Football/Soccer

In the Irish News on April 18 1997: Women's football seeking NI Sports Council recognition

Martin O'Neill, pictured here in his time at Aston Villa, was in demand 20 years ago after winning the League Cup with Leicester City.

THE Ulster Council for women's football has met with representatives of the Northern Ireland Sports Council in the hope of getting the sport formally recognised.

All other gaelic games, including camogie, are already recognised by the Sports Council but women's football has yet to be brought under the umbrella of the governing body.

The Sports Council will decide whether to formally recognise the sport at their next full meeting on June 1.

Ulster Council president Philip O'Hare, who met with the Sports Council along with PRO Owen McNally, said there would be many advantages for women's football if formally recognised.

"As well as the possibility of applying for grant aid, the Sports Council would be able to help us with coaching in schools, which is an area we need to improve on," he said.

At last week's meeting the Ulster Council told Sports Council representatives Maura Muldoon and Con O'Callaghan that there were some 4,000 registered women gaelic football players in Ulster.

"They needed to know all the figures but we explained to them that this number does not include those playing at college level or in primary schools," said O'Hare.

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Leicester City chairman Martin Smeaton yesterday spelt out his determination to keep manager Martin O'Neill at Filbert Street and insisted: "People will now see how far I am prepared to go to make him stay."

Smeaton will make persuading O'Neill to agree to a new long-term deal his No 1 priority follow Leicester's Coca-Cola Cup final triumph on Wednesday.

It seems certain that O'Neill, who has one year left of his current deal, will become the highest-paid manager in Leicester's history.

He is building a reputation as one of the best young managers in the country and that has been enhanced by Leicester's exploits this season in holding their own in the Premiership when written off and by their stirring cup exploits.

O'Neill is also fiercely ambitious and, if he decided not to pledge his long-term future to The Foxes, would be very much in demand when in the summer of 1998. He is seeking assurances that Leicester have the same goals as himself and is looking for the financial clout to buy the players needed to take the club onto the next stage of their development.

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Roy Coyle wants the town of Ards to get behind his side for tomorrow's vital Premier League game against Cliftonville.

An Ards win at Castlereagh Park means Cliftonville will be relegated after the last match of the season on April 26, an Irish Cup dress rehearsal against Glenavon at Solitude. Ards are one point clear of bottom-placed Cliftonville.

A draw or defeat for Ards means both clubs must wait until the final round of games on April 26 to decide who goes down. But despite the intensity of the fixture, both clubs could still be playing in the Premier next season as the relegated club face a two-way promotion/relegation play-off with the First Division's eventual third-placed team.

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The Ulster Branch of the IRFU is to appoint a Chief Executive as part of its ongoing development in the professional era. The post, which is widely being advertised from today, is the second major appointment by the Ulster Branch.

Although no salary has been decided, the successful candidate is likely to become one of the highest paid people involved with sport in Northern Ireland.

The post of director of rugby, who will coach the senior Ulster team and coordinate coaching in Ulster, has already been offered to Welshman Clive Griffiths.

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Tiger Woods is down to just 33-1 to land golf's grand slam, after a deluge of bets from punters anxious to cash in on the American sensation's apparently impregnable superiority over his fellow professionals.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes say their liabilities are so huge they have had to cut Woods' grand slam odds again, after offering him at 5,000-1 only four months ago. Woods is now only 4-1 for the British Open, 4-1 for the US Open and 9-2 for the US PGA – the shortest cumulative odds against any golfer in history.

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