Seamus Duke on sport – 13th of October


One of the best hurling finals I’ve seen


I would never consider myself a hurling expert – although I have gone to enough games over the years to be able to have a strong opinion – but I have to say that last Sunday’s Roscommon senior hurling final was one of the best I have seen in my time doing this job. It was competitive from the word go and although Pádraig Pearses thoroughly deserved their historic win, Four Roads battled to the very end.

  In all the years I have been going to county hurling finals I cannot recall a better individual display than the one we saw last Sunday from 19-year-old Daniel Glynn. To score 0-15 in any game is some going, but to do it in a county final when the pressure is on is a fantastic achievement. In addition, all his scores were not from frees. He scored some spectacular points from play as well and led by example. It was some performance from such a young lad.

  I have great time for Four Roads and everything they have done for hurling in Roscommon over the years and they will surely be back to bring home the Mickey Cunniffe Cup again very soon, but I was delighted to see Pearses winning the title on Sunday. They have had almost as much heartbreak over the years in this championship as the Mayo footballers have had, and that’s saying something.

  It was a red letter day for the club and as the celebrations were going on I was thinking of all the Pearses players and mentors who tried their utmost over the past 30 years to win a senior hurling title and failed. This was a day for them as much as anyone else. The success that Pearses have had at underage level over the years has finally paid off at senior level and I remember seeing Daniel Glynn starring at U-16 level and to think that Pearses had 9 players under 22 starting last Sunday is a sign that this team could be around for some years to come. It was one of those days that shows just how important the GAA club is to communities around the county and the country.

Final four set for Super Sunday

This Sunday is a huge day for the four clubs who will contest the IFC and JFC finals. Both games are previewed in more detail elsewhere in the paper this week but it is always a great double bill for the neutral. Remember that last year both games ended in draws and it could be close again on Sunday. I have a fancy for Kilglass and Michael Glavey’s.

  In addition to Sunday’s action, the Camogie final is on Saturday and a number of our successful ladies’ football teams are in action. On Friday night, Roscommon fans will get a chance to see one of the legends of the ladies’ game, Cora Staunton, in the flesh when she lines out for Carnacon against the Roscommon champions Kilbride. The Mayo champions have a superb record in this competition but I am expecting Kilbride to give them a real run for their money in this match. A shock? Maybe!

GAA may regret new fixtures plan

I have watched and listened very closely to the details of the new GAA fixtures plan in both hurling and football for 2018 and it is my strongly held view that the association have made a huge mistake and that the club players will be even more disenfranchised as a result of the new formats.

  Apparently the leagues will start in late January and will be finished by the end of March then the month of April is allegedly left totally for club action. Then the inter-county championships will start in May and will all be finished by the end of August.

  If the GAA think that there will not be any inter-county activity in April then they are codding themselves. With teams starting the championships in May, what serious county team manager will say goodbye to his players on the 31st of March and not see them again until the 1st of May? If a county team is knocked out of the championship in May questions will be asked about what training the team were doing. The reality is that senior inter-county team managers will not allow that to happen. The notion is pie in the sky. 

  Then when the championships do start, the matches will be shoe-horned into a couple of months until the elite have their chance in late June and July. The Super 8 in football and the battle for the Liam MacCarthy Cup will feature many round robin games and the argument for that is that players want to be playing games instead of training. That’s all very fine but what about club players? Does the same not apply to them too?

   I am also of the opinion that shifting the All-Ireland hurling and football finals to August is a bad idea. Apart from the break with tradition, it is the GAA handing another month of huge publicity away to other sports. The fact that we will have more big games in football and hurling will not mean that we will have better games or bigger attendances. The changes will suit the elite counties in football and hurling and the club players will be left behind as usual. These fundamental changes have not been properly thought out and the GAA could come to regret them.

Club rugby season heats up

The rugby season really cranks up another notch this coming weekend when all teams will be engaged in the European competitions.

  Leinster and Munster played out a reasonably entertaining game on Saturday at the Aviva but there will be much more intensity this weekend. The real bite seems to be gone out of that Munster/Leinster rivalry which is a pity. Connacht continue to struggle. They played well in patches against Ulster but they could not convert that good play into scores and they need a few wins very shortly or the season will run away from them.

  The whole rugby scene at European level has changed with a number of ‘super clubs’ who are very wealthy now operating in England and France and it is doubtful whether any of the Irish sides have the resources to beat them when it comes to the business end of the season. But the European competition makes for great TV and I am looking forward to the action between now and next May.

Play-off place following Welsh win

It might be very hard stuff to watch, but you cannot deny that Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have engendered a massive spirit and determination in this Irish soccer team. They might not be great players but they are a team that is very hard to beat. I predicted here last week that we would win both games and so it has come to pass.

  The play-off situation is different as I would not like to see us playing either Italy or Portugal but no other team will want to play against Ireland given their never-say-die attitude and courage.

  It is incredible to report that Ireland scored from the only real chance they had on Monday night, but one goal is all you need in some games. James McClean has become the real hero of this Irish team. He turned in another massive display last Monday and he gives 100% every time he puts on the jersey and is obviously very happy to be playing for Ireland.

  International football has become painful to watch with very few really good teams so Ireland are well able to compete. There was plenty of criticism of the FAI when they gave Martin O’Neill a new contract before we knew how the qualifying competition had gone but now they have been proven correct. It would probably be difficult to find anyone any better that O’Neill and Roy Keane anyway. The money they will take in from the play-off game at home will pay for his salary for a year!

  Well done to all. Don’t rule out a win in that play-off and a place in the finals in Russia next summer!