Seamus Duke On Sport – 19th August

Cats to Tipp the balance in final

Anyone who had doubts or fears about the direction hurling was heading can rest easy after the last two weekends of action. We have seen three of the greatest championship games of the modern era and that’s saying something.

  What a pity that Waterford couldn’t manage to beat Kilkenny. They gave it one hell of a go but they were just pipped at the post. You have to hand it to Kilkenny all the same. They probably don’t have the strength in depth that they had in recent years but they know how to win tight games better than any other team in top class hurling.  

  Anyone who thought that Brian Cody had mellowed over the years got a bit of a rude awakening last Saturday night as he charged up and down the line roaring and shouting at his players, at the linesmen, the referee and the opposition mentors and manager as well. His joy at the end of the game was not much different from the way he was acting when he took the Kilkenny job 16 years ago. His enthusiasm is unbelievable and it has to rub off on the players. It will take a super team to deny him and his players another All-Ireland win.

  On the other side, Tipperary will provide great opposition but I am not so sure that they will be able to deal with the physicality and intensity that Kilkenny bring to the table. The match between Tipp and Galway was noticeably less physical than the Waterford v Kilkenny game and Tipp will have to be ready for that in the final. 

  Waterford were so desperately unlucky. They played some wonderful hurling but they couldn’t get over the line. I hope they have another go again next year. As for Galway, they were unlucky to lose Joe Canning at half-time. He is their talisman and he was having a great year. I am convinced that if he had remained on the field that Galway would have won.

  The traditionalists will love the prospect of a Tipperary v Kilkenny final. I find it hard to get too excited about it to be honest. It’s a pity it’s not Waterford v Galway. However, if the final is up to the standard of the semi-finals, nobody will be complaining.

Topsy-turvy championships continue

Anyone who was betting on favourites in the Roscommon SFC and IFC over the past few weeks have got their fingers well burnt. There have been some amazing results in both competitions.

  Last Sunday unbeaten Western Gaels were beaten by Elphin; Boyle, without both of the Smith brothers, beat Roscommon Gaels, and Clann na nGael, who were beaten by Castlerea a week previously, beat fancied St. Brigid’s. It all means that Pearses, Clann and St. Brigid’s look likely to be in the play-offs with the final place between Roscommon Gaels and Boyle and with Castlerea having an outside chance. In Group B Western Gaels and Strokestown are looking good for the two quarter-final positions.

  In the IFC, Fuerty are going well and are certain to make the play-offs along with Tulsk. Oran are now in danger of losing out. St. Dominic’s and Kilmore are likely to fill the two quarter-final spots in Group A.

  The IFC Group B is incredibly tight with every team still in with a chance. The calculators and the Twitter accounts will get full use on Sunday week when all is decided.

  I was at the Clann v Brigid’s game on Sunday. It may not have been the greatest game in terms of quality but it was very exciting and entertaining too. 

Premier League back with a bang

The Premier League was back with a bang at the weekend and it will take a while before the table starts to take shape but it was amusing to see that Gary Lineker presented the first Match of the Day of the new season in his underpants after pledging last season that he would do so if Leicester City won the title. How Alan Shearer and Ian Wright kept straight faces was a miracle. He won’t have to worry too much about having to do that again next year as Leicester were poor against relegation favourites Hull.

  Liverpool were the team who impressed me the most at the weekend scoring four goals against Arsenal at the Emirates to start with a great away win. Man United were also impressive but it’s early days yet. The arrival of Paul Pogba at United for €105 million shows how mad the whole football scene has gone. I was reading at the weekend that the first €500,000 per week footballer is on the way very shortly. It’s just wrong, plain and simple.

O’Donovan brothers light up Olympics

The Olympics came alive from an Irish point of view with the performances of the O’Donovan brothers in the rowing last Friday. That they were such good characters was a bonus and it is impossible not to like them.

  But as I read somewhere last weekend, they speak like most of the rest of us from rural areas. As one of the brothers said: “There is no big deal really, you guys ask the questions and we answer them”. They worked just as hard as any other medal winners and you could tell that they were a little disappointed that they didn’t take gold.

  I find it hard to get excited about the rest of it and I’d say Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry and all the rest of the golfers who decided not to go to Rio were sorry last weekend when they saw Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson battling it out for the gold medal.

  I presume as this week continues there will be plenty of excitement in the athletics although I find it hard to look at these events without wondering who is clean and who is taking drugs.

From the Internet

10 incredible facts about Ladies Football

1. Cork have won every All-Ireland title since 2005 except one.

2. Cora Staunton made her inter-county debut at the age of 13.

3. Kerry have won the most senior All-Irelands (11) but none since 1993.

4. The attendance at the 2015 All-Ireland final between Cork and Dublin (31,083) broke a European record for a female sporting event.

5. Ladies Football is one of the fastest growing sports in Europe.

6. Viewership for the ladies’ All-Ireland final (600,000) has tripled in 10 years.

7. Waterford dominated the ladies’ football scene in the 90’s. They won nine All-Ireland senior club titles and five senior All-Ireland inter-county titles.

8. In 1969 a charity match between Clonmel Post Office and a

County Council team started the game’s popularity.

9. The first All Ireland ladies senior final was played as recently as 1974.

10. The ladies Gaelic Football Association introduced a Hall of Fame award 10 years before the GAA followed suit.

(Courtesy of balls.ie)

Chamionship Crystal Ball

All-Ireland SFC Semi-Final Mayo v Tipperary on Sunday in Croke Park at 3.30 pm: After dismantling Galway with the most thrilling display of football of the year, many neutrals would love to see Tipperary get to an All-Ireland final. But they have a mountain to climb here against an improving Mayo side who look favourites to get to another final. You couldn’t but be impressed by the way Tipperary play, and with Conor Sweeney and Michael Quinlivan posing a huge threat in the full-forward line, the Mayo defence could be under pressure. But Mayo are improving all the time and with Aidan O’Shea, Andy Moran, Lee Keegan, Cillian O’Connor and the returning Diarmuid O’Connor in top form there is still one big kick in this Mayo side. If Mayo give Tipperary the respect they deserve they should be able to win by four or five points and set up a final showdown against Kerry or Dublin. Prediction: Mayo

All-Ireland MFC Semi-Final Galway v Donegal at 1.30 pm: I have seen Galway three times this year and have been very impressed with them. This could be a really great game and Galway should have the class to win it narrowly. Prediction: Galway