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Friday January 24, 2020

Niall Quinn appointed deputy CEO at FAI

courtesy of RTE

Niall Quinn

Former Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn has been appointed deputy chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland.

Quinn, who ruled himself out of the role of chief executive, had said he would be open to a role in helping out the organisation after his associate Roy Barrett was appointed as Independent Chairman of the FAI Board.

Last year Barrett was part of Quinn’s visionary group that came together to look at future structures for the League of Ireland.

Also a member of that Visionary Group was Gary Owens, who earlier this week was named the new interim chief executive of the FAI.

A statement released by the FAI read: “In addressing the current challenges facing the FAI, the executive team want to ensure that the organisation’s core objective of the promotion and development of the game of football in Ireland is prioritised.

“Niall’s role with the team will focus on leading a future League of Ireland strategy, the overall development of the game in Ireland, including supporting grassroots and community initiatives together with our player pathway programmes.

“Niall will also focus on helping restoring and building key relationships and trust with key peer groups and the media.”

Owens added: “We are really pleased that someone of Niall’s calibre is joining the team.

“Football is such an important game in this country at every level.

“Niall not only brings great insight and experience to developing the game but is passionate about football in Ireland – his energy and commitment is a great fit for the FAI as we begin reform of the organisation and look to create a better future for football in Ireland.”

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross also welcomed the appointment.

“Niall has a long association with Irish football and over the past year he has demonstrated very clearly his strong desire to see a vibrant body emerge for the good the Irish game,” he said.

“His passion for fair play, his independence and his integrity are widely known and admired.”

Italian job done as Leinster secure home quarter-final

courtesy of RTE

Leinster players Dave Kearney and Luke McGrath celebrate Caelan Doris' try

Leinster clinched top-seed status and a home Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final as they made it a record-breaking 16 wins in a row in all competitions this season with an 18-0 victory at Benetton.

It passes the previous record of 15 wins set by Leinster in 2001-02 for successive victories by a European club.


Leo Cullen’s men had to battle hard against Benetton, with Caelan Doris and James Tracy tries in the second half helping them overcome the Italian side.

Leinster advance through the Champions Cup pool stages with a record fifth European crown very much in their sights.

Knowing that a win by any margin would see them confirm number-one seeding for the knockout stages, Leinster were boosted by James Ryan’s return from injury for this game. He partnered Devin Toner in the second row, with Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter returning to the front row following last weekend’s comfortable home victory against Lyon.

Benetton – with just one win from Pool One – made life tricky for Leinster and began brightly at a dark and damp Stadio Monigo, but they failed to make their early pressure count.

A number of early penalties, all of which the hosts elected to kick for touch, kept Leinster on the back foot, with number eight Doris sent to the sin bin for taking a man out in the air at the lineout.

Despite multiple half chances, Benetton could not capitalise on the man advantage as the game looked set to be scoreless at the interval. But Leinster were able to assert some control, with Ross Byrne kicking a penalty in front of the posts five minutes before the break.

Benetton lost Irne Herbst almost immediately after the restart for a deliberate knock on, but Leinster – far from their fluent best – could only increase their lead by three points, with Byrne kicking well from distance.

That seemed to shift the Irish province into gear as they turned the screw in the final quarter. The pressure soon paid off as the impressive Doris – buoyed by his recent call-up to the Irish squad for the Six Nations – collected Luke McGrath’s smart, flicked pass and forced his way over for the game’s first try.

Six minutes later Leinster added to their score with a well-worked rolling maul from the lineout, as replacement front-rower Tracy crossed in the corner. Byrne kicked the conversion and that was as good as it got for the visitors, who did enough throughout to keep Benetton at bay.




Fitzgerald ‘delighted’ to have Wexford football pair

courtesy  of RTE

Davy Fitzgerald: "It's just the lads were at nothing, we were down a lot of boys. I'm delighted to have them."


