, obviously, offered the Republic the best chance of qualifying while Paris shortened the odds a little. The FAI snapped the hand off the Spaniards the play-off took place in Paris’ Colombes Stadium in front of 35,000 hostile supporters and Spain won 1-0.
After that Eamonn Dunphy played for the Republic a further 22 times, but between 1965 and 1972, Dunphy’s prime, Ireland only managed to win three games. Seemingly the players were a little disillusioned with it all. Can’t imagine why?

Brian McDonnell

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bill Doonan is the answer!

The GAA hierarchy are expecting a 10 per cent down turn in attendances in 2009 which will, of course, lead to a €6 million shortfall in income - along with the persistent drama down in Cork and a listless league thus far that makes for pretty depressing reading.
Anyway, a mate works for a Dublin-based advertising agency and he rang today for a chat. He mentioned that they had to come up with a good idea for a TV advertising campaign which they hoped would get the GAA public to come out in their droves this summer . . . well I’ve got one!
Remember Breandán Ó hEithir’s classic story (re-told in the final chapter of his seminal book ‘Over The Bar’) about Bill Doonan.
Well, Bill, a Cavan footballer, found himself working as a radio operator for the British Army during World War II. Then, all of shot like, Bill went missing from his regiment one September Sunday in 1943 when the lads were fighting the good fight in southern Italy, down Monte Cassino way.
Seeing as his comrades in arms were so fond of Bill they set off, risking life and limb, in search of the man. They eventually happened upon Bill who was perched precariously up a tree where he was successfully attempting to eavesdrop on a signal from good old Ireland which was helpfully broadcasting a commentary from the All-Ireland football final between his native Cavan and Roscommon - Roscommon won that one 2-7 to 2-2.
Sixty-six years on I don’t believe that anybody has come anywhere near matching that story when it comes to illustrating what the GAA means to so many people.
Now wouldn’t that make for a classic advert?

Brian McDonnell

The best Irish athletes are of Saxon stock?

Seldom has a newspaper article written in praise of a rugby team gained such a diverse response.
In the wake of Ireland’s victory over Italy The Guardian recently carried a piece entitled the ‘Long wait could be over for resurgent Ireland’, which was also posted on the newspaper website.
Comment on the piece was encouraged and a deluge of it followed.
Contributors had a field day and while there were many who wrote agreeing with the contents of the piece one contributor ‘FrederickChicester’ took grave exception.
Part of his contribution read: “The Irish have no chance whatever of winning the Grand Slam. I expect them to lose to England and lose to Wales.
“The optimism about their chances is risible.
“To read the Irish press, one would think it was they, and not Wales, who had won two Grand Slams in the previous three years. . .
“I expect England to be faster and stronger than the Irish.
“The days of Ireland taking advantage of England teams battered by a Premiership game the week before (as they did two years ago) are gone. . .”
In a second contribution ‘Frederick’ wrote: “It is disappointing that the board’s resident Irish posters cannot engage in reasoned debate rather than respond vituperatively in a fit of pique.
“Emotion does not aid the search for truth. . .
“Let us consider a few facts pertinent to any analysis of the Irish team: [1] They have never, in their entire history, beaten the All Blacks. [2] The best team in Irish rugby history (apparently) failed abjectly at the World Cup, and was beaten up in contact not just by the French and Argentines, but even by the Georgians and Namibians.
“[3] Every time an Irish player is asked to make the step up to true world class, he fails abjectly. [4] The Irish, genetically, are not large men, as any Irish under-age or forwards coach would be happy to inform you. It is interesting that the best Irish athletes are of Saxon stock.
“[5] There are certain individuals in the Irish team who, contrary to myth, would not get anywhere near the English or French or Welsh teams.
“It is my contention that the Irish are simply not that good. They over-achieve to a startling extent with Munster because of their superb team spirit and family atmosphere.”
I wonder if ‘Frederick’ will make the trip across to Dublin this weekend for the big Six Nations clash at Croke Park on Saturday.
His contribution to the Guardian website next week are awaited with interest.

