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Football: We're not going bust, says Noel Hanley.

THE latter-day siege of Limerick has infuriated the First Division club.

Heavy verbal artillery has been aimed at them suggesting that:

They are on the verge of extinction for financial reasons

They have despatched chairman Father Joe Young to the US on a fund-raising mission

That they couldn't afford a set of corner flags for a recent game

And that the Eircom League side are at loggerheads with local junior clubs.

All the flak has infuriated Limerick secretary Noel Hanley, who says: "I'm getting fed up with all this. There are mischievous people spreading all the gossip.

"Let me explain the corner flags issue for a start. For the match against Dundalk, the flags were all in place when the groundsman went for his tea. Three were gone when he came back.

"One of the junior clubs would have helped us out but for the fact that their own season was starting that evening."

As it happens, the referee was not prepared to make do with offered broom handles but decided to allow the game to go ahead.

"And at least we got the three points," added Hanley.

On Father Joe Young's trip to the States, Hanley says he could well bump into George Foreman again.

Foreman is a great pal of Father Joe's and lent financial assistance to a number of projects in the City of Limerick last year, including a donation to the football club.

But Hanley says: "It's possible that Father Joe might look for some assistance while he is away but even a priest is entitled to the holiday he's taking, surely.

"We are by no means comfortable, admittedly, and manager Tommy Lynch has been asked to cut down on players living outside Limerick but we're in anything but a crisis situation.

"Anyway, people forget we do have excellent sponsors in Dell Computers."

Limerick's current on-field struggles are a sharp contrast to the good old days.

Back in 1971, Limerick held Torino (Turin) to a single goal in a home European Cup Winners' Cup tie.

Former manager Ewan Fenton recalls: "On the night before the second leg, I sat in the stadium Turin share with Juventus and watched Juventus hammer their European opposition.

"That worried me but the lads played very well the next day and were there with a chance at half-time."

Fenton has a unique claim. He won an English FA Cup medal with Blackpool in the "Stanley Matthews" final of 1953 and managed winning cup clubs - Limerick and Linfield - on both sides of the border.

Then there was a home defeat of Limerick United, Limerick's successors, by the odd goal of three against Real Madrid in the European Cup in 1980. And the 1982 FAI Cup win over Bohemians with Eoin Hand as player-manger and rugby star Tony Ward in the attack.

And getting back to the present, Limerick FC might well borrow a line from Mark Twain, who famously said that: "reports of my demise are exaggerated."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Johnstone, Frank
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Sep 19, 1999
Words:495
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