first_imgThe Letterkenny Rovers team which faced Ringmahon in Cork last week.LATE DRAMA IN CORK BUT ROVERS STILL IN SIGHT OF THE AVIVA When does a draw feel like a victory and a defeat all in the one game? For Letterkenny Rovers, seconds away last Sunday from an appearance at the Aviva Stadium in the F.A.I. Intermediate Cup Final, it can truly only have felt like a loss when Ringmahon Rangers snatched the cruelest – though not obviously to them – of equalizers with time entering the point of no return.The reaction in both camps couldn’t have been more of a contrast – the Cork side celebrating like they had won the Cup itself, the visitors like they’d just been told their bus has broken down and they’d have to carry it all the way home.Ireland international, David Meyler, a native of Cork, had tweeted a good luck message to Rangers before kick-off – but had he been watching the opening forty-five minutes he would surely have feared something like the tanking his own Hull City side suffered at the hands of Derby County in the Championship last night.Rovers had survived a second half pressure cooker having dominated for long spells of that opening period and looked like they were heading for the plush surroundings of the Aviva on May 14th until Roy Kenny’s deflected effort give the home side that late, late lifeline. Long before that Stevie Okakpu’s 13th minute strike had given Rovers the lead and they could, and should, have added to it before the interval. Had they done so, Ringmahon would have been left marking Kenny’s goal as mere consolation – as it is they are still in the Cup and still within sight of the Final.But then, so too are Eamon McConigley’s team. And that’s what he will no doubt be drilling into his charges before they take the field at Leckview on Sunday week for the replay (seemingly it will come up against the Scottish Cup semi-final clash between Celtic and Rangers but, come on local football fans, get your priorities right).Before that, however, another away trip and another competition. Portmarnock and the first round of the F.A.I. Senior Cup this Sunday. If they can replicate the opening half performance from last weekend there’s no reason why Rovers can’t progress in this one and deposit their name in the hat for the next round draw.An interesting couple of weekends ahead and hopefully a date with destiny on May 14th.DERRY EXHIBITION REMEMBERS EDDIE (AND A HOST OF DONEGAL FACES)Up front we had Cullen and McCollum. And at the back, Duffy and myself. To be honest, Cullen had to be where he was given that he was the driving force behind the whole venture. The man behind the steering wheel and steering it in the direction of Derry last Sunday afternoon and specifically the Pilot’s Row Centre in Rossville Street.We didn’t know who would be featuring in the Derry line-up but what we did know was that they’d be inspired and motivated by the late and legendary Eddie Davis who passed away on August 27th last year at the age of ninety-six but left behind a treasure trove of images and memorabilia. If you haven’t already made it into the Maiden City for the special exhibition depicting the life and times of one of the North-West’s best known sporting personalities, then try and make it along before it closes at the end of the week.The best footballer on this island never to have won an international cap, he went on to prove a supreme talent scout in the game and an organizer bar none.The quartet who departed Ramelton (Danny Cullen and Joe Duffy) and Letterkenny (Johnny McCollum and yours truly) did so for the official opening of the exhibition – heck, we even got a formal welcome from Sean Davis, son of the legend, and well known himself in soccer circles in Donegal.Ah sure, it’ll just be for “Derry wans”, I can hear some of you out there declare. Not so – Donegal features prominently in the range of photographs and other material faithfully collected for the display (“we only have a quarter of it on show, the rest is lying in suitcases,” Sean maintained). There’s one of the classiest midfield players ever to emerge from this county, John McElwaine, signing for Bradford from Fanad United, the photograph also featuring Fanad stalwarts, Fr. Mick Sweeney and Joe McCrory, along with the man who made it all happen, E.D. (Sean reminds us that he also has a photograph of Michael McHugh from Ramelton, preparing to put pen to paper for the Yorkshire side which will join the numerous other images on the exhibition walls before the week is out).And there’s Eddie congratulating Shay Given before the Lifford man joined up with Newcastle United. And the Buncrana Hearts pairing of Terry Gallagher and Mickey ‘The Lough’ McLaughlin, about to sign for Northampton Town, with the trio of Pat Crerand, the then manager of the English League side (1976-1977), the Buncrana Hearts boss at the time, Conal Diver, and, of course, the larger than life, Eddie Davis.Buncrana Hearts. Hosts of one of the most famous games in North-West history – a charity challenge match involving an All-Stars team against an International Select where the likes of the great Pat Jennings and a host of others broke attendance records – German goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann, who broke more than a record when he somehow played on between the posts for Manchester City in the 1956 F.A. Cup Final win over Birmingham City, despite having suffered a fractured neck. And eight years later he, and an impressive line-up of stars, were in Buncrana, and all thanks to the initiative and contacts of that man, Davis.Over 30,000 turned up for the match at Maginn Park on that memorable July day in 1964, the town bursting at the proverbial seams.Marie McCallion, taking a special interest in the exhibition, remembers it well. She was helping out at the family’s public house business in her native Buncrana.