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In The Irish News - Mar 3 1998: 'Illegal' row overshadows Sigerson clash

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THE build-up to Saturday’s crunch all-Ulster Sigerson Cup semi-final is being overshadowed by allegations that Queen’s have been fielding an illegal player in the competition.

The claims, which predictably appear to be emanating from Jordanstown sources, centre around one of the most prominent members of the QUB team.

The Queen’s chairman has emphatically denied that there are any question marks against the QUB player’s legality.

The Queen’s official said it was ridiculous to suggest that his club would take the risk of playing a high-profile player who didn’t have the necessary clearance.

The penalty for playing an illegal player would be automatic expulsion from the competition concerned while the player, club secretary and chairman would be liable for six month suspensions.

Those making the allegations claim the player, who they accept did enrol at QUB last October, is no longer a full-time student at Queen’s but instead is working full-time at a job unrelated to any university course.

The official line from the higher education council is that Queen’s have complied with all the necessary regulations on player registration and that there is no case to answer.

Though those elements making the claims have been told to “put up or shut up” by Croke Park.

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DERMOT Donnelly was “gutted” yesterday after being left out of the British team for the World Cross-Country Championships in Morocco.

Donnelly, who has been named as non-travelling reserve, blasted yesterday that he had “done enough” to warrant selection.

The Belfastman added he would have turned down the offer of travelling as a reserve to Marrakesh if he had been asked.

He said: “I ran probably as hard as I have ever run during Sunday’s race.

“However, when I got the official word it was still a massive blow.

“If I had been offered the chance to travel as reserve to Morocco I definitely wouldn’t have taken it and it wouldn’t have been a case of sour grapes.''

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IRISH light flyweight boxing champion James ‘Jimbo’ Rooney flies out to Germany this morning for an all-or-nothing final fling at European Championship qualification.

The 19-year-old Belfast terrier is included in Ireland’s five-man squad bound for battle at the Halle multi-nations tournament.

A semi-final slot would bring, along with a certain bronze medal, the prized place at the European senior championships in Minsk, Belarus in May.

These are high pressure times for Rooney, a hard as nails young Star club warrior yet still very much a “learner” at such high profile events.

But it could have been so different for the tenacious little box/fighter from north Belfast if Ireland had sent a team to the Ukraine qualifying tournament at the tail end of last year.

All the light flyweights at that event booked their tickets to the Euro event; they had to – only three 48kgs boxers weighed in for the Ukraine competition.

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