Colm Kinsella

Wary of a ‘wounded’ England

PROP Marcus Horan has warned that ‘wounded’ England are sure to prove dangerous opposition as Ireland bid to complete the third leg of a potential RBS Six Nations Grand Slam campaign this Saturday at Croke Park. Ireland will be seeking a fifth win in their last six championship meetings with Martin Johnson’s England at GAA headquarters (5.30pm).

The most recent of those victories in 2007 was one of the most memorable moments in Irish sport as England were humbled 43-13 in their first visit to Croke Park. But Horan, who is Ireland’s second most capped prop of all time, said the bitter disappointment felt after last season’s defeat to England at Twickenham was still fresh in his mind.
“I am expecting a tough, physical battle on Saturday and even more so now given England’s defeat to Wales two weeks ago,” Horan said.
“They are a team which is probably hurting and they will want to prove a point for their inspirational coach Martin Johnson, a guy who is under huge pressure. The England players will want to do right by him.
“England are always tough opponents, especially at set piece time. They have big men and are very physical. From our point of view the last few weeks will mean nothing unless we put in a big performance up front and set the platform. It will be very tough. A wounded team like England is a very dangerous team.
“Their defence is very strong. They are tough to break down. The tries they conceded against wales were opportunist scores.
“We will be hurting after also year’s display over in Twickenham. We have a lot to prove in that aspect of things.
“The defeat 12 months ago will be a driving force for us.”
Horan, who will earn his 64th international cap this Saturday, told that while some commentators and supporters may be looking ahead to a potential Grand Slam showdown with Wales in the final series of games, the Irish players were just focusing on England.
“No one here is thinking beyond England,” Horan stressed.
“No one would show the disrespect to any team in thinking beyond this game. We have analysed England as well as we can over the past two weeks. They will be hurting and they will want to prove a point to a lot of their critics. That is a dangerous place to be. We need to up our game. last year over in Twickenham was hugely disappointing for us. We let ourselves down a bit and we want to put that right. We need to keep fighting and fighting to the end.
“If we can start well and put them under pressure, then maybe the doubts will start to creep in. But that will be down to us, how we approach the game and the physicality.”
Horan’s front row colleague John Hayes will equal Malcolm O’Kelly’s record number of 92 caps in Saturday’s game.
The match will see out-half Ronan O’Gara win his 90th cap and in doing so he will join O’Kelly, Hayes and Brian O’Driscoll as the only players to have won over 90 caps for Ireland.
Ireland have named an unchanged starting XV for the third week in a row to take on England at Croke Park in Saturday’s clash. The sole change to the Match Day 22 from the games against France and Italy sees Malcolm O’Kelly, who did not make it into the expanded 36-man squad named before this game, replaced in the substitutes by Munster lock and back-row forward Mick O’Driscoll.
Coach Declan Kidney said England’s much improved showing against Wales indicated that Ireland can expect a formidable challenge from Martin Johnson’s side.
“England’s performance in the last match against the Welsh was well up on the week before,” said Kidney.
“I suppose that the other thing that concerns me is the quality of the people in the background. I’ve worked with Mike Ford before and my respect for Martin Johnson is huge. What’s also important is that they’ve had two free weeks in the run-up to this match. If they made that much of an improvement in one week in between Italy and Wales, who knows what kind of improvements they’ve made in the past fortnight?
“That two-week preparation is a new thing for England because before they might have been playing Guinness Premiership matches in between.
“You can’t overstate the importance of that to any team - getting proper preparation time in between matches.”

