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In The Irish News - Feb 2 1998: Down footballers brought back to earth with a bump as Clare hold out for victory at Cusack Park

GAA football greats Mickey Linden (Down), Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone), Ciaran McKeever (Derry), Anthony Tohill (Derry), Greg Blaney (Down), Finbar McConnell (Tyrone) and Henry Downey (Derry), award winners at the Quinn Insurance Ulster GAA Writers awards banquet in Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, Donegal

NFL Section D: Clare 1-8 Down 0-10

DOWN were brought back to earth with a bump at Cusack Park yesterday when they lost by a single point in a mediocre game played in perfect conditions.

The 1,000 Down spectators in the 5,000 crowd who made the long journey to Ennis must have been bitterly disappointed with the display of the former All-Ireland champions.

The team lacked leadership, inspiration and indeed football ability, as simple free kicks were misdirected going straight to an opponent. This was the case with the Clare goal which came nine minutes into the second half.

A short free went straight to a Clare player who found Ger Keane, and his pass caught the Down defence napping for Martin Daly to send to the net to bring Clare level for the first time in the game.

The new-look Down defence fought gamely until the end with Miceal Magill, Shane McMahon and Malachy McMurray being prominent while in attack Gavin Murdock, Mickey Linden and Shane Ward were the only players to threaten the Clare defence.

Clare did not open their account until the 17th minute when Daly sent over the bar but Down continued to dominate and despite missing many chances they went on to lead by 0-6 to 0-4 at half-time.

Down attacked strongly in the last five minutes and although Gavin Murdock fired a close-in free inches over the bar with the last kick of the game, Clare held out for victory.

Clare: J Hanrahan, A Malone, B Rouine, F Griffin, B Keating, P Gallagher, D O’Driscoll, S Hehir (0-1), D O’Sullivan, G Keane (0-4), F McInerney, P McMahon (0-1), J Enright, P Cosgrove, M Daly (1-2)

Subs: M Liddane for P McMahon, E McGuane for B Keating.

Down: M McVeigh, M McEvoy, M Magill, M McMurray, F Caulfield, S McMahon, S Poland, C Deegan, A Molloy (0-1), G Deegan (0-1), G Murdock (0- 4), P Sloan, S Ward, M Linden (0-2), A Quinn (0-2)

Sub: J McAlinden for Sloan.

Ref: M Curley (Galway)

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THE power of nature almost handed Padraig Harrington an unlikely tournament victory in Perth yesterday.

With the leaders Thomas Bjorn and Ian Woosnam still on the front nine, Dubliner Harrington raced home in 31 for a best-of-the-round 66 and the early clubhouse lead on six-underpar 282.

At that moment, Woosnam was sinking a 25ft birdie putt at the short eighth hole to stand 11 under, one ahead of Bjorn.

Harrington reckoned he had “a snowball’s chance in hell” of winning so headed with his wife to the airport and checked in for the flight back to London.

But the famous ‘Freemantle Doctor’ wind at the course had gone from strong to fierce, and everyone was dropping shots like confetti.

“My manager called me to tell me the situation and I couldn’t believe it,” said the Dubliner.

“Our bags were taken off the plane and I came back to see the leaders six and seven under coming up the 18th.”

In the end Harrington shared third spot with US Open champion Ernie Els, Midlander Peter Baker and Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal.

Ryder Cup Dane Bjorn kept his nerve to capture Australasia’s richest tournament.

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FORMER Derry City players, Pascal Vaudequin and Donal O’Brien combined to beat the reigning champions with a goal 10 minutes from time in an entertaining derby yesterday.

Vaudequin exploited space filling the right hand side and centred for O’Brien to head past Tony O’Dowd.

Derry’s Paul Curran and Gavin Dykes were busy with Curran making a brilliant clearance from a McGranaghan cross, so good the referee didn’t see his vital touch and awarded a goal kick instead of a corner.

Harps made the move of the match when McGettigan and Vaudequin link set up David Dowling but O’Dowd saved.

Derry had little to offer up front and it all came right for Harps in the end when O’Brien headed in what was to be the winning goal.

Finn Harps: Byrne, Vaudequin, Minnock, Boyle, Bradley, McGranaghan, McGettigan, Dowling, Mulligan, Callaghan.

Sub: Gallagher for Mulligan, 88 minutes

Derry: O’Dowd, Doherty, Brunton, Taggart, Curran, Dykes, Bell, Hegarty, Coyle, Small, Keddy. Sub: Beckett for Small, 73 minutes Kelly for Doherty, 75 minutes.

Referee: P McKeon (Dublin)

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BELFAST boxing brothers Thomas and Gary O’Neill were the talk of the town at the Donegal Celtic social club on Saturday night.

The Emerald club teenagers scored identical first round stoppage wins as Belfast romped to a 6-0 rout over a makeshift Derry select.

The Belfast squad, captained successfully by Ulster senior champ Conor McAllister, swept aside a strong challenge, which included UK youth champ David Moore.

There was further acclaim for the Emerald club. Patrick McCann’s majority points win over Carlos Walker (Dockers) kicked off a hattrick of wins for the energetic Suffolk Road side.

Holy Trinity welter Conall Carmichael won the ‘Best Boxer’ award for Belfast with a skill-packed performance.

He gained the nod from all three ringside judges over county Intermediate champ Clinton Morrison (Randalstown), a star guest for the Derry select.

Flyweight Moore (St Joseph’s ABC), who scooped the UK title in Nottingham recently, figured on the wrong end of the shock of the night.

He lost out in the first to hard-hitting Thomas O’Neill.

St Joseph’s team-mate David McFadden had earlier been similarly dispatched by Gary O’Neill.

The lightweight battle between senior title holder McAllister and another Derry guest Eamonn Gillen (Antrim ABC) was arguably the highlight of the boxing and disco bill.

McAllister deservedly earned a unanimous verdict but he had to dig deep to secure it against a fired-up young Antrim warrior.

Saints stylist John McLaughlin set the victory mood with a points win over Mark McMonagle (St Joseph’s) in the opening bout and Patrick Maguire (Immaculata) kept Belfast on track by halting St Canice’s Michael Hargan.

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