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Sunday December 15, 2019

Liverpool want to host GAA games at expanded Anfield

courtesy of RTE

Proposed plans for an expanded Anfield Road End. Photo:


Liverpool have aired a desire to host GAA matches at an expanded Anfield after unveiling plans to increase the size of their Anfield Road stand by adding 7,000 seats to take the ground’s capacity up to 61,000.

The Merseysiders want to explore the possibility of gaining permanent permission to hold concerts and other major events at the famous stadium, and sporting events outside soccer – including Gaelic games and American football.

Existing planning permission, which had proposed an increase of 4,800, has been allowed to lapse and a new, larger proposal looks set to be formally submitted next spring after two phases of public consultation, the first of which has just begun.

It is understood the scheme will cost in the region of £60m and, unlike the Main Stand refurbishment which was paid for through a £115m loan secured by owners Fenway Sports Group, the money for this project will come from refinancing at a local level.

There is no timescale as yet for the completion of the new stand, which will have small hospitality capacity, with the majority of seats outlined for general admission tickets, and no further development is being considered at this time.

The new plans are on the footprint of the old planning application but a redesign has allowed an increased capacity. The work will mean the partial closure of Anfield Road outside the stadium.

“We are looking at an extra 7,000 seats in the Anfield Road, the old planning application was for 4,800,” Liverpool’s chief operating officer Andy Hughes said.

“They are draft numbers at this stage and there is still a lot of work to do but it would take overall capacity of Anfield up to 61,000. We are currently just over 54,000.

“There is a limited amount of room behind Anfield Road at the moment so there is a short section of road which we will need to close.

“The overall footprint of the build and the overall height is very similar to the the original planning application and that also included a partial closure of Anfield Road.

“There is a limited amount of space if you look at the constraints of the site and the Anfield stadium itself and we have spent a long period of time trying to figure out the best design and how we could get more capacity into the stand.

“I’m not saying it is exactly 61,000 but it is there or thereabouts and it is hard to see where it will go much further than that.”

Hughes added: “The plans for the proposed Anfield Road Stand expansion include exploring the opportunity for permanent permission to hold concerts and other major events at Anfield, including other sporting events such as Gaelic games and American football outside of the matchday calendar.”

The GAA have said they have no plans to host matches at Anfield, which has a 101-metre long pitch, considerably shorter than the 130 metres minimum required for Gaelic football or hurling.

However the Super 11s hurling format has been played at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, who share an owner – FSG – with Liverpool.

McCormack and Mageean part of Irish cross country team

courtesy of RTE

Fionnuala McCormack will be part of the Irish line-up


Two-time champion Fionnuala McCormack and recent 1,500 metres World Championships finalist Ciara Mageean will spearhead the Irish women’s senior team at the European Cross Country Championship in Lisbon on Sunday 8 December.

McCormack, the individual gold medallist in 2011 and 2012, ran the Chicago Marathon just six weeks ago but yesterday looked in brilliant form in winning the national title by a huge margin of around 500 metres.

Mageean skipped the National Championship in the mud of Abbotstown yesterday but signaled her interest a few weeks ago, having won the national cross country title last year.

New national men’s champion Liam Brady from Tullamore will head up the senior men’s team which includes Clonmel’s Sean Tobin, who was tenth in the event last year.

Ireland will send 40 athletes to the championships and an Irish team will compete in all seven races.

The race will be broadcast live on RTÉ television and RTÉ Player.

The Irish team is:




