Republican News · Thursday 4 September 1997

[An Phoblacht]

Dismal weather - dire football

What were the Kerry Gaelic football team doing last Sunday afternoon. Maybe they were all out on a light training exercise, honing their skills and fitness levels for the 28 September final. A more likely scenario is that they were ensconced somewhere more dry and cosy than Croke Park watching the second semi-final between Offaly and Mayo.

They might even have allowed themselves a quiet smile as two mediocre teams played out a dire game of football. If the all-Ireland champions emerge from this second semi-final it will be a major upset.

Offaly 0-7, Mayo 0-13

So I tipped Offaly to go all the way and yes, disappointing is one word you could use to describe their display in Croke Park. Abysmal would be another more realistic term. I had tipped Kerry as likely winners last May when the championship started but office gossip claimed that Martin Ferris was tipping Offaly so allegiances switched (I am from Dublin) and bets were placed on Offaly.

Yes, the conditions were difficult with a saturated pitch and a continuous downpour. But that does not explain the ineptitude of Mayo forwards who squandered 17 wides during the game. Kerry will hammer such inconsistency.

If Mayo's performance was bad, how do you gauge Offaly's? At times they had good possession and ran with verve and skill only to fizzle out in front of goal. They scored seven points out of a meagre total of 11 attempts.

All in all it was a miserable afternoon for the Leinster champions and Mayo roll on to a second consecutive final. It isn't pretty to watch, but no-one in the Connacht champion's camp seems too worried.

Ryder selection

Golf is not really what one considers a sport. Yet it holds a fascination for millions who will watch badly dressed men stroll through carefully coiffured lawns week in week out. Golfing focus this month is on the Ryder cup selection process. It is a biannual tournament where the top 24 golfers in Europe and the USA play a series of match play games.

Whatever you think about golf, when the fate of an Irish sports star is at stake you have to overcome your prejudice and show support. Padraig Harrington found himself just beyond Ryder cup qualification when he finished joint ninth in the BMW International Open.

Harrington is the 12th highest earning player in Europe this year. However, Ryder cup selection means that only the top ten players are automatically chosen while the team captain Seve Ballesteros picks the final two players. It looks as though Harrington is not on the wild card list and will not join Irish compatriot Darren Clarke on the team. It seems a strange claim that the top twelve European players are not actually the top earning players. The inequality of the selection process is made all the more apparent by the lengths Ballesteros is going to choose the 11th player in the ranking list; fellow Spaniard Jose-Maria Olazabal as one of the wild cards.

Celtic 1, Rangers 1

You might have thought that the Rangers-Celtic match was cancelled last Monday as part of the over the top reaction to Diana Windsor's death, but Celtic and Rangers reserves played out a one all draw at Ibrox on Saturday. The reserves match attracted the fourth highest crowd in Britain of any soccer fixture last weekend as 33,800 people turned up.

Rangers reserves had six internationals in the squad worth 6 million but could not overcome the Celtic team with not one player over 20. Rangers coach John McGregor summed up the match commenting ``The young Celtic players absolutely deserved their draw because they worked hard. Some of our players don't know the meaning of hard work''.

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