Seamus Duke On Sport – 16th September

Dream team comes to a nightmare end

Needless to say things have moved on apace since last week’s bombshell news that Fergal O’Donnell and Kevin McStay had parted company and I have to say that I am very disillusioned by the whole scene. I am very sorry that the two men fell out because I was hoping that they could go on together in 2017 but that’s certainly not going to happen now. 

  Here are two guys who soldiered together on the field of play with Roscommon Gaels and who were friends and now that is all over. It’s a sad situation. There is certainly something wrong with us in Roscommon when it comes to GAA and running our affairs. I include myself in that statement because I have been part and parcel of the GAA scene over many years as a team mentor, club official, County Board official and in the media as well.

  I was speaking to a good friend of mine, a GAA legend who lived in a different county and he asked me: “What in the name of God is wrong with ye now?” It was hard to give him an answer in fairness. Maybe it’s because there is so much passion for the game of Gaelic football in the county and that there are such strong opinions on everything that happens, but it seems that we are never happy unless we are giving out about managers or County Board officials or players, or all three. It is not helping us, that’s for certain.

  We sat down the other night and named all the team managers that have departed from the Roscommon scene amid some kind of controversy over the past 25 years. Someone said to me at a match over the weekend that it is just as well that Mick O’Dwyer, Sean Boylan or Mickey Harte didn’t come from Roscommon because they would have been replaced before they even got a chance to show what they could do! We now have a situation where Kevin McStay (if he is interested, and I believe he is) will be pitted against Nigel Dineen, and maybe even more candidates as the County Board attempt to sort out this latest mess.

  Great football men like Fergal O’Donnell, David Casey and Stephen Bohan are now on the outside, embittered after the events of the past few weeks and we can ill afford to be without people of that calibre and it is desperately frustrating. We have not heard from the players and what they think of it all and it is pity that they do not have a forum to express their feelings. After all, it is they who put in the greatest effort and make the most sacrifices for the cause.

  One problem in Roscommon over the years is that expectations have always been too high.

 When we win a few games we get totally carried away and similarly when we lose a few games we go into the depths of despair and lash out on all sides. What we have to realise is that we are a small county with limited resources. We have done really well at underage level over the years, but as we well know that does not transfer automatically to senior level.

  Whoever takes over as the senior team manager will have a very difficult job on their hands. Survival in Division One will be very hard to achieve, and when it comes to the championship the facts are that Roscommon usually win one Connacht championship every ten years. We have to lower our sights and give team managers and players a break.

 If we don’t cop on in that regard then more managers will come and go and we will never make any progress. 

First blood Pep but no need to panic

The Manchester derby was a magnificent soccer match and City were the deserved winners. They were brilliant in the first half and while United got their act together in the second half they were disappointing. But as a United fan I wouldn’t panic yet. Paul Pogba was poor but I will give him another while before passing judgement. It’s first blood to Guardiola but I expect Mourinho to straighten things out at United. I thought that Blind and Lingard were way off the pace and that there were too many passengers on the United side.

  Liverpool were very impressive in their first match at the refurbished Anfield. Celtic also had a big win last weekend to keep their Irish fans happy. The Champions League will take centre stage this week as the soccer season ramps up another gear. It’s depressing folks – but when the All-Ireland senior football final is over, the winter is on the way.

Club championships at business end

The club scene is now reaching a very interesting stage after the weekend games. In the senior championship we saw two high-scoring performances as Western Gaels and Boyle brushed past Roscommon Gaels and St. Faithleach’s respectively.

  Boyle have been very impressive and have put up three very high-scoring performances in a row. But their clash against St. Brigid’s in the semi-final will represent a totally different challenge. Brigid’s are a very experienced outfit and they will have a plan to restrict Boyle for sure. Donie Smith will be back for Boyle and I am really looking forward to that match.

  In the other semi-final, Pearses will have it all to do against a well-drilled Western Gaels side who were far too good for a weakened Roscommon Gaels side at Ballintubber. I was very impressed by a couple of the lesser known players for Western Gaels like Barry Creighton, James McDonnell and Niall Murray but they will have to turn it on against a strong looking Pearses side to have a chance.

  In the intermediate championship there is a mouth-watering clash coming up between Kilmore and Fuerty. Kilmore are an excellent championship side, and although Fuerty have been in great form this year so far, there will be nothing between the two sides in the semi-final. In the other semi-final, Oran will have to improve if they are to deny Tulsk another final appearance.

  It’s the big day of the year for Roscommon ladies club football on Saturday and good luck to all the teams involved in the various county finals. In the senior final we have the experience of St. Brigid’s against the inexperienced Kilbride. It should be a cracking game. It’s previewed elsewhere in the paper this week.

From the internet

It’s a jungle out there, but Thomas Barr’s granny Breda has no fear. Thomas Barr may be an instant hit with the Irish people following a fine showing in Rio and a composed, articulate and compelling interview on The Late Late Show, but he’s not even the coolest person in his own family.

  Step forward his granny, Breda French, who accompanied Barr to Copper Face Jacks on Friday night. Let’s hope none of those teachers or off duty Gardaí threatened to lead her grandson to the dark side – there would be hell to pay for it.

  For his part, Barr spoke to Tubridy about the possibility of getting a medal in the post in the future. It’s something he feels quite strongly about, the hollow victory through a culture of doping. (Courtesy of Joe.ie)

Championship crystal ball

All-Ireland SFC Final: Mayo v Dublin on Sunday in Croke Park at 3.30 pm: The big question on everyone’s lips over the past few weeks has been: ‘Do Mayo have any chance?’ It is interesting that there are a lot of GAA fans who think that Mayo have one big performance in them. If they want to win this game they will have to come up with a sensational game plan to snuff out the Dublin challenge. Kerry did it in the semi-final and while it almost worked for them, Dublin found all the answers. The key player on the field will once again be Stephen Cluxton. If Mayo can restrict his influence, like Kerry did for 10 minutes before half-time in the semi-final then they are in with a chance.

  But Dublin have a massive panel and they can call on several match winners from the subs if the starting 15 are not performing. Mayo do not have that luxury. I would dearly love to see Mayo end their famine but I cannot see it happening. Dublin have too many aces in the pack particularly up front and I can see them keeping the Sam Maguire Cup in the capital for another 12 months. Prediction: Dublin

Electric Ireland All-Ireland MFC Final: Galway v Kerry on Sunday in Croke Park at 1.15 pm: These are two really fine minor teams. I have seen Galway in the flesh three times this year and have been impressed every time. But Kerry looked awesome against Kildare in the semi-final and they should win their third title in a row at this grade on Sunday. Prediction: Kerry