Lots done, more to do

GHOSTS banished. Demons laid to rest. A win against Waterford, his- torically, wasn’t something to get excited about.

But judging by the roar at the end and the sense of relief outside the Clare dressing room, this meant something.

More than winning, this was about wiping the slate clean and starting again. Conor Whelan, captain when Clare capsized in troubled waters down in Waterford last year, knew that for a long time on Sunday, it looked like Clare were charted to- Se NUGK-MCTOO ODE ED as EelKon

“Things didn’t look great for us,” Whelan, stand-on captain this year, admitted outside the Clare dressing room. “The lads got back into it. A great interception by Gordon Kelly was a real turning point in the game. We went up the field and got a point and then the point from Stephen Hickey closed the day out.

“We know we played very poorly in the first-half. We weren’t expressing ourselves on the ball. We just didn’t play right. We, as players, know that. Frank Doherty told us too. It was really laid on the line to us and we were happy that we rose to the chal- lenge in the second half. *

Sitting in the stands, injured, this

year’s captain Michael O’Shea kicked his heels in frustration as the errors continued to mount.

“Tt’s frustrating when you are look- ing out because you can see what is going on. You’re sitting in the stand and you can’t do anything about it.

‘“We’ve a lot to improve on. We made a lot of stupid mistakes. Our ball handling was very poor at stages, especially in the first-half. Our move- ment up front wasn’t up to standard. We weren’t creating enough oppor- tunities for ourselves. Saying that, a couple of the lads showed good bot- tle towards the end. They stood up and were counted when a couple of Scores were needed, but we’ll take the positives.”

They included a rattling good per- formance from David Connole, who, along with John Hayes, O’Shea said, provided Clare with mobility and strength going forward.

Plenty of work and plenty to think about, then, ahead of the Munster semi-final against Kerry.

O’Shea, who Doherty said after- wards would add a different gear to Clare’s running game, is hopeful of being fit to face Kerry.

“We’ve three weeks and we’ll be doing everything we can. That’s a day you really don’t want to miss. Playing Kerry down in Killarney. We’ll be doing everything we can.”


Clare footballers skate close to the edge

IF any Clare footballer was in doubt about what was expected of him on Sunday, he need only have looked at the number written on his arm. Be- fore the game, Clare decided to em- broider each jersey with ‘100%’ to represent the effort required.

A second championship defeat to Waterford in 12 months was unthink- able for Clare and though they skated perilously close to the edge, Clare managed to find a way through, to the relief of manager Frank Doherty.

“To be honest I’m just delighted to get over this hurdle because after last year, we needed to win’, said Doher- ty on the sideline afterwards.

“It was a morale booster to the county as such. We needed that go- ing forward, because if we had lost today, it probably would have driv- en Clare football back another bit. We’ ve had enough of knocks over the last few months, so hopefully this is a step in the right direction.

“Clare was a year waiting for this day to come. Them lads were hurt- ing over last year. Obviously I wasn’t there but I know what they went through, because when you lose a championship game you hurt. I knew they would keep going.”

Clare operated well below the re- quired mark for long periods and while rejecting the effect of the swirling breeze, Doherty acknowl- edged Clare’s shooting wasn’t up to

Nore te

“Tl tell you the truth. This whole breeze stuff I don’t believe in. Some- times teams play better against the breeze. We were knocking ball into our forwards in the first half and it was running away from them. We

were using the breeze too much. I felt if we carried the ball more directly and ran at them, and had overlaps and then kicked the ball, it would hold for our forward, and it would be a disad- vantage to the Waterford backs.

“We were shooting erratically at

times. It was decent enough ball go- ing in, but it was coming out just as fast. We had to cool things down.” Yet, for his first championship win as an intercounty manager, Doherty took heart from the way his team – particularly the younger members,

– stood up when it mattered.

“David Connole was man of the match in my opinion today. He’s only 18, he’s doing the Leaving Cert and he’s an absolutely fantastic young lad. I said the whole time that I’d love to play either him or Gordon Kelly at six. When David came out to six, it CHUN DE (orem Neto 8 ee

Doherty also thanked Waterford manager for his pre-match com- ments, damning the state of Clare football.

“I’m delighted with Kiely, with all his nice words during the week about Clare football. I didn’t have to say too much and I do appreciate his words of wisdom, fair play to him.”

Kerry, the All-Ireland champions, are now in Doherty’s sight-lines.