Colm Kinsella

Jerome O'Connell: Injury Time

THE new GAA Development Officers (Adrian O’Sullivan and Gerard Downes) in Limerick city are already making their presence felt.
This Saturday, February 26, Tir Chonaill Harps GAA club from Glasgow will land in Shannon and begin a four-day hurling tour of the Northside Regeneration areas of Limerick. Adrian O’Sullivan is planning the event and has a wide range of activities planned for the Scottish visitors, who are aged between 10 and 12.
Abbey Sarsfields and LIT Sarsfields will be at the centre of the weekend’s activities. The Harps will play an indoor blitz on Friday in the Bays in Moyross, with the children from LIT Sarsfields’ two main feeder schools, Corpus Christi NS in Moyross and St. Munchin’s BNS. On Saturday they will take part in an outdoor blitz hosted by Abbey Sarsfields.
O’Sullivan points out that this visit is about much more than sport: “My job is to promote the GAA in Limerick City. Community development and integration are very important aspects of this. This visit is a fantastic opportunity for integration, not only between Glasgow and Limerick, but also the many different areas within the Northside regeneration area itself and I envisage this weekend as really bolstering community spirit, a foundation upon which the GAA is built all over the country.”
During their stay the Glasgow children will have drug awareness workshops from the Northside ‘We’re OK Youth Initiative’ and will also go on tours of Thomond Park and the Gaelic Grounds.
“Everyone is welcome to come watch these talented Limerick children in action alongside their Scottish counterparts. The first blitz will throw in at 11.30 on Friday in the Bays in Moyross and on Saturday the throw-in time is 3pm at Abbey Sarsfields pitch in Corbally.”
Anyone interested in playing for or getting involved in LIT Sarsfields or Abbey Sarsfields can contact Adrian O’Sullivan on

All-Ireland club final day
THERE will be Limerick representation on All-Ireland club final day in Croke Park, after all.
The aspirations of Dromcollogher-Broadford were cast aside by Crossmaglen Rangers while Adare will look on in envy when De La Salle make their debut at GAA Headquarters in the hurling final. Lining out against De La Salle will be Limerick native Garrett Heagney.
The school teacher goes in search of his third All-Ireland club hurling championship this St. Patrick’s Day in Croke Park. The former South Liberties man will line out at wing back for Portumna. Heagney, who played under-21 with Limerick in 2005, was also briefly a member of Joe McKenna’s county senior squad that season, but work commitments forced the defender to withdraw.
The football, too, will have Limerick involvement. In the full-back line for Kilmacud Crokes are brothers; Ross and Rory O’Carroll - many moons ago their grandmother Maureen Sheahan came from Dromcollogher!

By-laws out-dated
I have been contacted on a recent article containing comments of Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan about out-dated by-laws.
“Our by-laws are outdated,” stated Lenihan at the February County Board meeting.
“We have a committee looking at our by-laws” said Lenihan as he spoke about his frustration of ‘free agents’ gaining permission to play with other clubs.
The chairman said that he was powerless to stop players choosing what clubs to play with, if their own club was not to field a team: “There is no rule where we can stop that. I am not in favour of criss-crossing divisions.
“Every clubs aspires to having their own team and if not I would appeal to them to stay in their own division and neighbouring clubs,” said Lenihan.
Reference was made to players who were granted permission to play with Bruff.
For clarity purposes, Bruff, Fedamore and Kilmallock will combine for under-21 football in 2009 while Ballybricken-Bohermore and Bruff will combine for under-21 hurling championship.

Nine ‘survivors’ face Leinster

NINE of the players involved in Munster’s bonus-point Magners League win over Edinburgh in Musgrave Park on Saturday are included in the Munster A side for today’s clash with Leinster A - the nine ‘survivors’ from the victory over the Scottish side includes try-scorer Ciaran O’Boyle, of Garryowen, number eight Nick Williams and full-back Denis Hurley who all started against Edinburgh. Today’s match with Leinster A at Waterpark RFC gets underway at 3pm.
Meanwhile Munster captain Paul O’Connell (pictured below) will win his 60th cap when Ireland take on England in the crunch RBS Six Nations championship clash at Croke Park this Saturday - kick-off is at 5.30pm.

The 29-year-old lock, who will be facing England for a ninth time, has scored six tries for Ireland to date.
O’Connell’s Munster colleague John Hayes will equal Malcolm O’Kelly’s record of 92 caps at GAA headquarters.
Ireland have named an unchanged starting XV for the third week in-a-row to take on England.
The sole change in the match day 22 from the matches against France and Italy sees Malcolm O’Kelly, who did not make it into the expanded 36-man squad named before this game, replaced in the substitutes by Munster’s Mick O’Driscoll.
Saturday’s match will see out-half Ronan O’Gara win his 90th cap and in doing so he will join O’Kelly, Hayes and Brian O’Driscoll as the only players to have won over 90 caps for Ireland.
Victories over France and Italy have established Ireland as Six Nations leaders after two rounds and coach Declan Kidney believes the fear of losing their places is driving his players on.
“There are lots of guys I’d love to play, good players who aren’t getting a chance to play. That’s the making of a good side,” Kidney said.
“The players in the side know that if there’s any relaxation at all there are guys ready to take their place. In terms of developing the squad work has been done on that behind the scenes. Talk about competition for places is not just lip service.
“Pressure is being applied from beneath and if you’re worried about your place in the team then it spurs you on to play better.”

