Seamus Duke On Sport

All business for footballers in New York

Sunday’s opening Connacht Championship game against New York at Gaelic Park creates the prospect of a mighty weekend for the Roscommon supporters who are travelling, and a great social weekend for the New York GAA Board too. But it is not very exciting for the players. They will go on Thursday, train Friday and Saturday and will be locked away far from the supporters and the craic. It is only when the game is over on the Sunday evening that they will get the chance to chat to their families and friends and relax. Then it is home again on Monday evening.

  It is unfair that the lads on the panel do not get to enjoy the trip as much as the supporters will, but that’s modern-day Gaelic Football.

  I know a lot of people who often question the value of New York being in the championship at all, but I have been lucky enough to have been there for a number of championship games, and for the GAA community in New York this is their big weekend of the year. It is like their All-Ireland Final. They love to put on a show at Gaelic Park and they are genuinely excited by the prospect of a team from Ireland and their supporters visiting for a weekend. They work very hard at promoting the GAA in the city and indeed throughout North America and they deserve their big weekend. Whether the visitors should be confined to Connacht or not is a different matter entirely.     

  In any event, there will be 5,000 people there on Sunday to see the match. It is a classic no-win situation for Roscommon. If they win by a cricket score then people will say that New York were useless anyway and if they win narrowly people will say Roscommon are poor. What I would like to see is Roscommon winning with a bit to spare while producing a good performance.

  There are a few players out injured – especially in defence – but it is a chance for others to come in and do a job there. We are strong in attack, which should prove decisive. I am expecting that the first 20/25 minutes will be evenly contested and tough but that once Roscommon’s fitness kicks in they will pull away in the second half.

  The league is over now and while the performances against Mayo and Kerry were poor, Roscommon must now focus on a good championship run, starting on Sunday. I am looking forward to Roscommon winning by about six or seven points and for a quarter-final against Leitrim to be next on the agenda when everyone gets back from the Big Apple. It would be a legitimate ambition for Roscommon to get to the Connacht final this year. It will not be easy – the journey starts on Sunday.

Kelly recovers to lead hurlers to victory

Well done to the Roscommon hurlers on a great win against Derry in the Christy Ring Cup last Saturday. It is one of the biggest wins for Roscommon hurlers in many years and Christy Ring status is now ensured for another year, which is fantastic for the game in the county.

  Last week when we did the preview Justin Campbell told me that captain Micheal Kelly was out of contention to play because of a shoulder injury – at that stage he was out for certain. In fact the physio, Niamh Mulhern, told Justin that Micheal would not be able to last the entire game even if he did start. It shows the determination of the man that he not only started – but lasted the entire 70 minutes too.

  When I called Justin Campbell on Monday I said “You sold me a dummy with Micheal Kelly” to which he replied (laughing): “He sold us both a dummy.” I am so glad it all worked out for him in the end.

  This weekend’s game against Antrim will be a different matter entirely. Despite their fall from grace in recent years Antrim are still one of the top 12 teams in the country and they are playing at McCarthy Cup level for decades. Roscommon could not have got a harder draw. They can go to Belfast with the pressure off and hope to put in a big performance.

Dubs’ juggernaut rumbles on

Looking back at last Sunday Dublin were really impressive against Kerry and after this league final it is doubtful if any team will be able to get the better of the Dubs in 2016. They are so athletic and skilful and Kerry were not able to match them at all.

  I know that there was very little in the game when Aidan O’Mahony was sent off but Dublin looked far more dangerous and were getting on top then anyway.

  Eleven points was the margin but that was very unfair on Kerry. Still, Dublin were by far the better team.

  Unless Tyrone or Mayo can do something fantastic, this Dublin team looks unbeatable this summer. Make no mistake, Kerry were going all out to beat them last Sunday and they had to return to the southwest with their tails between their legs.

  Tyrone were impressive against Cavan, who were not too bad either. Tyrone are one team who are not afraid of Dublin or Kerry. They might have the measure of Kerry, but not of Dublin.

Foxes fairytale to end happily ever after

The greatest sporting upset in my lifetime, in any sport, is about to happen now as Leicester City are poised to win the Premier League title. In fact they could do it this weekend coming at Old Trafford.

  I’m a United fan and would love to see the Foxes win it. They were 5000/1 at the start of the season but this is no fluke. The season lasts nine months and the best team always finishes on top of the table. It would be a pity if Spurs are denied because they have a lovely young team who play some brilliant stuff but the Leicester story is a fairytale that we will never see in our lifetime again.

Mayo U-21s to sink Cork?

The All-Ireland U-21 football final is on this Saturday evening and it might be just as well that a lot of Roscommon supporters will be in New York because I think Mayo have a great chance of winning!

  Sometimes a team seems to have its name on the trophy and after a very fortunate win against Roscommon and an injury-time victory against Dublin, both by a point, that may be the case with Mayo this year. Those wins will give them great confidence going in against a Cork team who were impressive against Monaghan but who don’t look like world-beaters.

On-fire Clare to beat Déise

In the Allianz National Hurling League Final on Sunday Clare look a good bet to me. Waterford have a very unusual and effective playing style but Clare were on fire against Kilkenny and they seem to have got their mojo back. I think they will win by five or six points.

Camogie team just fall short

Hard luck to the Roscommon camogie team on their narrow loss in the All-Ireland Minor B Final last Saturday. My colleague Dan was at the match and tells me that a number of wides proved very costly, which is unfortunate. They should be very proud to have got that far.

From the Internet

As speculation grows that Tiger Woods is to retire from golf, many stories have been appearing about his time in the sport and his eccentric personality. Here are two. The first is about the time he played golf with a number of Navy Seals and one guy, who was an excellent player, called Marshall.

  “Marshall got his golf clubs at one point and asked Tiger to sign his Taylor Made bag. Tiger refused, sheepishly, saying he couldn’t sign a competing brand. So Marshall challenged him to a driving contest for the signature. Both Marshall and Brown (another Navy Seal) confirmed what happened next: Tiger grinned and agreed. Some other guys gathered around a raised area overlooking the shooting range. Marshall went first and hit a solid drive, around 260 or 270 yards. Tiger looked at him and teed up a ball, gripping the Taylor Made driver. Then he got down on his knees! He swung the club like a baseball bat and crushed one out past Marshall’s drive…enough said!”

  Story number two as follows: “The sexual bravado hid his awkwardness around women. One night he went to a club in New York with Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan. Jeter and Jordan circulated, talking with ease to one beautiful woman after another. (Both declined to comment about the episode.) At one point, Tiger walked up to them and asked the question that lives in the heart of every young boy and nearly every grown man too.

  ‘What do you do to talk to girls?’

  Jeter and Jordan looked at each other, then back at Tiger, sort of stunned. ‘Go tell ‘em you’re Tiger Woods’, they said…” (Courtesy of Balls.ie)