Men’s Senior

Conor Bradley

City of Derry Spartans AC

Men’s Senior

Damien Landers

Ennis Track AC

Men’s Senior

Eoin Everard

Kilkenny City Harriers AC

Men’s Senior

Kevin Maunsell

Clonmel AC

Men’s Senior

Liam Brady

Tullamore Harriers AC

Men’s Senior

Sean Tobin

Clonmel AC

Women’s Senior

Aoibhe Richardson

Kilkenny City Harriers AC

Women’s Senior

Ciara Mageean

City of Lisburn AC

Women’s Senior

Fionnuala McCormack

Kilcoole AC

Women’s Senior

Fionnuala Ross

Armagh AC

Women’s Senior

Mary Mulhare

Portlaoise AC

Women’s Senior

Una Britton

Kilcoole AC

Men’s Under-23

Brian Fay

Raheny Shamrock AC

Men’s Under-23

Cathal Doyle

Clonliffe Harriers AC

Men’s Under-23

Cormac Dalton

Mullingar Harriers AC

Men’s Under-23

David McGlynn

Waterford AC

Men’s Under-23

Jack O’Leary

Mullingar Harriers AC

Men’s Under-23

Peter Lynch

Kilkenny City Harriers AC

Women’s Under-23

Claire Fagan

Mullingar Harriers AC

Women’s Under-23

Eilish Flanagan

Carmen runners

Women’s Under-23

Fian Sweeney

Dublin City Harriers AC

Women’s Under-23

Roisin Flanagan

Carmen runners

Women’s Under-23

Sorcha McAlister

Westport AC

Women’s Under-23

Stephanie Cotter

West Muskerry AC

Men’s Under-20

Daragh McElhinney

Bantry AC

Men’s Under-20

Jamie Battle

Mullingar Harriers AC

Men’s Under-20

Keelan Kilrehill

Moy Valley AC

Men’s Under-20

Shay McEvoy

Kilkenny City Harriers AC

Men’s Under-20

Thomas McStay

Galway City Harriers AC

Mens Under-20


Women’s Under-20

Aoife O’Cuill

St. Coca’s AC

Women’s Under-20

Danielle Donegan

Tullamore Harriers AC

Women’s Under-20

Eimear Maher

Dundrum South Dublin AC

Women’s Under-20

Jodie McCann

Dublin City Harriers AC

Women’s Under-20

Maeve Gallagher

Swinford AC

Women’s Under-20

Sarah Kelly

Inisowen AC

Mixed Relay

Amy O’Donoghue

Emerald AC

Mixed Relay

John Travers

Donore Harriers AC

Mixed Relay

Luke McCann

Dublin City Harriers AC

Mixed Relay

Nadia Power

Templeogue AC

Mixed emotions for ‘immensely proud’ Mick McCarthy

courtesy of RTE

Mick McCarthy and his players applaud the fans after the draw with Denmark


Bursting with pride but ultimately extremely disappointed, Mick McCarthy said that Denmark’s goal felt like a kick in the nether regions following his side’s 1-1 draw with Denmark at the Aviva Stadium.

Needing a victory in the final game of the campaign to secure a place at Euro 2020, Ireland dominated the game but conceded a goal in the 73rd minute, which left a real uphill battle for McCarthy’s men to salvage a result.

Matt Doherty would restore parity in the 85th minute following a downward header at the back post from an Enda Stevens cross.

And while the onslaught continued for the final five minutes and four more of injury time, Ireland could not add a second, and it was Denmark who progress to the Euros alongside group winners Switzerland.

The manager did not have a bad word to say about his players for their endeavours throughout the game and the camp that they have completed over the past nine days.

And McCarthy offered real hope for the upcoming play-offs, as he believes that Ireland can beat whatever team they come up against if they play in a similar manner to the way they performed throughout the 90-minute battle with the Danes.

“Mixed [emotions], disappointed that we have not qualified yet,” said McCarthy after the pulsating qualifying clash.

“But I am immensely proud of the players the way they performed tonight and even more so when we went 1-0 down.

“‘I thought we played well, I thought we competed well and I said before the game if they leave everything on the pitch and they give everything for me, I would take that.

“So I have to take the result. I’m disappointed with that, but that is the only thing I am disappointed with in the whole week.”

Doc [Matt Doherty] said it was his man, it was on him, but he has gone and scored the equaliser so I will forgive him slightly

The manager conceded that Denmark’s goal was a soft one to give away, and one that felt like a real sucker punch, as just a few minutes earlier, the manager had sent Callum Robinson onto the pitch to add an extra attacking dimension.

“It was a poor goal to give away,” said McCarthy. “Doc [Matt Doherty] said it was his man, it was on him, but he has gone and scored the equaliser so I will forgive him slightly.

“I was giving out to him about the goal and I forgot to congratulate him for the goal he scored, so I will go back in there and do that.

“But it wasn’t if we hadn’t played well up to that point. It came from a throw in and a pretty simple cross into our box, we shouldn’t have conceded.

“It’s always a kick in the nuts when you concede, but even more so when you are trying to do a positive substitution and trying to win the game.”

McCarthy lauded his side’s never-say-die attitude as Ireland, once again, fought back from the concession of an opening goal to work their way back into the game.

“That’s three games, Denmark away, Switzerland at home, having conceded the response that we have produced,” said the manager.

And McCarrthy admitted that his side had to really improvise in the final stages, as the manager attempted to make up for the fact that he had used up one of his three substitutions at half time, with John Egan gone off injured.

