Seamus Duke on sport – 17th of November


St. Brigid’s’ pride restored in Tuam

Last year when St. Brigid’s won the Roscommon SFC they went on to contest the Connacht final against Corofin in Carrick-on-Shannon and they were beaten by 15 points. I know that after that match there were major regrets in the Brigid’s club about how the match went and the players and management vowed not to let that happen again.

  They were true to their word last Sunday. In fact, if Brigid’s’ free-taking was better in the final five minutes of the match, they could well have won it in normal time. But it would be wrong to criticise Senan Kilbride and Cathal McHugh who missed those three frees as both players had played a massive role in bringing Brigid’s to the brink of a shock win.

  The match was another brilliant advertisement for club football as these rivals went head to head and there was no quarter asked or given. There was very little rancour and the match swayed from end to end throughout. Brigid’s had many heroes on the day and the match report covers that aspect of the game but Padraig Kelly had another super game. What a year he has had and he seems to be improving with every outing.

  Another interesting thing about last Sunday was the growing reputation of Brian Stack. On Sunday last Corofin double marked him and it is a measure of how highly he is rated now. He will only get better too.

  Even though they were beaten, Brigid’s restored their pride last Sunday in no uncertain terms.

  The year that they have had at underage level and the fact that they won the Junior A title with a very young team means that the future is very bright for them. It’s a scary prospect for the other clubs in the county and they will have to work very hard to catch Brigid’s now. They also won the Connacht Minor A club championship on Friday night and they beat the Galway and Mayo champions en route so they have loads of footballers on the way up.

  The Connacht Club final will now be contested between Corofin and Castlebar Mitchels and there will be nothing between them.

  Elsewhere, it was fantastic to see St. Vincent’s being knocked out by Rathnew. I have nothing at all against Vincent’s but it is good to see the underdog winning an odd time. The Leinster championship is now wide open after St. Vincent’s were knocked out by Rathnew. It may not happen too often but it is the beauty of sport. You always have a chance.

  The Munster final between Dr Crokes and Nemo Rangers has the makings of a classic. It is likely that Tomas Ó Sé will be marking Colm ‘The Gooch’ Cooper. That will be worth the entrance fee alone!

  My idea of favourites for the All-Ireland title are now Slaughtneil. They have the experience of being so close last year. They could go all the way this time.


Hard to get excited about International Rules

I taped the International Rules test and got up early to see how it went on Sunday morning and it was very disappointing to realise that Enda Smith was ruled out because of a stomach bug.

  I watched the match in full but it was hard to get excited by it to be honest. I have to say that I am not a fan but I am not totally against it either. If players from some of the smaller counties get a holiday to Australia every two years then that’s good for them.

  It is a pity that a few of the better Dublin players did not go because looking at the match our side were well behind in several aspects of the play. It was a good job that Conor McManus and Michael Murphy were playing or we would not have got a score at all. The only thing that saved us from a bigger beating was that the Australians were very poor at shooting.

  A ten-point gap is not an impossible task though and with a massive Irish crowd behind the team in Perth, it is not over yet. Hopefully they will put on a better performance and Enda will be able to play his part.


Heading for trouble?


I came across Alan Shearer’s documentary last Sunday night on the BBC and it made for riveting viewing. It explored the view held by some people that heading the ball in soccer over many years may lead to brain damage and in some cases, the cause of dementia.  

  Shearer, who was a great header of the ball and a man who lasted at the top for 20 years, had his own brain scanned – nothing irregular was found – but what he did find was that repeated heading of the ball did produce changes in the brain.

  Shearer met many older players who had developed dementia and whose families blame heading the ball over many years for their loved ones’ condition. Some of these men were in terrible shape and it was harrowing to see them.

  But what the programme found was that there has not been enough research done to prove or disprove a link. The FA in England have undertaken to carry out that research. In the USA, where there is a huge controversy about concussion at the moment, no under 11 soccer players are allowed to head the ball at all. What was found was that a player might not head the ball any more that 5 or 6 times in a game but that in training they might head it hundreds of times. Watch out for more on this in the coming years. It was a superb programme.


Glavey’s set for big day out!


Sunday is a red-letter day for Michael Glavey’s and Claregalway who meet in the Connacht club Intermediate final at Dr Hyde Park. It may not make national news headlines but for both clubs this is a huge day and the formbook suggests that it will be a cracking game.

  Usually when a game like this gets the big build-up it ends up a damp squib but I have a feeling it will be a great contest. Glavey’s have an excellent team and they should do it, but they will have to play well against a Claregalway side which not alone won in Galway recently but they went out the very next day and won the Connacht semi-final.

  It would be a great way to end the year for Roscommon football were Glavey’s to win. Good luck at all concerned.


Volunteerism no more?


GAA people (myself included) are forever sticking our chest out and claiming that there is no other sporting body in the world where the vast majority of people who work in it do it for nothing. But that is changing folks.

  Take a look at Colm O’Rourke’s article in last Sunday’s Independent, which took a look at the finances of the GPA. Their income for one year alone (2016) was in the order of €6.4 million. Twelve employees received a total of just less than €1 million in salaries. There are hundreds of well-paid full-time GAA officials all round the country, not to mention the battery of people who are getting paid to help out with county and club teams. The advent of the testimonial dinner is going to happen again and again with the elite players over the coming years too.

  Anyone who thinks that the GAA is a voluntary organisation is codding themselves. Sure there are many people who help out with clubs in every county every week of the year and it is keeping the show on the road but when they see what’s going on further up the line on how long will that last?


The times they are a-changing…


How times have changed in rugby. Not that very long ago a match against the Springboks would have been dreaded by most Irish fans. It usually ended in defeat and lots of soul searching. Not any more.

  Last Saturday Ireland hammered what was probably the poorest South African team that has ever been on tour. Having said that, Ireland can only beat what’s put in front of them and some of the new recruits were excellent including Andrew Conway, Jacob Stockdale and Connacht’s Bundee Aki.

  I was glad Aki played well because of the criticism he had to endure last week. He followed the rules set down and is entitled to play. Let those who were giving out campaign to change the rules if they feel so strongly. If the same logic was applied to some of our soccer players then they would not be pulling on the green jersey either.

  This weekend Ireland will have a chance to try out more new players against Fiji. The game will hardly be as one-sided as last Saturday’s.