Munster A: Denis Hurley; Anthony Horgan, Kieran Lewis, Scott Deasy, Ciaran O’Boyle; Jeremy Manning, Duncan Williams; Darragh Hurley, Michael Essex, Timmy Ryan; Dave Foley, Billy Holland; John O’Sullivan, Tommy O’Donnell, Nick Williams. Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Ryan, Ian Nagle, Kieran Essex, Mike Prendergast, AN Other, Murray Kinsella.

Ireland: Robert Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Paddy Wallace, Luke Fitzgerald; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes; Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell; Stephen Ferris, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Rory Best, Tom Court, Mick O’Driscoll, Denis Leamy, Peter Stringer, Gordon D’Arcy, Geordan Murphy.

Colm Kinsella

LIT hope to dethrone the champions

THREE days after powering Portumna into the All-Ireland club hurling final on St. Patrick’s Day, Joe Canning will hope his Limerick Institute of Technology side can dethrone the Fitzgibbon Cup champions this afternoon.
The Galway star will be full-forward on the LIT team which is managed by Clare’s two-time All-Ireland winner Davy Fitzgerald.
Today’s eagerly awaited 2009 Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final takes place in the LIT GAA grounds in Moylish at 2.00pm.
Canning will be joined in the LIT attack by Tipperary senior Seamus Callinan and Laois senior Willie Hyland.
There is expected to be a strong Limerick base to the LIT team. Kilmallock pair Gavin O’Mahony and Paudie O’Brien and Adare’s Wayne McNamara are definite starters.
Elsewhere Claughaun’s Shane Mulally, Na Piarsaigh’s Kevin Ryan, Bruree’s Kieran O’Rourke, Murroe-Boher’s Sean Tobin and Monagea’s Sean Herlihy will come into the reckoning for starting roles.
LIT’s star-man Joe Canning will be renewing rivalries with Ballyhale Shamrocks’ TJ Reid just days after their epic All-Ireland club hurling championship semi-final. Reid is the key man for Waterford IT.
Two Limerick hurlers could be in the Decies team - Richie McCarthy of Blackrock and James Ryan of Garryspillane.
Limerick’s other Third Level College, UL are also in Fitzgibbon Cup action today.
Seamus Hickey will be the only local in the UL team when they face St. Patrick’s in Newtownshandrum at 2.00pm.
Elsewhere in the last eight of the prestigious competition, UCC will have Limerick players in their team when they face NUI Galway in Dalgan.
Kilmallock’s Graeme Mulcahy and Bryan O’Sullivan could feature along with Don Hanley and Michael Wilkinson.

Jerome O'Connell

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

‘We will be ready for UCD’

LIMERICK CEO Andrew Mawhinney has defiantly greeted the news that Garry Sheahan and Peter White have signed for the Wexford Youths by insisting that the club will be ready to face UCD on March 6.
“We would like to wish both players all the best for the future,” Andrew Mawhinney explained this morning.
“They are both talented players and we’re sorry to lose them, but the set-up in Wexford is good and we expect both players to progress down there.
“There is no need for supporters of the club to be concerned. We have signed the players we wanted to sign and the bottom line is that we will be ready to face UCD on March 6.”
Although Peter White was a regular in the side last season Super Blue supporters will particularly miss Garry Sheahan. Sheahan’s all-action style endeared him to the Limerick FC fans in 2008 when the striker notched nine goals in 18 league appearances.
Limerick FC expect to finalise their playing squad for the season this week. The Super Blues most significant signing thus far has been that of centre-half Brian O’Callaghan who previously played for Cork City, Notts County and Barnsley, among others.
The majority of last season’s squad have also been re-signed while Paul Cummins, formerly of Aisling Annacotty and a potential replacement for Garry Sheahan up front, has impressed in pre-season training.
The likely starting XI for the clash with UCD next week could read along the following lines: Davy Ryan, Conor Molan, Brendan Daly, Pat Purcell, Brian O’Callaghan (pictured below), Paul Walsh, Tommy Barrett, Jason Hughes, Thomas Lyons with John Tierney and Paul Cummins leading the line.

