Seamus Duke on sport – 12th of February


Bad day at the office for beaten Rossies

I fully realise that there are no cups given out in February and there is no need for any panic, but Roscommon footballers produced a ‘no show’ in Dr Hyde Park last Sunday and were well beaten in the end.

  On a day more suited to downhill skiing or ice hockey, from the opening minutes one could feel that it was going to be a long day for the home side and so it proved. It took Kevin McStay’s men 27 minutes to get a score and only one point from play in the entire first half did not bode well even against the Arctic wind. Everything that could go wrong went wrong.

  First, Finbar Cregg was whacked in the face with a ball during the warm-up, Ian Kilbride was sent off after only 14 minutes and Roscommon missed two open goals in the second half including a penalty  (it was a very good save in fairness). When it’s not your day it’s not your day. With the adverse conditions weather-wise, to have an extra man was always going to be a big advantage and Down played it well.

  Having said that, Roscommon did come to within two points in the middle of the second period but you never got the sense that they were going to go on and win it. The worrying thing about it is that Down are a poor enough side but they were well able to cope with Roscommon last Sunday. I sincerely hope that it was just a bad day at the office for Roscommon and that they can come back strong again. Whether promotion can be achieved now is another question. I would say it’s extremely unlikely at this stage.

  Louth in Drogheda on Sunday week is their next port of call and I would venture to suggest that is a ‘must win’ game. I have seen no great teams in Division 2 so far and maybe it might be a blessing in disguise for Roscommon to remain there for another year.

  It will be interesting to see what strength of a team takes the field in the FBD League final on Sunday next. After such a bad display last Sunday the team management might well figure that a win would be a good boost ahead of that Louth match.

  The problems at midfield still exist and as the weeks go by there is no obvious solution. It was good to see Ultan Harney back last Sunday. He is probably miles away from full fitness but at his best is definitely a midfield option.

  One point out of four at home is a poor return and any team who wants to be promoted would surely expect to win their home games. With Galway and Mayo looking strong, Roscommon will have to up the ante in the next month. I don’t think it’s that important that Roscommon are promoted. What we want to see is a performance level that we can take into what is sure to be a very tough Connacht championship.

Elsewhere in the national league…

There were some very interesting games elsewhere last weekend. I watched the Dublin v Donegal game and really enjoyed it. Dublin were a little too strong overall but the best two players on the pitch were Donegal men. Paddy McBrearty was sensational and he kicked some fantastic points. Ryan McHugh has some engine, he was everywhere and he played like his life depended on it.

  The difference between the teams was that Dublin could bring on great subs while the Donegal panel is not nearly as strong. Michael Murphy came off the bench for Donegal but he looked very rusty, and when he gets fit Donegal will have a very good side.

  The Galway v Mayo match was a spiteful and nasty affair and the way it ended will ensure a full house at MacHale Park for the big championship clash in May. Make no mistake these two teams do not like each other.

  Galway are looking good at the moment but there will be another kick in Mayo before the year is out.  If Galway continue their mini-dominance of their great rivals it could signal the end of Mayo’s ambitions for this year, they don’t seem to have a lot of new talent to threaten the players who have been there for so many years and served them so well. An interesting few months in store for sure.

  Just a word about Leitrim, who are really struggling at the bottom of the Division 4 league table, it seems to be going from bad to worse for them. News from New York last week was that Jamie Clarke is to play for them in the championship. If they (New York) can train for a few months and get a few players capable of giving some good ball into the Armagh legend, Roscommon could be facing the exiles at Dr Hyde Park in the Connacht semi-final. Watch out also for Tadgh Lowe and Donal Ward who are also on the New York panel.

Ireland must take it game by game

Ireland were excellent in the Six Nations championship at the weekend but their easy win against Italy came at a cost. Robbie Henshaw was probably the best player on the pitch until he had to retire with a dislocated shoulder after 45 minutes. The Athlone man will be a massive loss to both Leinster and Ireland.

  The England v Wales game was a strange one, Wales were unlucky not to have got something out of the game. England are very strong physically but are certainly not unbeatable.

  The Scotland v France game was the best of the weekend. France were probably the better team but their indiscipline caught them in the end. They gave away far too many penalties.

  Ireland are in a good position now but they must take it game by game and ignore the idiots who are predicting a Grand Slam match against England. History will show how many times that Ireland have slipped up against Wales and Scotland over the years.

Golf season heats up

The golf season will rachet up another notch this weekend when another class field will play at Riveria in the USA. The top ten in the world will play and Tiger Woods will continue his comeback.  

  Rory McIlroy had a disastrous debut in the USA last weekend and he will have to sort out his putting but Shane Lowry is flying the flag well and if he can become more consistent he will not be far away from winning again in the USA.

Awards for local sporting ladies

Well done to Marie McAleer on her President’s Award last week which was richly deserved. She has been part and parcel of the ladies football scene here in Roscommon for well over three decades and she has worked tirelessly to promote the game in that time. Congrats too to Mary Kelly who has been a real unsung hero in the game of rounders for many years as well.

Clubs back in action!

There is full round of matches in the O’Rourke Cup, O’Gara Cup and Tansey Cup this weekend. It is the start of the year on the club scene and we wish everyone the best of luck.

  Pick of the fixtures looks like the clash of Roscommon Gaels and Western Gaels in Frenchpark on Sunday morning.

  It’s a very early start to the year. We will be keeping a close eye on how things are going for signs of form. Remember there are two rounds of the championship down for decision in April. It’s not that far away.

The sad passing of Liam Miller

The untimely death last weekend of Liam Miller at the age of just 36 was very sad. From all accounts the talented Cork midfielder was a lovely man and very popular with his teammates at the various clubs that he played with over the years. There are more important things than sport but Liam Miller would be the first to say that it enriches our lives while we are here. May he rest in peace.