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18 November 1999 Edition

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Championship draws made



By Dan O'Neill

     
If passed, the new structures will be tried for two years, but everyone expects that the championship as we know it is dead and buried
There has been much talk in the past fortnight about the proposed new format for the Football Championship. I do expect that the Football Development Committee will get their wishes for a `round-robin' type championship which, if passed at next year's Congress, will mean the end of the present knock-out format after the 2000 championship.

The traditionalists opposed to any tinkering with the present structures have pointed to the fact that the glamour of the championship depends on the present knock-out format. There's no doubt that in some cases this is true but for the benefit of the game in the long run some change is needed. If passed, the new structures will be tried for two years, but everyone expects that the championship as we know it is dead and buried. This gave a sense of history to Sunday night's championship 2000 draw, which threw up some intriguing ties.

All-Ireland football champions Meath have a tough opener against Offaly and if successful will most likely have to play Kildare in the semi finals. Dublin, yet again, have been drawn in the easier side of the draw in Leinster. But don't forget about Laois!

We will be deprived of a Cork-Kerry Munster football final as the `big two' look set for a semi-final clash. Clare, on the other side of the draw, will be happy. In Connacht, Mayo and Galway are on the same side of the draw and Roscommon have the easier ride to the decider. Ulster, as usual, will be a real dog-fight. Indeed, all the ties there are the same as last year's except that champions Armagh will open the defence of their title against Tyrone. What a scorcher!

Hurling kingpins Cork yet again avoid Clare en route to the Munster final. Yet they most overcome Limerick again. Clare have the harder side of the draw, which contains Tipperary and Waterford.

Kilkenny have also avoided Offaly and Wexford and will meet one of the weaker counties in the Leinster semi finals. There is no change in the Ulster and Connacht ties.

2000 Football Championship



CONNACHT

Quarter Finals

London v Roscommon

New York v Galway

Sligo v Mayo

Bye - Leitrim

Semi Finals

Winners B v Winners C

Winners A v Leitrim

ULSTER

Preliminary Round

Fermanagh v Monaghan

Quarter Finals

Cavan v Derry

Antrim v Down

Armagh v Tyrone

Donegal v Winners A

Semi Finals

Winners B v Winners C

Winners D v Winners E

LEINSTER

Preliminary Round

Round 1: Wicklow v Carlow, Wexford v Longford

Round 2: Carlow v Wexford, Longford v Wicklow

Round 3: Wicklow v Wexford, Carlow v Longford

Winners become Team A

Quarter Finals

Kildare v Louth

Meath v Offaly

Westmeath v Laois

Dublin v Team A

Semi Finals

Winners B v Winners C

Winners D v Winners E

MUNSTER

Quarter Finals

A: Limerick v Cork

B: Clare v Waterford

Byes - Kerry, Tipperary

Semi-Finals

1 - Winners A v Kerry

2 - Winners B v Tipperary

2000 Hurling Championship


CONNACHT

Final

Galway v Roscommon

LEINSTER

Preliminary Round

A: Dublin/Laois/Two Keogh Cup Finalists

Winners become Team A

Semi Finals

Team A v Kilkenny

Offaly v Wexford

MUNSTER

Quarter Finals

A: Kerry v Cork

B: Waterford v Tipperary

Byes - Limerick, Clare

Semi Finals

Limerick v Winners A

Clare v Winners B

ULSTER

Semi Finals

London v Antrim

Down v Derry


The fight game is a shambles



     
Without some sort of reform, boxing will be in serious trouble
Boxing writer Bert Sugar best summed up the state of boxing at the minute when he said that the fight game was full of people who ``take money under the table, above the table, around the table, and eventually they take the table''.

The image of boxing in recent times has been greatly damaged by allegations of corruption. It seems that news of bribe taking has overshadowed the fights themselves. Sunday morning's big World Heavyweight bout was no different. Adopted Englishman Lennox Lewis, thought he had become `undisputed' champion as he paraded all three belts, the IBF, WBA and WBC, in the ring after his points win over America's Evander Holyfield.

Apparently not.

Literally at the last minute the IBF withdrew their belt as Lewis' manager refused to pay their sanctioning fee of $300,000, which gives the fighter the right to challenge for the title. The manager wanted to wait until an investigation by the FBI into bribery within the IBF has reached a conclusion before any money changed hands.

It seems that the IBF have to account for $338,000 in illegal payments from the promoters and managers, taken over a 13-year period, to fix the rankings. The biggest of these payments was the $100,000 passed to set up the George Foreman-Axel Schulz fight in Las Vegas in 1995.

The other two main boxing bodies are no strangers to controversy either.

The WBA were forced to deny that Don King had not influenced them in pushing Orlin Norris down the rankings in 1997 after he refused to fight Tyson. The WBA settled with Norris, who incidentally was the fella Tyson knocked-out after the bell in his latest controversial fight.

Big fight promoter Don King's home has also been raided as part of an FBI investigation this summer. His former accountant claimed that fees paid to all three boxing federations often included back-handers. It is also alleged that King paid for the entire IBF annual convention in Toronto.

King was Holyfield's promoter for the weekend's big fight. The IBF's decision to withdraw their belt means that King has not lost his grip altogether in the heavyweight department. He will still retain one third of the cake, how strange.

The judges' scoring cards have also come under a lot of criticism, no more so than the first Lewis-Holyfield fight last March, which ended in a draw. One of those judges that night was Eugenia Williams, an associate of King, who scored the fight in favour of Holyfield when everybody and their granny knew he hadn't won.

What is clear is that boxing is suffering from these allegations. The pay-per-view ratings for the weekend fight were disappointing. Nobody in their right mind should pay to see some of these fights, which are a farce.

The U.S. Senate has recently approved the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, and it is hoped that this will usher in a new era of openness so badly needed in the sport. Without some sort of reform, the sport will be in serious trouble.

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