While Dave Mahedy has taken responsibility for putting the side through their pre-season paces the club must now widen their search for a new first team manager.
The club had hoped to convince Pete Mahon to succeed Mike Kerley, but it is understood by Leader Sport that the logistics of travelling from Dublin to manage the Super Blues has ruled out the former UCD boss.
“There has already been huge interest in the vacant managerial position for Limerick FC,” Andrew Mawhinney explained, “and a suitable successor will be put in place ASAP.”
As part of the club’s fundraising drive Limerick FC will host a Greyhound Race Night at the Market’s Field on April 4.
The night will consist of a 10-race programme. Race eight will be a ‘Buster’ race and the holder of the winning ticket, with the correct finishing order, will receive a prize of €1,000 and two tickets to see the Republic of Ireland take on Italy at Croke Park. ‘Buster’ tickets cost €20 each and are available from Limerick FC. Admission price on the night is €8 while any person who purchases a ‘Buster’ ticket will gain free entry to the stadium on the night. Contact Limerick FC at 061 324 563 or by email at
Limerick CBS’ Jason Hughes and Eoin Hanrahan, along with Crescent College’s Ian Storan have been included in the under-18 FAI Schoolboys squad which faces Wales at Wexford’s Ferrycarrig Park on Thursday evening (kick-off 7pm) in the Carnegie Centenary Shield.
This will be the first competitive fixture in the competition for manager Hugh Colhoun. And, he will be hoping that home advantage will give the Irish side the edge they need to overcome a strong Welsh side. Ireland enjoyed a 2-1 victory away to Wales last season and should confidently face into this crunch encounter.
Jason Hughes is a likely to feature strongly for the under-18 side having won the Celtic Cup and Centenary Shield with the schoolboy side in 2008.

Brian McDonnell

Crescent clash with Glenstal in tantalising quarter-final

CRESCENT College Comprehensive will bid to set up a mouth-watering Avonmore Milk Munster School’s Junior Cup semi-final clash with St. Munchin’s College when they face Glenstal Abbey in their quarter-final replay tomorrow.
Crescent College and Glenstal Abbey played out a three-all draw after extra time when the sides met in their quarter-final clash earlier in the month.
Tomorrow’s quarter-final tie is due to go ahead at Garryowen FC’s Dooradoyle grounds at 3pm.
The winners of tomorrow’s clash is due to face St. Munchin’s College in the semi-final of the Junior Cup on Saturday week, March 7.
Cork heavyweights, PBC and CBC, meet in the second semi-final. The final will take place in Limerick on Wednesday, March 11.
Meanwhile the two semi-finals in this season’s Centenary Avonmore Milk Munster Schools Senior Cup will take place next week.
Limerick’s sole representatives remaining in contention for top honours, St. Munchin’s College, will face Tipperary side Rockwell College in Clanwilliam on Thursday, March 5.
St. Munchin’s College have won three Senior Cups this decade in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Cork rivals, PBC and CBC, will clash in the other semi-final a day earlier.
The final of this season’s Avonmore Milk Munster Schools Senior Cup is due to take place at Musgrave Park on Sunday, March 15.
Nine of those involved in Munster’s Magners League win over Edinburgh on Saturday in Musgrave Park are included in the Munster A side that plays Leinster in Waterpark RFC tomorrow (3pm). They include try-scorer Ciaran O’Boyle of Garryowen, Nick Williams and full-back Denis Hurley who all started in the game against Edinburgh.
Munster A: Denis Hurley; Anthony Horgan, Kieran Lewis, Scott Deasy, Ciaran O’Boyle; Jeremy Manning, Duncan Williams; Darragh Hurley, Michael Essex, Timmy Ryan; Dave Foley, Billy Holland; John O’Sullivan, Tommy O’Donnell, Nick Williams.
Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Ryan, Ian Nagle, Kieran Essex, Mike Prendergast, An Other, Murray Kinsella.
Meanwhile two Limerick-based players have been named in the Irish AIB Club International XV which takes on an England Counties XV this Friday night in Donnybrook at 5pm.
Ed Torrie, of UL Bohemian is selected at full-back, while Derek Corcoran, of Young Munster, is selected on the left wing.
Talented Limerick back-row forward Barry O’Mahony, currently playing with Dolphin, is named at openside flanker.
Shannon’s prolific point-scoring out-half Tadhg Bennett is listed among the replacements for the game.
And three Limerick players have been selected by Ireland Sevens coach Jon Skurr as part of a 12-man squad for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai.
Conan Doyle, of Garryowen, Eoghan Grace, of Shannon, and Brian Tuohy, of Cornish Pirates, are included in the squad.
Ireland qualified for the finals, which take place in Dubai from March 5 to March 7, by virtue of their performances in the qualifying tournaments in Poland and Denmark last summer.