“I cursed the man who organized it,” she recalls with a smile. And might have been able to do so in person when she, in later years, married his son, Sean!One particular wall of the exhibition space is devoted to that historic match when even Eamonn Andrews, presenter of ‘This is Your Life’, made an appearance along with his spouse (or ‘This is Your Wife’ as she might have been known).The exhibition features a gallery of photographs and signed letters from some of football’s greatest managers including Alex Ferguson who had been invited along to last Sunday’s opening but was unable to attend due to other commitments. “Thank you for your letter. I remember your dad from our visit to Derry back in 1999. Seems a long time ago…,” the former Manchester United boss wrote, in apologizing for his non-attendance.Fellow managerial legends including Bill Shankly and Alf Ramsay also feature in words and pictures along with several of the greatest players in the history of the game, George Best, Pat Jennings, and – er – Felix Healy.There’s a section devoted to boxing with a few Letterkenny faces on show and there’s a toast (including Marmalade) to Eddie’s other passion in life – apart from his family – music and the showbands. And images of his faithful and annual pilgrimages to Lourdes.My old friend and former newspaper colleague, Eamonn Davis, was, of course, also present and proudly ready to share anecdotes of his dad along with the rest of the family. There too, former Manchester City captain, Jobby Crossan, and a couple of ex-Finn Harps player, Declan McDowell and Harry Sharkey. And the man who shared the Donegal quartet’s company for a cup of tea afterwards, that character of all characters, Don O’Doherty (which when you think we had Joe Duffy there, too, made for some sharp and quick witted exchanges over the table).“Lovely memories”, Jennifer Keirns from Letterkenny wrote in the visitors book.Get along and share in some of them yourselves.GROUND FOR OPTIMISM?So there I was – the only being at Finn Park last weekend with not another soul in sight. And yes,, it has to be stressed, the ground totally unplayable. You just couldn’t have sent two teams out to perform on it and, to be brutally honest, I think it’s going to be some time yet before we’ll see any action on it.That’s Finn Park 2, I’m talking about. Finn Harps new ground currently under construction just off the Railway Road in Stranorlar.It looks impressive. The construction of the main stand having taken shape and a sky high crane in place on the site. Looking at it, Harps fans would be feeling a real sense of anticipation at the visible signs of progress.But we’ve been here before. In 2014 when similar development could be reported and the outline of the 6,800 capacity stadium was showing signs of progress.Back then there had been hopes that 2016 would see the new ground open for business but it appears we’re still some way off that.For a part-time club –even one now operating in the Premier League – finances, or the lack of them, was always going to place a variety of stumbling blocks in the building work.Consequently progress at the new stadium has been virtually at a snail’s crawl over the past couple of years – and the term ‘currently under construction’ does not strictly apply.In December last, Harps Infrastructure Coordinator, Trevor Gordon, indicated that the club was anticipating a major funding allocation early in the new year to enable work to restart with the builder committed to getting back on site as soon as the Departmental funding was received.Hopefully that will pitch up sooner rather than much later but, meanwhile, there are those old traditionalists among us who still savour that walk down Navenny Street or, in latter years, along the Chestnut Road, and will feel a real sense of regret when the turnstiles are closed for the last time at the original Finn Park.Rain stopped play or, rather, prevented play from even starting in Ballybofey last Friday night but at least St. Patrick’s Athletic were informed in good time (unlike the footballers of Dublin and their supporters who learned that their scheduled fixture at Dr Hyde Park had been switched to Carrick-on-Shannon less than five hours before the throw-in on Sunday).Harps will now meet Pat’s next Monday night but before that they face the trip to Terryland Park on Friday. While it was always on the cards that Harps would lose at Dundalk and duly did, the game in Galway is one I would be equally fearful of – United sitting in fifth spot with a decent tally of ten points and already having impressed in most of their games.Tommy Dunne has assembled a good squad and if Harps come away with even a point it will have been hard earned and a result to take plenty of comfort in.Meanwhile, Harps have appealed to the public for financial backing as they launch a fund-raising draw. Facing two away games in succession in Cork and Wexford this month, they’ll need every euro they can generate.It’s not just points that will be required to keep the Donegal side in the Premier Division.HOW TO LOSE AND STILL MAKE A SEMI-FINALFour defeats on the bounce but still Donegal find themselves in the semi-finals of the Allianz National League. Bizarre