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Back in the day - Down captain Gregory McCartan rocked by cruciate ligament injury - The Irish News, Feb 5 1999

ALL FOR MALONE... Down legend and Queen’s old boy Sean O’Neill (second left) pictured with current QUB players Enda McNulty, Justin McNulty and Con Coleman at the launch of the 1999 Amstel Sigerson Cup, which will be hosted by the Malone seat of learning
The Irish News Archive

DOWN captain Gregory McCartan is targeting an autumn return to county football despite being diagnosed with a severe cruciate ligament injury.

The Ballymartin midfielder intends to “be back playing in six months” after recovery from an operation on the knee damage he sustained before Christmas in a Down ACFL division two league play-off.

The 28-year-old McCartan, who received his scan results this week, admitted: “I didn’t think it was as bad, I’m gutted, still in a state of shock”, but he remained remarkably philosophical about his misfortune.

“I sort of knew it was bad but I was hoping against hope that it was just a cartilage injury. This takes time to heal – but time is on my side.

“Hopefully the operation will take place very soon, but there’s not much I can do.

“I’ll have three months rest after the operation and then start into training. I’ll miss the championship unless we reach the All-Ireland semi-final”.

Captaincy aside, McCartan’s midfield slot also has to be filled.

Simon Poland and Brian Burns have played well there in challenge games, while Alan Molloy is fit again and up-and-coming Kevin Franklin is making a case for inclusion.

The midfield pairing against Meath is expected to emerge from those four, although Deegan is a possibility.

Down’s injury woes continue with Newry Shamrocks star Brendan Loughran ruled out for three months with a back injury, while Sean Ward will definitely miss the Meath game with his hamstring problem.

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QUEEN’S University Gaelic Football club yesterday launched the Amstel Sigerson Cup 1999 in the Lanyon Building at Queen’s, but the hosts have yet to secure their qualification for the latter stages on March 5-7.

Queen’s will have to overcome University College Dublin at Belfield if they hope to play in the eight-team

There are several injury worries for manager Dessie Ryan to ponder.

A doubtful starter is defender Alan Molloy who has made little progress from a dead leg sustained against Garda College in the Ryan Cup final.

Armagh inter-county player Barry O’Hagan will almost definitely miss the crunch game with a suspected slipped disc, while long-term absentee Brendan Sheehy remains out.

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ANTRIM have made sweeping changes to their side ahead of Sunday’s National Football League round five clash with London.

Only seven players definitely remain from the side which went down by 2-7 to 1-9 against Limerick in the Saffrons’ last Division 2A outing in early December.

The left corner back slot has yet to be filled, with its last occupant Enda McLarnon in the running again along with Tony Convery, Anto Finnegan, and Locky McCurdy.

Paul Mulholland will make his first start, coming into the full-back line alongside his brother Martin, while Sarsfields’ Conor McKearney is included, but at centre half-forward rather than corner back, where he played in the League opener against Westmeath.

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McLarnon Cup quarter finals:

St Louis, Ballymena 3-12 La Salle, Belfast 2-8; St Louis, Kilkeel 3-17 St Eunan’s, Letterkenny 1-11

St Louis in double triumph

ST LOUIS, Ballymena moved into the semi-finals of the McLarnon Cup at a windswept Greenmount yesterday when they proved too strong for La Salle.

The Ballymena boys looked very impressive in the first period, and their half-time advantage of 3-7 to 1-2 was well warranted.

Their play was hallmarked by direct approach work, precision passing movements and some superb finishing.

St Louis were well on their way when centre forward Cathal McMullan blasted home a splendid 11th minute goal and when Martin McCarry and Chris Hamill added two more in equally excellent finishes by the 25th minute they looked home and dry at 3-7 to 0-1 ahead.

La Salle had only managed a single point in the first 25 minutes but they were often denied by a strong St Louis rearguard in which centre back Martin McMullan was outstanding.

But they were rewarded for persistence when Brian Close found space to blast to the net. Kevin McCloskey added a point before the interval break but the city boys were still in arrears at the short whistle.

If St Louis had impressed in the first period they certainly did not in the second and La Salle came much more into the contest.

It took net minder Paul McAtamney to be on his toes to deny, Brian Close from close range in the 50th minute, as St Louis were forced onto the defensive.

La Salle were rewarded for their endeavours in the 59th minute when Kevin McCloskey scored a goal mouth scramble by poking the loose ball to the net, but it was a score that came much too late to make a difference.

The long whistle sounded seconds later and St Louis had done enough in the opening period to secure passage into the semi finals.

The Ballymena boys certainly looked the part in the opening period but they will now need to retain concentration for the full 60 minutes, if they are to go all the way this year.

Meanwhile St Louis, Kilkeel easily claimed another of the semi-final spots by convincingly defeating St Eunan’s, Letterkenny 3-17 to 1-11 yesterday. 

Teenager John Clarke, 16, top-scored for Kilkeel with 1-5 while captain Louis Sloan and Damien Fitzpatrick bagged the other goals.

St Louis: McAtamney, C Duffin (0-1), R O’Boyle, M Hasson, K Carey (0-5), M McMulan, T Doherty, B Loughran, M McCarry (01-1), M McClements, C McMullan (1-0), G Macklin, T Neeson (0-2), A Savage, C Hamill (1-3).

Subs: G O’Boyle for G Macklin (40); K Fyffe for T Doherty (45 mins).

La Salle: C Lynch, T Vincent, K Morris, P Rooney, J Davey, M Agnew, S Gallagher, K McCloskey (1-3), G Walls, K McGourty, B Moore, J McGreevey (0- 2), A Bonner (0-1), B Close (1-1), G Cunningham.

Referee: A Crozier (Tyrone)

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