“It will be a privilege to the young- er lads. It’s going to help their game playing against the best team in Ire- land,” said Doherty

‘As far as ’’m concerned, you could pick the best players in Ireland and they wouldn’t beat Kerry. We’ll go down there and we have nothing to fear. We’ll go out and we’ll give it a lash, we’ll try our best and it will be great experience for the younger lads – for next year in Division 4 and that’s what we’re building on.”

No prizes for guessing what will be required in Killarney. Just think of a number and double it.


Republic of Munster

IT was the victory that finally lifted Munster into the patheon of the great sides of Europe. Munster’s triumph against Biarritz in 2006 registered them among a host of teams who had produced one great year. The two final defeats mattered for little, they needed a second Heinekin Cup tro- phy to secure their place among the elite, to be called a truly great team.

For the 65,000 Munster support- ers that crammed into the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, this final meant everything. Winning well or win- ning ugly didn’t matter to the horde of red who sang, cheered, screamed and lifted their heroes to the final whistle.

They just craved a win by however means necessary and were made ex- perience the full spectrum of emo- tions as Munster clung on to their

slender lead in the final stages.

The raucous roars of the Munster faithful willed them to victory, con- tinually drowning out the attempted cries of the 5,000 or so Toulousains who made the trip across the chan- nel. Equally, the hordes of Munster fans’ total silence at times had a sim- ilar effect on the French side no more so than for Jean-Baptiste Elissade’s first kick as the deafening silence ap- peared to unnerve him.

For Munster, they are used to such support from their loyal fans. The tension, the emotion, the pressure, the nerves, even the occasion did not sway the team’s unrelenting focus on the grand prize. The did it the hard way, coming through the so-called group of death before knocking Eng- lish champions Gloucester and even Alan Gaffney’s Saracens on their way to their second Heinekin Cup success. Two wins in three years

makes for satisfying reading. And they couldn’t have done it without the 16th man. Or perhaps it should now be 17th considering the 65,000 plus who swarmed the Millenium Stadi- um and its environs at the weekend.


Buoyed by league success

CLARE camogie captain Deirdre Murphy was in Croke Park yesterday to help launch the 2008 Gala All-Ire- land Camogie Senior, Intermediate and Junior Championships.

President of the Camogie Associa- tion, Liz Howard, was joined at the launch by the captains and managers of all 27 counties competing in this year’s Championships.

Speaking at GAA _ headquarters, Murphy said Clare have some mo- mentum to build on this year.

“Winning the League this year was a great achievement for Clare but we really want the championship,” she said. “The way we lost the junior last

year to Derry by a last minute goal was very hard to take. We had played really well and it came down to a bit of misfortune on our part.

“This year we hope to go that one step better. We’ve drawn against difficult teams in our group like Of- faly and Antrim but we are confi- dent enough. At the minute we are a long way from Croke Park, our first game is against Offaly on 29 June and that’s all we’re thinking about,” Murphy said.

Reigning Champions Wexford will be hoping to retain the crown they won last year for the first time since 1975. There will be several sides aiming to relieve them of the O’Dutfy Cup including last year’s

runners up and 2006 winners, Cork.

The Gala All-Ireland Senior Cham- pionship action begins this weekend. Last year’s Champions Wexford have the weekend off with the six remain- ing teams all in action. 2007 run- ners-up Cork will travel to Dublin as they hope to get their champion- ship off to a winning start. National League champions Kilkenny will host Tipperary, while Limerick, who are new to the Senior Championship after their All-Ireland B Final win last year, will travel to take on Gal- way.


Heroes one and all

SPORTING achievement comes in every shape. From the brutal speed of the sprinters to the sheer physical wartare of front-row rugby, victory in sport is a beautiful lady with many reece

Never was this more in evidence than in Ballyvaughan on Saturday. At 7.17pm the last of the Challenge Marathon walkers made their way through the finish line at the Burren Coast Hotel.

Aching beyond pain, they finished their ordeal with pride and honour. Standing straight with chests out, their joy was just as sweet as the six mile runners who completed their race almost 10 hours earlier.

Launched at 9am by Hollywood actor Brendan Gleeson, the walk- ers were welcomed into port by the encouraging words of Fr Des, with news of Cardiff and rugby ringing in the salty air.

