In the Irish News on Oct 4, 1997: Lavey look to Ollie Collins for first Ulster Club SHC win against Dunloy
Derry champs Lavey were hoping to avenge their 1994 Ulster Club SHC final defeat against Dunloy in the 1997 decider
THE match report from three years ago told that Oliver Collins was an "absolute colossus". But he and his Lavey colleagues finished on the losing side - despite being six points ahead with 15 minutes left.
It was no coincidence Lavey's late collapse that day came when Collins had to be moved into full-forward because of a leg injury which had threatened his very participation beforehand.
Thirty-six months on, Lavey are once again focussing on Dunloy in an AIB Ulster Club Hurling final.
Railway Cup player Collins, the man Sean McGuinness once described as being in the "£10m class" is not particularly interested anymore in being lumbered with superlatives. A plain old Ulster club medal would do.
Success would also be reward for Lavey hurling folk like manager Tom McGill who have strived to keep the game breathing in Derry over the last couple of decades.
Like Dunloy, the Lavey team hasn't changed a deal from October '94. Former Antrim goalkeeper Brendan Prenter has replaced Shane Coyle between the sticks but the McGurk, Downey, and Collins brothers are still there.
For Dunloy, Gregory O'Kane, Gary's nephew, has proved lethal at full-forward in recent matches. Packie McCloy played well at full-back so far this season but faces an altogether more testing examination tomorrow.
At midfield, Adrian McCrystal and Henry Downey will try to disrupt the more measured work of the Dunloy centrefield pair Colm McGuckian and Nigel Elliot. Benny Ward's reprieve from possible suspension means Lavey's prospects of containing the usually influential Tony McGrath have been boosted.
But even if McGrath is kept quiet, Dunloy possess five other forwards who are all capable of being match-winners. That attacking firepower should be enough to subdue Lavey, even if Oliver Collins produces another magnificent display in Casement Park.
DAVE Alred, British rugby's top goal-kicking coach, yesterday signed a two-year contract with Bath, but his Recreation Ground commitments will not prevent him from coming to Armagh tomorrow, to coach 125 players and managers from gaelic games and rugby. The one-day course will run tomorrow from 9-4pm at Armagh rugby club.
Top gaelic coaches such as Art McRory, Sean McCague, Pete McGrath and Mickey Moran will join players such as Ger Houlihan and Mattie McGleenan for the course.
Alred will hold an exclusive coaching session where he will pass on his knowledge on technical aspects of kicking - both goal-kicking and punting.
Alred's new job with Bath will entail working in the new-look England set-up, having been brought on board this week by national coach Clive Woodward.
WITH All-Ireland kingpins Crossmaglen awaiting the winners, most first round focus in the AIB Ulster Club Football Championship centres on the Burren v Gowna clash at Breffni Park (3.30).
Burren gave Crossmaglen their toughest examination during last year's Ulster Championship campaign. It was arguably a more taxing test than Laune Rangers put the south Armagh men through in the All-Ireland semi-final at Portlaoise.
Crossmaglen midfielder John McEntee said earlier this week that the holders and Burren were the favourites to win in Ulster this year.
The likes of Errigal Ciaran, with the Canavans and Eoin Gormley, and Dungiven, spurred on by the two McKeevers and Joe Brolly, may privately have something to say about the competition being dubbed a two-horse race even before a ball has been kicked.
But with apologies to the other six teams involved tomorrow in the football competition, the Breffni Park encounter does look the most attractive game of the day.
The two teams met at the same stage of the AIB championship 12 months ago with the Down champions needing a replay to progress. Paddy O'Rourke's team should be able to earn a tilt at Crossmaglen at the first time of asking tomorrow.