Seamus Duke on sport – 1st of September

 

Disappointed by semi-final displays!

The two All-Ireland football semi-finals at the weekend were one-sided and somewhat disappointing.

  I know I probably get more wrong that right when it comes to predictions, but if you look back at last week’s paper I predicted easy wins for Dublin and Mayo.

  I was super confident that Mayo would win. Kerry were a shambles and Mayo got ahead early and stayed there in impressive fashion. Eamonn Fitzmaurice will do well to hold on to his job in Kerry this week.

  I thought Tyrone were worse on Sunday than Kerry were on Saturday. Tyrone showed no ambition whatsoever and were hammered out the gate. They made no attempt to take Dublin on and the way the Dubs totally swatted them aside means that the much-criticised blanket defence is now redundant because teams like Mayo and Dublin know how to counteract it.

  After the game on Saturday I was giving Mayo a huge chance of winning the All-Ireland but after seeing the Dubs on Sunday I am not so sure. Mayo will surely put it up to them but it is hard to see that Dublin team being beaten by anybody.

  One chink of light for Mayo is that Dublin are (rightly) getting massive plaudits for their display against Tyrone and it will shorten their odds even further. If the Dubs believe in their own hype they could be caught.

U-17s did their county proud!

The Roscommon U-17s did their county proud and they never gave up even when all looked lost last Sunday.

  The Darragh Canavan-inspired Tyrone were just too good on the day and that burst of 9 points in 13 minutes in the first half did the damage. But Roscommon’s second half display was heart warming and they can look back with pride on their day’s work. The experience will stand to them and hopefully it will not be too long before they get back to Croker.

  It was a case of ‘what might have been’ for Roscommon as the very talented Darragh Walsh was only coming back from injury and could only come on towards the end of the third quarter. One wonders what difference a fit Darragh Walsh (and Paul McManus for that matter) would have made to Roscommon’s challenge.

  Well done to all the coaches involved and I know that there is some serious talent on the way up in Roscommon football which is great.

  Just to finish the U-17 final on a very interesting note. I learned last Sunday that no Tyrone underage county team are allowed to play with a Tyrone crest on their jersey until they reach minor level.

  Even more interesting, Tyrone underage teams are not allowed to wear the famous Tyrone white jersey that the seniors wear until they get to at least minor level as well. The idea behind that is that the young players have to earn the right to wear a jersey with their county crest. I’m not so sure about that system but it is certainly interesting and reveals the mindset that they have in the Red Hand County.

  Oh and by the way, there were 44 Tyrone players involved in the warm-up last Sunday!

Business end of club championships

The local football championships are now coming down to the business end and there were some very interesting games at the weekend.

  Still in pole position are Roscommon Gaels who were less than impressive against Pádraig Pearses but they still got the job done. Western Gaels look odds on to join the town team in the semi-finals after a thrilling win against St. Brigid’s last Saturday. But anyone who would write off St. Brigid’s would be a fool because they will have a serious say in the destination of this championship before the year is out. They are getting some of their big name players back and when they have a full team they will be hard beaten.

  Boyle look likely to join Brigid’s in the quarter-finals. Pearses surprisingly, are out of contention having been in the last two finals. Strokestown and Clann na nGael are also through to the quarter-finals.

  In the intermediate championship, Oran produced a great performance to shock Michael Glavey’s in Kiltoom. Tulsk are back in the frame after two wins in a week while Fuerty are almost certainly through to the semi-finals as well.

  Meanwhile, this weekend the two SHC semi-finals take place. They are previewed in more detail elsewhere but Four Roads and Oran look good for another final.

Championship Watch

All-Ireland SHC Final:

Galway v Waterford on Sunday in Croke Park at 3.30 pm

 

This is a final that no matter who wins, the neutrals won’t begrudge them. Galway have not won since 1988 while Waterford have not won since 1959.

  There will be an incredible atmosphere and tickets are like gold dust. Waterford play to a system and Derek McGrath deserves great praise for his dedication and enthusiasm.

  The Decies have some marvellous players like Austin Gleeson, Darragh Fives, ‘Brick’ Walsh, Tadgh de Burca and Maurice Shanahan. But Galway look a cut above the rest this year. They are incredibly fit and very physical. Only one of their players is not above 6 feet tall and they have some wonderful players. Daithi Burke, Gearoid McInerney, Johnny Coen, Cathal Mannion, Conor Cooney, Conor Whelan and the peerless Joe Canning have been on fire this year.

  It is a unique pairing and there will be tremendous interest in the game. Only a couple of weeks after the Galway hurling fraternity laid one of their greatest, Tony Keady, to rest they can bring Liam MacCarthy back to the west for the first time in 29 years. I expect them to win by five or six points. It will be fantastic to see Joe Canning win an All-Ireland medal.

Match odds: Galway 2/5, Waterford 15/8, Draw 10/1.

Prediction: Galway

Passing of a great rugby character

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of rugby legend Willie Duggan on Monday. I never actually met Willie but I have relations who live down his neck of the woods and if even half of the stories I heard about him were true then he was some character.

  He absolutely hated training with a passion and he smoked like a train, yet he played for Ireland 41 times and he was also captain at one stage. He was often spoken about as one of the toughest and uncompromising players ever to pull on an Irish jersey and he was so highly thought of that he played all four tests with the Lions in New Zealand in 1977. 

  The way that those who knew him well have spoken about him since news of his passing emerged is a measure of just how much this man was loved. May he rest in peace.

Russian to the World Cup?

The Irish soccer team can ensure qualification for the World Cup in 2018 if they can manage wins against Georgia and Serbia in the next few weeks.

  They are well capable of going to Georgia and winning but the game against Serbia might not be so straightforward. I think four points would be a great haul.

  In the Premier League it is surprising to see Spurs struggling but I suppose they were always going to be in trouble when faced with playing home games at Wembley which seems to be a weight around their necks.

  Manchester United are going well but they have beaten no one of note as of yet.

  Liverpool hammered Arsenal last Sunday but that’s more about how bad Arsenal are than how good Liverpool are.

  But  it is very early in the season yet and with a break for the internationals this weekend it will be a while before a pattern emerges.