Colm Kinsella

Geary back in contention for a battle with undefeated Dublin side

BRIAN Geary could be in contention for his first National Hurling League start of the season this Sunday.
The Monaleen centre-back in back in the plans of Justin McCarthy after he missed the opening games in Division One against Clare and Kilkenny due to his honeymoon.
This Sunday (2.30) Limerick welcome surprise table-toppers Dublin to the Gaelic Grounds.
The Dubs are flying under new manager Anthony Daly, with wins over Cork and Galway to date. The men from The Capital will be looking for a repeat of their 2007 NHL win when they shocked Richie Bennis’ Limerick - 0-22 to 1-15.
On that occasion in the Gaelic Grounds Maurice O’Brien lined out for Limerick. This Sunday, the Garryspillane man will be part of the Dublin squad - a resident of Dublin for two years, O’Brien transferred to the Faughs GAA club this January.
Ahead of Sunday’s round three clash Limerick manager McCarthy (pictured right) and selectors’ Brian Ryan and Liam Garvey must keep their fingers crossed that a number of key players come through the quarter-finals of the Fitzgibbon Cup this Wednesday.

The big game of the Third Level Colleges hurling championship takes place in Limerick, with Limerick IT facing champions Waterford IT.
The Davy Fitzgerald managed LIT are likely to include Limerick newcomers; Gavin O’Mahony and Paudie O’Brien in their line-up along with Wayne McNamara.
Others locals that could be in the Moylish College’s team will be Kieran O’Rourke, Shane Mulally, Sean Tobin and Kevin Ryan. Champions WIT have Limerick men Richie McCarthy and James Ryan in their team.
Elsewhere in the Fitzgibbon Cup Seamus Hickey will play with UL against St. Patrick’s in Newtwownshandrum.
UCC play NUI Galway in Dalgan and the Cork side could have Graeme Mulcahy, Don Hanley, Bryan O’Sullivan and Michael Wilkinson in their starting team.
Meanwhile the St. Patrick’s intermediate football side play Sneem of Kerry this Saturday in round one of their Celebrity Bainisteoir tournament.
The opening round tie of the tournament takes place in Rhebogue at 1.00pm.
RTE television star Emma O’Driscoll will lead the Limerick city club into battle against a Kerry side that is managed by the TV presenter John McGuire.

