In the Irish News - March 7 1998: Andy Townsend retires from international football

Queen's manager Dessie Ryan and star forward Diarmaid Marsden were aiming to upset rivals Jordanstown in the 1998 Sigerson Cup semi-final.

REPUBLIC of Ireland skipper Andy Townsend has announced his retirement from international football.

The 34-year-old Middlesbrough midfielder won a total of 70 caps for the Republic, captaining them on 40 occasions.

Townsend made his debut against France in a scoreless draw in Dublin in 1989 and skippered the side in the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, as well as playing in the 1990 finals in Italy.

"I have given it a lot of thought before making this decision. But I felt the time was right to call it a day," said Townsend.

"I have spoken to Irish manager Mick McCarthy earlier this week and informed him of my decision. Time doesn't stand still for anyone in football.

"There are lots of youngsters coming into the Irish squad at the moment and they need the chance to prove themselves in our forthcoming friendly games against the Czech Republic, Mexico and Argentina before the start of the European Championship qualifiers in September," he added.

McCarthy paid tribute to Townsend's contribution during the Jack Charlton glory years and in the last two seasons since the former Millwall boss took charge of the Republic.

"I have known for six months that Andy was thinking this way, so it doesn't really come as a big surprise to me," said McCarthy. "Andy has been a great servant of Irish football and always a marvellous skipper of the side."


AFTER the off-field machinations of the past week, Queen's and UUJ Sigerson Cup footballers have the opportunity to settle any rancour between them in the most appropriate setting today.

Adrian McGuckin's Poly side go into the all-Ulster noon clash as strong favourites to be Ulster's representatives in tomorrow's decider against, barring a major surprise, holders and hosts Tralee.

Man for man Jordanstown are unquestionably a stronger outfit than their Belfast rivals with senior county players in every Poly position. But the same could have been said of last year's Sigerson quarter-final between UUJ and Coleraine when the Bannsiders pulled off a surprise but thoroughly deserved victory.

The major difference 12 months on is the presence in the UUJ camp of McGuckin. Full turnouts to Poly training have been demanded and obtained by the Jordanstown manager. The greater work ethic at the Poly this season has been demonstrated by a big improvement in results.

Dessie Ryan has made a similar mark on his return to the Queen's management set-up this year.

Queen's gameplan when attempting to fashion scores relies to a large extent on Diarmaid Marsden's pace and shooting ability, although he is an injury doubt.

Queen's already look certain to be minus corner-back cum sweeper Alan Molloy who sustained a hamstring injury in Down's NFL game six days ago. Molloy's withdrawal could mean his inter-county colleague Simon Poland being drafted into the defence. Tyrone county player Damien Teague, Tom Brewster and David Wilson are other men who could be in contention for call-ups if Marsden isn't deemed fit enough to start.

UUJ's main selection worry concerns Joe Cassidy who suffered bruised ribs in the last eight win over Maynooth.


IRELAND are unlikely to have been lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that there were still obvious signs of construction work going on at the Stade de France when they visited it yesterday morning [ahead of the Five Nations clash].

The French are putting the finishing touches to the impressive venue ahead of this summer's (soccer) World Cup finals, but they are more than ready for today's game.

There is an overwhelming feeling among the thousands of Irish supporters here that the team will go like lambs to the slaughter, following in the wake of England who fell here four weeks ago.

It is scant consolation for new coach Warren Gatland and his sadly inept squad that the home of French rugby has moved from Parc des Princes, where Ireland last recorded a win in 1972. The hoodoo seems likely to continue in France's new home however, as this new ground is even more intimidating.

Much media interest has surrounded the 'Irish' debutante, Andy Ward. Gatland has taken a bold step to include his fellow countryman in the starting lineup but one which could easily backfire. Ward, who played for Waikkato province in his native New Zealand before settling in the north, undoubtedly is a talent. But the difference between playing for Ballynahinch in the All-Ireland League Third Division compared to the French will surely prove a bridge too far.

* France edged the match 18-16.

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