Seamus Duke on sport – 26th of May

Terrific start to Hurling championship

What a start to the hurling championship. I know we have had a lot of hurling classics over the years but the Cork v Tipperary game last Sunday was up there with the greatest games of the modern era. The standard to the hurling and the score taking in particular was phenomenal.

  With Cork’s great win there are now at least six teams that have a realistic chance of winning the All-Ireland this year. In football, it’s two and maybe three at the most. The skill, intensity, excitement and tension last Sunday was palpable from the time the ball was thrown in. If this is what is to come, then roll on the hurling championship.

  In contrast, there was precious little excitement in the football championship save for a great win for Carlow against Wexford. I know that the prize for winning is a game against Dublin but for the Carlow players this was their All-Ireland final and fair play to them.

  Mayo did just enough against Sligo but they will know that they will have to up their performance big time if they want to have a chance of beating Galway. Now that should be a tasty affair.  

  Monaghan and Donegal were impressive as they swatted away Fermanagh and Antrim but a lot of the games were totally predictable. I don’t see much change on the horizon this weekend but we live in hope.

Disastrous year for Roscommon hurling

You can dress it up any way you want but it has been a disastrous year for Roscommon hurlers. When Johnny Kelly was appointed at the start of the year with a very impressive CV, there was genuine hope that progress could have been made but the opposite happened and Roscommon won no league or championship match in 2017. 

  Now in 2018 Roscommon will be in Division 3A and back in the Nicky Rackard Cup. What will happen is that Roscommon will probably be promoted in the league and win the Rackard Cup and everyone will be ecstatic again but it will only paper over the cracks. It seems that we are not good enough for Division Two and the Christy Ring Cup but too good for the lower divisions and Nicky Rackard Cup.

  I know that the lads that are there are doing their best and train as hard as any other teams but it is a fact that a number of players have not committed to the county team for one reason or another, and without your best players Roscommon will always struggle. It’s hard to know what can be done.  

  There are only seven clubs in the county and there are a number of very dedicated people involved in keeping the game going in the county. But it’s an uphill struggle and this year especially so.

Challenge Cup this Saturday!

There will be no egos on display on Saturday evening in the RDFL Challenge Cup Final at Lecarrow when Ballymoe FC take on Castlerea Celtic in a repeat of last year’s final.

  The fact that Ballymoe FC pipped Castlerea to the Premier Division title just two weeks ago makes this an even more appetising affair. I’m not going to call it, but it could be tasty.

Championship Watch

Game of the Weekend

Leinster SHC Quarter-Final: Dublin v Galway on Sunday in Tullamore at 4 pm

Dublin’s star has dimmed in the past year while Galway are now one of the favourites to win the Liam McCarthy Cup after they walloped Tipp in the league final. But after last Sunday’s game in Thurles the hurling championship has been blown wide open already. 

  If Galway want to put down a marker this year then this is the game to do it but Dublin are coming in under the radar and could well spring a huge surprise. I am going to stick with Galway though and give them a hesitant vote.

Match odds: Galway 1-4, Dublin 100/30, Draw 12/1. Prediction: Galway

Munster SFC Quarter-Final: Waterford v Cork in Dungarvan on Saturday at 7 pm

This is one of the reasons why the championship format is so unfair and so uneven. A cakewalk for Cork.

Match odds: Waterford 10/1, Cork 1/33, Draw 33/1.

Prediction: Cork

Leinster SHC Quarter-Final Westmeath v Offaly on Saturday in Mullingar at 7 pm

There was a time when Westmeath would not have kept it pucked out to Offaly. Offaly have slipped back a good bit in recent years but having said that they should still be good enough.

Match odds: Westmeath 5/2, Offaly 4/11, Draw 9/1.

Prediction: Offaly

Connacht SFC Quarter-Final: London v Leitrim on Sunday at Ruislip at 3 pm

There will be huge local interest in this as the winners face Roscommon. Leitrim were looking good until Emlyn Mulligan did his cruciate last week. With Ruislip re-opening after a £5 million refurbishment, London will badly want to win this game. I think they can do it.

Match odds: London 6/4, Leitrim 4/6, Draw 15/2.

Prediction: London

Ulster SFC Quarter-Final: Derry v Tyrone on Sunday in Celtic Park at 2 pm

Not so long ago this would have been a toss-up, but Derry have gone back a lot. Tyrone flattered to deceive in the league but are still way too good for Derry.

Match odds: Derry 7/2, Tyrone 1/4, Draw 10/1.

Prediction: Tyrone

Munster SFC Quarter-Final: Clare v Limerick on Sunday in Ennis at 3 pm

Local bragging rights at stake here but Clare look far too strong for their neighbours.

Match odds: Clare 30/100, Limerick 100/30, Draw 9/1.

Prediction: Clare

Egos on show on Premier League’s final day

Last week here I wrote that there was very little excitement in the Premier League this season and it is remarkable to report that when most teams had nothing to play for on the final day of the season last Sunday and they went out and just played with freedom, that there were a bagful of goals and loads of incidents too.

  Chelsea were the deserved winners but the best team to watch this season by a mile were Spurs who attack in numbers and have some super players and an excellent manager too.

  However, there were two incidents last Sunday which demonstrate just how much of a disconnect now exists between the overpaid egotists in the league and the ordinary people.

  At Stamford Bridge, the game between Chelsea and Sunderland stopped after 26 minutes so the crowd could pay homage to John Terry in his last game for the club. Guess who organised the tribute? John Terry himself! Could you imagine a player suggesting that to Alex Ferguson?

  We then had Jose Mourinho, who became the first Manchester United manager in almost 40 years not to address the crowd after the last game of the season to thank them for their support. Instead, he sat with a scowl on his face and didn’t bother to give a post-match press conference.  Who do these people think they are?

  The FA Cup Final is on Saturday and while I am a neutral, I would like to see Arsenal win it. It may be Arsene Wenger’s last game in charge of ‘The Gunners’ and it would be nice to see him go out on a winning note.