Corofin end Pearses’ historic year
So Pádraig Pearses’ season has come to an end, but when they look back on 2019 they can reflect on a year that few associated with the club will ever forget. It was the year they finally brought the Fahey Cup back to Taughmaconnell, Creagh and Moore, and not only that, but they also reached a Connacht club final and went toe to toe with one of the greatest club teams of all time for 45 minutes.
Corofin just had an edge in terms of big-time experience and they knew what to do when they were under pressure. But Pearses gave a good account of themselves and there is no disgrace losing to this Corofin team.
It will be interesting to see now if Pearses will be eager to follow up their success in 2019 next year. It will certainly be competitive.
Clann na nGael have appointed Liam Kearns for 2020 and they will surely be back challenging for honours. St. Brigid’s are also a very good side with loads of young talent on the way up. Roscommon Gaels will surely have another cut at the title too, while Boyle and Western Gaels will also have designs on winning in 2020.
If Pearses are determined to show that they were not just a flash in the pan in 2019 they will surely be the team to beat again next summer.
On the national scene, Corofin seem to blossom on the All-Ireland stage every year. I didn’t see Ballyboden St. Enda’s last weekend but by all accounts, they were very impressive also.
There will be Roscommon interest in the Munster final on Sunday, meanwhile, as James McDermott lines out for Nemo Rangers against Clonmel Commercials.
The club championships have come up trumps again this year with two Carlow sides into the Leinster senior finals in football and hurling. Every year there are new names coming to the fore and it’s great to see.
Before I leave the club championships, what a great venue Tuam Stadium is to go to for a match. They have made several improvements there with new seating, and are all the time upgrading their facilities. Needless to say, I would have Tuam any day in preference to Pearse Stadium. I hope that they keep upgrading the stadium and maybe the powers that be will play some Connacht championship games there in the future.
Provinces impress against French teams
It was a super weekend of European rugby with Irish teams all playing French opposition. Connacht lost out to Toulouse but it was a good display from Andy Friend’s men, and they can look forward to two crucial Champions Cup games against Gloucester in December.
I was ever so impressed by Ulster against Clermont-Auvergne. It was a great win and John Cooney was super at scrum-half. He could put Conor Murray under pressure on the national team if he keeps up his form of late.
The game of the weekend, however, was at Thomond Park between Munster and Racing ’92. The home side did well to get a share of the spoils against a very impressive Racing side. Leinster, meanwhile, did what they had to do against Lyon without being very impressive.
The Champions Cup is shaping up very well for Irish teams and it would be fantastic if all four could make it into the quarter-finals. But there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge before we come to that.
Will Ole hang on at Old Trafford?
Interesting times in the English Premier League with Mauricio Pochettino getting the sack at Tottenham Hotspur and Mourinho appointed almost before the ink was dry on his P45.
People who read this column will know what I think of José Mourinho: it’s all about him. However, I will say that he is an intelligent man and he has had almost a year to sit back and look at the mistakes he made at Manchester United and he will be making sure he does not repeat them at Spurs.
It looks like Unai Emery at Arsenal, Marco Silva at Everton and Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham are all on borrowed time, in fact there may even be one of those three out of work by the time this is published!
I didn’t add Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to that list because Manchester United’s three late goals against Sheffield United last Sunday has given him a temporary reprieve. But in the first 70 minutes United were absolutely terrible. They are making no progress whatsoever. The late surge has only papered over the cracks. Should they go for broke and sack Solskjaer and recruit Pochettino? I would say no at this stage. I would give Ole until the end of the season.
In the meantime, Liverpool are marching towards the title. They have luck on their side for sure, but that’s all part of a title-winning season.
Battling Rahm is Europe’s number one
The finish of the DP Championship in Dubai was great stuff to watch as the young Spaniard, Jon Rahm, battled his way to the title and to the number one spot in Europe. He needed a birdie at the par five 18th hole to win and he duly obliged – out of the sand too! He could become one of the all-time greats as he is only a young man yet.
Shane Lowry finished fourth in the race to be Europe’s number one but he will not be too disappointed because he has had an unbelievable year.
I’d say that if you offered Shane a win in Dubai, the British Open title, being in contention a number of times over the year, and a place in the world’s top 20 last January he would have snapped your hand off. He has set his sights on being on the Ryder Cup team next September and he has a great temperament for team golf and would be a big asset to Padraig Harrington.
Choppy waters ahead for the GAA
I fear that the GAA are heading for very choppy waters in 2020 and fixtures are going to be the biggest cause of the trouble. I have already pointed out the problems that talented young players aged 18, 19 and 20 are going to have in January, which for that cohort of players, is looking like the busiest month of the year.
Last week the GPA pulled out of the Fixtures Task Force and they were right to do so. A radical overhaul is needed of the fixture list so that there can be a meaningful calendar of games for the vast majority who play club football and hurling. Elitism has completely taken over in the GAA and the likes of the GPA and the corporate big wigs in the GAA couldn’t care less about club players and club competitions. The GAA should get the GPA back on board because what has happened up to now simply will not work.
It is also interesting to read with every passing week the views of players from some of the ‘weaker counties’ about the Tier 2 football championship. As far as I can see, there is a big majority who are against this new competition which is being seen as a vanity project for GAA President John Horan. The fact that he wants to have the introduction of this new competition on his CV is not a good enough reason to be playing it. There is a very, very interesting year ahead.