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22 July 1999 Edition

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Sportsview: Champions dethroned

Mayo ended Galway's reign as All-Ireland champions with an impressive four-point victory at Tuam on Sunday, giving them their third Connacht title in four years. In Munster, defending champions Kerry were also dethroned by a hungry Cork outfit, while Dublin booked a Leinster final date with old rivals Meath after a two-point win over Laois..

John Maughen's Mayo side had taken a lot of stick in the press after the All-Ireland final defeats of 1996 and 1997 and their first-round exit last year in Connacht, but they showed plenty of resilience and hunger to overcome the Tribesmen in a terrific second half display. Indeed, Galway, who are said to have the deadliest attack in the land could only manage one point after the restart as Mayo took over the game.

After this performance, the new Connacht champions will have every confidence they can finally rid themselves of the nearly men tag and challenge for the last All-Ireland title of the millennium.

Mayo's win ended Galway's hope of becoming the first team of the decade of achieving back-to-back victories in the All-Ireland. This shows just how competitive the 90's have been in Gaelic Football. The emergence of the Ulster sides in the early nineties and the Connacht revival in the latter years of the decade has resulted in a levelling of standards which can only be good for the game.

Mayo now face Cork in the All-Ireland semi-finals after the Rebel county ended Kerry's dominance in Munster with a six-point win. This was the Kingdom's first defeat in the Munster championship in Paidi O'Se's four-year reign in charge and must also rank as their worst performance under his tenure.

It was easy to see that Cork's hunger was their greatest motivator, as they showed great commitment and gave a great defensive display, only conceding six scores over 70 minutes. It was very rare to see Maurice Fitzgerald without a bracket after his name in Monday's sport pages!

All the talk now in Cork is of another double in the hurling and football. Many people now believe the Rebel county can end the decade as they started it.

Dublin finally put away a brave Laois by winning their Leinster semi-final replay by 0-16 to 1-11.

However, Tommy Carr's side will have a lot of work to do before their Leinster decider against the Royal County. Dublin were far from impressive on Sunday, shot 12 wides and made many basic handling errors which will be exploited by Meath. In fact, had Sunday's game continued for another five minutes, I believe Laois would have won the game. This was despite the fact that Laois played with 14 men for half the game after their place kicker Damien Delaney was dismissed in the 34th minute. Dublin almost squandered an eight-point lead and did nothing on Sunday but convince many people that they are not capable of toppling Meath on Sunday week.

This Sunday's GAA fixtures

All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals

Offaly v Antrim (Croke Park, 2.40pm)

All-Ireland champions Offaly have injury worries ahead of the re-run of last year's clash with the Ulster champions. Veteran wing-forward Joe Dooley has not trained since sustaining a dead leg against Kilkenny in the Leinster final and faces a fitness test on Friday.

Last year's winning captain, centre half back Hubert Rigney, is doubtful with a groin strain picked up in training last weekend while full-forward John Troy is fighting off flu. One man definitely out is Daithí Regan, sent off in the Leinster decider.

Antrim manager Seamus Elliott has declared that his nephew, Ally Elliott, will feature in the game even though he is not fully fit. Gregory O'Kane and Liam Richmond, who impressed against Derry in the Ulster final will get the nod in attack and will hope to punish the Offaly defence, which conceded 5-14 against Kilkenny.

Verdict: Michael Bond's men, despite their injury worries, should overcome the Antrim challenge.

Galway v Clare (Croke Park, 4.20pm)

Connacht champions Galway have injury doubts over defender Nigel Slaughteney (ankle) and wing forward Eugene Cloonan (groin) but both are expected to be fit to face the the Banner county.

Clare boss Ger Loughnane is still sweating over the availability of midfield maestro Ollie Baker, who damaged his ankle ligaments in the Munster final defeat at the hands of Cork and is unlikely to start. All-Star wing forward Jamesie O'Connor is still ruled out with a broken arm.

Verdict: I tipped Clare at the start of the year to win the All-Ireland and here I will give them the nod despite missing their two most influential players in Baker and O'Connor. But it will be tough!

Ireland off to a winning start

West Belfast lad Ger Crossley converted a penalty to give Ireland a 1-0 win over Spain in their opening match at the European U-18 championships in Sweden on Monday night.

Brian Kerr's side, who are the defending champions, deserved their victory as they outplayed the Spaniards, the nation currently dominating underage European football and the pre-tournament favourites.

By the time this paper has gone to print, the Irish side will have faced Georgia (Wednesday night) before finishing their group fixtures against the Italians on Friday. Good luck to all concerned. Lets hope our underage sides can continue their great record in competition achieved in recent years.

Celtic prepare for new season

Glasgow Celtic's preparations for the 1999/2000 season continued with a 3-0 win over Danish champions Aalborg at the weekend in Kongsvinger.

A Mark Viduka hat-trick secured the win for the Bhoys and gave us a first real glance at the John Barnes/Kenny Dalglish revolution.

With new signing Eyal Berkovic teaming up beside Lubomir Moravcik in midfield, Celtic have a formidable midfield which also includes Craig Burley, Paul Lambert and Morten Wieghorst. If Mark Viduka can continue this form alongside the excellent Henrik Larsson up front and with Mark Burchill as cover, they should have no worries about scoring goals. It has also been great to see Alan Stubbs is staying as the defence has also been strengthened with the capture of German player Jochen Kientz.

John Barnes has also bought former Dutch U-21 international Bobby Petta, an attacking midfielder, from Ipswich Town, along with Sheffield United 23-year-old Oliver Thielby. Marseilles striker Stephan Bonnes is also currently on trial at Celtic.

So things are looking up for Celtic, who look like finally matching their old rivals, Rangers, in the transfer market.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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