Wexford hurling boss Davy Fitzgerald said he has “too much respect” for Paul Galvin to even consider taking players from the football panel, and stressed that Kevin O’Grady and Michael Furlong were at a loose end before coming into his squad.

O’Grady and Furlong have linked up with Fitzgerald after leaving the county’s football panel last month.

Last year’s captain Furlong reportedly quit the footballers after falling out with new manager Galvin, with O’Grady and Tiernan Rossiter leaving in solidarity.

O’Grady and Furlong were involved in Wexford’s Walsh Cup defeat of Kilkenny on Sunday.

“I don’t think they’re doing anything at the moment as far as I know,” Fitzgerald said afterwards.

“We’d never cross over football, I have too much respect for Paul and his team. It’s just the lads were at nothing, we were down a lot of boys. I’m delighted to have them.

“Mickey and Kevin have come in and they’ve worked really hard. They’re on the panel and it’s up to them to see where they go.”

Fitzgerald’s side finished very strongly to see off the Cats 2-18 to 1-09 and set up a final clash with Galway.

He was quick to play down the significance of the result, as the Model County look to ramp up preparations for their Allianz Hurling League Division 1 opener at Laois in two weeks’ time.

“You’ve two experimental sides out there. It’s the second week of January, you’re not going to read too much into that,” Fitzgerald added.

“There were a lot of lads who got opportunities out there. Some of them did really well. You can’t fault the attitude of them and I think that’s a big thing.

“In fairness, Kilkenny are only home from holidays two or three days – we’re not.

“We still know we’ve a lot of work to do.

“We’ve a lot playing in the Fitzgibbon Cup. I’d kind of like to see the Fitzgibbon being played midweek the way it used to be. In the 18 years I was involved in it, for most of them it was that way.

“If they were involved in the Fitzgibbon midweek they’d just miss a training session; it’s the exact same load.

“That’s the way it goes. It’s not my job, anything to do with the fixtures. I just have to deal with what we have.

“Our focus is on Laois to be totally honest with you. I know that they’ll be preparing hard for us and getting ready for us in Portlaoise.

“We’re probably going to be down four or five of the lads that played in the (All-Ireland) semi-final last year. We have to get ready for that game. It’s a big game for us.”


Wexford duo join hurlers after quitting football panel

courtesy of RTE


Michael Furlong in action for the Wexford footballers last year

Wexford duo Kevin O’Grady and Michael Furlong have joined up with Davy Fitzgerald’s hurlers after leaving the county football panel last month.

Last year’s captain Furlong reportedly quit the footballers after falling out with new manager Paul Galvin, with O’Grady and Tiernan Rossiter leaving in solidarity.

O’Grady and Furlong both also hurl with their clubs and have now thrown their lot in with the Leinster champions.

They are in contention to feature when Wexford face Kilkenny in the semi-finals of the Walsh Cup on Sunday.

Galvin has yet to finalise his 2020 panel, but Daithi Waters and 2019 goalkeeper Matt Doyle are also believed to have been dropped and have not featured in Wexford’s two O’Byrne Cup games so far.

Thirty-three-year-old Waters lined out for the Wexford hurlers in 2015 and could potentially be another recruit for Davy Fitz.

Matty Forde was named as a selector when Galvin took the reins of the footballers in September, but has now stepped away due to work commitments.


Rising Irish star Coventry agrees new West Ham contract

courtesy of RTE

Conor Coventry


Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Conor Coventry has agreed a new contract with West Ham United.

The Guardian are reporting Coventry will stay at the London Stadium club, despite interest from a number of rivals as he was out of contract in the summer.

The central-midfielder has been with the club for nine years. He has yet to make his Premier League debut but is a regular in their development side and featured twice in the Carabao Cup.

Coventry has played for Ireland from Under-17 level and is a key player for Stephen Kenny, earning the man of the match award in the 0-0 draw with Italy in October.

The London-born player said previously: “I love playing for Ireland because it’s playing for your country and there’s nothing really like that.”

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