GAA Football

Back in the day: in The Irish News on Feb 22 1997: John Morrison quits as Antrim football manager

John Morrison, who resigned as Antrim senior football manager 20 years ago. Pic Ann McManus

Gaelic Games: John Morrison last night quit as Antrim senior football manager. The shock decision was confirmed by Antrim chairman Joe O’Boyle.

Earlier this week Morrison called for a meeting of players in the county to discuss the future of the Saffron senior football squad but after brief words with the county chairman last night, the former Armagh coach refused to hold talks with the county board, saying he had made his final decision.

“John Morrison has informed me of his decision to step down as Antrim manager. I immediately asked him to hold fire on his decision and have talks with the county executive next week,” said Joe O’Boyle.

“Regretfully John would not agree to a meeting with county executive. He said he had discussed his position with his family and had made his choice, that there was no point in holding a meeting.

“It is a regretful decision at a very tough time for Antrim football. We have a National League game in Galway coming up and the county executive may meet over the weekend now, rather than Wednesday to discuss who will take care of the team in Galway. It is hoped the current senior team mentors will remain.”

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The two-year draw cycle rule for the Ulster Senior Football Championship, which opens on May 18 with the hugely attractive clash of back-to-back winners Tyrone and Down at Clones, comes under the spotlight today.

A motion calling for the system to be scrapped will be made by Armagh at the Ulster Council convention in Cookstown.

Armagh’s motion is to adopt an annual open draw format to bring Ulster into line with Leinster, Connacht and Munster. The cycle was an effective regulation to ensure all counties benefited from home advantage every second year in the Championship, but new ground safety and capacity standards in recent years has prompted a growing number of major games being switched to the neutral, high capacity venue of Clones.

Donegal and Down have both forfeited home advantage in the last two seasons due to crowd demands, and this summer, the first round tie between Tyrone and Down is to have a neutral venue. The matter will be debated, and may be referred to the Activities Committee before a final decision is made.

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THE parish, not the province, will be key word for Crossmaglen in tomorrow’s AIB All-Ireland Club semi-final against holders Laune Rangers (3pm).

Crossmaglen officials adopted the correct pose on Thursday evening when they accepted their award at a dinner hosted by the competition’s sponsors in Cookstown. Club chairman Eddie Hughes, with the look of a seasoned politician, smiled politely when any references were made to Cross “representing the province”.

But the truth is that Crossmaglen players will have a hard-enough task satisfying the expectations of their supremely confident supporters, never mind worrying about restore a bit of pride to Ulster football’s somewhat battered reputation.

Armagh could be without Kieran McGeeney for next week’s vital promotion play-off/relegation play-off clash with Connacht titlists Mayo.

McGeeney damaged a hamstring during last Sunday’s expensive home loss against Clare, which leaves Armagh precariously placed in Division Two.

A win may force a play-off for promotion; defeat means a play-off to avoid relegation should Leitrim beat Clare. McGeeney will undergo a fitness test later in the week.

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Jeremy Davidson, the Ireland lock selected in the preliminary Lions squad for the summer tour of South Africa, misses London Irish’s vital Courage League Division One relegation tussle with Orrell this afternoon.

The 22-year-old has picked up a bronchial infection and coach Willie Anderson has made no secret of what a blow that is to the Exiles’ hopes of avoiding the drop.

Although he doesn’t play this weekend it’s thought Davidson should be able to join up with the Ireland squad which assembles for training in Limerick this weekend prior to the Scottish game next Saturday.

GAA Football

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