Seamus Duke on Sport – 18th November

Club championships heating up!

The club GAA season is really heating up at provincial level and with Creggs playing in the Connacht junior final this Sunday and St. Brigid’s playing the following Sunday, there will be plenty of excitement for Roscommon GAA supporters to finish the year.

  Creggs will be up against it when they face Louisburgh on Sunday. The game is previewed in more detail elsewhere this week but the standard of club football in Mayo is very high, even at junior level and Creggs will have a real battle on their hands. But in Kiltoom they will have a chance.

  In the senior football competition, St. Brigid’s coasted into the final with the easiest of victories against Aughawillan last Sunday. It was as poor an Aughawillan team as I have ever seen and a far cry from the days when they could put it up to Clann na nGael when they were in their heyday. But the St. Brigid’s victory was secured without Ian Kilbride, Garvan Dolan and Cathal McHugh and they will hope to have them back for the final.

  In the other semi-final we were expecting a battle and that’s what happened, as Corofin edged out Castlebar after extra-time. I didn’t see any of that game as I was in Carrick but from what I have heard, it was a huge battle and Corofin were not that impressive. 

  St. Brigid’s have been written off already before the build up to the final has even begun. I have a feeling that St Brigid’s will go into this final with a great chance. They may not be the team that they were in 2012/2013 but they have plenty of experienced players and they can give this final a rattle. I give them a great chance of winning it. More about that next week.

  Elsewhere around the country, there are great stories popping up all over the place in the club championship. Mullinalaghta from Longford are having a great run in the Leinster championship. They have come from nowhere and are now within 60 minutes of a Leinster final.

  Similarly, St. Croan’s fans will remember Sean O’Mahony’s from Louth. They played them in the All-Ireland intermediate semi-final a couple of years ago. They won their first ever senior title this year in Louth and now they are into the last four too.

  In Munster, The Nire from Waterford are in the final and they will play Dr Crokes there. They had a great win against the Cork champions Carbery Rangers last weekend. It is only in the GAA club championships that new names keep coming to the fore every year. It is a great competition and the intermediate and junior competitions are a great idea too. 

Below par numbers taking up golf

While golf remains one of the biggest participation sports in the country, it is a sport that is going through a crisis in terms of participation and new people joining in almost every country in the western world over the past number of years.

  In the USA, the number of people playing the game has fallen from 30.6 million to 24.7 million in the course of seven years, which is a huge fall. In the UK, the fall in participation has been in the order of 14%. I don’t have any figures for Ireland but golf clubs are struggling for new members all over the country and the trend is continuing. The recession affected people who just couldn’t afford the subscriptions but the biggest worry is the small number of young people who are joining to play. There has been a small spike in the number of young girls playing in the UK but the people who run the game have a battle on their hands to win over young people to start playing the game.

  At the top, the game has never been healthier and the prize money continues to grow. But further down the food chain, the story is not as positive for the sport. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next five years or so. Every sport needs young people to keep it alive and that’s where golf is struggling right now all over the world.

Boys in Green well placed for 2017

It has been a fantastic year for the Irish international soccer team. The win against Austria on Saturday night was one of the best that we have had in recent years.

  With what is a limited squad in terms of quality players, Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have done a great job. They didn’t let us down in the Euros earlier in the summer and now they have 10 points out of 12 in the World Cup group, which is a great return.

  James McClean might not be everyone’s cup of tea but he is improving with every game and his goal on Saturday night was as good a goal as Ireland have ever scored in international competition. But it’s not over yet. Wales now have to come to Dublin and win and they are capable of doing that. But for the moment, it’s hats off to the Boys in Green. It’s been a marvellous year for sure.

Wounded All Blacks set for Aviva

It’s hard to know what to expect when Ireland meet the All Blacks in Dublin on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium. I, along with many others, thought that Ireland didn’t have a chance in Chicago and how wrong I was.

  The All Blacks went to Rome last weekend and scored 65 points and Ireland played Canada and won easily too. I am expecting that New Zealand will be itching for revenge on Saturday and they will be even more motivated than usual which will be frightening enough. But now that the monkey if off Irish backs can they go and do it again? 

  It is hard to see anything other than an All Blacks win but with Joe Schmidt you never know. One thing is for certain: there will be a magical atmosphere at the Aviva.

  I really hope that Ireland win again if it was only for the fact that George Hook described Joe Schmidt as “probably the worst coach that Ireland have ever had”. What a really stupid statement that was from a so-called expert. I don’t mind these well-paid pundits having an opinion but when they say something as daft as that surely it is time to drop them and allow someone more reasonable or level headed to write about this stuff in the national media.

Kelly coup great for county hurling

It is a great coup for the Roscommon Hurling Board to have secured the services of Johnny Kelly from Portumna, who succeeds Justin Campbell as senior manager. His record with Portumna and Galway is excellent and hopefully he will be able to get Roscommon going well.   

  Justin Campbell has raised the bar in the past few years and the team are now operating at Christy Ring Cup level and have been promoted in the league and that is a great platform for Johnny Kelly to start from.

  The aim must be to maintain their league status and to be competitive at Christy Ring Cup level. If that can be achieved, then he will have done a good job. The standard of hurling at underage level has been quite good in the county in recent years and he will have to tap into that for the future. We wish him well.

From the Internet

10 Irish sportsmen with legitimately fascinating careers outside of sport

1. David Hickey – Dubs GAA star and rugby player turned consultant urologist.

2. Tony O’Reilly – Lions record try-scorer turned media magnate and ketchup king.

3. Liam Hayes – GAA player and GAA journalist.

4. Dick Spring – Ireland Rugby full-back turned Labour leader.

5. Paul McCloskey – Pro boxer turned pro barber.

6. Anthony Maher – Kerry midfielder and star scientist.

7. Sean Boylan – Meath Manager, herbalist, mystic.

8. Victor Costello – Irish rugby international, Olympian, pilot.

9. Norman Whiteside – Footballer turned foot doctor.

10. Tomás Corrigan – Rising GAA star and trainee lawyer.