Football/Soccer

In The Irish News on May 16 1997: Dublin footballers back Jason Sherlock in spit spat with vice-chairman Delaney

Dublin's football squad publicly backed Jason Sherlock 20 years ago in a controversy after he was allegedly spat at by county vice-chairman Paddy Delaney. Pic by Seamus Loughran

The Dublin senior football team last night rallied behind Jason Sherlock in his ongoing dispute with the Dublin county board.

The players issued a statement at last night's training session in Santry insisting Sherlock had "their unequivocal support" and "complimented him for the dignified manner in which he has conducted himself throughout the whole sorry affair".

On Monday night the county board overturned (by 30 votes to 14) the management committee's decision to suspend Dublin vice-chairman Paddy Delaney for two months after allegedly spitting at Sherlock during the infamous Dublin v Offaly U21 Leinster championship match.

The players' statement, which was given out to journalists at training by team captain Keith Barr, hinted that club delegates had been pressurised into supporting Delaney on Monday night.

It stated: "We are at a loss to understand the attitude of most of the club delegates.

"We believe that given the voting pattern or abstentionism on behalf of some of the delegates, that an alternative contradictory scenario may have influenced their behaviour on the night in question".

It is understood that up to 12 clubs in the county have contacted the county board since Monday night's meeting declaring that their delegates were pressurised into supporting of Delaney.

The statement now puts further pressure on Delaney to resign. And in the wake of the players' very public outburst, a fresh challenge to the county board's decision now appears to be gathering momentum.

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Two young footballers from a west Belfast club were given the chance of a lifetime last night when they signed contracts with Swindon Town.

Peter Kearns and Paul McAreavey (both 16) from the Newhill club on the upper Whiterock Road have just signed amateur and professional contracts respectively with the second division club.

Swindon Town manager and former Liverpool great Steve McMahon attended last night's special presentation ceremony in the Balmoral Hotel. He said the two footballers had a great future ahead of them.

"Our youth development officer alerted me about the two boys and hopefully this will be the beginning of a more cosmopolitan look to Swindon Town."

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Garth Brooks's visit to Ireland this weekend has forced a minor challenge game between Offaly and Antrim to be postponed.

The Saffron minor squad were prepared to travel to Offaly on Saturday for the game but Offaly's team management said it could not field a team as too many of its players would be at Croke Park to watch the country and western star.

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Mark Hughes plans to pile on the misery for his old Manchester United team-mate Bryan Robson at Wembley on Saturday.

Former England captain Robson has already seen his star-studded Middlesbrough flops relegated from the Premiership and an FA Cup final defeat against Hughes's Chelsea would double his anguish.

But Wales striker Hughes said: "Although Bryan's a good friend of mine and somebody I admire as both a player and a man, I've got a first allegiance to the friends I've made at Chelsea now.

"I've got a good idea how he's feeling even though relegation has never happened to me, but he's a strong character who will bounce back and if anybody can get Middlesbrough back up in the Premiership at the first time of asking it is Bryan."

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Four members of the Hogan Cup winning side from St Patrick's, Dungannon will bolster Tyrone's challenge for Ulster Minor honours when they meet Down in Sunday's preliminary round tie at Clones.

The side also includes three of the county's Vocational Schools team which reached the All-Ireland final.

St Pat's attackers Richard Thornton and Brian McGuigan team up in the full-forward line, with Conal Martin at midfield and Ciaran Gourley in defence.

Goalkeeper Aidan O'Connor is joined by his Vocational Schools colleagues Kevin O'Brien in defence and Stephen Donnelly up front.

The team will be skippered by full-back Declan McCrossan and included are sons of the managers of both Tyrone sides in action on Sunday.

Adrian Ball, son of senior manager, Danny, plays at left half-back, while one of the corner-forward spots will be filled by Mark Harte, son of Mickey, who, along with Fr Gerard McAleer, takes charge of the minor side for the seventh successive year.

Tyrone: A O'Connor; K O'Brien, D McCrossan, B Donnelly; C Gourley, C McAnallen, A Ball; J Campbell, C Martin; S Donnelly, P McGirr, P Corry; M Harte, R Thornton, B McGuigan.

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