Issue 3-2023-200dpi

4 November 1999 Edition

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Sportsview: Kerry exploit rebel hangover

TO BE or not to be taken seriously was the big question on everyone's lips on the opening day of the National Football League. Especially those in the hierarchy of the GAA, who issued their ``ignore it at your own peril'' ultimatum to each county ahead of the weekend's fixtures. Although it may be too early in the campaign to answer this one conclusively, the signs are that some of the teams on show on Sunday worked hard for their result.

I wasn't too surprised to hear that the Kerry got revenge for their Munster final defeat with a comfortable victory over Cork on Saturday. After all, the disappointment of their All-Ireland final defeat must still be fresh on the minds this young Cork side. Not even a glamour tie with old rivals Kerry could lift the Leesiders. A rampant Kerry cruised to a 12-point win over the tired looking opposition in Division 1A. Cork can be excused.

I imagine we won't see the best of the league champions until the other side of Christmas.

Meath also looked as though they had also suffered from their summer exertions as they made heavy weather of their two-point win over Clare at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday. Nine of their All-Ireland heroes were on show as the Royal County came back from five points down at the interval to steal the game from a brave Clare outfit.

Trevor Giles was surprisingly played at centre-half back and apparently he had a great game there. As usual, he had a say in every Meath move in defence and in attack.

An experimental Galway side were too strong for Roscommon. Galway boss John O'Mahoney took a gamble by fielding four teenage debutantes for their opening game. This move paid off as the youngsters revelled on the big stage. However, Padraig Joyce, playing at full-forward, stole the show with his second half goal.

Donegal brought Ulster champions, Armagh, back down to earth with a one-point victory. John Gildea scored the late winner from 50 yards.

Dublin boss Tommy Carr was visibly furious with his side's display against Tyrone. The Red Hand county were easy seven-point winners over last season's league finalists. Jason Sherlock was dismissed after the restart for a challenge on the Tyrone keeper. Needless to say, Peter Canavan was in fine form, contributing four points for Tyrone.

An understrength Derry looked impressive in their four-point win over Mayo. The westerners failed to score from play after a first-minute point from Colm McManaman. New Mayo boss, Pat Holmes, will be worried by this statistic.

Some new faces were on show for the Oak Leaf county and things look bright for Eamonn Coleman and his squad.

Classy forward Raymond Gallagher was the man of the match as Fermanagh saw off the challenge of Sligo. He scored an impressive ten points of his side's tally. It has been a great achievement for Mickey Moran's Sligo to reach the top flight but they should struggle to maintain their status with the elite.

An opportunist goal from Karl O'Dwyer gave Kildare the points at Newry as they defeated Ulster finalists Down. The Lilywhites always looked the hungrier and deserved their win. I feel it will be a while before Down can recapture the glory of the early `90s. They need some new faces. Their minors' All-Ireland success should provide them with fresh blood, although it could take a couple of years to mould a new side.

Elsewhere, in Division Two there were wins for Antrim, Westmeath, Wicklow, Monaghan, Laois and Carlow.

There isn't much action this weekend apart from the Railway Cup Interprovincial hurling championship. Leinster play Connacht at Birr while Ulster entertain Munster at Casement Park on Sunday. But does anyone really care? The Railway Cup is dead in the water!

Injury scheme for players to be introduced

I HAVE READ that a new improved players' injury scheme, to be run exclusively by the GAA, was passed by Central Council. The scheme, worth around £3 million, will double the existing benefit available to injured players.

GAA Commercial manager Ciaran O'Neill, and Mayo delegate Paddy Muldoon outlined details of the new scheme which had earlier been unanimously agreed by the management committee.

In excess of 5,000 claims are registered per year, including around 2,000 for loss of income directly related to injury. Muldoon explained that their proposal was not an insurance scheme but a fund created by clubs, county boards, and other sources.

Although long overdue, this is obviously a welcome development and more significantly, the injury scheme will not be exclusively for county players. This scheme will be available right across the board and based on equality. As the Mayo delegate put it: ``To us there is no difference between the centre back on a junior B team in Mayo and an All-Star. They will be treated the same.'' I couldn't agree more!

Players themselves will not have to make contributions as was previously the case. Only time will tell whether this new scheme will be sufficient in the long run but it is a move in the right direction.

Hakkinen has the right Formula

I IMAGINE Eddie Irvine will have to be content with being an Irishman again in the eyes of the British media after his failure to capture the driver's championship on Sunday morning. Not surprisingly, going into his showdown with Finn Mika Hakkinen, the Conlig man was regarded as a great British driver on the verge of the biggest prize in motor racing.

But the British media have a funny habit of disowning the Irish, and indeed Scots and Welsh sportspersons when they are not winning.

Many people have said that Irvine's team mate, Michael Schumacher, will have been the happiest man after Sunday's outcome. Whatever the truth, the reality is that Irvine, when it mattered, hadn't anything in his tank to challenge Hakkinen. The Finn should have had the championship trophy on his Monaco sideboard weeks ago. But last year's champion finally got his act together, after some blunders in recent races. Irvine's achievement was no mean feat, however. Was this his only chance ever of winning the driver's championship? I don't know. Next year racing with his new team, Jaguar, we'll see whether the controversial Down driver is really a great racer. Hopefully so.

Typically, Eddie says he won't be shedding any tears over his defeat. After all, he always has his own jet and a couple of Ferraris to keep him occupied. It's hard to feel sorry for the Conlig driver!

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