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The Irish News - Jan 10 1998: Down senior GAA squad go on strike

Down manager Pete McGrath

DOWN’S senior football team went on strike last night, issuing a startling statement that their services to the county had been withdrawn.

However within minutes of the statement being issued, Down secretary Brian McAvoy said the strike had ended.

Down manager Pete McGrath denied this and said the strike remained in force. McGrath and his entire selection staff have also gone on strike.

The short statement, from McGrath read: “The Down senior football management and players have as of tonight withdrawn their services due to the county board’s continuing failure to honour the commitment regarding the provision of training facilities.”

McGrath would not comment any further and added that the players would not be making any statements to the press.

It is believed the county side were denied training facilities at Ballyholland in south Down last night.

McAvoy said he had booked two training dates for the squad at the Ballyholland venue this month.

Down returned to training last Sunday in preparation for the Dr McKenna Cup and the resumption of the National Football League.

McAvoy said: “There was obviously a mix-up between the Ballyholland club and myself.

He continued: “I can assure you the strike is off and the statement is to be lifted.”

However McGrath said in response to the comments from McAvoy that the original strike statement “stands”.

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IRISH heavyweight Kevin McBride’s hopes of challenging for European title honours next month have been dashed – for the present.

Instead 29-year-old Scott Welch was yesterday handed a surprise chance to reestablish himself on the world heavyweight scene.

Welch, from Shoreham in West Sussex, will face Germany’s Axel Schulz for the vacant European title at the end of next month.

The decision spells disappointment for McBride, a towering 24-year-old Clonesborn fighter.

But last night his manager, Londoner Frank Maloney, said that he would be watching the outcome with a view to matching McBride with the winner at the earliest opportunity.

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DERRY City will be happy to put the trials of league expectations behind them when they enter this year's FAI Cup for the first time this evening.

Junior side Rockmount provide the opposition at Brandywell.

This time last year Derry couldn't play enough games as they were in the middle of a four-month unbeaten run, but how times change.

Well out of contention for league honours, the reigning champions have tunnel vision when they look for success this season.

Cup finalists in three of the last four years, another crack at the trophy could salvage what has been a rather disappointing campaign.

The timing of Liam Coyle's return to first team action is welcome for a game City must win.

Coyle has served a two match suspension but returns tonight to ease a somewhat crippling missing-from-action list.

Gavin Dykes is also expected to be added to the panel this evening although he probably won't play a full game

Derry squad: O'Dowd, Doherty, Gallagher, Taggart, Curran, Kelly, Semple, Hegarty, Ryan Coyle, Keddy, Liam Coyle, Hargan, Dykes, McCreadie.

Ref: Mr H Worskey (Dublin)

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