Seamus Duke on Sport – 21st October

Irish rugby mourns loss of a legend

In common with so many others, I was truly shocked to hear of the sudden death of Anthony Foley last weekend. Like every sports follower in the country, I often marvelled at the dedication and fierce passion that he had for Shannon, Munster and for Ireland over the years. He didn’t do many interviews but when he did I loved listening to him because his sheer passion for the game, and for Munster Rugby in particular, shone through. I read his book many years ago and when you hear how he was raised, with his father before him such a passionate rugby man, you know where his character was formed.

  In fact, such was his love of Munster that I would wager that it bothered him that his period as head coach in Munster was not a success and maybe that brought a lot of stress on him knowing the kind of guy that he was. But the loss to Irish and Munster rugby pales into insignificance in comparison to the loss to his wife and children and to his family and friends.

  Other, far more eminent commentators, have given their views on what a fantastic player he was, but what happened to Anthony Foley highlights something that a lot of men who have reached middle age should remember. I know that this is not strictly a sports related topic, but it is a fact that a lot of men do not go to the doctor for a check up on a regular basis. Just because there is nothing wrong with you or that you live a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean that there isn’t something there that needs attention. 

  If this is a wake-up call to men who should go to their doctor for a check up on an annual basis then it will be a black cloud with some silver lining. May he rest in peace, he is a true legend of Irish sport.

GAA hit bum note with bore draw

I have to say that to have to sit through 90 minutes of the 2017 GAA Championship draw last Thursday night was excruciating. Why the GAA and RTE feel the need to make the draw eight months before most counties will be involved is a mystery to me. They did their best to make it interesting but they failed miserably.

  Poor Jonny Cooper was asked about “the threat” of playing Wexford or Carlow in the first round of the Leinster championship. He got it very hard to keep a straight face, while other players and managers and a few journalists tried to make it interesting too. But somebody thought it would make for good TV to drag the programme out to an hour and a half. It could have been done in less than half an hour. Why not do this draw the week before the National League starts in January, or even later? 

  A GAA fan said to me at the weekend that players in the weaker counties can now look at the draw for next year and say: “Well I’m off to the USA in the summer of 2017 because we have no chance next year” and it’s a good point. Even the usually caustic Joe Brolly looked disinterested which is a first for him.

McStay to be named tonight?

The Roscommon managerial saga rumbles on and on and in the absence of a firm decision being made, more and more rumour, loose talk and innuendo is flying around and it is very damaging to the whole scene and the camp. We need an announcement on the matter this week and we need to move on.

  I believe that there will be white smoke with a name (presumably Kevin McStay) coming up before the County Board tonight (Thursday). If the stories about many of the players not backing Kevin McStay are true then he will have a big job on his hands to unite the panel but we have to move on. There are many genuine GAA people who are despairing about what has gone on in Roscommon football on this issue over the past two months.

  Just look at Clare for example. Davy Fitzgerald is a Clare legend. He won All-Irelands for Clare as a player and again as a manager. He was on holidays in the USA recently and while he was away there was a movement against him and he was replaced. He came back and said: “It might have been time for a change anyway”, and that was it. No recriminations, no accusations, no statements, no bitter infighting. He moved on to Wexford (a decision which was made in a few days too) and that was the end of it.

  We will have to take a serious look at ourselves here in Roscommon (on all sides) and sort out the kind of carry on that we have seen over the past few months. If we don’t, we will never win anything.

  The draw for the 2017 championship means that we have to beat one of the two lowest ranked teams in the country to get to the Connacht final and that of course means that we are one match away from being in the All-Ireland quarter-finals whatever may happen. It is a great chance for redemption after what happened in 2016. The quicker that we start talking about on-field matters, the better.

  At least there is really good news on the Dr Hyde Park front. I was out to see progress there last week and it is great to see that that the new pitch will be laid this week. It will arrive in a number of 40-foot containers and will be rolled out over the next week or so. The work is on schedule and having been a part of the Roscommon Gaels Club and the Hyde Park Committee over the years it is exciting to see this major development taking shape. Roll on February 2017!

Nothing decided and everything to play for!

It’s the year of the draw for sure in Roscommon GAA with the senior hurling final ending honours even last Sunday, and despite the poor weather it was a very enjoyable game.

  Have Oran missed their chance? Most people would say yes and it will take an even bigger effort for them to beat Four Roads in a replay. This weekend we will see three major football finals take place with the JFC and IFC replays on Saturday and the county SFC Final on Sunday.  All three games are previewed in more detail elsewhere in the paper this week but all three games could go any way after what has happened in recent weeks. I wish all clubs the best of luck.

  I am disappointed to see that the Roscommon intermediate champions will have to line out again on Sunday in the Connacht championship. The team who wins will not be able to celebrate and if they were beaten on Sunday it would take the gloss of their title win. Surely it could have been organised a bit better. There are only five teams in the Connacht championship after all.

From the Internet

9 Club GAA Teams you’ll find in nearly every county in the country…

1. The ‘Town Team’.

2. The team who are top of the roll of honour but haven’t won anything in 50 years.

3. The violent team that everyone in the county fears.

4. The team who win the intermediate championship and who spend the next season hoping that they will be relegated again.

5. The team who got to the county final 30 years ago and haven’t stopped complaining about losing it since.

6. The rural club with huge support.

7. The second intermediate or junior club in the same parish or town who hate the big senior club more than any other.

8. The team whose players have only underage medals because they played for amalgamations.

9. The very successful senior team who have very few players on the county senior team.

…I’d say everyone can put a name on all of the above! (Courtesy of Balls.ie)