“All the ingredients for a great spec-

tacle were there; the atmosphere, the weather, the people — it all clicked to- gether on the day,” said Gerry Reidy of the Ballyvaughan Fanore Walking Sitley

“We had a lot of runners who were taking on the six mile course and they would have been finished in 35 or 40 minutes. But at the same time we had walkers who completed the full marathon an it would have taken then more than eight hours to finish altogether. But that was their chal- antexonee

More than 850 people actually took part in the marathon. The number would have been greater had it not been for the rail strike in Cork which kept a number of people away.

“When you think of last February, we were aiming for 300 back then and to get three times that amount was fantastic. Everyone up there was impressed, even a lot of the locals who would never have walked the route before were gobsmacked,’ con- WNEOM OEM

“We will review everything that happened, but I feel that when we do have a look at the event we will de- cide to host it again next year.

“We had Fr Des Forde acting as commentator for the day at the finish line, he was keeping the whole thing going. And of course we had Brendan Gleeson there to stat the event which We TOS NO BE:ROLm

“We had an army of volunteers out during the day and the support we got from local people and from the sponsors was fantastic.”


O’Brien’s to flood The Clare 10k

O’BRIEN’S Sandwich Bar, Ennis, is getting geared up for The Clare 10k 2008.

Proprietor of the sandwich bar, Kathleen O’Brien, has announced that they will be the sole provider of water for participants in the 2008 event.

O’Brien’s water will be available along the route at the water station outside The Auburn Lodge Hotel on the Gort Road. This is just past the halfway mark and has provided much needed refreshment for run-

ners and walkers alike over the past two years.

There will also be water available in Lees Road when competitors re- enter the complex.

Staff from O’Brien’s will be on hand on the day to distribute the wa- ter.

Kathleen O’Brien, owner of the Salthouse Lane store, said, ““We are delighted to be involved with The Clare 10k and to be supporting such a worthwhile charity.”

The store, which opened its doors over seven years ago, offers a full range of O’Brien’s products includ-

ing a popular juice bar, where cus- tomers can enjoy a range of freshly squeezed juices and made to order smoothies.

O’Brien’s has more than 300 stores providing the healthy fast food op- tion in 14 countries across Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada.

O’Brien’s aim to serve only the highest quality food and drink to customers and strives to offer a wide variety of fresh, natural and tasty food served by helpful and friendly Nee

The Ennis store has consistently achieved elite store status for stand-

ards from O’Brien’s head office in Dublin and received awards for the premium coffee quality from suppli- er Deemac, where it achieved one of there top awards in the country.

For more information on O’Brien’s Sandwich Bar visit www.obriensca-


Ordering a contract made easy by hitman for hire

DETAILS of email exchanges be- tween ‘lyingeyes’ and ‘hitman- forhire’ were outlined to the jury by the Prosecution, on the second day of the trial.

“Lying eyes 1s Sharon Collins,” said Prosecutor Tom O’Connell.

At around lunchtime on August 2, 2006, a search for ‘hitman’ was car- ried out on a desktop computer at the Howards’ business at Westgate Busi- ness Park, Ennis.

A webpage,, was accessed at 1.15pm and again after 3pm. At 4.01pm, the user accessed the inbox of sharoncollins@eircom. net and read email.

“Someone using it knows Sharon Collins’ password and is using her email,” said Mr O’Connell.

At 4.47pm, Yahoo searches were carried out for inheritance rights. At 5.17pm, the user logged into ‘’ email ac- count and at 5.42pm an email was sent from to lyingeyes98

“Somebody sitting at the computer in the office, knowing Sharon Col- lins’ password, sent an email from her email address to ‘lyingeyes.’ That site had only been set up that day. The person sending the email knew that email had been set up that day and was testing the site,” said Mr O’Connell.

On August 8, 2006, the user ac- cessed = at 1.02pm and at 1.05pm, the user signed into At 9.53pm that night, the user ac- cessed = and at 9.58pm, the user ran searches on yahoo for ‘assassins for hire.’

“At 10 o’clock, the user accessed a webpage and uses it. It tells you how to or- der a hitman for contract,’ said Mr O’Connell.

On August 16, the user of the office computer logged into ‘lyingeyes.’ The user then carried out a search for FedEx courier service and a tracking number was used.

This showed that the shipment had

left the previous day and was due to arrive in Las Vegas the following day, August 17.

“The significance is that the person using ‘lyingeyes’ knows the tracking number. “‘Lyingeyes’ is checking the progress of the package,” said Mr O’Connell.

