In The Irish News on June 21 1997: Oliver Collins absence hits Derry hurling hopes

MISSING LINK...Free-scoring Oliver Collins could be sorely missed by Derry

OLIVER COLLINS'S absence from the Derry line-up has seriously lessened the chances of a surprise result in tomorrow's Guinness Ulster Hurling semi-final between the Oak Leaf county and Down.

Just over a year ago, Ulster Railway Cup manager Sean McGuinness memorably said if English soccer-style transfer fees were paid for hurlers that the Lavey man would be in the “£10 million class”.

A slight exaggeration perhaps, but it got McGuinness's point across.

Collins is guaranteed to notch at least half-a-dozen points in every match he plays for Derry.

He often chips in with the odd goal as well. Down hurling folk, though, are far from convinced that Collins won't play some part during tomorrow's proceedings at Casement.

However, Derry officials insist Collins' leg injury is genuine.

“Hugo Mac Oscair is as straight a guy as you will come across. He wouldn't try and pull the wool over folks eyes,” says county PRO Gerry Donnelly of the Derry hurling manager.

The boundless enthusiasm of Mac Oscair is complemented by the quiet resolve of Anthony O'Hara and man management abilities of PJ McKenna.

PADRAIG Harrington kept his slim Ryder Cup hopes alive yesterday by making the cut at the Volvo German Open in Stuttgart.

He mirrored his opening day's score of 71 in yesterday's second round to scrape into the final two day's play.

The Dubliner needs a vast improvement in form, however, if he is to make any significant strides in Germany and advance his position in the standings for Valderrama.

Phillip Walton also just missed the cut, returning a card of 70 to also finish 10 shots behind the leader yesterday, but they were the only Irish success stories.

Des Smyth, Raymond Burns, Eamonn Darcy and David Higgins all finished shy of the qualifying mark, with Higgins carding a poor two-day total of 155.

Mark James, seven times a Ryder Cup player, holed in one when shooting a four under par 67 yesterday to take joint third place after two rounds to put himself in line for the £116,000 first prize.

Yet he virtually ruled himself out of making the European team again even though he is in 21st place in the Ryder Cup points table and when victory here would catapult him into ninth spot.

James, three strokes behind Spaniard Ignacio Garrido, who shot 67 yesterday for a 10 under par total of 132, said: “I'm not even remotely in the running for the Ryder Cup team so I'm not even thinking about it.''

ONE of Ireland's top under-age water-polo players has finally been awarded the only honour that has eluded him so far in his short but successful career.

Eighteen-year-old La Salle A-level student Aidan McMahon will captain the Ireland team that leaves for Portugal on July 17 for the seven-nation tournament in Loule on the Algarve.

The competing nations are France, Spain, England, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Ireland.

Aidan is joined on the squad by five of his teammates from Cathal Brugha; with Clonard's Ronan McGlue and Damian McComb from Setanta completing the northern contingent.

The other Cathal Brugha players are Brian Rice, Chris Hodgkinson, Michael Campfield, Peter Cassidy and Kevin McKeown who recently transferred from Donegall.

The Setanta club are particularly pleased with the choice of Damian McComb – their first international.

The club has only been in business for five years; and last year won their first Irish title when they captured the U16 cup.

Dublin officials Brian O'Dwyer and Eddie Duffy are in charge.

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