Seamus Duke on Sport – 25th November

Ireland aiming to end year on a high

It has been a fantastic year for Irish rugby and it can be capped off in sensational fashion if Joe Schmidt’s men can beat Australia this Saturday in their final game of the year.

  Despite the defeat, the game against New Zealand saw Ireland produce another fantastic performance and if it was not for some of the refereeing, a second win in a row was on the cards against the world champions.

  There has been much discussion in the media and on the various social platforms since the game on Saturday about the tactics of New Zealand and I am certainly no expert, but the tackle on Robbie Henshaw early in the game was a red card in my humble opinion and the referee bottled it. The TMO also bottled it when the New Zealand out-half Barrett crossed for the vital second try. Johnny Sexton held him up from the touchdown but the TMO called it a try before he even saw the replay, which was very strange. He couldn’t really go back on his opinion then!

  Having said all that, New Zealand arrived in Dublin determined not to lose again and they were going to do anything they could to achieve that aim. That they crossed the line of legality was not their fault, it was up to the officials to deal with it and they didn’t. It would seem that the All Blacks intimidate the officials as well as the opposition. It was still a very good performance from Ireland.

  This Saturday, Ireland can cap a great year if they can beat Australia, but it won’t be easy. Australia have not had a great year but only 12 months ago they gave the All Blacks a great game in the World Cup final. Now with Ireland’s vastly improved status, a win against us would be a huge feather in the Wallabies’ cap. It promises to be another mighty game and if Ireland could win it would mean that in 2016, Ireland would have beaten South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and that would be a great way to go into the Six Nations Championship. It is another mouth-watering prospect.

Don’t write off Brigid’s this weekend!

Corofin will be the hot favourites to win the Connacht club final on Sunday but I have a feeling that St. Brigid’s could cause a shock. The game is previewed in more detail elsewhere in the paper but while Brigid’s might not be the force they were three years ago they have plenty of players who have been around the block and they know how to win big games in tight situations. They will be going in as underdogs and that will suit them fine. Don’t rule out a shock.

  It is a pity that the game could not have been played in Kiltoom. It is a crazy situation that Creggs could play their Connacht final there but Brigid’s could not. It just doesn’t make any sense at all.

  The club championships continue to give so much excitement and there are new names coming along every year in both football and hurling. The rise of Clare champions Ballyea is a fantastic story and now they are 60 minutes away from an All-Ireland final having won their own county title for the first time ever only six weeks ago.

  Locally, it was hard luck to Creggs following a brave effort in the Connacht junior final. They gave a great account of themselves but the disappointment at losing will only be temporary as they have had a year to remember. Hopefully St. Brigid’s can do the business on Sunday and make it a great year on the club scene.

Mourinho will sort United…eventually!

I saw Manchester United at close quarters last weekend and I have to say that despite the result, they played very well and should have won the game. Mourinho seems to have sorted out the midfield situation and Herrera and Pogba were very good. However, the back four are very dodgy looking and although they did well at the weekend they look like an accident waiting to happen, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo in particular.

  United won’t be winning the Premier League title and they probably won’t even get into the top four but I have a feeling that Mourinho will sort them out eventually. What I saw last weekend is a million times better than the rubbish that Louis Van Gaal was responsible for. At least they are playing some attacking football now.

  Arsenal were very poor and they won’t win any Premier League title playing the way they did on Saturday. I feared the worst for United before the game but they (Arsenal) played very poorly. United should have been 3-0 up before Giroud scored late on.

  Man City and Chelsea won again and they are both going well as are Liverpool who were unlucky not to have won against Southampton. Spurs had the win of the day against West Ham and they are staying high up the table too.

  With the internationals over now for the year, there are four months without a break coming up on the club scene and much will have been decided by the next time that there is a break.

Centre badly needed but costly!

The plan for a Roscommon GAA centre of excellence is a brave and ambitious one and it is fantastic that the centre will be named in honour of the late Dermot Earley.

  The development of a centre of excellence is badly needed for all county teams in all codes but it will be a very costly venture and I am sure it will cost many millions to bring to fruition. I applaud Club Rossie on their initiative but one has to remember that many clubs are struggling for money to keep going and they have little extra to give. Remember also that Roscommon are going to have to provide monies for the upgrade of the spectator facilities at Dr Hyde Park, and no more than the Government coffers, there is only so much money in the pot. I just hope that these commitments, added to the enormous costs of running county teams every year, is not too much of a strain on the finances.

  However, the fundraising dinner this Saturday night should be a great night out and it will be a chance to once again honour one of our greatest.

From the internet

Well known rugby correspondent Gerry Thornley has written one of the sports books of the year ‘Front Up Rise Up’ about the rise of Connacht Rugby culminating in their thrilling win in the Pro12 final earlier this year. The explains how this excellent book came about…

“Thornley had been covering Connacht rugby for almost two decades at that point, so when he approached the club CEO Willie Ruane and other seasoned members of the club, that rapport built up over the years secured the green light for the rugby correspondent.

  “Head Coach, Pat Lam, approved it as well but it was agreed that the ground work would be conducted discreetly while their season was still in progress. This would be his first book about a club, and a total departure from the series of autobiographies he had previously produced. But he was always intrigued by Connacht’s story of alienation on the domestic rugby circuit and was keen to pursue a “fresh challenge”.

  “He envisioned 16 chapters. He produced 27, but he’s happy with the end product. More importantly, so are the subjects who contributed to the project.”

  A perfect Christmas present for the sports followers in the West! (Courtesy of the