GAA Football

The Irish News Archive Papers: May 29 1998 - Monaghan's O'Connor expectant ahead of Derry clash

Tommy Johnson admitted that his 1997-98 season with Celtic was a "nightmare".

CARRICKMACROSS man John O’Connor holds sway at the moment in his long-standing duel with Glen Murphy for the Monaghan number one jersey.

The two men have been battling for the custodian’s spot for much of the 1990s although there was a spell when injury ruled him out of football for almost two seasons.

Last year, work commitments and the arrival of his first child 12 months previously meant O’Connor watched the two championship encounters against Derry from the stands. His wife Carol is due to give birth again “any day now” and John wonders if he might just get “the call” around 2.30 in the Celtic Park dressing-room on Sunday.

“We’ll have our hands full when the second child arrives. I’ll have to make a decision next year, I suppose, about the football.”

Monaghan manager Eamonn McEneaney couldn’t decide on his number one for the early stages of this season’s league. O’Connor and Murphy took it turn about before Christmas before an injury to the latter net-minder enabled the Carrickmacross man to claim possession.

In common with a number of prominent goalkeepers, John plays outfield for his club but his inter-county football career, right through from minors, has been between the posts.

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FORGOTTEN striker Tommy Johnson yesterday revealed his rift with former head coach Wim Jansen was so deep that had the Dutchman stayed at Celtic he would have left Parkhead.

The former Derby and Aston Villa frontman collected a hernia injury in the first month of the season, but was unable to win back his place as Jansen doubted first his fitness, then his ability.

Johnson, a £2.3million signing in March 1997 by previous boss Tommy Burns, was left on the sidelines only returning late in the season as a substitute in the 5-1 win over Dunfermline on February 25.

When asked to describe his year, Johnson said today: “In a word, nightmare. I played the first game (against Hibernian), got a hernia and it was no comment after that really.

“When I came back I had about six months playing for the reserves because the gaffer never fancied us and then I got a knee injury – it was not the best season I have had, to put it mildly.”

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IAN Wright’s World Cup dream was shattered last night as Glenn Hoddle was forced to rule the Arsenal striker out of his France 98 equation.

The 34-year-old Highbury hitman went down in agony after 24 minutes of Wednesday’s win over Morocco. A scan carried out by medical experts in Spain yesterday confirmed the worst, with the injury requiring a minimum two-week recovery period.

The injury is in the same left leg that kept Wright out for almost the whole of 1998 and the striker was packing his bags, with the FA reporting he would be leaving La Manga “shortly.”

Wright will be devastated at what looks like the end of his international career, although his thoughts were as much for the players he was leaving behind.

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LOUGHGALL FC aims to celebrate the enforcement of an Irish League rethink at tonight’s senior management committee meeting allowing the club to play senior soccer.

Loughgall forced the senior management committee to stage a special meeting after its appeal against the promotion of fellow B Division clubs Armagh City and Institute was backed in writing by three senior clubs.

The Armagh club, which recently won the Irish League B Division for the fourth consecutive season, believed it had a stronger case for inclusion in the Irish League First Division when the 1999/2000 season commences.

However the senior management committee felt it best to include representatives of Northern Ireland’s three cities and as Armagh and Derry City did not have teams in the senior ranks, the committee decided to exploit potentially large catchment areas.

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