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In The Irish News - Feb 14 1998: Teenage star Rory Gallagher set to debut for Fermanagh

Fermanagh's Rory Gallagher keeps a tight rein on Cavan's Eoin McGuigan

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RORY Gallagher could play his first game for Fermanagh since the McKenna Cup final against Galway tomorrow.

Injuries, and a desperate need for National League points, have prompted Pat King to give the talented 19-year-old Erne Gaels player a return to competitive action sooner than expected.

Gallagher has been out of the game for nine months with a groin injury, under the advice of leading Dublin surgeon Dr Pat O’Neill, and is now making a cautious return to the game, having already played in U21 and senior challenge games.

Collie Curran, who scored five points in the Ernemen’s narrow reverse in Laois in the last round before Christmas, is also named in the starting line-up for the Brewster Park game despite struggling with a back problem.

Goalkeeper Cormac McAdam returns after suspension to reclaim the number one jersey from Rory Gallagher’s younger brother, Ronan.

Paul Courtney, Raymond Curran and Stephen Maguire all return to the team in place of Justin Gilheaney (fractured cheekbone) and Tom Brewster (broken ankle) and Rory McEnhill.

Armagh have left two positions vacant on their side for the trip to Meath. Ger Houlihan is likely to fill the full-forward slot while Martin McQuillan could play at right-half-back.

Fermanagh (v Galway): C McAdam, P Courtney, S Breen, P McGuinness, R Curran, B King, T Callaghan, P Brewster, L McBarron, S King, C Curran, K Donnelly, Raymond Gallagher, Rory Gallagher, S Maguire Subs: Ronan Gallagher, R Johnson, D Campbell, R McEnhill, D McGrath, C Courtney, M Greene, M Gallagher, S Quinn.

Armagh (v Meath): B Tierney, E McNulty, G Reid, T McEntee, AN Other, J McNulty, A McCann, J Burns, P McGrane, K McGeeney, B O’Hagan, J McEntee, C O’Rourke, AN Other, D Marsden.

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NOT just one but three big-hitting heavyweight clashes headline this year’s Irish News sponsored challenge match between Belfast and Dublin. Current Ulster senior 91 kilos champion and Commonwealth Games candidate Mark O’Hare is included in a programme which presently has 13 exciting contests lined up for the Balmoral Hotel, Belfast on February 27.

“Even if we finish up with ten of these matches it will still be a brilliant night for the sport and for boxing fans,” said Belfast organiser Harry Cunningham. “This is the third year the Irish News has backed this event and it has really caught on with the clubs. The proof of that is in the Belfast line up, it has great talent and everyone is pulling together.”

O’Hare, from the Holy Trinity ABC, needed three hard-earned victories to clinch Ulster senior honours in December – and he hasn’t landed an easy inter-city opponent.

The strength, resolve and shrewd boxing judgment he displayed on his way provincial trophy will be essential when he faces Crumlin heavy Steven Dawson.

Big Hugh McNally (Randalstown) and Abbey powerhouse Eddie Fitzsimmons beef up Belfast’s chances of success.

They are scheduled to clash with Phoenix club duo Jim Clancy and Sean Ryan in the heavy diggers division.

Former Junior Olympic champ Dermot Hamill hails from Hollywood star Liam Neeson’s old haunt, All Saints ABC in Ballymena. Neeson may act the part, in the ring bantam Hamill is the genuine article.

He beat the world’s best youth boxers to grab gold at the Olympic tournament in Michigan in 1996 and followed it up with another Irish title win in Dublin last season. Dublin are fielding Darren Campbell (Glen) as their 54 kilos class choice. Antrim intermediate winner Clinton Morrison tackles durable Richard Skelton, while a trio of cracking light middleweight bouts is also featured.

“Francis Webb, Andy Gibson and Pat Crooks will all line out for Belfast,” said matchmaker Cunningham, who coaches comeback kid Crooks at the Saints club in Twinbrook. Crooks is a former triple title holder winning Antrim, Ulster and national awards.

He returned to the ring this season after a lengthy absence and Cunningham said “he is training flatout” for his head-to-head with Dublin’s Sean Keeler (St Saviour’s). “Everyone knows Francis Webb’s ability as well as Andy Gibson’s.

Both give you 100 per cent from start to finish. They are assets to any squad,” he said.

“We have another five cracking lads queuing up to get into the team including Conall Carmichael. He is UK and Ulster intermediate champion and he’s in our side at welterweight.”

All Saints have another two reps on the bill – feather Willie Leonard and young light fly Joe Rea. The Abbey ABC also have a double interest in the Balmoral tournament, namely skilful light welters Lee Graham and Gary McClure.

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WIN a romantic Valentines Day meal for you and your partner by backing Graphic Equaliser to win the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury this afternoon.

And instead of whispering slushy sweet nothings you can talk about something meaningful – like whether the Irish handicapper’s decision to raise him 16lb for his win in The Ladbroke hurdle is a true reflection of the bay’s ability.

Graphic Equaliser was having his first outing for Arthur Moore when finishing seventh to Arctic Weather in a limited handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse at the end of November, losing his place with a bad blunder two out and not knocked about thereafter.

On paper that was not the performance to give him the look of a handicap snip in The Ladbroke. But he was backed down to 5-1 favourite and did not let his supporters down, recording an emphatic success

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