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Irish News Past Papers - Oct 24 1998: St John's must scale Crossmaglen mountain

ON COLLISION COURSE...Bellaghy’s Danny Quinn and Crossmaglen defender Francie Bellew clash in an Ulster Club Championship match two years ago. Both men will be in action in tomorrow’s semi-finals and hope to come face to face in the final next month
The Irish News Archive

AIB Ulster Club Football semi-final: Crossmaglen v St John’s

ST JOHN'S, as Championship longshots, face a hard climb tomorrow to realise their immediate ambition of reaching the provincial final.

They have not managed this feat for 14 years when finally denied by Burren.

Crossmaglen oppose them.

An experienced, well drilled outfit with a few instantly recognisable match winners, notably the timeless poaching skills of ex-county star Jim McConville, Cross’ go in as firm favourites.

St John’s have shown no lack of conviction and determination, yet both realise to succeed in Clones will require performances above anything either have produced thus far.

St John’s did, via the first round replay route, two goals by Jim McConville sending Rangers through against Mullahoran while St John’s dispatched Ardboe at the second time of asking.

As recent All-Ireland champions, Cross’ have a clear edge on experience.

For St John’s, it’s a new ball game. They didn’t impress that much in either game with Ardboe, though what did strike observers of those games was the determination and fighting spirit the Antrim contenders displayed.

And just as McConville’s poaching qualities have taken Cross’ beyond round one, the goal snatching exploits of St John’s veteran forward Brendan Mackin has proved priceless too.

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PAOLO Di Canio yesterday underlined his commitment to English football after being handed an eightmatch ban by the Football Association – despite fearing his infamous shove on referee Paul Alcock would mean the end of his career.

The Sheffield Wednesday striker will now give Owls fans a welcome Christmas present when he returns for the Boxing Day clash at home to Leicester, a game which will end three months in exile.

After being charged with gross misconduct by the FA and following a two-hour disciplinary hearing at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground, Di Canio found out his suspension is to be added to the three games he received for his red card, together with a £10,000 fine.

The 30-year-old has been avoiding the spotlight back home in Rome following his sending-off for his part in a mass brawl during Wednesday’s 1-0 home win over Arsenal, but more importantly for his moment of madness which saw him push Alcock to the ground.

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Guinness Inter-provincial Championship Ulster 36 Connacht 6

AN extremely edgy night at Ravenhill eventually worked out Ulster’s way, with the northerners clinching second place in the inter-pro table thus guaranteeing themselves European rugby next season.

While the result had never been in doubt against a hugely disappointing Connacht side, there was the small matter of a title decider going on at Donnybrook which was to have a positive effect on Ulster’s European hopes.

Munster’s 25-10 win over Leinster resulted in the latter failing to get the bonus point which could have sealed second spot in the table. That left an opportunity for Ulster, which they duly took.

Man of the match Andy Ward was a colossus on the field. He was last off it too, signing autographs for the dozens of children who like everyone else were left marvelling at his strength and agility.

“We definitely got out of jail,’’ said Ward.

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