Seamus Duke on Sport – 17th February

Homecoming heartbreak for Roscommon

Despite the heartbreaking loss, it was great to be back ‘home’ in Dr Hyde Park last Sunday. There was a big crowd for the re-opening but I have to say that it was probably the coldest that I have ever been at Dr Hyde Park and that’s saying something.

  There was universal praise for the new pitch and I got a chance to walk it an hour before the match started and it is a fantastic surface and the grass was so short that it would have been very suitable for hurling too.

  Despite the bad weather it was a cracking game of football and Roscommon were desperately unlucky that they didn’t get at least a draw out of the game. It looked like Ronan Stack was going to get a winning score at one end and then Donegal went downfield and got one at the other end to win the game.

  I thought that Michael Murphy was the difference between the teams. What a player he is. He controlled the game from the start. It was amazing also to report that he was still out on the field a half an hour after the final whistle signing autographs and chatting to people and that was on one of the coldest days of the year too. He is a real star for sure. 

  It was not a good result for Roscommon but we were very competitive once again and that was the aim at the start of this league campaign. Whether it will be good enough to save us from relegation is another matter. Mayo in Castlebar next and then it’s Kerry at home. Once again these are great games to be playing in and the players are getting mighty experience.

  Talking about experience, it is very regrettable that Niall Daly is not involved in the panel. We can ill afford to do without players of his experience and ability. I hope that he rejoins the panel and has another go. We have lost enough players over the past year without more leaving in the middle of a league campaign.

  One memory that we will have from last Sunday was Conor Devaney’s goal which was an screamer from 20 yards out into the top corner. I have seen him do that a few times for Kilbride over the years and this was up there with the best of them.

  This loss means that it is now a huge task to stay in this division. But it’s not over yet. It is so notoriously hard to predict results in the league that anything could happen yet. If we were to go to Castlebar and win on Saturday week, last Sunday will be quickly forgotten. Stranger things have happened.

  Elsewhere, there were some very strange results. Is it any wonder that Paddy Power goes from strength to strength! Dublin were lucky to get a draw against Tyrone while Mayo went to previously rampant Kerry and won! In terms of Connacht teams, Galway are going along nicely as are Sligo, who are now promotion candidates in Division Three. Early days yet though.

Club football returns this weekend

The Roscommon club football leagues begin this weekend and as usual there are many new team managers who will be anxious to get off to a good start. The county players are available to their clubs so there should be good games in all divisions.

  The County Board have done very well in recent years to run off the leagues very promptly and there will be some interesting early season indicators this weekend.  In Division One, Roscommon Gaels v Western Gaels and Elphin v Strrokestown look the highlights. 

Underdogs upset the odds in semi-finals

Last Saturday’s All-Ireland club football semi-finals saw both outsiders win and it was surprising that Corofin were so well beaten. Dr Crokes look a really good team. Will Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper win a long awaited and cherished All-Ireland club medal this year? Time will tell.  

  But it was in the other game that we saw the sporting performance of the weekend as Slaughtneil beat St. Vincent’s. In the run up to the game everyone would have predicted that Diarmuid Connolly would be the main man for Vincent’s. However, it didn’t turn out that way and in fact Christy McKaigue, who was actually marking Connolly, not only held him to one point but he scored four mighty points from play himself. It was a sensational individual performance and Slaughtneil thoroughly deserved to win.

Hurlers face uphill battle

Roscommon hurlers have found the step up in the league a tough one to bridge after last weekend’s game against Wicklow at Athleague and it doesn’t get any easier. The trip to Ballycran this weekend is a long one and Down are traditionally a hard side to beat on their home patch. It is already going to be an uphill struggle for Johnny Kelly and his side and we wish them well on Sunday in round 2.

Ireland return to winning ways

The rugby was very enjoyable at the weekend. Ireland hammered Italy but they discovered their focus a week too late. The real test will come against France in Dublin on Saturday week.

  I was glad for Paddy Jackson that he played so well. He has been in the shadow of Johnny Sexton for the past five years and he has bided his time. Joe Schmidt will find it hard to leave Jackson off the team for the game against France even if Sexton is fully fit.

  The game between England and Wales was one of the finest games of rugby I have seen in years. The outcome was in doubt until the final couple of minutes. England remain unbeaten but anyone who would write off Wales would be mistaken. They will be a factor in this championship before it’s over.

  Hats off to the Irish women’s team who got their bonus point against Italy with the last play of the game last weekend.

From the Internet

Golf Sixes: European Tour announce six-hole team event with music and fireworks. European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley hopes the new event will “appeal to the millennial demographic”.

  The European Tour has announced a six-hole team event called GolfSixes, in its attempts to “modernise” and “broaden the appeal” of the sport. Two-man teams from 16 different nations will compete at St. Albans’ Centurion Club on 6-7 May for a prize fund of one million euros (£852,000). There will be amphitheatre-style stands around the tees plus music and pyrotechnics. Players will wear microphones and be encouraged to interact with fans.

  Tour Chief Executive, Keith Pelley, said the Tour was keen to “emulate” the Ryder Cup atmosphere.

   “We have said for some time that golf needs to modernise and introducing innovative new formats is a major part of achieving that. We want to broaden the appeal of our sport to the millennial demographic and I think this format will do that,” he said. (BBC Sport online)