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Friday October 19, 2018

Down clubs excluded from championship following melee

courtesy of RTE


A row erupted in a recent league game in the Mourne County

The Down County Board have come down hard on the two clubs involved in a recent high-profile brawl, banning Ballyholland and Downparick from the 2019 senior football championship.

The clubs’ recent league game descended into violence, which spilled over onto the terraces with spectators becoming involved.

Down’s Competitions Control Committee has handed out stiff punishment to both, with next year’s ban the most severe.

A number of players have also been proposed for lengthy bans, several for 48 weeks and one for 96 weeks – the longest suspension allowable under the GAA’s rules.

All of the punishments are proposed and can be challenged. The clubs and players are entitled to ask for a hearing of their case and if they are unsuccessful at this stage they can then appeal the hearing’s findings.

Their final port of call, should the punishment be upheld on appeal, is the Disputes Resolution Authority.

The clubs are expected to challenge their exclusion from the championship in ’19 as the brawl took place in a different competition.

This was just one of a number of recent flash-points in football matches which were captured on mobile phone cameras, with others taking place in Tyrone and Derry.

Martin O’Neill set to make changes as Callum O’Dowda ruled out of Wales game

courtesy of RTE

Callum O'dowdy is not being risked for the match against Wales



Ireland manager Martin O’Neill will be forced to make changes to his side as Callum O’Dowda has been ruled out of tomorrow night’s clash with Wales at the Aviva Stadium.

The Bristol City midfielder was substituted at half-time in Saturday’s Nations League encounter with Denmark and has been ruled out of the game with Wales as a ‘precautionary matter’.

The midfielder felt dizzy during the first half of the 0-0 draw with the Danes and while it would suggest a knock to the head, the player does not recall at what stage such an incident might have happened.

“We are trying to find out ourselves,” admitted the manager, speaking at today’s pre-match press conference at the FAI headquarters.

“He is out of the game tomorrow night, precautionary, as much as anything else.

“He wasn’t feeling great at half-time, but he can’t remember when it actually happened during the course of the game.”

The manager also hinted that he might make formation changes ahead of the visit of Ryan Giggs’ side, potentially reverting to a flat back four.

“We’ll get someone else into his position. Obviously, we’ll have a look at it and see whether we stay with the same system or go back to a back four, we’ll see.

“Overall, I think the players don’t mind the system and I think they quite enjoy it.

“And they are prepared for both, depending on which we decide to play.”

Tyrone to meet Derry, big guns kept apart in Munster and Connacht

courtesy of RTE

The fixtures for next year's championship have been decided


Tyrone and Derry must meet in the preliminary round of the Ulster Football Championship, while All-Ireland champions Dublin start their 2019 campaign against either Louth or Wexford, after the draw for next summer’s championship was held in RTÉ studios.

Ulster threw up some of the more intriguing fixtures with rivals Tyrone and Derry paired together before the quarter-final stage. Antrim are waiting for the winner of that game.

Tyrone, Derry, Antrim, Fermanagh and champions Donegal are all on the same side of the competition, which will ensure some high profile sides make an early exit.

Cavan take on Monaghan while Down face Armagh on the other side of the draw.

The prospect of a Munster final between Cork and Kerry remains after the two giants were kept on opposite sides of the draw.

The Kingdom, chasing their seventh consecutive Munster title, will face either Clare or Waterford, with Cork waiting for the winners of Tipperary v Limerick.

It’s a similar, if unseeded, story in Connacht with the final being the earliest that Galway and Mayo can meet.

New York will host Mayo and London will welcome Galway in the quarter-finals. Leitrim and Roscommon make up the third quarter-final there.

The winner of New York and Mayo will play the winner of Leitrim and Roscommon, while the second semi-final will be London or Galway v Sligo.

In Leinster, Dublin will be waiting for Louth or Wexford, while Meath or Offaly will take on Carlow.

Westmeath were paired with Laois while Longford will be waiting for the winners for Kildare v Wicklow.

O’Neill must face facts and make Doherty decision

courtesy of RTE

Matt Doherty arrived to this Ireland camp following some fine club form at Wolves


If Martin O’Neill thought that Matt Doherty was as good as those who deemed the Wolves player more impressive than Eden Hazard, there is no doubt that the Dubliner would have earned many an Ireland cap by this stage of his career.

But the fact that the 26-year-old former Bohemians man has yet to earn a competitive appearance throughout O’Neill’s five-year tenure shows that the manager does not rate him as highly as those who took part in the PFA’s September player of the month poll.

Doherty won the award by a “landslide” according to the PFA website in relation to the Bristol Street Motors-sponsored fans’ vote, garnering 39% of the vote compared to Hazard – one of the world’s best and most in-form players – who could only poll 26%.

Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling managed less than 10% between them for their performances for the league leaders.

To suggest that this particular poll was hijacked by Wolves fans, would do a disservice to the great work and undeniable entertainment value that fans polls carry throughout the sporting world – remember the Irish lad at Juventus – but to start clamouring for the jersey on the back of such a poll would be asinine.

