It has been confirmed that Notre Dame will play Navy at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday Sept. 1, 2012. And the speculation that All-Ireland hurling final at might be put back a week from Sept 2 has been confirmed. The hurling and football finals will take place now on Sept. 9 and Sept. 23.
Apparently there is huge interest in this game in the U.S. and Europe and corporate packages are already being sold. General admission tickets will go on sale around St. Patrick’s Day next year. This will be the first American football game in Dublin since these archrivals met at Croke Park in 1996. Officials from both clubs have already visited the Aviva and Jon Starrett, the Senior Associate Athletic Director with Navy, was very impressed when he visited the Ballsbridge venue for the Ireland-England rugby game last March. But Starrett was surprised by the late arrival of supporters.
He said: ”I couldn’t believe my eyes. Thirty minutes before the game there was nobody in the stadium, whereas at Navy, over half the crowd are in their seats two hours before the game. If we had the last minute dash to the stadium like you guys have, I have no idea how we would cope. Staff at the Aviva told me they can deal with 1,250 tickets a minute. We are nowhere near that level.”
The majority of the 51,000 who attended the rugby game last March were probably within a pub or two of the ground and others were probably enjoying a drink in the many bars in the stadium. Many years ago that great Kerry-born writer Con Houlihan said that your typical Irish supporter likes to arrives at the ground five minutes before kick-off and then expects to find parking spot outside the main gate. I think we have improved a bit since Con wrote those words, but Irish supporters in general are nowhere near as punctual as American Football supporters.
GOOCH WILL BE SKIPPER
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Newly crowned Kerry senior football champions Dr. Crokes have confirmed that they will nominating Colm Cooper as Kerry captain for 2012. With Eoin Brosnan expected to retire and Kieran O’Leary unable to command a regular place in Kerry’s starting XV, it was obvious that the honor would fall to the man they call the Gooch once again. There were a lot of disappointed supporters in Kerry and Killarney in particular when Dublin beat Kerry at Croke Park last September to deny Cooper bringing Sam back to the Crokes’ Lewis Road clubhouse. I wonder if Kerry get to the All-Ireland final next year will Cooper wear the number 15 jersey instead of number 13. Over the years no player wearing the number 13 jersey, from any county, has lifted the Sam Maguire Cup.
Meanwhile former Roscommon defender Des Newton is expected to be confirmed as Roscommon senior football manager this week. Newton will replace Fergal O’Donnell, who quit last month.
GILROY WILL STAY
It took him seven weeks to make up his mind, but Pat Gilroy has now confirmed that he is staying with the Dublin footballers for another 12 months. Gilroy’s St Vincent’s colleague Mickey Whelan has stepped down as a selector and Gilroy will not confirm his back room team until January when the intercounty action resumes. Gilroy had some issues to iron out with the Dublin County Board and it’s understood that he wanted his players to play more championship games during the months of April and May.
Meanwhile Offaly will have new hurling and football manager next year. Ollie Baker, the former Clare hurler, is the Faithful county’s new hurling manager and Gerry Cooney is Offaly’s new football manager. Cooney is a former Meath footballer, who was a selector with former Offaly manager Kevin Kilmurray. He has also had success with Meath at under 21 level with Meath club Walterstown. But Cooney will have to plan without the experienced Ciaran McManus, who is retiring after a 16 year intercounty career. With the Offaly job now filled, only two counties have yet to appoint football managers for 2012, Roscommon and Fermanagh. Mick O’Dwyer is not reported to be in the running for either job and it looks like the 75 year-old Kerryman’s career as an intercounty manager could be over, for now at least.
Liam Dunne is the new Wexford senior hurling manager. Dunne has impressed as manager of Wexford champions Oulart-the-Ballagh leading them to three Wexford senior hurling titles in a-row. Dunne takes over from Tipperary-born Colm Bonner, who quit in July. Meanwhile Tipp man Dinny Cahill, who managed the Antrim hurlers for the past few years, will keep up the Ulster connection next year after he was confirmed as part of the backroom team next year for Armagh manager Michael Johnston.
KINGDOM OPT OUT OF MCGRATH
Kerry will not be defending the McGrath Cup they won last January when the 2012 season commences in January. Kerry County Board chairman Jerome Conway said: ”We wouldn’t have a strong enough team for it. Some of the senior players will be taking an extended break and they will be using January to train rather than to play; they will be back in time for the start of the National League in early February. Our younger players, with whom we would have been depending on, will all be playing college football in January in the McGrath Cup as they prepare for the Sigerson Cup. If the young players are playing with the colleges then they can’t play with Kerry, so we would not have a realistic team to field.”
BOHS NEED ANOTHER
BUYER FOR DALYMOUNT
League of Ireland clubs being in financial difficulties is nothing new. That has been the situation for the past decade. Bohemians last week said that their day to day financial situation had improved, but the club owe Zurich Bank €4 million and that debt is due to be cleared by June 2012. Bohs had sold Dalymount Park and were promised a new stadium at Harristown near Dublin Airport, but the developer Liam Carroll is now in NAMA. Bohs are trying to get out of the deal with Carroll and if they do they will try and sell off Dalymount, their main asset, to another buyer.
In comparison to Bohs Finn Harps’ debt looks miniscule. The Donegal club needs to raise €48,000 by Dec. 21 or they will go out of business. “On the field of play Dubliner Tommy Dunne has agreed a new three-year deal as manager of Cork City, whom he led to promotion from the first division last month. And John “Jumbo” Brennan, who took over as caretaker manage of Galway United when Seán Connor was sacked towards the end of the season, has now been confirmed as manager of the Tribesmen.
Better news for Athlone Town where an anonymous donor has given them half a million euro to help them pay off the debts on Lissywollen Park. Athlone played at St Mel’s Park for decades, but moved to their new ground in 2007.
SUPPLE MUST WAIT
If Dublin had the same rules as Kerry, Tipperary or Kilkenny about captaincy then they would have a new football skipper next year. St Brigid’s recently beat St Oliver Plunkett in the Dublin football final and their captain was Shane Supple, a young man who abandoned a soccer career in England with Ipswich Town to come home and do his Leaving Cert and playing Gaelic football. But Supple is unlikely to take over from Bryan Cullen as Dublin captain simply because he is not yet in the Dublin squad. The 29 year-old Stephen Cluxton from Parnells is number one and the Dubs sub ‘keeper is 25 year-old Michael Savage from St. Vincent’s. So it looks like 24 year-old Supple may have to wait his turn, but manager Pat Gilroy says he will give new players an opportunity to impress when the O’Byrne Cup gets under way in January.