Issue 3-2023-200dpi

4 August 1999 Edition

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Sportsview: Armagh end 17-year wait

By Dan O'Neill

The long wait for long suffering Armagh supporters is finally over. The Orchard county made the breakthrough for which they have been hungering since 1982, their last win in the Ulster title.

Sunday's emphatic victory over Down ended years of disappointment and false dawns for an Armagh side that had promised so much and which now has at last delivered the goods.

Amidst the jubilant celebrations that greeted the final whistle, the painful memories of the last decades were erased, especially of that Ulster Final defeat of 1990.

It was strange though to see so many Orangemen from Armagh with something to cheer about this summer.

Brian McAlinden's side proved the critics, who suggested that Down would be better ambassadors for Ulster football at Croke Park, wrong. The truth was, there was only one side in the Ulster decider as Armagh cruised to an 11-point win.

The Armagh defence shackled a Down forward-line which had destroyed Tyrone in the semi-final. Shane Mulholland, Ross Carr and Mickey Linden were outplayed by the tight marking defence. Ger Reid added Ciaran McCabe to his list of scalps which has included Tony Boyle and Seamus Downey. He was highly criticised going into the final. Surely, he has silenced his critics now.

However, the game was won for Armagh by their two star forwards, Diarmuid Marsden and Oisín McConville, who scored a staggering 3-9 between them. Finbar Caulfield, who was highly rated after containing Tyrone's Peter Canavan in the semi, was no match for Marsden and struggled throughout the 70 minutes.

Armagh had done their homework and their tireless work rate was impressive throughout, but they will need to do a bit more work before their semi-final clash with Meath. Despite the excellent displays of the aforementioned McConville and Marsden, the other Armagh forwards, apart from Paddy McKeever, looked ordinary. Their midfield too was nothing special but they will be a hard side to beat going by their excellent fighting spirit, the thing Meath have never lacked.

There was plenty of it on show as they defeated Dublin in the Leinster final. Dublin lacked the same hunger and motivation. As a result, the game was not a classic and lacked the dogfight nature of past encounters.

Although Meath's winning margin was five points, it could have been double that without flattering the new champions. This was Dublin's biggest defeat by their neighbours since 1964.

The indications are that this Dublin side have a long way to go before they are ready to compete with Meath. After a year of rebuilding and reshaping, the Dubs have failed once again to land a Leinster title and this is their longest run without the title.

Tommy Carr will be under pressure.

But their was some terrific individual displays by Sean Boylan's men. I suspect that Ollie Murphy will be crowned the new king of the Royal county, he scored 1-5 from play. Dublin's failure to do anything about the difficulties he was posing to Peadar Andrews was one of the main talking points from the game.

Trevor Giles, as usual, was at the centre of every Meath move. With Tommy Dowd back from injury, Meath now must be the side to beat this year.

Clare hurlers gave their critics an emphatic response when they crushed Galway in their quarter-final replay at Croker on Monday.

The talk all week was that the drawn game was the beginning of the end of the Clare era of dominance, but the Banner county showed their legendary hunger and skill, while Galway lacked the ability to reproduce the fire and style which was so impressive last week.

I always felt that the Tribesmen had blown their chance and had lost that element of surprise for the replay. It gave Ger Loughnane time to do his homework and this he did well.

Liam Doyle moved to left half back to mark Kevin Broderick while Anthony Daly switced to Alan Kerins. Neither Galway player got a look in while Ollie Canning, a livewire in the drawn game, was also snuffed out by Frank Lohan. Joe Rabbite and Ollie Fahy, dangerous last week, had quiet games due to the presence of Sean McMahon and Brian Lohan.

The Clare attack was also excellent, with Jamesie O'Connor showing his bravery by playing the game with an injured arm. For me, the man of the match was full forward Niall Gilligan, who had his best game ever in a Clare jersey.

The Kilkenny-Clare semi-final should prove to be a classic, as the Cats are the best side around judging by their displays against Laois and Offaly.

Eddie Irvine wins at Hockenheim

Eddie Irvine stormed to the lead in the Formula One drivers championship with victory at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on Sunday.

His win was all the more special considering the 33-year-old was in fifth place in the grid before the start of the race.

Irvine's second win in eight days now leaves him eight points ahead of Finn Mika Hakkinen in the drivers championship with six races remaining.

Is it not surprising that this week in the British tabloids the Conlig-born driver is now being referred to as ``Eddie Irvine from Great Britain''.

Not too long ago, before he was challenging seriously for the World Championships, he was described as ``Irishman Eddie Irvine''. Just like Barry McGuigan was `demoted' to Paddy again when he lost his world title.

I was glad to hear Irvine clarify this in an interview with a newspaper earlier this week, when he said, ``I feel Irish not British. British is something I equate with Englishness, and I'm not English''. I know how you feel Eddie!

Dúirt Siad - Peile

``I used to take the same route to training every day, but I've stopped now. Why? ``Because it's a load of bollocks, isn't it.''

- Aston Villa manager John Gregory on superstition

I'm a Basque and I know how to suffer.

- Chelsea's new big money signing, Didier Deschamps

I soon got out of the habit of studying the top end of the league table.

- Walter Smith on his managership at Everton

I'm not a socialist - I'm a communist. . . To leave Valerenga, it had to be Brazil or Wimbledon.''

- New Wimbledon boss Egil Olsen

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