Doherty should be judged on what he does on the pitch. It should be the only barometer and it the only thing the player himself would advocate.

“I went to see him Saturday,” said Ireland manager Martin O’Neill when asked whether Doherty was pushing Cyrus Christie close for the jersey in the continued absence of captain Seamus Coleman.

“The team didn’t play particularly well in the first half,” continued O’Neill.


Thank goodness, a ‘but’.

“He was strong through the second half in particular and he scored a goal as well, so he’s having a really good time at the moment.”

“He’s one player who’s playing regularly well in the Premier League at the moment. He’s got a good chance of being involved,” added O’Neill.

So the Ireland manager went to view the merchandise and he liked what he saw.

O’Neill needn’t have gone to Molineux to see how well the player was playing this season, because, the attention that the flying wing-back has been receiving throughout the embryonic stages of Premier League 2018-19 has been widespread and coming from many respectable sources.

In a team full of slick and silky, ball-playing Portuguesers, Doherty has been more than holding his own and in fact, is credited as the main driving force in this team.

Ireland manager O’Neill has his favourites within the squad and certainly has his fair share of detractors looking in from the outside, but to suggest that Doherty’s face does not fit in with the current Ireland squad, is perhaps a bridge too far.

If you want to see what a face that doesn’t fit in with this Ireland manager, look no further than former Celtic striker Cillian Sheridan, who despite playing and scoring at the top end of a very good top flight in Poland, cannot get a look in, even when this Ireland squad are in desperate need of strikers.

If Martin O’Neill does not rate you, you will most certainly be outside the proverbial tent.

Hand in glove – can O’Neill and work with the Wolves wing-back?
Doherty has been involved in many an O’Neill training camp at this stage and when the manager took the reins of the international side he was playing at a much lower level than he is currently.

O’Neill correctly reminds us that it was not too long ago that Doherty was not guaranteed his starting berth at Wolves and was being used a lot at left back as well as in the centre of defence, and it is only since the player was pushed into a right midfield role by the new manager at Wolves in front of a back three that he has really gained the recognition as a top player.

But at club level, the past 12 months have been a revelation for Doherty under the new regime at Wolves as the Irishman became integral to Nuno Espirito Santo’s style, formation and philosophy as the Black Country side played their way to Premier League promotion with four games to spare.

Doherty played, and still plays on the right side of a four in midfield, in front of a three-man defence, and while his team play primarily on the front foot, the energetic Doherty is always tracking back and helping out with duties in his own half of the pitch.

So based on the fact that Doherty has yet to start an international match for Ireland – there have been five fixtures since the Denmark demolition and four of them friendlies – it begs the point, does O’Neill know enough about the player?

On this front, and based on the form and recognition the player has received over the past 12 months, the manager must be questioned over his attention to detail or perhaps his judgement.

Doherty also has a decent set-piece delivery
It is abundantly clear that O’Neill thinks the world of his captain, Seamus Coleman, and with good reason, and he probably believes that Cyrus Christie, a loyal lieutenant of the O’Neill era, is the perfect understudy.

If the benefit of the doubt is to be handed to the Ireland manager, it can only be that he does not fancy Doherty as a tried and tested full-back.

It is true that Christie has rarely, if ever, let Ireland down during the 12-month period when captain Coleman was out with a broken leg, yet neither has the Fulham man ever displayed a match-winning or match-saving performance in the green, and for this matter, O’Neill should have been open to the idea of an alternative.

O’Neill will come under serious pressure this week if results don’t go his way and should Doherty fail to pick up his first competitive start on Saturday, the manager will be seriously questioned.

Perhaps the manager needed a motive to justify picking Doherty without feeling like he is bowing to external pressure.

That alternative option does present itself this week as the manager has hinted that he is ready to go with three at the back, a formation that would utilise two wing-backs.

The manager has named seven centre halves in his defensive unit for this double header and just three players who can play both full back and wing back.

If Matt Doherty does not start at least one of these two matches, perhaps the case can, once again, be reopened as to whether Doherty’s face fits.

Follow Republic of Ireland v Wales via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now App, or listen to national radio commentary on Radio 1’s Saturday Sport.

Broken neck rules All Black Sam Cane out of Ireland clash

courtesy of RTE


Sam Cane

New Zealand flanker Sam Cane will not be available for the autumn international against Ireland on 17 November because of a fractured bone in his neck.

Cane suffered the injury during Saturday’s last-gasp victory over South Africa in Pretoria and will miss the All Blacks’ season-ending tour to Japan and Europe – a series that includes games against Japan, England and Italy.

“Sam has a small fracture in the lower part of his neck, on the right side through one of the joints. This will need to be stabilised with surgery,” New Zealand doctor Tony Page said.

“We’re confident he’ll do well with the operation and then like with any fracture, it will probably take three months for the bone to get strong.

“The operation is to keep everything in the right pace so the bone can heal. Many sportsmen have this injury, as do people from other walks of life, and they usually make a good recovery.”

Cane has accumulated 60 caps and has been New Zealand’s first-choice openside since Richie McCaw’s retirement after the 2015 World Cup.

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