Bohemians’ Dylan Connolly and Michael Duffy of Derry City in action at Dalymount Park on last Friday night. [Inpho/Tom Maher]

Georgian to ref Irish WC opener

Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli will take charge of Ireland’s opening World Cup game against Romania in Bordeaux on Saturday, Sept. 9. World Rugby have confirmed the referees for the pool stages, with South African Jaco Peyper overseeing the blockbuster tournament opener between hosts France and New Zealand at the Stade de France on Sept. 8. Following the game against Romania, Ireland will roll on to Nantes, where they will face Tonga on Sept.16, with the vastly-experienced English referee Wayne Barnes will be in charge. Then it’s on to Paris, where Ireland will play their remaining two pool games. First up, it’s the defending champions South Africa on Sept.  23 where Kiwi Ben O’Keefe will be the referee and Australian Nic Berry will be in charge of Ireland’s game against Scotland on Oct. 7. Ireland will be represented at the World Cup by referee Andrew Brace, whose first game will be Italy versus Namibia. Brace will be supported by assistant referee Chris Busby and television match official (TMO) Joy Neville. Brian MacNeice will also be in France as a TMO.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.



Another promising Gaelic footballer is set for a career in the AFL with Cork's Liam O’Connell signing for St Kilda. O’Connell played a premier senior championship game for Ballincollig after which it was confirmed by the club’s manager and former Cork player Podsie O’Mahony that the player would be turning his focus to a professional career with the Melbourne-based club in the coming weeks. He lived in Australia between the ages of four and 11 so he has knowledge of the game. O’Connell’s athleticism has apparently drawn St Kilda to him. They are one of a number of clubs who have been in Ireland in recent weeks to assess potential players. Also last week Carlton signed Kerry’s Rob Monaghan and Longford’s Matthew Duffy on two-year international rookie contracts 

Cork star Liam O’Connell is headed for Australia. [Inpho/Ben Brady]



‘‘Paris, here we come’’ was the gist of the message from Rhasidat Adeleke after her fourth-place finish in the women’s 400-meters final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last week. The Tallaght woman had ran herself into third position mid-way down the home straight but was edged out of the medals by Sada Williams of Barbados. The gold medal went to the Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino in a time of 48.76 with Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarey second in 49.57. Adeleke clocked a time of 50.13. After her run, Adeleke, who celebrated her 21st birthday yesterday,  declared that next year’s Olympic Games are the ultimate goal. She said: ‘‘The main reason I turned professional was so I won’t be in the same predicament with college next year. I will be more fresh and be able to actually choose my races to gear towards the Olympic Games. The time I ran in June would’ve got me second place in the final. Hopefully next year I will be in a better position to do that.’’ Adeleke stormed to an NCAA gold medal in Texas back in June, running a time of 49.20. Rhasidat was born in Dublin to Nigerian parents and began her running career with Tallaght A.C.

Rhasidat Adeleke in action during last week’s  World Athletics Championships. [Inpho/Morgan Treacy]



Glenn Ryan is set to remain in charge of the Kildare footballers for a third year. The Kildare management committee will recommending to the next county board meeting that the former Lilywhites captain will see out the final year of the three-year term he was given in 2021. However, Ryan will have to find a new coach for 2024 as former star Dermot Earley, an army commandant, is leaving to take up a post with the United Nations in Brussels for three years.

Also Limerick look set to appoint Jimmy Lee as their new football manager. Lee, who was involved with the Treaty during his brother Billy’s tenure from 2017 to 2022, is currently in charge of Newcastle West and steered his home club to the last two county senior football championship titles.

And it looks like Cavan are going for a goalkeeper to replace Mickey Graham. Former All-Star goalkeeper Raymond Galligan is expected to ratified at the next Cavan County Board meeting. The Lacken clubman is reported to have lined up former Tyrone star Stephen O’Neill and former Meath women’s manager Eamonn Murray for his backroom team. Murray is a native of Gowna.



Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman has included eight English Premier League players and seven uncapped players in his preliminary squad for next month’s Euro 2024 double-header against Greece and Ireland. The Dutch host Greece on Sept. 7, the same evening Ireland are away to France, and four days later, they play The Republic at the Aviva, their first competitive game in Ireland since a 1-0 loss to Mick McCarthy’s team Cup in November 2001. Koeman has named his 29-man provisional squad for the two games, but will trim that down depending on fitness and club duties once the Dutch players assemble on Sept.1. Koeman was under pressure after a poor start to their Euro 2024 campaign, a 4-0 defeat away to France and an unconvincing 3-0 home win over Gibraltar. The Dutch were not in Euro qualifying action in the June window as they competed in the Nations League, losing 4-2 to Croatia in extra-time followed by a 3-2 loss to Italy. Liverpool pair Virgil Van Dijk and Cody Gakpo are in the 29-man squad, along with defenders Sven Botman (Newcastle), Ian Maatsen (Chelsea) and Micky van de Ven (Tottenham).

Also, the FAI has confirmed that the Republic of Ireland will play New Zealand in a friendly at the Aviva in the November international window. The game will be played on Nov. 21 three days after our final Euro qualifier away to the Netherlands.



James Horan is back with Mayo, this time in the under-20s backroom team. Horan, who had two spells as Mayo senior manager, will serve as a selector under new U20 manager Peadar Gardiner. The management also includes two other former Mayo stars, Keith Higgins and Ger Cafferkey, as well as Mark Ryan. Meantime, former Mayo star Ciaran McDonald is head coach in the new Mayo minor management set-up which is fronted by joint-managers Tom Reilly and David Heaney. So plenty of talent on the bench in Mayo, but the wait for Sam Maguire goes on and next year it will be 73 years since they won the famous trophy.



Frank O’Driscoll, father of Irish Rugby star Brian O’Driscoll was one of the 12 former Irish players who recently got caps for playing for Ireland in an Argentinian tour in 1970. The IRFU had not previously recognized participation in  the games that were not classified as International Test Matches. The former players received their long-awaited honor prior to Ireland’s recent World Cup warm-up game against England at the Aviva.



Plans to redevelop Casement Park have suffered a fresh blow with the news that one of the main contractors on the project has stopped trading. The Buckingham Group has filed a notice to appoint administrators, but stressed it is not currently in administration. Based in Buckinghamshire, the company has been redeveloping football stadiums, including Anfield in Liverpool, but now finds itself on the brink due to rapidly-escalating contract losses and a sharp reduction in liquidity. Ulster GAA told BBC Northern Ireland that it remains ‘‘fully focused on work commencing on site early next year.’’



Leicester City are the early Championship leaders as they are the only club with maximum points after four series of games. Also in the Championship Irish No. 1 Gavin Bazunu was in goal for Southampton in their 2-1 home win over QPR and our third choice keeper Mark Travers started for Stoke, who lost 1-0 away to Millwall. Elsewhere current Irish international Adam Idah got Norwich’s fourth goal in their 4-0 away win over Huddersfield and former Irish striker Scott Hogan got Birmingham’s first goal in their 2-1 home win over Plymouth Argyle. Another former Irish striker on target was David McGoldrick, who has rejoined his first club Notts County, which he played for back in 2004. The 35 year-old, who won 14 Irish caps, got the first goal in the Magpies’ 2-1 win over Tranmere in League Two.


Irish manager Stephen Kenny will name his squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against France and The Netherlands tomorrow and there is speculation that Shane Duffy might get a recall. The Derry-born defender has been in good form since joining Norwich in the summer and he has started all four of the Canaries games as they have made a great start in the Championship. Seamus Coleman confirmed last week that it will be another six to eight weeks before he is fully fit, while Matt Doherty has not seen much game time since returning to Wolverhampton following his short spell in Spain with Atletico Madrid. John Egan, Nathan Collins and Dara O’Shea are the first-choice back three, but Duffy could still make the squad. The 31 year-old won the last of his 55 caps when he captained the team in the 3-0 win over Scotland in a Nations Cup game at the Aviva in June 2022.



Irish striker Troy Parrott last week agreed a deal that will take him on loan to Dutch club Excelsior Rotterdam. A move away from north London was mooted with Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou admitting he needed to trim his squad before the end of the transfer window. Clubs in the Bundesliga and the Eredivisie were understood to be leading the race to sign the Irish forward, who spent last season on loan at Preston North End, scoring four goals in 34 appearances. Parrott said: ‘‘Last week I had conversations with trainer Marinus Dijkhuizen and technical manager Niels van Duinen. The story they told appealed to me.’’



