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GAA in brief: Harte issues fresh Aussie Rules alert

KYLE Coney's stunning senior debut for Tyrone, with five points from play against St Mary's in the Dr McKenna Cup, has prompted manager Mickey Harte to repeat his call for the GAA to sever all their ties with Australian Rules.

Coney reversed his decision to go to the Sydney Swans last year and Harte said his senior inter-county start "showed the quality of the player that he is and gave a hint of what he can become.

"There are other players who have been lost," Harte added. "People say it's not too many, it's only a trickle, but a trickle to me is far too many. We shouldn't be losing any if we can keep them.

"It's not a question of being anti-Australian Rules, they have their organisation, they do what they do, and that's fine, but we in the GAA should be protecting our players, and offering them opportunities like this.

"I've been saying that for years, I continue to believe it to be true, and if they still come and poach our players, well and good. They have the right to do that, if that's what they want to do, but we should not be encouraging them," Harte added.

League preparation a challenge for Walsh

CORK's surprise loss to UCC in the first round of the Waterford Crystal Cup has left hurling manager Denis Walsh depending on challenge games to try out new players ahead of the National League.

An experimental Rebel side, with only four regulars, failed to score in the second half when losing 1-12 to 1-7 but Walsh has already lined up friendlies against Clare on February 6 and Waterford a week later and is also hoping to organise a challenge match this weekend.

UCC's footballers also won last weekend to reach the McGrath Cup semi-finals and while Kerry and Tipperary's semi-final will take place in Killarney next Sunday, the all-student semi-final between UCC and CIT has been brought forward to this Friday (2.30 in CIT) because of its proximity to upcoming Sigerson Cup games.

Three of the Waterford Crystal quarter-finals will be played this weekend but the game between Tipperary and Clare is fixed for next Tuesday, under lights in Borrisleigh.

Tipperary mourn Stakelum passing

TIPPERARY GAA is in mourning following the death of Bob Stakelum, the former county dual player and All-Ireland referee.

Stakelum was a member of Tipperary's 1949 All-Ireland-winning hurling squad and also played football for the county.

The Holycross-Ballycahill player was also a noted referee, taking charge of the 1955 All-Ireland senior hurling final as well as Munster finals in both hurling and football and he was also President of the Mid-Tipperary Divisional Board since 1993.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.

Irish Independent