It was no surprise last week when Jack O’Connor was reappointed Kerry senior football manager for another two years. He was ratified unanimously by club delegates at a Kerry County Board meeting. O’Connor’s term ended with a one-point loss to Dublin in this year’s All-Ireland final, but he had led Kerry to beat Galway and win Sam in 2022.
O’Connor, who will be 63 next month, has yet to name his backroom team, but there is speculation in the Kingdom that there could be one change. It’s not known if Tyrone native Paddy Tally can commit to making the long trek south again next year. Tally took a year’s sabbatical from St Mary’s College in Belfast in 2022 and this year he travelled up and down to the Kerry training session at their Centre of Excellence in Currans and Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney. Tally’s coaching skills are seen as essential to the Kingdom’s chances of reclaiming Sam Maguire Cup in 2024.
The Kerry senior football championship starts next week and O’Connor and his selectors will be checking on new talent. O’Connor’s first term as Kerry senior manager ran from 2004 to 2006. He returned to serve four more years between 2009 and 2012 and if he remains in place until 2025 he will have been Kerry senior manager for 11 years.
O’Connor ended Kerry’s 20-year wait for an All-Ireland minor football title when he took over in 2014 and guided Kerry to win back-to-back titles. He also managed the Kerry under 21 team. Kerry minor manager Wayne Quillinan and under 20 manager Tomás Ó Sé both have another year left as managers of their respective teams.
Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe has been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or award. The Dubliner becomes the first Irish woman to be nominated for Ballon d’Or Féminin, which was first presented in 2018. She is one of 30 nominees, with the winner set to be announced at a ceremony in Paris on Oct. 30. Katie had a superb year, skippering her country to a first-ever appearance at a World Cup while helping her club Arsenal to the semi-finals of the Champions League and a third-placed finish in the Women’s Super League. A total of 30 players are nominated for the prestigious award, including Salma Paralluelo, Patricia Guijarro, Aitana Bonmati, Mapi Leon, Alba Redondo and Olga Carmona who all helped a brilliant Spain team to World Cup glory. Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa, who has just completed a move to Manchester United, England goalkeeper Mary Earps, Australia superstar Sam Kerr and Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala are also on the list. No Republic of Ireland player has received a vote for the men’s award since Roy Keane in 2000, while George Best in 1968 is the only player from the island of Ireland to ever win the prize.
GALWAY LOOK FOR
UPSET WIN IN CUP
With FAI cup experts Shamrock Rovers and cup holders Derry City already out of the competition, this year’s FAI Cup is a very open affair and predicting the outcome of next Friday’s four quarter-finals is a difficult task. Bohemians will be favorites to beat Drogheda at United Park, but the Drogs have pulled off some surprise results this season and I think they could beat The Gypsies on Friday. St Patrick’s Athletic, having won away to Longford and Derry City in the earlier rounds should be too strong for Finn Harps in Ballybofey while Cork City will be favorites to beat Wexford Youths at Turner’s Cross. But the clash of first division leaders Galway United and mid-table Premier Division club Dundalk at Eamon Deacy Park could provide the biggest surprise of the round. Galway are going very well and scoring plenty goals and might just be able to dump the County Louth club out of the cup. One very important League game also on Friday night at the Brandywell, where Derry City play long time leaders Shamrock Rovers. After their 5-0 win over UCD in a re-arranged game last week, the Candystripes are now only 4 points behind the Hoops in the table.
Cork senior camogie manager Matthew Twomey has decided to end his time in charge of the team just a month after their easy All-Ireland final win over Waterford. Twomey has been very successful since taking on the role in November 2021, when he replaced Paudie Murray as manager of the Rebelettes. The Douglas clubman initially agreed a two-year term and guided Cork to a National League and All-Ireland final last year but came up short on both occasions. He then followed that up by losing the League final again this year, losing to Galway. But it was a good summer for Twomey as Cork beat major contenders like Kilkenny and Galway on route to another senior final where they comfortably Waterford. In Ladies football former Dublin manager Greg McGonigle has replaced Shane McCormack as Armagh senior manager.
Cork manager Matthew Twomey and the Cork team before a March league game in Nowlan Park, Kilkenny. INPHO/KEN SUTTON
CALLS IT A DAY
Former Hurler of the Year Seamus Callanan has brought the curtain down on a stellar 16-year senior inter-county career with Tipperary. Callanan, who will be 35 on Friday next, was one of deadliest forwards of his generation and won three All-Ireland senior medals with Tipp in 2010, 2016 and 2019 as well as a National League title in 2008 and four All-Stars. His career peaked in 2019 when was named Hurler of the Year and also captained Tipp that year. The Drom and Inch full-forward scored 40 championship goals, the last of which came against Offaly in this year’s All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final. Callanan paid tributer for former Tipp manager Eamon O’Shea, saying ‘‘I have been fortunate to meet many great people during my time hurling with Tipperary and through the GAA, but Eamon was special amongst them all. As a mentor and friend, his guidance had a significant impact on my career, and I want to thank him most sincerely.’’
Republic of Ireland under-17 international Ike Orazi has completed a move to Ligue 1 side Stade de Reims. The 16-year-old Dubliner had been an academy player at Shamrock Rovers, where he won the national league and cup double with the Hoops’ under 15 team last season. Rovers described him as “a hugely talented player” after confirming his move to France. Orazi was one of Ireland’s standout players at the European under 17 Championships in Budapest earlier this year, scoring two goals and setting up three others as Colin O’Brien’s youngsters made an impressive run to the quarter-finals before losing to Spain. He joined Rovers from the club’s links with Corduff F.C. in Blanchardstown, where he played his football from the age of five.
Ike Orazi turns to score for the Republic of Ireland Under 17 team against Hungary in Budapest in May. INPHO/NIKOLA KRSTIC
GAA FOCUSED ON
It’s a quiet time on the GAA inter-county front and several county boards are making plans for revamps of their stadia in the years ahead. At GAA headquarters in Croke Park an updated Cusack Stand is expected to be among medium-term GAA infrastructure projects. In addition to the construction of a second hotel close to Croke Park on the site of the old Clonliffe College grounds which will be built by the association, it is anticipated the Cusack Stand will require a facelift in the coming years. Redeveloped in time to be opened for 1996 for the price of £35 million, the stand has a capacity of approximately 27,000. Elsewhere around the country Waterford’s Walsh Park reopened recently after the first of three phases of redevelopment was completed. The long-awaited redevelopment of Casement Park in Belfast and rebuilds in Navan’s Páirc Tailteann and Newbridge’s St Conleth’s Park are other prioritised capital projects. Casement Park is needed to host games in Euro 2008, so it will have British Government support. Kerry GAA remain determined to redevelop Fitzgerald Stadium with a cost benefit analysis report currently being compiled on the Killarney venue. Kerry County Board have estimated it will cost €72.5 million to reconstruct the Lewis Road site. Kerry officials believe the stadium can be a year-round attraction with multi-purpose facilities and attractions particularly for tourists. They have met with concert promoters and have explored the possibility of hosting an annual American football game.
In Tipperary as they reach the closing stages of developing their training grounds in the adjacent Dr Morris Park, the County Board are also keen to revamp the Kinane Stand in Semple Stadium, Thurles. Prior to the pandemic, the board had outlined a project to refit the stand in Thurles and estimated it would cost €10m. Limerick County Board say the Mackey Stand in the Gaelic Grounds, rebuilt in 1988 and given a cosmetic upgrade in 2018, is in need of an overhaul. A number of counties feel the GAA should be as ambitious as the FAI in calling for Government support to finance outdated facilities. In June this year the FAI requested €517 million over 15 years.