Irish under 21 midfielder Andrew Moran is set for a loan move to Championship club Blackburn Rovers. The highly-rated 19-year-old Brighton player will shortly undergo a medical as he hopes to gain regular first-team experience. The Dubliner has made three senior appearances for the Seagulls over the past two seasons and featured on the bench several times in the EPL last term, but will now depart for Lancashire to get more senior minutes under his belt. Moran joined Brighton from Bray Wanderers in 2020.


No change at the top of the LOI Premier Division with leaders Shamrock Rovers picking up three points with a hard fought 1-0 home win over Dundalk. The Hoops stay 4 points clear of  St Patrick’s Athletic, who were lucky to escape with a 1-0 over UCD in Belfield. The kick-off at Dalymount Park was delayed as lighting earlier in the evening damaged the floodlights, but Bohs game against Derry City game eventually got under way at 8.30pm and the clubs played out a 2-2 draw which keeps them both in the race for Europe.


Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic avoided each other last week when the draw for this year’s FAI Cup quarter-finals was made. Bohs travel to Drogheda, while the Saints are also away, to Finn Harps. There is an interesting clash in Eamonn Deacy Park where Galway United, runaway leaders in Division One, play Dundalk who are managed by Galway native Stephen O’Donnell. Cork City, who are home to Wexford Youths will be favourites to make the semi-finals. Games will be played on the week-ending Sept. 17.



Justin Feriza has joined Italian Serie A club Frosinone Calcio on a permanent deal from Shamrock Rovers. The 18-year-old  midfielder developed through the Hoops’ academy and broke into the club’s first team last June, appearing regularly during their European campaign and in the group stages of the Europa Conference League. Ferizaj has represented Ireland to under 19 level and also qualifies for Albania through his parents. He spent time on trial at Tottenham Hotspur in January and Championship club Blackburn Rovers were also interested in signing him. Former St Patrick’s Athletic defender James Abankwah is with Udinese while Ferizaj’s cousin, Kevin Zefi, also left Rovers for Inter Milan in 2021.



Cork-born Cathal Heffernan has left Italian club AC Milan and has now joined EPL club Newcastle United. The 18-year-old centre-back has represented the Republic of Ireland from under-15 to under-18 levels. He made his debut for Cork City at 16 years of age in October 2021 and joined AC Milan in January last year. Cathal is the son of Olympians Robert and Marian Heffernan. Dad Rob won the bronze in the 50k race walk at the London Olympics and gold in the same distance at the World Championships in Moscow the following year.


Aberdeen manager Barry Robson has backed Jamie McGrath to add another dimension to the club’s midfield after the Republic of Ireland international signed a two-year deal with the Pittodrie club last week. The 26-year-old from County Meath was a free agent after opting to terminate his contract with previous club Wigan amid Latics’ financial troubles. The former St Patrick’s, Dundalk and St Mirren player, spent last season on loan at Dundee United. Don’s manager Robson said: ‘‘Jamie is an international player who brings with him good experience of the league.’’



Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that former Irish international James McCarthy has no future at the club. McCarthy still has two years left on his contract, but will not feature for the team again. The 32 year-old Glasgow native, who declared for Ireland under the parentage rule and won 43 caps, said he had achieved a boyhood dream when he joined Celtic on a free transfer from Crystal Palace in 2021. But McCarthy, who has struggled with injuries, has started only six games and has not even been on the bench in recent weeks. Rodgers last week confirmed McCarthy will leave Parkhead once they can arrange his departure.



Several of the Irish Women’s team changed clubs last week. London City Lionesses confirmed they have completed the signing of Ruesha Littlejohn. The midfielder joins the English Championship club from Aston Villa, who are in the Women’s Super League. She will now link up with fellow Ireland internationals Grace Moloney and Niamh Farrelly in the captial. Also Megan Connolly has signed for Super League newcomers Bristol City. The 26 year-old Cork-born midfielder joins Chloe Mustaki at Bristol, having left Brighton earlier in the summer. She had been with the Seagulls since 2019, when she moved from Florida State Seminoles. Also Heather Payne has returned to England to join Everton. The move brings to an end the 23-year-old’s four-year spell with Florida State Seminoles, where she recently graduated with a degree in Dietetics. The Roscommon native started two of Ireland’s three World Cup games. It’s Payne’s second spell in the English top-flight, having played for Bristol City before departing for the USA in 2019. Meanwhile Aoife O’Gorman has announced her retirement from international football, but she will continue to play for Shamrock Rovers. The 34 year-old defender won the last of her 119 caps in the 2-1 defeat to Canada at the World Cup.