Seamus Duke on sport – 2nd of February


Rossies happy to escape with a point

I don’t think that I have ever been at a match where Roscommon should have won, should have lost and were lucky to get a draw in the end but that’s what happened last Sunday at Dr Hyde Park. When Kevin McStay’s men cruised into a five-point lead mid-way through the second-half it looked like an easy win was on the cards.

  But there were ominous signs: Roscommon were missing easy chances and they seemed to lose their way after Niall Kilroy and Diarmuid Murtagh were taken off and their challenge totally collapsed. Meath’s substitutions were working and they ran riot for ten minutes and scored 1-6 without reply. It was like the Roscommon players were in quicksand. They just couldn’t get their hands on the ball. But thankfully Meath did not press home their advantage and Roscommon to their eternal credit, kept going.

  Finbar Cregg’s free late on looked like it would be of consolation value only but he won a penalty in the 75th minute which gave Roscommon a lifeline. Fair play to Donie Smith (who should have been on the field far earlier), he kept his composure when the referee Barry Cassidy was running around the field consulting his officials and booking players and he stuck the penalty away. A point is about as much as we deserved after our second half implosion.

  The reality is that we are now down a point already and we are facing a very difficult game in Thurles on Sunday. We need to sort out our midfield pairing which is still a problem and we are not nearly as ruthless as we should be in attack. On the plus side, Ciaran Lennon had an excellent debut and looks a real find at full-forward. John McManus, Enda Smith, Davy Murray, Ciaráin and Diarmuid Murtagh also played well and hopefully Diarmuid is not badly injured and is able to take his place against Tipperary.

  It will be fascinating game in Thurles. Liam Kearns will want to put one over on Roscommon and looking at them against Cork on the TV last Saturday night, they are really strong at midfield and in attack. Make no mistake; Roscommon will have to play really well to win this match on Sunday. It’s certainly not impossible to go there and get two points but it will take a mighty effort.

Glavey’s set for date with history

It’s the biggest day in the history of the Michael Glavey’s club on Saturday when Conor Hussey will lead their young team out onto Croke Park for the AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Final.

  Glavey’s are there on merit too after another titanic struggle in the semi-final against Kilanerin last Saturday. They were under pressure most of the way through but they showed that they can battle as well as play fancy attacking football. They have some excellent players in every line of the field. 

  It was tough going against a Matty Forde inspired Wexford side, but they came through it, they deserved to win and they will give this final a serious rattle. There are two things I am worried about: Moy are an experienced side and I certainly hope that they do not employ the very cynical tactics that we have become used to from Tyrone teams over the years. I think that’s probably too much to hope for. Also, they have come through a very difficult semi-final against all the odds.

  On the plus side, Glavey’s know that they can play much better then they did last Saturday. They will need to. They will have to get a grip at midfield and use the wide-open spaces at Croke Park if they are to win it. They are a great crowd of lads and a wonderful club. 

  I wonder when Peader Earley founded the club all those years ago could he have dreamed that this day could arrive. Make no mistake; if they bring their ‘A’ game to headquarters they can win this All-Ireland title. The whole county of Roscommon will be behind them.

League campaigns up and running!

There was a very interesting start to the leagues last weekend. Mayo and Dublin continued on their winning ways, which was no surprise, but I was very impressed by Donegal in their narrow loss to Kerry in Killarney. It was a great game to watch. Best win of the day though was for Galway in Tuam against Tyrone who were back to their negative tactics once again.

  In Roscommon’s group, Down were impressive winners in Drogheda and they could be dark horses and already Cork are on the back foot having lost to Tipp. Cavan and Clare were very poor in their game in Ennis and hopefully we will have the measure of both those sides.

  In the hurling, it was marvellous to see Offaly play such brilliant stuff to hammer the Dubs in Croke Park; the arrival of Kevin Martin has lifted them surely. Clare and Cork were impressive too. Galway were lucky enough to beat Antrim but they can afford to experiment in Division 1B.

  There were huge crowds at the matches last weekend too. There were 26,000 in Croke Park, 16,000 in Pairc Uí Caoimh and 11,000 in Killarney alone. It shows that people will go to matches at this time of the year despite all the doom and gloom.

Six Nations kicks off this weekend

The Six Nations Rugby Championship begins again this weekend and once again the rugby media here have got totally carried away. The headline in a special supplement in the Independent was “Ireland to face England in Championship showdown”. It happens every year.

  What about Wales and Scotland and especially France who Ireland play on Saturday? It may well be that Ireland win all their games before they play England, but why not let the other games take place before making stupid predictions?

  Ireland should definitely beat France but on home soil the French are always dangerous and I would not be taking them for granted. A new departure will be that TV3 will have the rights to the coverage and it will be headed up by Newstalk presenter Joe Molloy. They deserve their chance and hopefully there will be some straight talking over the next couple of months of the championship.