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8 May 1997 Edition

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Sportsview: Red Branch Knights

By Sean O'Donaile

I should really be writing about snooker and Ken Doherty's World Title, but I'd prefer to write about Tyrone's Red Branch Knights instead.

There's not a whole lot to say about this snooker lark, except that Ken Doherty got his scar not, as widely believed, in a match with Alex Higgins, but when he fell off his Mammy's coal shed on his holy Communion Day and ruined his suit into the bargain. He's not, as the Brits would have you believe, the ``second overseas champion'', but the third Irish champion after Alex in 1972 and `82 and Coalisland's Dennis Taylor, who used to play minor football for Tyrone but had to change to snooker when his glasses kept falling off. The Brits will have to console themselves with the Eurovision, which will cost them £5 million to stage and £25 million to keep the telephone from ringing!

Dublin has gone snooker crazy and everyone loves Ken, except for Eamon Dunphy who said ``the lad is just no good''. John Bruton has started playing but says he won't play ``with the men of violence'', and he knows even less about snooker than he does about the National Question.

Those of us with square eyes and square arses spent the weekend watching the green baize, while those of us with more energy followed the pursuit of The Shinners and Chuckfaidhs who were even more successful than the bould Ken, who instead of bringing his cup to Old Trafford, should be parading it in Dalymount or on Hill 16.

There's a misconception at the moment that Tyrone's glory days are over but nothing could be further from the truth - St. Pat's of Dungannon won the All Ireland Colleges Football Final last week and the county Vocational side were unlucky to lose the All Ireland title bout to Kerry; Martin McGuinness and Pat Doc' brought more joy to the Red Hand County and Willie McCrea has retired to his accordion and Gospel rock and roll.

Another little noticed triumph has been the steady rise of Tyrone hurlers. After capturing the All Ireland Junior Hurling title last year they now top Division 4 of the National League.

Monaghan hurlers have reaped benefits from the Mad Cows crisis as one of hurling's best known Gardai, Joe Hayes, posted to the border to halt the infiltration of the London Dairy cows, has spurred them to new heights. That was until they met the Red Branch Knights.

You won't find any off-duty ``police'' playing for Tyrone, rather it's been the efforts of anonymous individuals throughout Tyrone's seven senior clubs and beyond that's led to their revival and their low-key approach to the Monaghan game paid off with Killyclogher's Vinny Owens cancelling out Cowboy Hayes, and the Devlins, Terry McGowan and Peter Kerry doing the damage. And that was that.

While Rome plays politics and snooker, Tyrone hurls - as JJ says ``you can have your Eurovision - we have our MPs and our hurlers - and this is just the beginning!''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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