GAA Football

Back in the day: in The Irish News on July 15 1997: Huge demand for Cavan v Derry Ulster Final tickets

Cavan were hoping Fintan Cahill could shake off a finger problem to play in the 1997 Ulster SFC Final against Derry. Pic Ann McManus

Fintan Cahill, Cavan's robust and fiery attacking ace, had the Ulster finalists' management breaking out in a cold sweat for a few hours last week following an injury scare over a suspected fractured finger.

Cahill attended hospital after a challenge game with Munster title contenders Clare, but an X-ray test resulted in a false alarm. He's expected to be named in their team tomorrow night for Sunday's sold-out Bank of Ireland Ulster Senior Football Championship final against Derry.

The challenge game also provided manager Martin McHugh with an arena to run the rule over the injury recovery rate of captain Stephen King and full-back Damien O'Reilly. King suffered ankle damage in the replay defeat of Fermanagh, while O'Reilly sustained a knee injury. Both were passed fit and are expected to line-out against Derry this weekend.

The first provincial all-or-nothing showdown between Cavan and Derry for 21 years, Clones' capacity of 35,000 will be bursting at the venue seams for a match which has the potential to produce a top candidate for this year's All-Ireland play-offs.

Derry are expected to select from a full-strength panel bar the possible exception of substitute Kevin Heaney, who was injured in training at the weekend. He was due to undergo an X-ray examination also to assess the damage. It is hoped he too will be passed fit for selection.

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Paolo Di Canio has issued a bold ultimatum to Celtic on the eve of this evening's international club tournament in Dublin.

The troubled Italian star, due to play for Celtic at Lansdowne Road tonight, has given the club 10 days to sort out the ongoing contract problems which has caused a major rift between him and club chairman Fergus McCann.

Celtic kick off the tournament against League of Ireland champions Derry City but Di Canio insisted that his future with the club is still not decided and threatened to return to Italy if the problems were not sorted out.

"I am giving Celtic 10 days to sort out my problems with the club," he said. "I want to play for Celtic because of the supporters.

"I love them and I love the club but I have a problem with McCann and if I don't get my problems sorted I will return to Italy."

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There will be only six Irishmen participating at The Open at Royal Troon this week after the qualifying competition came to an end yesterday.

Gary Murphy, Brendan McGovern and Cameron Clark were the sole Irish golfers to successfully negotiate the 36-hole qualifying event. They join Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley for the first day's play on Thursday.

It was two days of disaster for the rest of Ireland's representatives with many well-known names joining the list of also-rans. Former Ryder Cup hero Philip Walton, Eamonn Darcy, Des Smyth, Ronan Rafferty and Raymond Burns were among the fallers. Smyth and Rafferty missed out by a single stroke. Francis Howley, John Murray, John McHenry and David Higgins added to the tale of woe.

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Paul McGrath begins a three-match trial at West Ham this week in a bid to earn himself a one-year contract at Upton Park.

The 37-year-old Republic of Ireland star, who has 82 caps, must prove his fitness against Clyde, Dunfermline and St Johnstone after being released by Derby at the end of last season.

Hammers boss Harry Redknapp has turned to the former Manchester United and Aston Villa defender to solve a pre-season injury crisis.

McGrath said: "Harry very kindly invited me down to train with the team and get a bit of fitness.

"With the situation he's in with defenders, he wants me around while he sees whether others are going to be getting fit. My attitude is at least I'm training.

"I'll still be looking for a club to play for even if it's not West Ham. But I'm under no illusions that I'll be signing here just because I'm training with the boys."

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