is one word for it and the other word for it is, well, also bizarre.The celebrations at the end of their game in Castleblaney on Sunday were mainly conducted in the Monaghan camp – saved from relegation thanks to corner-back. Colin Walshe’s injury time point and other results going their – and, as it happens – Donegal’s way.It was far from a poor Donegal display but it nevertheless represented another defeat and one that will hardly have supporters eagerly anticipating the semi-final clash with the Dubs.How they could do with some of the zip that saw the Donegal women’s team record their sixth win in a row at the weekend – a comprehensive dismantling of Kildare on a scoreline of 4-18 to 0-6. Now there’s a run you’d want to embark on to maintain momentum.That three match winning streak for Rory Gallagher’s male equivalents at the outset of the N.L. campaign seems a long way off and the confidence that such a run can instil has surely left the building.But you always feel this team has the makings of a quality performance in it and what better side than the All-Ireland champions to conjure it up against.CLAUDIO’S CAVALIER’SIn the normal course of a season, we would – Arsenal fans excepted, of course – probably be happy enough for an entertaining side like Tottenham Hotspur to go on and claim a first Premiership title.But this has been far from a normal season and while the likes of some of my old journalistic colleagues such as Diarmaid Doherty, Liam Porter, Charlie Collins and Brian McDaid (all Spurs men to the back bone) won’t be agreeing, the rest of us will be more than delighted if Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City go on to clinch the most unlikely top flight success in league history.For those of us who have bitten finger nails to near obsolete as we endured the agonies of our teams coming in sight of a Premiership title win (look away now, Liverpool fans) in the final few weeks of a season, we have an idea of what Leicester supporters are currently going through.But this is no elite club with money to burn as has been the case for most such title triumphs – this, as has been pointed out on more than one occasion this campaign, is a team that last year were dead certs for relegation at this very stage of the season only to mount an incredible escape to survival under then boss, Nigel Pearson.Seven points behind at the very basement they were then. And now look at them. Seven points clear at the top of the table and going for glory and some of us as nervous for them as we ever were for our own lot.But those 1-0 wins don’t make it any easier. And the problem with them is that one slip or one moment of brilliance can turn 1-0 into 1-1 and two points down the tube. Or worse.And remember the 1995/1996 campaign – Newcastle United a seemingly unassailable twelve points clear at Christmas only to be pegged back by Manchester United and go on to lose it on the final day of the season?United will be involved again this year but only when facing both Leicester and Spurs – the latter next Sunday at White Hart Lane on the same day the Foxes travel to meet relegation threatened Sunderland.Me? I’m still afraid they’ll blow it but even then it will be a story worth a Hollywood film except you wouldn’t want Hollywood to make it.A LESSON LARNEDWell, that’ll Larne me. Last week this column previewed a match involving the Letterkenny R.F.C. under-18’s who were scheduled to play a Cup match at Dave Gallaher Park. The piece was headlined ‘This Saturday – Honestly’ after I had mistakenly previewed the fixture the week prior to that for the previous Saturday.With me so far? Unfortunately, the match against Larne didn’t go ahead last weekend either so that’s two weeks running I’ve been left with some free range egg on the face. This time, however, I’m accepting no blame – Larne having declined to travel for the fixture and Letterkenny consequently winning through to a quarter-final place automatically.Where they’ll come up against Ballyclare at the Glebe this Saturday (11.a.m.).A few weeks back, the Letterkenny lads beat their Antrim opponents 27-0 at the same venue in a league clash which wasn’t as one-sided as the scoreline might suggest.They’ll be out for revenge and all points to an intriguing Cup game. But given my record for the past fortnight, check first before you go along.FRIEND OF ANN HAS STAND NAMED AFTER HIMNo sooner had we mentioned Letterkenny native, Ann Marchard’s connections with Bobby Charlton in last week’s column than they go and name a stand in his honour at Old Trafford.Just in case you missed it, our Ann (nee Kelly) back in the sixties when she used to do a school run in Manchester where she then resided, occasionally shared a coffee with a fellow parent as they kicked in some time – a parent who looked vaguely familiar to her until one day she enquired as to his profession and when he answered, realised that she had been engaging in conversation with the great United midfield maestro himself.And now they’ve gone and named a stand after him just to make up for it.The power of this column knows no bounds.COLD TIPSShane Lowry for the Masters and Holywell for the Grand National. Just don’t remember where you read it first…..LATE DRAMA IN CORK, EDDIE DAVIS REMEMBERED AND DONEGAL OFF TO CROKER – IT’S WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY was last modified: April 6th, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:columnnewsPaddy WalshSportWednesdaylast_img

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