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In The Irish News - Aug 28 1997: Business keeps Henry Downey out of Antrim senior football job

Seamus Downey with son Calum and Henry Downey with his son Matthew at the Lavey GAC in county Derry in 2016

HENRY Downey has turned down the chance to become Antrim’s senior hurling manager and will commit himself to another year of inter-county football with Derry.

And after having said “no” to an initial approach, former boss Sean McGuinness is back among the candidates for the post.

Antrim hurling chairman Frank Smyth confirmed last night that Lavey and Derry star Downey, a teacher at St Mary’s Magherafelt, had been asked to forward his credentials for consideration.

Downey, a former Oak Leaf senior hurler, recently opened a public house in Derry.

“I spoke to Henry and although he was flattered to be considered by Antrim, he has too much on his plate and has committed himself to another 12 months with Derry’s senior football team.

“It was an informal approach to Henry. To us he has the requirements for the job and had he been interested he would have been shortlisted.

“I haven’t been knocked over by applications for the job but we will not rush into making an appointment,” said Smyth.

St Paul's, UUJ and games development coach John Crossey has indicated his interest in the position.

It’s likely Antrim will keep with tradition and appoint from within the county.

However Smyth added that the county board would look beyond the Glens if necessary.

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DERRY selector Frank Kearney yesterday slammed the revamping of the National Football League.

Kearney’s scathing comments about the scrapping of the divisional structure of the competition was the most stringent reaction to Irish News inquiries about the GAA’s changes to football’s second most important intercounty competition.

In contrast, Antrim football manager Ray McDonnell is delighted at the prospect of taking on heavyweights such as Meath, Donegal and Derry in the new-look league. Tyrone football boss Danny Ball feels it is too early to rush to judgements on the overhaul of the league although he agreed ruefully that his team appear to have landed the toughest section alongside the likes of Cavan, Kerry, Dublin and Offaly.

Kearney, who admitted he was talking from a position of Derry self-interest, claimed the sweeping changes were “derogatory” to teams which had fought hard to preserve division one status in recent seasons.

“We in Derry were looking forward to the prospect of playing Kerry, Cavan, Meath and Kildare at home during the League - games which would have attractive attendances of between 8,000 and 10,000,’’ he said.

“Our projected programme would have had us away to Cork, Laois and Louth.” Kearney, who like Derry manager Brian Mullins is not clear whether he will be involved with the county squad when the NFL resumes, described the revised system of four sections as a “hotch-potch” although he added that he didn’t want to cast any aspersions on the other so-called lower-ranking teams in Derry’s group.

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ANTRIM county hurler Paul Donnelly is set to make his debut for Rossa in the county hurling decider against Dunloy on Sunday.

The ex-St Paul’s man received clearance for his transfer to Rossa a fortnight ago and, with the county finalists enduring something of an injury crisis, Donnelly seems certain to start the Casement Park clash.

Regular scorer Collie Murphy seems certain to miss the match because of a long-standing groin strain and that will leave a vacancy in the attack for Donnelly.

Rossa’s other injury worries centre around right half-back Seamus Shannon who is troubled by a leg muscle tear.

Shannon hasn’t trained since the semi-final win over Ballycastle and is rated as doubtful for Sunday’s decider.

Full-forward Joe O’Neill broke a knuckle in the semi-final and his hand has been in plaster since then.

However, O’Neill is expected to get the cast off the injury over the weekend and is reported to be hopeful of starting the final.

All Rossa’s other big name players including countymen Jim Connolly, Jim Close and John Hamill plus ace marksmen Chris Hamill are fully fit for the final.

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YOUNG Northern Ireland riders enjoyed a positive outing at the Manchester International Youth Tour this week.

In the U15 event, Old Bleach star Luke Ireland finished third while Toyota North Down rider Michael Dempster came in sixth.

In the U16 four stage race, Roadstars Crumlin clubman Matthew Ward finished 16th overall.

Ward had been trailing in 32nd place after a poor start in the Time Trial Prolouge.

But amid a field of class international riders, Ward progressed as the stages passed to complete a strong finish.

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