Rossies should be too good for Leitrim
The Roscommon v Leitrim match on Sunday is a huge game for Roscommon footballers. The management and players will be the first to admit that they played very poorly in New York and they will also be anxious to show that it was just a one-off and a bad day at the office.
The fact that New York came so close to knocking Roscommon out will give Leitrim great hope and I think that this game will not be plain sailing by any means at all.
However, despite their injuries, Roscommon have plenty of quality players to be able to get enough scores to beat what will be a very dogged Leitrim team.
It would be a major shock if Roscommon were to lose and I am expecting them to win by four or five points, following a battle. If it is a half-decent day weather-wise there should be over 10,000 people there.
Performance of the week award goes to the Offaly footballers who hadn’t won a Leinster Championship match in nine years before accounting for Longford last Sunday. Their clash with Westmeath in the next round will be interesting.
Fermanagh, Laois and Louth all won too, so we had a good start on the predictions front in this column, getting four out of four right! Watch things slide downhill from now on though!
It was a very low-key start to the championship. The one noticeable thing was the high scores in almost every game. The good weather was probably a factor.
Cup Final means sweet FA
The FA Cup Final used to be one of the sporting highlights of the year. Now it’s just another game. Yes, it is played at Wembley and there will be 90,000 people there, and to win it would be great, but it’s value as a competition has diminished as the years have gone by.
Now the Champions League and the Premier League are the main priorities of all the top teams, which is a pity, but that’s where the money is.
Manchester United and Crystal Palace will do battle on Saturday evening for the 2016 FA Cup. I will be watching, but I won’t get too excited regardless of what happens. As a fan, I’d like to see United win of course, but watching them this season under Van Gaal is like watching paint dry.
If losing the FA Cup Final would hurry his path to the exit door, then I would take that loss. If I was Alan Pardew (the Palace team manager) I would urge his players to go out and attack United from the word go. United don’t like it and they have some very ordinary players.
United will have to play in the Europa League again next season and they will have to have a clear-out during the summer. The only man to revive United’s fortunes is Jose Mourinho. Personally I don’t like Mourinho, but in my view he is the only man for United for the next three years. They need a really strong personality at the top now.
As for the rest, Spurs fans must be the ones who are most frustrated having not even finished second when the title was a possibility just a few weeks ago.
It has also been a very poor season for Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. But the story of this or any other season is Leicester City – at the end of the campaign they actually won by ten points, which is truly astonishing.
The passing of a golfing legend
Christy O’Connor Senior’s best days as a player were over when I started to be interested in sport, but his name has been linked with Irish golf over the decades and according to those in the know he was one of the greatest players of his generation.
He won over 20 times on the European Tour and his status led to many young people here taking up the game.
The likes of Des Smyth, Eamon Darcy, Philip Walton and of course Christy O’Connor Junior (his nephew) all started as a result of the exploits of the great man from Royal Dublin.
It is ironic that he passed away in the week that we will see the Irish Open being held at the K Club. Hopefully it will inspire the Irish players this week. May he rest in peace.
Connacht set for massive game
This weekend Connacht Rugby face their biggest game in many a long day when they entertain Glasgow in the Pro12 semi-final at the Sportsground. They defeated the Scots there a couple of weeks ago but Glasgow are an excellent team and they will be gunning for revenge.
There will be a white-hot atmosphere at The Sportsground and it will be a tight and tense game. It would be a wonderful achievement to get to the final. We wish them all the best of luck.
Duignan stars at Club Rossie Awards
Last Saturday night Bernard Flynn and Michael Duignan were the guests of Club Rossie at their annual Draw which was held in Hannon’s Hotel, and while Flynn was an excellent guest, Duignan brought the house down with some hilarious GAA stories from his career. He can surely tell them! The stories flowed out of him as the night went on.
There were tears in the eyes of people as Duignan told about meetings and rows and players breaking drinking bans and all sorts of carry-on over the years. It was mighty craic listening to him.
The Club Rossie people have done a serious job fundraising over the past two months. Now it’s the turn of the players on the field!
Betting is now a national issue
I was delighted to see that the national media have taken up the issue of sports gambling among young people and betting on colleges and underage games over the past week.
Readers of the Roscommon People will know that the issue was first raised by addiction counsellor and Roscommon senior hurling team manager Justin Campbell in an interview with me here three months ago.
CHAMPIONSHIP Crystal Ball…
Leinster SFC – Kildare v Wexford in Croke Park on Saturday: Kildare are very inconsistent and we saw that against Clare in the recent Division Three Final. Wexford have slipped back in recent years and while they will make a battle of it, the Lillies should win. Betting: Kildare 2/9, Wexford 4/1; Draw 12/1. Prediction: Kildare.
Leinster SHC – Dublin v Wexford (quarter-final) in Croke Park on Saturday (live on RTE TV): Dublin will be expected to win this quarter-final, but Wexford have a lot of talented young players. It might be a year or two too soon for them though. Dublin should be good enough. Betting: Dublin 1/3, Wexford 3/1; Draw 11/1. Prediction: Dublin.
Ulster SFC – Derry v Tyrone (quarter-final) in Celtic Park on Sunday (live on RTE TV): This promises to be a dour and niggly affair and I am certainly not expecting a classic. Tyrone are in the top four in the country at the moment and that’s why I expect that they will win it. Betting: Derry 2/1, Tyrone 1/2; Draw 15/2. Prediction: Tyrone.
Munster SHC – Cork v Tipperary (quarter-final) in Thurles on Sunday (live on RTE TV): The ‘big two’ clash in Munster. The rivalry is not as strong as it used to be. Cork have slipped back in the past few years but they are never down for too long. With home advantage it will be a shock if Tipp do not win. Betting: Tipperary 4/11, Cork 11/4; Draw 10/1. Prediction: Tipperary.
Connacht SFC – Leitrim v Roscommon (quarter-final) in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday: The game is previewed in People Sport this week. Betting: Leitrim 7/1, Roscommon 1/10; Draw 14/1. Prediction: Roscommon.