“I tried to jig the subs so I could keep hold of one, and put the shape of the team as I did.

“Glenn Whelan, who was excellent, then had to come off, and we were winging it completely at that stage.

“John Egan was injured and I had to replace him with a centre back, it’s unfortunate really.”

Cheltenham gets green light after passing inspection

courtesy of RTE

Cheltenham racecourse

Cheltenham has passed an inspection and will host racing on Saturday afternoon.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse has confirmed that racing will go ahead tomorrow and on Sunday.

The first afternoon of Cheltenham’s three-day November meeting was been yesterday due to a waterlogged track – and tomorrow’s high-profile card was under threat. However it has got the green light after rain eased off and conditions improved.

“The conditions have improved – we’ve had just a few millimetres of rain in the past 24 hours, and come first thing this morning most of the floodwater had gone,” said Claisse.

“There was surface water in some places but at no depth.

“We had concerns about the Old Hill, which is in the area of the third-last hurdle and fence and the second-last hurdle – as expected the ground approaching the third-last fence is not what we’d consider raceable, so in order to get the chasers down the hill we are taking out the third-last hurdle, so that they will share the Hurdle track until the bottom of the hill.

“The forecast overnight is for a couple of millimetres of rain, and we are looking at a mostly dry day tomorrow – maybe a splash of rain – with a mixture of clouds and maybe a patch of sunshine.”

The going is currently soft, heavy in places.

There will be eight races on the card, including the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race, which was originally scheduled for Friday.




McCarthy in the dark over All Whites

courtesy of RTE

Mick McCarthy speaking in Dublin this afternoon


In an era where teams, players and data seem to be studied to the last in order to get an insight into opposition, this week’s friendly with New Zealand in Dublin poses a problem of sorts for Mick McCarthy.

The Ireland manager has already said that Jack Byrne will get a further chance to impress, while Troy Parrott and Lee O’Connor will make their international bows for a game that is serving as an appetiser to the crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark on Monday night.

With so much on the line against the Danes, McCarthy could be forgiven for focusing his attentions on the second half of the double-header.

He has been at pains to stress that the game against the All Whites will be treated in a professional manner, but it can’t ignore the reality of the situation.

“We are going to treat them with the same respect [as Denmark], but quite clearly it doesn’t have the same importance and all the players know that,” he said. “I have been there as a player, I know that.”

A travelling New Zealand journalist asked McCarthy what he makes of Thursday’s opponents and what his scouting mission has entailed.

It was in fact a difficult question.

By the time New Zealand trot onto the pitch later this week, it will have been 525 days since their last competitive game, a 2-1 victory over India in Mumbai.

In the same period Ireland have played 14 games and changed manager, so McCarthy was understandably honest when asked what he knows about the southern hemisphere visitors.

“I don’t make anything of them and I haven’t [scouted them],” he said.

It’s been pretty difficult, there’s not much out there for us

“I can’t see them. Whatever stuff our analyst has got, we are going to look at it and see how they have played in the past and how we think they will play now, what players are in the squad.

“We’ll try to get some handle on how we think they are going to play.

“It’s been pretty difficult, there’s not much out there for us.”

One player who will be familiar to home fans is centre-forward Chris Wood. The Burnley man found the back of the net in the 3-0 win over West Ham United at the weekend and has plundered five goals in his last five league outings.

Whatever about the rest of the team, McCarthy is more than familiar with the 27-year-old, having brought him to Ipswich Town on loan in 2015 during his time in charge at Portman Road.

The then Leicester striker failed to find the target in eight appearances for the Tractor Boys, but has gone from strength to strength in the intervening four years.

“I had him on loan at Ipswich and he’s a terrific player. He’s in a good run of form as well, scoring goals and is a real handful.”

McCarthy will wrap Darren Randolph in cotton wool as he prepares for Monday’s vital Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark.

The 32-year-old Middlesbrough goalkeeper returned to action for his club in Saturday’s 2-2 Sky Bet Championship draw at QPR after a three-game absence with a thigh injury.

McCarthy is in no mood to take any risks with him.

The Ireland boss said: “Yes, we’ll be taking care of him.

I’m not bothered if he’s training, we just want him playing on Monday

“Anybody who has been injured, we discuss it with their medical team as well along with ours, and it’s no difference with [Ireland and Boro assistant manager] Robbie [Keane] and the management team as well.

“We’ll be making sure we look after him. I’m not bothered if he’s training, we just want him playing on Monday.”

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