Seamus Duke on Sport – 13th January 2017

Third level teams aren’t cutting ‘IT’

The FBD League was set up a number of years ago to provide Connacht counties with a chance to play some games before the National League started and the idea was (and is) a very good one.      

  In the past decade the powers that be decided that third level institutions would be allowed to compete in the pre-season competitions in hurling and football. It was seen as a chance for these teams to prepare for their championships like the Sigerson Cup and Fitzgibbon Cup. However, in the past three or four years the scene in third level colleges has changed, in that the elite players are now to be found in the bigger colleges like DCU, UCD, Jordanstown, UCG, UCC etc. and the ITs have become very weak in terms of being able to compete in competitions like the FBD League etc.  

  When you look at the results of the games over the past few years, the likes of GMIT and Sligo IT (in Connacht) are not competitive and one wonders about the value of them playing in the competition when they are being hammered in most games. The same situation applies with other ITs around the country.

  The game in Boyle last Sunday was not much use to either side. Such was the gulf in class that Roscommon did not learn much from the game and it did no good for Sligo IT either.

  Maybe it is time to take a look at the line-up for those competitions. It would do no harm to look at the format of the FBD league going into the future. Roscommon have had the same set of fixtures (v Sligo IT, NUIG and Mayo) for the past number of years. It might be no harm to change things around and freshen it up. But that’s all in the future, and one thing is for certain, there will be no runaway victory for Roscommon next Sunday in Ballyforan when they take on NUIG. The Galway college had a good win against a weakened Mayo last Sunday and they will provide a tough test for Roscommon.

  It will be a changed Roscommon team from last weekend as there are a few players unavailable due to their involvement with DCU and UCD. Such was the weakness of the opposition it would not be fair to rate any of the players who played for Roscommon last Sunday in Boyle but I’d like to see Ultan Harney at centre half-back again. Donie Smith and Shane Killoran were also impressive and Andy Glennon will remember his competitive debut with three goals and a point but let’s leave any more definitive comment until we see more of a test for the team. Leitrim also had a big win against GMIT last Sunday and it will be interesting to see their progress.

  Of all the other games that were played, Cavan had a good win against Tyrone in the McKenna Cup. Remember we have to face both those sides in the league campaign.

Munster transformation is remarkable

It is remarkable to witness the transformation in the fortunes of the Munster rugby team since the sudden death of Anthony Foley. From a position where they were meandering along doing only OK in the early part of the season, now they are real contenders not only to win the Pro12 but they have a great chance in the Champions Cup following recent displays. They totally dismissed the challenge of Racing 92 last weekend in Paris and if they show the same spirit and intensity against Glasgow this weekend they will have no problems. The guys on SKY TV were gushing in their praise of Munster last weekend and there is no doubt that they are a team who have received a new lease of life in the past couple of months.

  Poor Connacht are just crippled with injuries. There were 24 players out for one reason or other earlier this week and no team in the world would be able to withstand that. Jack Carty is one of those out after last weekend’s game in the Pro12.  At least they have ‘only’ Zebre to contend with this weekend in the Champions Cup at home. Hopefully they can win that game and prepare for what will be much tougher game against Toulouse the following week.

  Leinster look a good side and although they might not win the Champions Cup they will be hard to beat, especially at home.

United can edge Super Sunday!

The games between Manchester United and Liverpool are always big but when the sides clash on Sunday next there is a lot at stake both on and off the field – even more than usual. If Liverpool win, it will put them back in the title race and it would be a huge statement of intent to go to Old Trafford and earn three points.

  On the United side, they have been playing really well of late and they will be confident that they can win. They will have to drive forward and not sit back the way they did at Anfield in the game earlier in the season. If United pick their strongest team they can edge it.

  Off the field Mourinho and Klopp have much to ponder. Two huge egos involved and the winner will have the bragging rights for months ahead never mind a realistic shot at the title. Usually when there is a massive build-up to these games they are a big let down. Hopefully this one will live up to the billing.

Share your memories with Club Rossie

It is less than a month before the new pitch at Dr Hyde Park is unveiled and the fundraiser launched by Club Rossie in ongoing where you can purchase a square of Dr Hyde Park for €20 and include your favourite memory of the venue for inclusion on the website.

  I have not bought my own square yet as I am struggling to settle on one memory that stands above all the others. It is a very difficult choice between club and county and colleges and schools and the hundreds and thousands of games played and watched and reported on over the years. It’s a great idea for a fundraiser and hopefully it will be a success.

Golfing numbers dwindle across Ireland

It was interesting to read recently that over 50,000 people have stopped playing golf here in Ireland since the recession hit. That is a huge figure and the game is going through a bit of an identity crisis at the moment. The number of younger people taking up the game is dwindling and those who are running the game will have to come up with some ideas to attract people back to the game. It is an expensive game to play but it is game that you can play into your 70s and 80s and there are deals to be had for those who have the time to search.

  One problem with golf is that it takes almost four hours to play 18 holes and many young people find that it goes on for far too long. Designing 9 and 14-hole courses might be a idea for the future and the scourge of slow play must be tackled. There are hundreds of magnificent courses here in Ireland and it is a pity that the numbers playing the game are reducing.

Welcome development for club players

The establishment of the Club Players Association is one of the most welcome developments that I have seen in the GAA in many years but I wonder just how successful they will be. Everyone knows that the club fixture list has been a major bone of contention over the years and what a lot of people do not realise that 95% of players in the GAA play for their clubs only.

  I heard some of the CPA people say on Monday that they would be in favour of having the All-Ireland championships over by the Bank Holiday weekend in August and I certainly cannot see that happening. If both All-Irelands were brought forward three weeks it would be a major achievement.

  I presume that one of the aims of the CPA will be to complete the All-Ireland club championships in a calendar year which would make a lot of sense. What club players want is to play more games and to know when those games will be on.

  Interesting times ahead on the fixtures front and it won’t be plain sailing for the CPA. There are a lot of vested interests involved and a lot of money too.