Seamus Duke on Sport – 21st of July


Off-field development needed in Roscommon

Roscommon GAA is on the crest of a wave at the moment but behind the scenes there are two major developments that are pressing and they are going to cost the County Board serious money over the next five to ten years.

  The first is the training centre for county teams. Everyone acknowledges that a centre where county teams can prepare and train is essential. But these projects cost a lot of money and while great work has been going on in terms of fund-raising, it will cost millions of Euro to put a state-of-the-art facility there for the benefit of all county teams.

  Several people have questioned the suitability of the site at Runnabracken for such a development, but the site is there now and we will have to develop it.

  However, alongside the need for a county training facility there is Dr Hyde Park which needs to be upgraded as well. My information is that if Roscommon reached a Connacht senior football final again in 2018 the way things stand it may not be played at Dr Hyde Park if it is their turn to play there. You could imagine the kind of uproar that would cause, and rightly so too.  Work needs to be carried out on the turnstiles and other work as well, and that would run into hundreds of thousands of euros. We have a state-of-the-art pitch but the other work needs to be done as well to bring the ground up to the required standard.

  The facts are that Roscommon is a small county with limited resources. We are very lucky to have people like Sean Mulryan, Tom Hunt and others who are outstanding and generous sponsors but they cannot pay for everything that is going on. It is exciting times for Roscommon GAA on the field but spare a thought for those who are trying to juggle the finances behind the scenes, which is a very tough job. Of course success breeds success, and let’s hope our teams keep winning but the reality is that it costs a fortune as well and there is only so much money there.

Kildare can be proud of final display

I really enjoyed the Leinster final. Even though Kildare were beaten by nine points they played some great football and to score 1-17 was an excellent return. They are a team going in the right direction.

  You can say what you like about Dublin but they are a super team to watch. They play football in the right way with lots of kick passing and interchanging and they are all super athletes who are supremely confident. They might have a weakness in defence under the high ball but they are still the team to beat.

  They also seem to be able to unearth class players every year. Young Con O’Callaghan is a case in point. He scored an incredible 0-12 in his first Leinster final last Sunday without much fuss being made about him. Then we had Dean Rock having to go off with a black card. In comes Bernard Brogan and he scores 0-5 from play and young O’Callaghan kicks every free over the bar. Will Rock get back in the team? He will be lucky.  

  Elsewhere, Tyrone were very good against Monaghan and they have the players to trouble Kerry and Dublin but I am not sure that they are good enough to win the All-Ireland.

  This weekend’s matches will be of huge interest here and although a lot of the Roscommon players would like to meet Mayo I would prefer to avoid them to be honest.

National plaudits for Rossies!

It was great to see Enda Smith win the GAA Player of the Week award last week and named as the joint sports star of the week in the Irish Independent. It is great to see Roscommon players getting recognition and they are actually getting their names right in the national media too!

  I know that it’s a team game but another good display from Enda Smith and maybe Conor Devaney too will put them in line for an All Star award at the end of the year. Let’s see how it all pans out first.

McGregor surpasses himself in build-up

The build up to the Mayweather/McGregor bout is boring already with McGregor surpassing himself in terms of racism, bad manners and depravity if that were possible. I can never understand why people are prepared to make allowances for this alleged hero and apparently it is ok for him to say anything he wants. I don’t care if he is to earn $100 million from this fight. He is welcome to it.  

  Eamon Sweeney (formerly of this parish) wrote an excellent article on this so-called fight and ‘our hero’ in the Indo on Sunday. I am quoting from his article and it’s better than anything I can say about our ‘sporting icon’ McGregor…

  ‘The 21st century ginger man’s appeal goes beyond the bounds of class or sex. He has cross-gender moron appeal. He represents not toxic masculinity but toxic imbecility. He may not be black from the waist down but he is blank from the neck up.’

Not Fed up just yet!

Roger Federer is a sporting phenomenon. He has $100 million in the bank yet he comes back year after year trying to win the biggest prizes in tennis.  He must have amazing motivational powers to keep coming back. To have won Wimbledon for the 8th time is some achievement and he shows no sign of slowing down.

Open at Birkdale holds fond memories

The British Open takes place this week at Birkdale and it brings back so many happy memories of one of the greatest sporting events that I ever had the pleasure to attend and that was the Open championship in 2008.

  Sitting in a pub in Roscommon town one night in late 2007, four of us decided that we would go to the British Open at Birkdale in 2008 and we booked accordingly. We stayed from Wednesday to the following Monday in a small hotel in the city of Liverpool.

  Of course what happened that week will go into Irish sporting history. Not only were we lucky enough to go to the golf on all four days, we saw Padraig Harrington come from behind to win it in sensational fashion. The atmosphere on that Sunday was something I will never forget and there were many other highlights that week too.  

  We were interviewed by Dan Walker of the BBC on the Thursday evening alongside the 18th fairway and we celebrated long into the night on Sunday after Harrington won the Claret Jug. It was some experience to have been there. It is unlikely that Ireland will have winner this week but I am going to put a few bob on Harrington each way for old time’s sake!

Championship Watch

All-Ireland SHC Quarter-Final:

Wexford v Waterford on Sunday at Pairc Uí Caoimh at 4 pm

There will be huge interest in both hurling quarter-finals and the re-opening of Pairc Uí Caoimh. But this match will be all about Davy Fitzgerald, who spent three years with Waterford. Wexford will bring a massive following with them and it is sure to be a sell-out. Waterford finally got rid of the Kilkenny hoodoo the last day out and they look to be a better bet. But it will be a cracking game in a white-hot atmosphere.

Odds: Waterford 1/3, Wexford 3/1, Draw 10/1.

Prediction: Waterford

All-Ireland SHC Quarter-Final:

Tipperary v Clare on Saturday in Pairc Uí Caoimh at 3 pm

The Tipperary juggernaut seems to be gathering pace as the qualifiers go on. Clare were very disappointing against Cork but surely there is a major kick in them especially when they see the Tipperary jersey. However, the champions are on a mission and they should be good enough to advance to the last four.

Odds: Tipperary 2/7, Clare 7/2, Draw 12/1.

Prediction: Tipperary

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 4:

Cork v Mayo on Saturday at the Gaelic Grounds at 5 pm

There will be big interest here in Roscommon in these games. Mayo have been coming back to form as the qualifiers have gone on and they should have far too much for a Cork team who are under-performing all year.

Odds: Mayo 2/11, Cork 5/1, Draw 14/1.

Prediction: Mayo

Donegal v Galway on Saturday at Markievicz Park at 7 pm

Not much to choose between these two teams. A lot will depend on how Galway react to their nine-point beating by Roscommon in the Connacht final. Michael Murphy will again be the key player for Donegal.

Odds: Donegal 4/6, Galway 6/4, Draw 15/2.

Prediction: Donegal