“Sharon Collins personally went to FedEx… The next day in the of- fice of Downes and Howard business is checking the tracking number of the package sent to the US. The in- ference is that ‘lyingeyes’ is Sharon Collins,” he said.

Mr O’Connell said that the hard drive of the laptop computer which was stolen from the business premis- es was analysed.

He said that in the early hours of the morning afterthe alleged burglary, the computer was used to access anumber of web-based email pages. These included hitmanforhire@ yahoo. ooynee tonyluciano@yahoo. com, and

“This shows the State would invite you to draw the inference that Essam Eid is ‘hitmanforhire’, Tony Luciano. He had the computer. It’s an infer- ence you can draw. It is up to you,” Mr O’Connell told the jury.

Mr O’Connell said a third computer was also examined. This was a lap- top computer seized at PJ Howard’s home, Ballybeg House, on February 26, 2007.


Lying eyes left a digital trail of evidence

ANemail account lyingeyes98 @yahoo. ie was set up by Sharon Collins ‘for the purpose of hiring a hitman’, ac- cording to the Prosecution.

The State alleges the account was set up on August 2, 2006 on a desk computer at the Howards’ business premises at Westgate Business Park in Ennis.

Senior Counsel for the Prosecution Tom O’Connell told the jury that on August 8, 2006, that email address established contact with an email ad- dress ‘hitmanforhire@’.

Telling the jury the email address would be “engraved in your memo- ries by the end of the case”, Mr O’Connell said it is the State’s case that Essam Eid operated that email using the alias Tony Luciano.

‘Emails were sent from that email address, signed Tony Luciano. Serv- ices offered by hitmanforhire were contract killings,” he said.

He said that after August 8, 2006, several emails were exchanged between the two email addresses and on August 15, “a contract was made between the person behind ‘lyingeyes’ and ‘hitman’ to kill PJ

Howard and his two sons at the price Oy LOR O00 ne

He said that $50,000 was the “‘nor- mal price” but because there were three, it was $90,000.

He said that on August 15, Ms Collins made a downpayment of €15,000, on foot of that contract.

“She sent the €15,000 in cash on that date by FedEx courier services from Shannon,” he said, adding that €13,000 was withdrawn from her own bank account and €2,000 from the credit union. She sent the money to Teresa Engels in Las Vegas, he PALO

“At that time, Teresa Engels ap- peared to be his wife. She lived with Essam Eid in Las Vegas at that ad- dress, with his previous wife, Lisa Eid,’ said Mr O’Connell.

He said that Essam Eid travelled to Ireland on September 24, 2004 and booked into the Two Mile Inn Hotel in Limerick. He said that the Egyp- tian native burgled the Howards’ business premises at Westgate Busi- ness Park in Ennis on September 25.

“It was an inside job. There was no evidence of any forced entry. Who- ever entered the premises that night had the keys and also had the alarm

code. It would seem the purpose of the burglary was to get rid of in- criminating evidence. The following day when gardai carried out a search of a room at the Two Mile Inn, they found keys to the office premises. It is the State’s case these were provid- ed by Ms Collins. They were left in Ennis to be picked up and used then to remove the potentially incriminat- ing computer,’ he said.


Certificate for marriage that never happened

SHARON Collins was interested in inheritance and often sought infor- mation on this on computer websites, according to the prosecution.

Prosecutor Tom O’Connell told the jury on the second day of the trial last Thursday, that Ms Collins ar- ranged a marriage to PJ Howard, but he did not go through with it.

“She was keen to get married to Mr Howard. She was very much

concerned with inheritance and fre- quently visited various websites in- terrogating the computer about her position,’ said Mr O’Connell.

He said that after Mr Howard’s wife died in 2003, Ms Collins was “anx- ious and agitating to get married to Mr Howard.

“It seems he didn’t wish to marry her as it would complicate inherit- ance matters. He wanted whatever fortunes he had to go to his two sons.”

“Apparently a marriage was. ar- ranged, at her instigation, to take place in Rome in 2005,” he said.

However, PJ Howard “pulled out” of this, but the couple went to Sor- rento in Italy, where they pledged themselves to each other, “but no marriage took place”.

When the couple returned home, Ms Collins told people that they had got married and a wedding reception took place in Spanish Point in No- vember 2005.

The same year, she “conceived and organised through the internet, a proxy marriage, under Mexican law, that was done without the knowledge of PJ Howard,” said counsel.

