Thursday 14 December 2017

Kelly calls on GAA to mark War centenary

From The Stands

Sean Kelly MEP
Sean Kelly MEP

Seán Kelly MEP has proposed that GAA games be played in the historical city of Ypres in Belgium to mark the centenary of the commencement of the First World War next year.

The former GAA president made the proposal following the announcement that the English Premier League is to build a floodlit third generation artificial pitch in Ypres by November 2014 as part of the centenary commemorations.

"The Premier League's plans are a fitting tribute as we reach the centenary of the commencement of World War I," Kelly said. "I have raised the possibility of the Premier League allowing other sporting organisations to use the facility. If this is possible, I would like to investigate the possibility of holding commemorative games of Gaelic football and hurling on the pitch, to pay tribute to the memory of thousands of people from all communities on the island of Ireland who perished in the conflict.

"Such an occasion would highlight the positive power of sport in bringing people together, bridging divides and would also afford us an opportunity to pay tribute to those who have gone before us."

Kelly has forwarded his proposal to the English Premier League and is awaiting a response. The Premier League has been running an annual Christmas Truce Tournament in Ypres since 2011, bringing together under 12 teams from England, Belgium, France and Germany. The tournament honours one of the most famous moments of the Great War -- the Christmas Truce -- when British and German troops stopped fighting each other on Christmas Day 1914 and played football in no-man's land. The soldiers posed for pictures and swapped gifts.

The Premier League will host a major international Christmas Truce Tournament in December 2014 to inaugurate the new pitch and mark the Truce centenary.

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FORMER Dublin hurling manager Humphrey Kelleher wants the Munster Council to call their senior competitions after deceased players or personalities. Kelleher has penned a book called Family Silver which traces the history behind every cup in the Association.

The Munster senior football cup was first competed for in 1928 and the title has been won by Kerry on 75 occasions. It's hard to believe that this trophy, together with the Munster senior hurling cup and the Munster junior cup, do not commemorate GAA figures of the past.

Limerick want the Munster senior hurling cup to be named after one of their most famous players, Mick Mackey, but Kelleher feels that cups could also be named after great administrators and personalities.

The former Dubs boss and ex-Waterford hurler has proposed the names of Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin and Kevin Heffernan as possible contenders. "We now have three marvellous opportunities for cups to be renamed in Munster," he said.

Meanwhile, the author feels that the Irish Press Cup handed to the All-Ireland minor hurling winners, could be renamed as the paper has not been in operation for some time.

Kelleher spent almost three-and-a-half years working on his book and says that many of the GAA's trophies need serious restoration work -- or even replacement. The book, published by himself and Sportsfile and priced at €25, features the stories and names behind 101 GAA cups and trophies and features several previously unseen photographs

Among the men featured is former GAA president Séamus McFerran, whose name is on the cup for the winners of the Ulster club senior football championship. Born in Belfast, McFerran's story is fascinating. Not only was he a top-class administrator, but before he hit the age of 40, when he became the GAA's youngest president ever, he had twice toured the US as a singer.

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For Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, tonight's game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field is one of the biggest of his career. Not only is the NFC North crown on the line -- the winners head into the play-offs as the division winner and the losers' season ends -- but how Cutler plays could influence whether or not he stays in Chicago.

However, he doesn't have a great record against the Packers. In nine meetings Cutler has only been on the winning side once -- in September 2010. And, more worryingly, he has thrown 17 passes to Packers defenders, six more than he has thrown to defenders on any other team.

Damian Lawlor

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