Back in the day - Bellaghy hopes hit by illness - The Irish News, Sep 18 1999
THE absence of a county panellist from the Ballinderry line-up for this weekend's Derry SFC final is offset by Bellaghy missing the suspended David O’Neill.
Playmaker Damian Cassidy is available after a ban ruled him out against the Loup, and should come into the full-forward line.
The absence of O’Neill is a blow but Bellaghy were expecting it and have coped without him for most of the summer.
Kieran McNally has been named at full-back but Bellaghy’s preparations were hit by three players sitting out Thursday’s final training session with ‘flu’ or heavy colds.
Manager Seamus Birt kept the identity of the doubtful trio secret but did admit he was “worried by the potential loss of three influential players.”
Ballinderry boss Damian Barton was keeping his line-up under wraps too but it is expected that captain and county star Enda Muldoon will drop into midfield to fill in for Donnelly.
The supremely-talented Muldoon will undoubtedly be a threat in attack with his fielding and finishing skills, wherever he lines out, while county colleague Niall McCusker is another versatile talent.
Even more adaptable is converted goalkeeper Conleth Gilligan, the 18-year-old now in the half-forwards alongside relative veteran Declan Bateson. Bellaghy do have undoubted experience throughout their side in the likes of former county men Kevin O’Neill, Paddy Downey, Danny Quinn, and Karl Diamond.
Among the various McCuskers, McGuckins, and Diamonds, the name Cassidy should have an influence on the outcome.
Ballinderry’s leading scorer in the championship is Gerard Cassidy with 3-16 while Bellaghy will look to the returning Damian and county starlet Joe to produce the scores, though Gavin Diamond (1-19) is their top marksman.
JOE Swail last night came from 4-1 down to beat Alan McManus 5-4 to reach the semifinal of the British Open in Plymouth.
Swail won the first with a break of 62 but McManus took a real stranglehold on the game and reeled off the next four frames thanks to breaks of 70 and 57.
But Swail refused to lie down and breaks of 74 and 92 brought it back to 4-3.
He won the next as well 56-18 to send the match into a decider, which Swail took to set up a clash today with Peter Ebdon.
Ebdon beat Steve Davis 5-2 yesterday.
IRELAND’S Arnold O’Connor is joint leader after day one of the Ordina Legends of Golf seniors championship at Prise d’Eau in Holland.
O’Connor fired a course record 66 which leaves him level with England’s Mike Slater and Australia’s Terry Gale.
The 53-year-old Irishman needed only 26 putts in accumulating seven birdies and just one bogey – a five at the first where he missed a green for the only time in the round.
Warrenpoint man Kenny Stevenson is two off the lead after a fine 68 while other Irish scores include Arthur Spring on 69, Liam Higgins on 70 and Denis O’Sullivan on 71.
NOEL Berkeley’s head-to- head with defending champion John Ferrin will be the highlight of next Saturday’s Waterside Half Marathon in Derry.
The Dundrum South Dublin athlete, the current Irish national 10,000m track champion, has agreed to travel north for an event which will once again double as the Northern Ireland Championships for the distance.
North Belfast man Ferrin, whose career moved onto a whole new level last spring at the age of 32 with his Irish National Cross-County title win and top native finishing position at the World Cross Country Championships in Belfast, is going for a three-in-a-row at the Waterside event.
Much further afield, several Northern Ireland athletes are in Malaysia for the World Mountain Running Trophy Championships which take place in Mount Kinabalu Park, near Borneo.
Shileen Donnelly, who won both the Northern Ireland and Irish Championships during the summer, will lead the north’s female challenge while Brian Ervine and Robbie Bryson, who competes for the Republic, will be hoping for respectable finishes.