Istabraq is Ireland's first winner of 1997 Cheltenham Festival and Ray McDonnell is new Antrim GAA boss

GLIDING LIKE A SWAN.....Charlie Swan aboard the Aiden O’Brien-trained favourite Istabraq on his way to notching Ireland’s first winner of this year’s Cheltenham festival in the Royal Sun Alliance Hurdle, the opening race of the second day.

Rossa’s Ray McDonnell is Antrim’s new senior football manager.

And the new man in charge could approach his former Rossa coach and ex-Newry Town boss Matt Bradley, to be part of his selection panel.

Current U21 county boss McDonnell was last night appointed after the county board held a meeting to discuss a number of names interested in the job.

McDonnell said last night following his appointment that he was “not interested” in the controversy surrounding Antrim football in recent weeks.

At the weekend selectors Ray Graffin, Peter McCann and Paul McCormack resigned from their posts less than two week’s after manager John Morrison quit.

Following Sunday’s McKenna Cup defeat to Armagh, the bulk of the current squad walked out of Casement Park stating they would not play for the county again.

McDonnell now has the task of uniting the players for the good of Antrim football.

“I have no interest in recent events regarding the football and that’s all I will say.

“I have a job to do now as senior manager but foremost this weekend I have to manage the U21 side against Tyrone in the championship, that is priority,” said McDonnell.

“Players will be contacted for senior football training and we will take it from there.”


DUNDEE UNITED stormed the Ibrox fortress and left title-chasing Rangers in a Winters blunderland.

Robbie Winters scored one goal and made another for Kjell Olofsson to give Celtic a helping hand on a fright night for Walter Smith’s men.

Victory would have lifted them eight points clear ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Celtic but, like the Bhoys 24 hours earlier at Kilmarnock, where they lost 2-0, they were left red-faced.

Instead, Tommy McLean’s Scottish Cup semi-finalists stretched their unbeaten run to 15 games.

And they became the first domestic opposition to beat Rangers at Ibrox in 24 matches over 14 months since Alan Johnston scored a hat-trick when Hearts won 3-0 in January last year.

So the gap at the top is five points with Celtic, surely, taking inspiration for the Parkhead derby on Sunday from an unexpected reprieve after their Rugby Park slip-up.


THE Derry minor football team to play Monaghan in the Ulster Minor League on Saturday is:

C Gilligan, P Kearney, P McIvor, K McLeron, P O’Kane, D Kearney, J Niblock, G Diamond, M McNicholl, D Conway, B Gillis, D McGeehan, M McKenna, J Donaghy, P Murphy.


EAMON Logue shot the lights out in the Killymoon sunshine yesterday to win the Ulster Golfers’ Alliance outing.

The lanky Lisburn club assistant buzzed round in five-under-par 65 for 41 points to leave the rest of the field in his wake.

Big-hitting Damian Mooney was next best, carding 38 points.

Logue was off to a blistering start with eagle three at the opening hole and he backed that up with birdie at the long third.

His only lapse of the round was at the par four fourth where he dropped a stroke but he was back on the birdie trail with a three at the next hole to turn in 32 with 21 points collected.

On the homeward spin he made back-to-back birdie fours at 14 and 15 and matched par at the other seven holes for an inward run of 33 and a further 20 points on the slate.

Behind Mooney in third place on 36 points was Stephen Hamill who is just back from a spell in Argentina where he made the cut in a number of tournaments.


ANTRIM boxers could reap a rich harvest at the forthcoming All-Ireland Championships in Dublin if last night’s boys and youths county finals at the Balmoral Hotel are anything to go by.

Kevin Maxwell (Dockers), celebrating his 13th birthday yesterday, kept the party going with a stylish display against the very useful Robert Quinn (Newhill) in the 36kg category.

All Saints coach Gerry Hamill, a former Commonwealth gold medalist, returned home with a happy band from the opening night of the John Kyle (Insurance) sponsored finals, teenagers TJ Hamill (Flyweight) and Karl Hogg (Bantam) being particularly impressive.

County Antrim final results:

Boy 4 54kg: – Gerard Magee (St John Bosco) bt Christopher Fox (Star); 63.5kg – Anthony Taylor (Oliver Plunkett) lost to Gerard McAuley (Star) WO

Youth 1 39kg – Barry McMahon (Star) bt Sean McKimm (Abbey); 51kg – T J Hamill (All Saints) bt Brendan Andrews (Dockers); 54kg – Karl Hogg (All Saints) bt Keith Porter (Ledley Hall); 57kg – Neil McMullan (Scorpion) bt Jim McComb (St Agnes’)

Youth 2 54kg – Gary Morrison (All Saints) bt Paul Lambe (Holy Trinity); 57kg – William Leonard (All Saints) bt Kevin McCluskey (St John Bosco)

Boy 1 27kg – Robert McAllister (Monkstown) bt Liam Leathem (Holy Trinity); 36kg – Sean Reid (CCC) bt Niall Mulgrew (Newington); 45kg – Patrick McCann (Emerald) bt Paul Shields (Poleglass)

Boy 2 33kg – Thomas McNally (Dockers) bt Patrick Bell (St Matthews); 36kg – Kevin Maxwell (Dockers) bt Robert Quinn (Newhill); 39kg – Danny Cunningham (Saints) bt Brendan McKay (Holy Trinity)

Walk-Over Antrim Champions: Tony Lyness (Immaculata); Joe Wiggins (Saints); Joseph Rea (All Saints); Damien Carroll (Antrim); Ryan Stewart (Scorpion); Michael Connor (Scorpion); Francis Black (St John Bosco); Patrick Henry (Immaculata); Alan Hughes (Monkstown); David McKeavney (Emerald); Robert Stewart (Antrim); Dermot Hamill (All Saints); Patrick Mongan (Immaculata); Richard Alexander (Ligoniel); Steven Carlin (Poleglass); Paul McDermott (St Agnes); Graham Ross (Ledley Hall); Paul Moffett (Abbey); Michael McComb (St Agnes’); Martin Lindsay (Immaculata); Gary O’Neill (Emerald); Harry Cunningham (Saints).


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