Jerome O'Connell

Monday, February 23, 2009

Limerick target top class candidate

LIMERICK FC have responded swiftly to the resignation of manager Mike Kerley (pictured right).
Although the club only accepted Kerley’s resignation as recently as Thursday night club CEO Andrew Mawhinney is set to meet what he describes as a “top class” candidate for the job this Tuesday.
Mawhinney has also been quick to dispel any mischievous rumours surrounding Kerley’s surprise exit with the 2009 Eircom League season a mere 12 days away.
“Mike Kerley resigned for personal reasons,” Andrew Mawhinney explained to Leader Sport, “nothing more and nothing less. He talked to Jack (club owner Jack McCarthy) on Thursday night and personally offered his resignation.
“It did come as a surprise to us. In fairness to Mike he is an excellent manager and we certainly didn’t want to lose him, but he made a decision to move on and we have to accept that decision.
“There is no story here other than we’re sorry to lose a manager who did such a terrific job last season.
“Our next move must be to find a replacement.
“We’re already busy trying to look at alternatives and we have some feelers out.
“We need to be careful, follow due process and personally I want to make sure we get the right man.
“Obviously we would like to fill the position sooner rather than later.”
Although Mike Kerley’s resignation threw Limerick FC’s preparations for the new season into disarray the club have re-grouped while Dave Mahedy took responsibility for training the 24-man squad over the weekend.
Late last week Brian O’Callaghan signed for the Super Blues while club CEO Andrew Mawhinney is expecting to finalise the playing squad by the end of this week.
Limerick’s season kicks off on Friday, March 6 away to UCD.
Mike Kerley’s resignation tempered the news on Thursday that Real Madrid were on their way to Limerick.
Last week Leader Sport’s Colm Kinsella learned that talks between officials from the aristocratic Spanish club and Thomond Park chiefs are at an advanced stage and that Real Madrid are likely to play a high-profile friendly at the 26,000-capacity stadium this coming July.
European heavyweights the Netherlands, former European champions Denmark and Premier League side Sunderland are also being lined up to entertain fans at the redeveloped stadium.
Details of the impressive programme of games are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
While the international friendlies are being organised by the FAI, Thomond Park Stadium chiefs are involved in bringing Real Madrid to Limerick while Limerick FC are behind the visit of Sunderland.
Meanwhile Pike Rovers (who beat Nenagh 3-0 yesterday), Regional United (who beat Peake Villa on penalties following a two-all draw) and Fairview Rangers (who beat Rineanna Rovers 1-0) have progressed to the quarter-finals of the Lucozade Sport Munster Junior Cup.
Unfortunately Carew Park lost their last 16 clash against Tramore Athletic on penalties.
In the quarter-finals Regional United will travel to face Cork’s Mayfield United, Fairview Rangers will face Dungarvan United away from home while Pike Rovers will entertain Tramore Athletic.
Pike Rovers, the Premier League leaders, travel to Turner’s Cross next weekend to face Cork City in the Munster Senior Cup while three local sides will be desperately hoping to make it through to the Umbro FAI Junior Cup quarter-finals when they contest round seven of Ireland’s most prestigious junior competition.
Regional United travel to face Bohemians in Waterford, Fairview Rangers are also away to Evergreen United while Janesboro host Clonmel Town at Pearse Stadium.

Brian McDonnell

Ciaran O’Boyle try secures bonus-point win

FLYING Garryowen winger Ciaran O’Boyle celebrated his first start for Munster in the Magners League by bagging the crucial bonus-point clinching try in a 14-point victory over Edinburgh at Musgrave Park on Saturday night.
The 64th minute try came as an early birthday present for O’Boyle who turned 25 yesterday. O’Boyle, who has previously played for the Munster A side, has been a prolific tr-scorer for Garryowen in the AIL for several seasons.
Munster maintained top spot in the Magners League as a result of their 28-14 success over the Scottish side.
The lively Keith Earls, powerful prop Tony Buckley and former All Black Doug Howlett also crossed for Munster’s tries before an attendance of 6,500.
Tony McGahan’s men currently enjoy a three-point lead over both Leinster and the Ospreys at the top of the Magners League.
Munster’s next fixture in the competition is an away tie with the Dragons on Saturday week, March 7.
Meanwhile Ireland coach Declan Kidney will be relieved to have no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s big RBS Six Nations championship clash with England at Croke Park (kick-off 5.30pm).
Kidney will name his starting XV to face Martin Johnson’s England tomorrow.
In the All-Ireland League Shannon moved up to second place with a deserved 28-10 derby victory over Young Munster at Clifford Park.
Shannon collected a precious bonus point as a result of scoring four tries before Munsters’ biggest home crowd of the season. The defeat leaves Young Munster lying in the relegation zone.
Elsewhere Garryowen recorded their seventh straight success to move up to third place in the table. The Light Blues victims on this occasion were UCD.
UL Bohemian squandered an excellent opportunity to strengthen their grip on a top eight spot for next season’s new look AIL Division One when suffering a surprise 13-6 defeat to Old Belvedere at Annacotty.
In Division Two Old Crescent continued their promotion push with a 22-9 success over Greystones. Bruff suffered a 14-6 home defeat to UCC while Thomond lost out on a 0-9 scoreline to leaders Lansdowne at Fitzgerald Park.
The semi-final draw for the AIB Cup will see former champions Garryowen make the long journey to Ballymacarn Park to face giant-killers Ballynahinch on March 21. Young Munster will have home advantage for their last four clash with Cork Con on the same day.
The final of the AIB Cup is due to be played on May 5, with the game being televised live by RTE.

