Seamus Duke on sport – 18th of August


Magnificent U-17s lift the county

Just when football fans in the county were settling back down to concentrate on the club action and the ladies footballers, who are still in the championship, along come the U-17s. Liam Tully’s youngsters turned in a quite magnificent display to defeat Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final, playing fantastic football into the bargain last Saturday in Ennis.

  I was away last weekend and missed the game but was following on Twitter and I was the only one who predicted that Roscommon would win this semi-final (it’s seldom I get it right!).

  This team have shown huge improvement this year. To beat Kerry in any All-Ireland semi-final is a major achievement but it is even more remarkable as Kerry are seen as the powerhouse of underage football in the country right now. They are going for a 4th All-Ireland minor title in a row and talking to my footballing friends in the Kingdom, they had very high hopes for this U-17 team. However, they were beaten fair and square by a Roscommon team who played some wonderful football.

  Remember too that Roscommon had lost heavily in a challenge game between the sides earlier in the year. In fact, when Roscommon beat Leitrim in the opening round of the Connacht Championship not many would have bet that they would reach an All-Ireland final. But the team were much better again when they beat Galway in the Connacht final in Ballyhaunis. Then the level of improvement to last Saturday was astounding and it’s great a credit to players and management alike.

  Even though they will face a very strong Tyrone team in the final, they will have absolutely no fear going to Croke Park and it will be a marvellous day for the players, their families and clubs.

  It is a pity that there will be so few Roscommon people at the final due to the fact that the Dublin v Tyrone game is on the same bill but I would wager that the Roscommon team would far prefer to be playing in Croke Park than anywhere else.

  The U-17 competition this year suffered a little in terms of publicity with the last ever Minor Football Championship still going on too. It doesn’t take away from the importance of the competition but maybe next year there will be more coverage, particularly on TV. More on the final next week.

Ladies aiming for semi-final spot

Roscommon face Sligo in the All-Ireland Ladies IFC Quarter-Final on Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon and this is a game that Michael Finneran’s charges are well capable of winning. They have met and beaten Sligo already this year and with a full squad at his disposal and the carrot of an appearance in the last four, Roscommon should be well capable of winning this important knockout game.

Moran Report was a farce!

The Justice Moran report into the ticketing controversy at the OCI is probably the biggest farce and waste of money that we have seen in a long time. The report cost €300,000 and yet there was no co-operation from any of those who might have been able to shed light on the situation.

  Pat Hickey, THG, the IOC and the Rio Organising Committee to name just a few, refused to co-operate with the inquiry. It has since emerged that Pat Hickey tied the OCI into contracts with the THG company until 2026.

  Everything about this whole affair stinks to high heaven. Those responsible for what was sharp practice at best and criminality at worst, look like they will get away scot free which is a scandal. But I have to say I’m not surprised.

Championship Watch

All-Ireland SFC Semi-Final: Mayo v Kerry on Sunday in Croke Park at 3.30 pm

Before the Roscommon v Mayo replay I wouldn’t have given tuppence for Mayo’s chances in this game, but the way they rediscovered their mojo against Roscommon puts them in with a real chance of an upset.

  If they can display the same intensity and power that they showed against the Rossies they can win. But they must deal with Kieran Donaghy who, when on his game, is almost unmarkable. Most pundits will be picking Kerry but I think there could be another big performance in Mayo.

Match odds: Kerry 1-2, Mayo 2/1, Draw 8/1.

Prediction: Mayo

Club football championships return!

The club football championships return this weekend and there will be some interesting ties to see. All are previewed elsewhere this week but let’s hope that the standard is high and we see a lot of well contested games. 

  In Group A of the senior, something has to give between the top two, Roscommon Gaels and Western Gaels, as a win for either will guarantee them a place in the semi-finals.

  St. Brigid’s will fancy their chances of securing a last four spot against Boyle.  

  Pádraig Pearses need to pull up their socks if they want to be involved at the business end and their clash with St. Faithleach’s will be worth a look.

  In Group B, the local derby between Elphin and Strokestown will be the pick of the games there.

  In the IFC, the game of the weekend is definitely the clash of Fuerty and Michael Glavey’s.

Goals galore on opening day of EPL

Plenty of goals in the opening week of the Premier League, but it is early days yet.  

  Manchester United looked good on Sunday last but West Ham are a very poor side. I would be holding fire on any bold predictions yet but there were some positive signs especially from Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku, who both look like good signings.

  Manchester City looked really sharp against Brighton while Arsenal just about survived against Leicester.

  Liverpool, meanwhile, were very shaky in defence against Watford and now they face losing their best player in Phillipe Coutinho. 

  Even though they still enjoy a massive following, the reality is that Liverpool are now a selling club and any world class players that come to Anfield seem to want to get away when the really big clubs come calling. If they had held on to Luis Suarez and now Coutinho, they would have won at least one title in the past five years. It will be very important for Liverpool to qualify for the Champions League and we will know whether that happens by this time next week.

  Elsewhere, it was brilliant to see two of the so-called lesser teams doing so well at the weekend. Burnley, with three Irish players on their team, scored a sensational win at Chelsea and it was also great to see Huddersfield, playing their first game in the top division in over 40 years, winning 3-0 away at Crystal Palace.

A hurling legend passes away

I never met Tony Keady, right, in all the years I’m doing this job but I saw him playing many times and he was one of those players that you would never forget. He was sheer class and as tough as they come. With Pete Finnerty and Gerry McInerney he led the greatest half-back line I have ever seen.

  Some of the stories I have read about the great man since his shock passing last week have only added to his status as an icon. It is such a pity that in 2017, a year when Galway have such a great chance of landing the Liam McCarthy Cup, he will not be there to see it. But it is sure to be a huge motivating factor for the Tribesmen.

  To his wife, family and friends, and all in Galway hurling I extend my deepest sympathy. May he rest in peace.