Seamus Duke On Sport

Tribesmen ambush Mayo in Castlebar

The beauty and unpredictability of sport that we talk about here every week of the year was clear for all to see in McHale Park in Castlebar on Saturday night last when Galway came with a late scoring burst to ease to a sensational win against Mayo in the Connacht semi-final.

  Let me say clearly that I certainly didn’t see this coming. In fact I thought that Mayo would win this game easily.

  I met well-known Roscommon supporter Paddy Joe Burke on Saturday morning and he told me that he was giving Galway a great chance. I thought he was raving, but he was spot on!

  Even at half-time when Mayo recovered from being 0-5 to 0-2 down to go 0-8 to 0-6 ahead, I thought they would pull away and win easily. Even when they went 0-11 to 0-7 ahead early in the second half I thought they would go on and win comfortably. But Galway dug in, got the goal at the vital time and won fairly easily in the finish. Shows you what I know!

  I have to say I was shocked as how easily Mayo collapsed, especially in the final 20 minutes, but this day was all about Galway. They had been totally written off. In fact on The Sunday Game the previous week Galway were not mentioned at all. It was going to be a Roscommon v Mayo Connacht final, simple as that.

  There were stories in the media all last week about unrest in the Galway camp and reports that 52 players had refused to take part in trials for the Galway team. James Horan and others dismissed the chances of Galway in the national media. It must have all been music to the ears of Kevin Walsh as he plotted an ambush – and fair play to him and to Galway.

  So what of Mayo? They looked tired and worn out and short of ideas. They may be back at the business end of the championship through the qualifiers, but I am not sure that they will be able for a long campaign through the back door.

  They had a very strange formation last Saturday with Kevin McLoughlin in defence as a sweeper and Keith Higgins in the half-forward line. It certainly didn’t help Mayo that their two star attackers, Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea, were very poor on the day.

Lowry lacks luck as Dustin breaks duck

It just didn’t happen for Shane Lowry on Sunday night. The Clara man was in a great position at the US Open – four shots ahead going into the final round – but it just wasn’t his day. He was unlucky early in the round, and when a few good shots were not rewarded with birdies, his frustration grew and the shots leaked away.

  It was only a matter of time before Dustin Johnson would win a major and this was his day. He has had several near-misses in recent years and it came right for him on Sunday. But Shane Lowry will be back. He is certain to be in this position again and he has proven that he has the temperament for the big day. He is universally popular with fans and players alike and he will certainly win a major one day.

  Rory McIlroy is not having a good year but he will be back, for sure. Next it’s the British Open and McIlroy and Shane Lowry will be in contention again.

Ireland could be out-Boks-ed!

Ireland’s rugby team face a very difficult third test against South Africa on Saturday and the odds have to be with the home side to win the series now.

  It looked like Ireland would win the second test last week but South Africa totally overpowered them in the last 20 minutes and that’s a worry as we head for the third test.

  It has been a brutally long season for the Irish players. Is there one last big performance? Let’s hope so.

The Italian Job…

Note: I didn’t mention Euro 2016 as the newspaper will be gone to press before we know how Ireland do/did against Italy. I am not expecting much after last Saturday, to be honest. More on that next week.

Championship Crystal Ball

Ulster SFC Semi-Final: Donegal v Monaghan on Saturday in Breffni Park – After last weekend’s cracking game between Cavan and Tyrone, this promises to be another very tight affair in Ulster.

  Monaghan are an excellent side and with Conor McManus in their ranks they are a very potent force going forward. Donegal have slipped back a bit but are still formidable, with Michael Murphy still driving them on.

  There are good solid arguments for both teams but I am giving a hesitant vote to Monaghan. Prediction: Monaghan.

Leinster SFC Semi-final: Kildare v Westmeath on Sunday in Croke Park –

Kildare have been really poor so far and have limped into this semi-final with a couple of very mediocre displays.

  Westmeath are no great shakes either but their one-point win against Offaly will give them hope. I have a feeling that Westmeath could cause an upset here. Prediction: Westmeath.

Leinster SFC Semi-final: Dublin v Meath on Sunday in Croke Park –

Ten years ago this fixture would have guaranteed a sell-out at Croker, however in 2016 the Dubs are miles ahead of Meath in terms of development and ability. We can only hope that Meath will dig in and give the champions a hard time, but they have no hope of beating them. Prediction: Dublin.

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers (1B)

I am going for wins for Offaly (v London), Limerick (v Antrim), Down (v Longford) and Fermanagh (v Wexford).


Note: After a great run over the first few weeks on the predictions front, Galway footballers, Waterford footballers and Carlow footballers let me down last weekend.