Colm Kinsella

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Real Madrid’s visit to Limerick will present sports fans with a unique opportunity!

Football fans often fail to understand how good the top players really are. TV doesn’t do them justice. On the telly it seems as if you or I could do almost as well. TV doesn’t give you a real idea of the brilliance required to cope at the very highest level.
From the armchair all seems possible and it’s impossible to comprehend what it’s like to oppose the finest players in the world, so success seems almost within your grasp. That’s why we laugh at errors and suggest that granny could do better. The thing is that the very best players in the world are not better than anything we can imagine, in fact they are better than anything we are capable of imagining.
When Real Madrid visit Limerick’s Thomond Park next summer every serious sports fan should make it his business to attend. We probably won’t be presented with a first-choice XI, but nevertheless it’s an opportunity to see some of the greatest players in the world grace the field. And, it’s a real eye-opener to see these guys play in the flesh.
On May 15th, 1996 Girondins de Bordeaux completed a 10-month 20-game European campaign with a 1-5 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup final.
Although that French side also featured Bixente Lizarazu and Christophe Dugarry the 24-year-old Zinedine Zidane (pictured below) was the undoubted star of the side.

To qualify for the 1995-1996 UEFA Cup Bordeaux won the Intertoto Cup in the summer of 1995 - that same summer Kenny Daglish, then manager of Blackburn Rovers, had expressed an interest in signing Zidane to which Jack Walker reportedly replied: “Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?”
Anyway, I still class July 8th, 1995 as one of the highlights of my sporting life. That day, in the Intertoto Cup, Bordeaux faced Bohemians at Dalymount Park and won 2-0 with Zidane scoring an extraordinary goal in the 80th minute.
During his career Zidane played 108 European games and although I only saw him in the flesh, with a full head of hair, once I will cherish it forever. Any one who did not feel humble in his presence that day is no judge of a man.
And, even though Real Madrid cannot count anyone comparable to Zidane among their ranks right now the visit of Los Blancos will present Limerick men and women with the opportunity to take in something . . . well, who knows, but it could be something special!

Brian McDonnell

Friday, February 20, 2009

Will Limerick FC miss Mike Kerley?

I think the club will. The 36-year-old manager never had much time for me, correction the 36-year-old man who played Eircom League football for 16 years and who resigned as Limerick FC supremo on Thursday night never had much time for the press.
The very first time I talked to Mike Kerley, on the occasion of his appointment as manager (round this time last year); he was impatient and obviously wasn’t too interested in making my job any easier. I liked him immediately.

Here was a man who meant business, a man who meant to take Limerick FC places.
Once Limerick got going last season, once Kerley got the players fit and playing the way he expected them to play, the Super Blues were irrepressible - from the half-way point of the season Limerick were the best side in the division.
And, that is what makes Kerley’s departure all the sadder. Last season was like watching an emerging painter at work on his first, unmistakable masterpiece. When the 2008 Eircom League season concluded Mike Kerley had just finished the preliminary sketch. Limerick were now playing composed, confident football and we couldn’t wait for the 2009 campaign. That campaign kicks off in two weeks time against UCD. That was the time, on the back of a decent pre-season, that we expected Kerley to mix the colours on the palette and see whether the first draft might sustain deeper dimensions.
Then, bang, Mike Kerley resigns for whatever reason and we’re left . . . well what are we left with?

Brian McDonnell