Back in the day - The Irish News July 23 1997: Derry City facing European unknowns
It’s been a long time since an Irish team went into a European game with so much expectation that they might actually qualify for the next round.
But that is the scenario facing Derry City this evening as they take on Slovenian side Maribor Teatanic at Brandywell.
Derry always had a good record at home in Europe but following last week’s win over Glasgow Celtic and superb performance against Newcastle United in the Irish Soccer Tournament, the champions of Slovenia don’t unduly worry the Brandywell public.
Even the time-honoured fear of the unknown (few people could even find Slovenia on a map) has failed to dampen the enthusiasm for the game.
Derry have a solid unit, augmented with individualism which can unlock the best of defences as Celtic found out and must believe they can do well.
Manager Felix Healy rates his side’s chances as 50-50, as sure a vote of confidence in his players as he is likely to give, but they have to perform on the night.
Missing from action are Tony O’Dowd who was sent off in Derry’s last European game against Lokomotiv Sofia two years ago, and Declan Devine will fill the breach.
Devine has been carrying a leg injury but he and Healy are confident it will have mended in time for this evening’s game.
Also out is the unfortunate James Keddy who pulled a hamstring in the win over Celtic and is now struggling to be fit for the beginning of Derry’s domestic campaign in mid-August.
Derry City: Devine, Doherty, Brady, Hutton, Curran, Dykes, Mohan, Hegarty, Liam Coyle, Beckett, Hargan, Ryan Coyle, Semple, Kelly
Antrim senior hurling star Ryan McNaughton will start this evening’s Ulster U21 hurling final replay against Derry at Slaughtneil.
The young Cushendall man was omitted from Saturday’s starting line-up because he was suffering with a broken finger and a bone fracture in his hand, but has been included this time in the first 15 by team manager Sean McGuinness.
Such is McNaughton’s influence that despite the injury, which also caused him to miss the Ulster senior final on July 6, he was forced to come on at half-time on Saturday with Antrim trailing by six points.
McNaughton came on at centre-half-back, allowing his namesake Ruairi to move up to full-forward and they are likely to be retained in those positions for the replay.
McGuinness had a full turnout at training at Dunloy last night but elected not to name his team as one of the selectors was unable to attend.
“The lads are busting for the game to start, they feel they have something to prove after Saturday,” he said.
Antrim were somewhat fortunate to escape with a draw, their equalising score coming well into injury time, and McGuinness himself paid tribute to the Derry team.
Derry: K Stevenson, B McEldowney, G Brunton, M McGlade, P McCloskey, AN Other, P McKeague, M Conway, R O’Hagan, D Doherty, D Lockhart, E Farren, G Biggs, D Doherty, D McGrellis.
Down hurling manager Frank Dawson has named an unchanged side ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland championship quarter-final against Tipperary at Clones (4.30).
Although there are several positional switches, Dawson has stuck with the same 15 which beat hot favourites Antrim in the Ulster final on July 6. Somewhat surprisingly, the very experienced Kevin Coulter has to be content with a place on the bench.
Coulter had been named to play at corner-back against Antrim but had to pull out at the last minute with ‘flu.
Barry Milligan was the last-minute replacement for Coulter and has been retained there thanks to an “outstanding game” according to Down hurling PRO Jim Keenan.
“Barry played very well and it is a massive confidence boost for the young man that he has held his place.
“But Kevin (Coulter) is an excellent player and will be chomping at the bit to get on against Tipperary.”
Down: G Clarke, B Smith, S Murray, B Milligan, M Mallon (capt), M Braniff, M Coulter Snr, G Savage, P Coulter, M Coulter Jnr, M Bailie, G McGrattan, N Sands, J McCrickard, B Coulter Subs: G Smith, B Braniff, K Coulter, G Adair, J Treanor, J McGrattan, B Birt, J Brown, P Mohan, C McGrattan, M Blaney
Tipperary: B Cummins, P Shelly, N Sheehy, M Ryan, L Sheedy, Colm Bonnar, Conal Bonnar, T Dunne, C Gleeson (capt), K Tucker, L McGrath, J Leahy, L Cahill, E O’Neill, B O’Meara Subs: J Cottrell, G Frend, B Carroll, A Butler, A Ryan, R Ryan, M Cleary, B Gaynor, J Carroll.
Northern athletes picked up a number of medals at the NACA Veterans Track & Field Championships in Tullamore at the weekend.
Marion McAuley and Ann Maguire were the main winners. Maguire won a superb five golds in the Over 45s section.
Her events ranged from the 100m (14.32) to winning the discus.
Over 40s competitor McAuley won three golds, three silvers and a bronze in events as diverse as the 100m (14.90) and the javelin.
It was a good day for Armagh AC with Dermot Kerr winning gold in the 5000m and Charlie Leonard triumphing over 10,000m.
Newry-based Geraldine Finnegan, competing for Dunleer AC, also won several medals. Brian Maguire and Brian Murphy won two medals each in Tullamore although neither managed a gold
Colm McLean struck gold last night in the European Youth Olympics (U17) in Lisbon. The St Malachy’s youngster won the 1500m title with a time of 3.54.53.
After a slow first lap, McLean took the pace and he eventually finished almost two seconds ahead of a Turkish runner in second place.
The performance is the latest success for McLean. In April he was part of the St Malachy’s team which won at the Penn Relay meeting in the US.