Seamus Duke on sport – 4th of August


Rossies can improve ahead of replay

It is hard to sit down and actually sum up in a few hundred words what happened in Croke Park last Sunday, such were the array of emotions.

  When a major championship game ends in a draw people are unsure how to react. The overriding emotion among Roscommon people was one of immense pride in the performance of our young team. The game is analysed in detail elsewhere in the paper this week but it was a magnificent occasion and Roscommon supporters can be very happy with how the team battled to the end.

  But it is important to remember this; Roscommon did not play well last Sunday. Sure, there were bucketfuls of heart, determination and huge work rate from all the players but it is a fact that Fintan Cregg aside; our attack did not play well.

  In addition, probably our most talented player, Enda Smith was taken out of the game by fair means and foul. There is loads of room for improvement and if we can make that improvement then we will win this replay.

  I know that football is a game of opinions but I thought that in general, the national coverage of the game was very biased towards Mayo. Almost every pundit was of the view that it was a poor performance from Mayo and very little credit was given to Roscommon. Oisin McConville was especially scathing in his remarks (you can read them elsewhere). There is only one way to answer that criticism and that’s to go out and win the match on Monday and I think we will do that. Kevin McStay and his selectors will be working very hard this week to engineer the improvement we need to win this replay and I will be very disappointed if we don’t pull it off.

  I realise that this is a magnificent Mayo team but surely their trips to the well have become too frequent. I thought that Lee Keegan, Paddy Durcan and Colm Boyle were outstanding last Sunday but a lot of their players looked tired and out on their feet.

  Again this week all the predictions are that the ‘Big Four’ will qualify for the semi-finals. I think Roscommon can put a spanner into those works.

  The first game last Sunday was a total bore. It was bearable in the first half as Kieran Donaghy dominated the game but in the second half Galway were resigned to their fate and Kerry went through the motions. Either Kerry did not get out of second gear or they are very beatable. I was very disappointed with Galway.

  What a crowd of people were there last Sunday. To attract 65,000 people to a couple of quarter-finals is a phenomenal feat. Remember too that Galway and Kerry did not have a huge support there.

  I enjoyed both games that were played on Saturday night and there was some mighty football played. However I expect both winners to be knocked out this weekend. We were chatting about the ‘Super Eight’ at the weekend and the way things stand at the moment it is a real possibility that there could be a lot of mismatches under that new regime. The way things stand, Dublin, Kerry and Tyrone are a long way ahead of the rest and I would fear for the other teams under the new system. 

  You can say what you like about the GAA but what a day out we had last Sunday and this weekend there will be 83,000 on Saturday, 65,000 on Sunday and at least 40,000 on Monday. It is brilliant to be a part of it.

  There were several complaints about the state of the Croke Park pitch, which was very slippy on Saturday and Sunday. Apparently about 40 yards of the surface was re-laid after the U2 concert and it has been a problem since. Kevin McStay called it right. He said that if a young corner back slipped at the wrong time and the ball ended up in the back of the net he would never be allowed forget about it. It’s not good enough.

  Finally, Roscommon brought the biggest crowd I have ever seen to a major championship game last Sunday but I would appeal to them not to boo Andy Moran or any other player. I know that what he did in Kiltoom at the FBD game was ill advised, but he is an ordinary guy who gets nothing out of playing and I would prefer if the Roscommon fans were determined to drown out the Mayo fans rather than being negative.

Championship Watch

All-Ireland SHC Semi-Final: Galway v Tipperary on Sunday in Croke Park at 3.30 pm


What a game this promises to be. Galway are many people’s fancy to win the All-Ireland title this year but Tipp have been improving with every game through the back door. Some of the match-ups will be fascinating and Galway will be under pressure to deliver on their early season promise. I am giving them the nod, but with no real confidence at all.

Match odds: Tipperary evens, Galway evens, Draw 9/1.

Prediction: Galway

All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Finals in Croke Park on Saturday next

Tyrone v Armagh at 4 pm

This will revive memories of some marvellous clashes in the early ‘noughties’. Armagh had a great win last weekend but they face much stiffer opposition this week and Tyrone are a battle-hardened side who have their eye on a much bigger prize. It would be a shock if Tyrone do not win it easily. They should have a bit to spare.

Match odds: Tyrone 2/9, Armagh 4/1, Draw 12/1.

Prediction: Tyrone

Dublin v Monaghan at 6 pm


Dublin will unleash all their attacking power against a talented but limited Monaghan team on Saturday. Malachy O’Rourke’s team did resurrect their season against Down last weekend but they will not be good enough here.

Match odds: Dublin 1/14, Monaghan 9/1, Draw 20/1.

Prediction: Dublin

All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final replay: Roscommon v Mayo in Croke Park on Monday at 2 pm

This game is ‘Game of the Weekend’ for most of our readers and is previewed in more detail elsewhere this week. I am convinced that Roscommon will complete the job on Monday afternoon.

Match odds: Mayo 1/2, Roscommon 9/4, Draw 15/2.

Prediction: Roscommon


Huge gulf remains in soccer


It is hard to believe it but the English soccer season is back this weekend when the Championship and other lower leagues begin again for another nine months.

  It is hard to get excited about it while Roscommon are still in the championship and the money that the clubs are now prepared to play for players is gone off the end of the scale.

  You look at PSG who are talking about paying €185 million for Neymar while at the bottom of the food chain Bray Wanderers are struggling to make ends meet. I read in the paper last week where 536 people attended a recent home game. Is it any wonder they are gone bust? Surely something has to give with the madness that is going on at the top end of the game.


Galway hurlers set for Tipp clash


There will be massive interest locally in Sunday’s huge All-Ireland semi-final clash between Galway and Tipperary with another 65,000 crowd expected.

  Galway have been the talking horse in the hurling championship this year but Tipperary are running into form at just the right time. There will be a big crowd of Galway supporters travelling to the game and with huge interest in Roscommon in the fortunes of the Galway hurlers, hopes will be high that they can pull off a famous win.

  Many pundits are calling this clash ‘The All-Ireland Final’ but I’m sure Cork and Waterford will have something to say about that.


Caddie may not be Rory’s problem


Rory McIlroy is clearly in crisis as he has sacked his caddie of ten years, JP Fitzgerald, in an effort to arrest his slide.

  But I am not sure that Rory’s problems lie with his caddie. It is more likely in the few inches between his ears. He clearly has the talent, but has he the hunger? It’s a big risk by McIlroy especially with two huge tournaments this week and next. It will be interesting to see how it goes.