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Back in the day - July 26 1998: Civil unrest blamed as Antrim hurlers suffer

NO WAY THROUGH...Antrim captain Ally Elliot finds his route to goal barred in yesterday’s All-Ireland hurling quarter-final clash with Offaly.
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Guinness All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final: Offaly 2-18 Antrim 2-9

“Geez, what are expected to do, take over Drumcree?”

With a conceding smile, that’s how Antrim boss Sean McGuinness summed up Saffron submission to Offaly in yesterday’s All-Ireland hurling quarter-final.

“It’s quite obvious the press haven’t been listening to what we were saying,” said McGuinness.

“If we only get training one week out of three, how the hell can we be ready for games like this?

“There are more important things than hurling in the north at the minute.

“It was my decision not to train, mine. I made it.

“Life and limb is more important than hurling.

“Those lads have families and have to look after their families and their villages. Our preparation wasn’t perfect.

“What can we do when people surround villages and our players can’t leave home.

“Hurling is part of our tradition, part of our nationalism, part of our culture.

“It’s so important to us but we weren’t allowed to hurl. How can we hurl and train when our players can’t meet?

“I didn’t see the lads for 13 days after winning the Ulster title but as I say this, I don’t want anything taken away from Offaly.

“The better team won on the day.”

Antrim: Shane Elliott; Frankie McMullan, Eoin Colgan, Ronan Donnelly; Seamus McMullan, Gary O’Kane, Kieran Kelly; Paul McKillen, Malachy Molloy; Jackie Carson (1-0), Colm McGuckian, John McIntosh (0-1); Alastair Elliott (1-0), Gregory O’Kane (0-6), Liam Richmond.

Subs: Sean Paul McKillop (0-1) for McGuckian 50 mins, Jarlath Elliott (0-1) for Richmond 66 mins, Ciaran McCambridge for Donnelly (injured) 69 mins.

Offaly: Stephen Byrne; Simon Whelehan, Kevin Kinahan, Martin Hanamy; Brian Whelehan (0-4), Hubert Rigney, Kevin Martin; Johnny Pilkington, Colm Cassidy (0-1); Michael Duignan (1- 0), John Troy (0-3), Killian Farrell (1-2); Billy Dooley (0-1), John Ryan (0-2), Joe Dooley (0-4)

Subs: Gary Hanniffy (0-1) for Cassidy 56 mins, Barry Whelehan for Martin (injured) 64 mins.

Referee: John McDonnell (Tipperary).

Attendance: 26,052.

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JAMES McIlroy enhanced his status as the Irish find of 1998 by registering a superb victory in the 1500m at the BLE National Championships at Santry yesterday.

After a slow opening three laps when he sat on leader Andrew Walker’s shoulder, McIlroy kicked decisively past Niall Bruton with 250 metres left and there was never any question of the northerner being caught.

McIlroy, who will run the 800m at the European Championships, came home in a slow 3.49.83 but the manner of his final lap display was hugely impressive.

The 21-year-old, who has burst on the scene over 800m this year, joked afterwards that he was worried about getting a stitch after two laps.

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CAVAN football champions Gowna were put out of this year’s championship by Cavan Gaels at Breffni Park last night.

Dermot McCabe scored two goals for the defeated champions, who lost narrowly by 2-9 to 2-8.

In the evening’s other quarter-final matches, Mullahoran defeated Kingscourt by 0-14 to 1-9 while Belturbet and Lacken drew 1-4 to 0-7 apiece.

In a quarter-final preliminary match, St Finbar’s beat Cuchullians by 4-8 to 2-6.

St Finbar’s will now play Crosserlough this weekend for a place in the last four.

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