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In The Irish News on April 3 1997: Shock 3-2 defeat by Macedonia is huge blow to Republic of Ireland World Cup hopes

Tony Cascarino jumps with Macedonian captain Ljupco Markovski during yesterday’s defeat in Skopje

MICK MCCARTHY saw his team crash to a shock 3-2 defeat in Macedonia and admitted: “It’s a huge blow to our World Cup hopes.”

McCarthy saw his team, sporting the new orange away kit, surrender an eighth minute lead before falling behind to a pair of debatable penalties and then slide further into arrears just before the hour.

Substitute David Kelly’s 78th minute strike raised hopes again but it was not enough and the match ended in bedlam with Jason McAteer and Macedonia’s double penalty scorer Mitko Stojkovski both sent off for fighting during stoppage time.

The defeat took on greater implications when news filtered through from Lithuainia of Romania’s 1-0 victory leaving the Republic with a mountain to climb in order to qualify.

McCarthy said: “I said before the game that if we played at our best we would win.

“My head’s on the line after that statement but to be honest we didn’t play anywhere as well as we can.

“We had a perfect start but for some reason we stopped playing after going a goal up in seven minutes. We defended a 1-0 lead and at that stage it was ridiculous.”

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BRYAN HAMILTON found it impossible to retain his mood of Irish optimism after seeing Northern Ireland’s hopes of World Cup qualification dealt a mortal blow by their 2-1 defeat by Ukraine in Kiev.

Goals by Dinamo Kiev duo Vitaly Kosovski and Andrei Shevchenko sent the Ukraine three points clear of Portugal at the top of group nine, wrecking boss Hamilton’s chances of leading Northern Ireland into next year’s finals in France.

It was cruel on the Irish, who fell behind to Kosovski’s stunning third minute strike, but bounced back to level through an Iain Dowie penalty 12 minutes later, only for Shevchenko to grab the winner after 70 minutes to finally kill off the visitors.

Hamilton admitted: “Mathematically we still have a chance of qualifying for the finals, but this result means that realistically we have blown it. ”

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DOWN’S three prodigal sons will not start Sunday’s NFL quarter-final with Kerry at Croke Park.

However, James McCartan, Peter Withnell and Greg Blaney, who have all recently returned to county training, have been named among the substitutes.

Manager Peter McGrath said it was only fair to keep faith with the players who have taken Down to the quarterfinals, but hinted some of the more experienced members could play at some stage.

“James and Peter haven’t played much gaelic football recently but have been looking sharp in training and one or two familiar players could appear on Sunday,” he said.

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THE following north Antrim minor hurling players will represent Antrim in the Ulster Minor Hurling League game against Derry in Drum.

Antrim: L Forsythe, V Forsythe, P Watson, D Toal (Armoy); K Casey, D Quinn, A Watt, K O’Connell, P McFadden (Loughgiel); B Brogan, T McGilligan, P Richmond, D McMullan, J P McQuillan (Dunloy), D Mort, M Hamilton, G Laverty (Cushendun), J McAuley (Carey), M Dallas, A Cairns, C Kelly (Ballycastle), P McAllister (Ballycastle), P McAllister (Glenarm), M McCambridge, B McNaughton, E McNaughton, D McKillop, C McAuley, P Hamilton (Cushendall). 

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MARTIN McKeown of St Patrick’s Newry gave an exhibition as one of the more polished boxers to advance into the semis of the National Boys Boxing Championship at the Nat ional Stadium last night.

McKeown, operating in the Boy (three) category ousted a fiery Wexford fighter in Eric Murphy 9-6.

The St Agnes’s club Belfast with the strongest representation in the championship turned up a good family double when the McClurkin brothers Sean and Francis got through to the semis.

Results: Boy (one) quarter-finals: 29 kilos S McClurkin (St Agnes) bt M Sallinger (Sacred Heart) 13-5; P Teague (Dromore) bt R Kenwright (Dalgan) 12-9; 33 kilos D Toman (Sacred Heart) bt S McCook (Scorpion) 4-1; 39 kilos M McDonagh (Ring) beat C O’Gara (Lough Gara) 4- 1

Boy (two) 29 kilos P Delaney Cavan bt G Ross (Ledley Hall) 6-1 31 kilos A Lyness (Immaculata) bt B O’Riordan (Riverstown) 10-3 33 kilos T Whelan (St Ibar’s) bt M McKeown (Sean McDermotts) 6-1 39 kilos D Cunningham (Saints bt G O’Sullivan (Cork) 16-13; D McCullagh (Ring) bt S McDermott (French Park) 9-1 45 kilos K Hartnett (St Colman’s) bt S McFlynn (Newington) 25-1 48 kilos B Mulholland (Rossa) bt P McCrory (Corpus Christi College) Stopped Rd 1; E Agnew (Kilkurley) bt M Hanlon (St Saviour’s) 3-2 51 kilos S Mullen (Errigal) bt D Barret (Olympic) 14-8

Boy three 33kilos P Hyland (Golden Cobra) bt J Wiggins (Saints) 15-8; T Tynan (Moneen Roe) bt K Aiken (Dromore) 36 kilos D McKeown (St Pat’s Newry) bt E Murphy (Wexford CBS) 9-6 39 kilos F McClurkin (St Agnes) bt B Towe (Clann Eirinn) 66-53 on countback 42 kilos J Rea (All Saints) bt D O’Brien (Grangecon) 16-4 42 kilos P Coveney (Cork) bt J Linden (Pegasus) 12-2

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