Local sporting action trumps all!
What a few weeks of club action we have seen over the past five or six weeks. It has definitely been the busiest few weeks that I can remember covering local sport in many years.
We had all the major county finals, three of which went to replays and two of them to extra-time in the replays.
We can talk about the Irish international teams and the Premier League until the cows come home here every week, but it is the local club action in all sports, but particularly in GAA that gives the greatest satisfaction and generates the most interest every year. Even down to the county finals at Division Three and Four level, the excitement generated is incredible and there is hardly a parish in the county that is not involved at some stage or other.
There are only so many that I can get around to but looking at the likes of Creggs’ junior footballers, Oran’s hurlers, the Kilbride ladies senior team, the Athleague camogie team and the many others winning titles over the past month or six weeks it brings home what a fantastic community organisation the GAA is.
The vanquished will return home, lick their wounds but they will come again. Their day will come at some stage.
Last Sunday, we saw Creggs’ memorable year continue and after 33 years waiting for a county title they will contest a Connacht junior club final too. Let’s hope St. Brigid’s can join them on Sunday next. Good luck as well to Athleague’s camogie side this coming weekend.
I have to say that travelling around the county to all the various big games over the past six weeks was a pleasure and a big thank you to all the clubs for their courtesy and consideration.
Dowd’s diary just got busier!
I congratulate Ger Dowd on his appointment as a new Roscommon football selector. He certainly is a busy man as a selector with St. Brigid’s, joint team manager with Creggs and now a Roscommon selector.
Speaking after Creggs’ super win last Sunday, Dowd said: “It has been a bit of a roller coaster for me personally over the past few weeks surely but I am delighted to be involved (with Roscommon) and as long as I can offer something I’ll do my best to help out and I’m looking forward to that too.”
There are plenty of rumours flying around as to who is on the Roscommon senior panel and who is not and I presume that there will be an announcement soon. Retired are Geoffrey Claffey and Niall Carty who have both given excellent service to the county. I wish them well in the future.
It will be a tough assignment for Kevin McStay and his side in 2017 and the training will have to start soon.
On the national scene, I was glad to see that Lee Keegan was named as the Footballer of the Year last weekend at the All Stars. He was my choice when I attempted to name the All Star team here a few weeks ago.
I also chose Austin Gleeson as the Hurler of the Year but it was a bit stupid to have given him the young hurler of the year as well. Surely they could have picked out someone else.
Ireland upset the odds in Chicago
Reading the national sporting press on Saturday morning last, I have to be honest that I didn’t give Ireland a snowball’s chance in hell of beating the All Blacks in Chicago on Saturday night. Whatever chance they had when the sides meet in the Aviva Stadium in a few weeks’ time, they surely had no chance in Soldier Field. Shows you how much I know!
I was at the Roscommon v Mayo soccer match in Lecarrow and when I heard that Ireland led 25-8 at half-time, I was bursting to see as much as I could. I got to Knockcroghery and saw the second half and it was mesmerising stuff. When New Zealand reduced the margin to four points with five minutes left I (and many more in the packed Claypipe Bar) reckoned that the All Blacks would score a try and it would be another honourable one point defeat. But not this time. Ireland kept their nerve and Robbie Henshaw got over for a match winning try. Incredible stuff surely. History was made. At the final whistle it was like Ireland had won the World Cup. People jumped up and cheered and hugged each other.
One hundred and eleven years of defeats were banished in Chicago. There were many Irish heroes but none more than Conor Murray who turned in a quite magnificent display at scrum half. Remember that this All Blacks team had been touted as the greatest rugby team of all time. It is some achievement to beat them.
Our regular sour puss George Hook has always been a harsh critic of Joe Schmidt and if it was for that alone that Ireland won last weekend it was worth it.
It’s about time that George hung up his knife and venom. When we had Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Gordon Darcy and Paul O’Connell it was ‘the golden generation’ and most of us thought we would never see their likes again. This Irish team is a better one and Joe Schmidt has made it happen. Watch the All Blacks snap up Joe when he is next available. It was one of Ireland’s greatest wins at any sport.
Cracking club contests in Connacht
There are two cracking club games in prospect this weekend in the Connacht senior football championship. In Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim champions Aughawillan will be fancying their chances of knocking St. Brigid’s out of the championship. The game is previewed in more detail elsewhere in the paper this week but Brigid’s should be able to withstand the loss of Garvan Dolan and Ian Kilbride to qualify for the final.
However, the other semi-final will attract huge interest. There are two possible All-Ireland winners, namely Corofin and Castlebar Mitchels, in action and the fact that it is being shown live on TV underlines the importance of this game. There won’t be much in it and the winners will certainly have an eye in the title in March but I have a feeling that Castlebar might be too sharp for their old rivals. They were hammered in the All-Ireland club final in March and they are determined to get back there again. It might be motivation enough.
Johnny leads Cork to cup win
We have all marvelled at the exploits of Dundalk this season but I was thrilled to see my old neighbour Johnny Caulfield lead Cork City to that dramatic FAI Cup victory last Sunday.
Before they headed out to Lecarrow, Johnny and family lived in Celtic Avenue in Roscomon Town and I remember Johnny as an excellent player with searing pace and indeed his brother Danny was a very accomplished athlete. Apart from playing for Cork City for many years Johnny also played plenty of club and county football in Cork over the years and I remember meeting him in Roscommon town not so long ago as Cork City stopped off on their way back from Sligo.
Dundalk have been a revelation in League of Ireland terms this season but it was nice to see Johnny get his bit of glory last weekend.
From the Internet
We know that commentators have a tendency to get a bit excited whenever something impressive happens, but normally it’s due to them getting caught up in the moment as it happens live. Just ask Martin Tyler. But legendary BBC commentator John Motson has been truly blown away by Chelsea’s outstanding win at home to Everton on Saturday, and after taking time to truly let what he has seen sink in, he has described it as the best Premier League performance he has ever seen.
It is extremely high praise, and that may be an understatement, but Motty was fully convinced as he told BBC Radio 5 Live that exactly why he felt as though he had never seen a better performance, and why Chelsea were his pick to win the league. Safe to say he was pleased with what he saw.
We can debunk one argument straight away. “If it was a live game we would be talking about it for weeks!” – It was a live game, it was broadcast on BT Sport which apparently Motty doesn’t know exists, and people have pretty much stopped talking about it already.
That’s not to see Chelsea were impressive, far from it, they were irresistible for the most part as they overwhelmed Everton and put them to the sword with a performance to let everyone know that they are serious title contenders… But the greatest Premier League performance of all time? That’s quite a statement.
Everton were indeed awful as Motty admitted, and goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg will be very disappointed to have conceded the first two goals, but Chelsea were sensational, so maybe we should be talking about this game a bit more. (Courtesy of The 42.ie)