He said that Ms Collins paid $US1,295 for a certificate testify- ing to the proxy marriage. The cer- tificate was sent to her accountant in Kilrush, Matt Heslin, and she later collected it there.

On February 22, 2006, she trav- elled to Cork and in due course she

obtained a passport under the name of Sharon Howard.

“She admits obtaining the proxy marriage certificate,” said Mr O’Connell. “It is the State’s case that she intended to use the marriage cer- tificate to stake a claim in PJ’s estate on the death of him and his sons,’ he added.

“It could be inferred by using the documents, she was trying them out to see if they would pass official scrutiny,’ said Mr O’Connell.


Mystery caller uncovers ‘missing computers’

A MAN called ‘Tony’ called to Rob- ert Howard’s home and informed him there were contracts on the lives of himself, his brother and his father and sought €100,000 to cancel them, the court heard on Friday.

Robert Howard was at home at Ballaghboy, Doora, on the outskirts of Ennis on September 26, 2006, when he received a phone call on his mobile, at around 10.30pm.

“A male voice on the phone said, ‘T heard you lost a few computers’. I said, ‘I did’. He said, ‘I’ll be at your house in five minutes.’ That was it,” Mr Howard told the trial, during his 25-minute spell in the witness box on Friday.

“The next thing, I heard a knock on the door, five minutes later,’ he added.

Asked by prosecution counsel Tom O’Connell had he considered phon- ing the gardai, he said he had, but, “I didn’t know if someone was going to show.”

On hearing the knock at around 10.35pm, he answered the door.

A man standing at the door said to him, “Hello, I’m Tony.”

“I stood outside the door of the house. He picked up the blue Toshiba laptop computer and handed it to me,” he said.

Mr Howard said he then went into the house and told his brother Niall to call the gardai. He returned outside and was then told about the contracts on the three lives.

“He said there were contracts on the three of our lives, for €130,000. He said he didn’t want to do it. He wanted me to buy the contract out for € 100,000,” he said.

He said that ‘Tony’ also had paper- work in his hand, including directions

to his house and also to PJ’s house and to an address in Kilkee.

The conversation, he said, lasted about 20 minutes, during which time his brother Niall was inside the door “keeping watch.”

He said ‘Tony’ had a print-out from a computer, featuring two photo- graphs. One was a photograph of PJ Howard and Sharon Collins, while the other was a photograph of PJ ona

boat. “It looks like Spain,” he said.

‘He showed me the photograph. I took it from him. I wouldn’t give it back to him,” he said.

Mr Howard said he returned inside the house to enquire where the gardai were. When he went outside again, ‘Tony’ was leaving in a car.

He tried to follow him in his jeep, but the lights were switched off in ‘Tony’s’ car and he did not manage to

get the registration number. He said he “lost him at the crossroads.”

Asked to describe the man, he said he was about 5 foot 11, in his mid- 40s, wore a baseball cap and track- Suit, was clean shaven with sallow skin and wore glasses.

He said he thought his accent was Algerian, “even though he told me he was Italian.”

Later that night, at around 12.30am,

he said ‘Tony’ phoned him again, asking him if he had “started to get the money together” for him yet.

“T said ‘Yes’. He said he would give me a ring tomorrow,” recalled Mr Howard.

Mr Howard told the court that he was a director of a company, Downes and Howard property investment business, located at 7A Westgate Business Park, Kilrush Road, Ennis, of which his father PJ was the prin- leet e

His younger brother Niall also worked in the business, as did Sha- ron Collins.

He told the jury that on Septem- ber 25, 2006 – the day before he was visited by “Tony’ – he worked in the company’s office. His brother Ni- all was the last person to leave that Aon nenee

The following morning he returned to work and noticed that of the two locks on the door, the Chubb lock was not locked.

He went upstairs to the office and noticed that the alarm was not on.

“T had a quick look around. There was a laptop and computer missing,” he said. Also missing was a picture of old Irish money, a digital clock and computer cables.

He said the laptop, Toshiba brand, was worth around €1,000 and be- longed to himself. A desktop com- puter had also been taken from the reception area.

He said that just six people had keys to the premises and knew the alarm code – himself, his brother Niall, his father PJ, Sharon Collins, their handyman Dan Fitzgerald and their cleaner Kathleen McMahon.

“When the burglary took place, PJ and Sharon were in Spain,” he said.