In The Irish News - Oct 30 1996: Manager Pete McGrath drops Peter Withnell from Down football panel
PETER Withnell has been dropped from the Down football panel.
The Drumaness man is the latest high-profile casualty of the Down management's new get-tough policy on commitment to the county's cause.
Further surprise news from the Mournes last night was that county backroom man John Murphy has picked up a two month suspension from Gaelic Games.
Murphy, part of Peter McGrath's management structure along with JP O'Kane, was handed a two-month suspension by the Ulster Council for arguing with a linesman at the McKenna Cup Final against Armagh in April.
Withnell's soccer commitments with League of Ireland club Dundalk meant he couldn't guarantee attendances at county training beyond one night a week.
He would have also been unavailable for a number of National League games because the majority of Dundalk matches are played on Sundays.
Down manager McGrath confirmed last night that Withnell, who joins another soccer exile James McCartan in GAA limbo, had been keen to remain on in the county squad.
But McGrath said the county management felt it would not be in the best interest of the squad to have Withnell in the panel at the present time.
He added that allowing players who weren't prepared to offer “full commitment” to the county squad would send the wrong message, “particularly to the younger players”.
UUJ are set for a major boost to their Sigerson Cup hopes with the news that Fermanagh star Raymond Gallagher is eligible to represent the university.
Although Gallagher is studying at Enniskillen Technical College, the course he is engaged in is controlled by UUJ which means that he should be fit to play with the east Antrim seat of learning in university competitions.
“That's my reading of the situation,” says Raymond (21), who has received an Allstar nomination. “Since the course is attached to UUJ there is no reason why I cannot play.”
Gallagher has been one of the young lions which have shot Fermanagh to prominence over the past couple of months as the Erne County beat their way to the final of the All-Ireland ‘B' Championship and strung together two victories in the NFL – an unbeaten run of half-a-dozen senior games.
Crossmaglen will be without goalkeeper Paul Hearty for Sunday's Ulster Club football tie against Down champions Burren.
Hearty sustained a broken foot in a car accident a fortnight ago which will rule him out of football for several weeks.
Veteran netminder Jarlath McConville, a brother of inter-county stars Jim and Oisin McConville, seems certain to take over between the posts.
Crossmaglen manager Joe Kernan said last night that McConville has a “great deal of experience”. “I'm sure Jarlath can do a good job for us on Sunday,” said former Ulster interpro star Kernan.
Cushendall's Conor McCambridge will miss Antrim's Oireachtas Cup hurling game against Offaly at Birr this Sunday after picking up a hamstring injury during his club's Ulster championship victory. The full sqaud is: Brendan Prenter, Ciaran McCambridge, Owen Colgan, Sean McIlhatton, Paul Jennings, Eamon Graham, Terence McNaughton, Gary Mayban, Jim Connolly, Paul McKillen, Gregory O'Kane, Gary O'Kane, John Carson, Alastair Elliott, Fergus McAllister, Paul Graham, Damian McToal, Jim Close, Sean Paul McKillop, Ronan Donnelly, Paul Donnelly, Mickey Glover, Malachy Molloy, Chris McAuley.