Seamus Duke on sport – 6th of October

Gaels return to the big stage

It’s hard to believe that it is 1969 since Roscommon Gaels played St. Brigid’s in a county SFC final given that both sides have been at or near the top of the club scene over the past forty years or more but that’s how it is after the semi-finals last weekend.

  Neither game will go down in the archives as the greatest of all time but semi-finals are all about winning and for the team who ends up taking the Fahey Cup home on October 22nd, there will not be too much chat about the semi-final.

  Still, it was a big day for Roscommon Gaels who had failed to win a knockout championship game over the past four or five years. Now their players know that they can win a game when there is no safety net. Whether their 25-point defeat against St. Brigid’s a few weeks ago will affect them will only be known on the day but they look a much more effective side in this year’s championship than heretofore.

  St. Brigid’s are not the team of four years ago but they are still mighty championship battlers. They looked in trouble at half-time on Sunday but they knew how to pull the game out of the fire and they survived. They always do. They will be very hard to beat in the final, make no mistake but I am expecting a competitive and close battle.

  It is 2004 since Roscommon Gaels won a title or were in a final. It is far too long for the town club to be out of the limelight. It will be interesting to see how they get on in the final.

County final to reinvigorate local hurling?

The day of the county senior hurling final is always a special one for the sport in the county and this Sunday is no different as Four Roads and Pádraig Pearses go head to head.

  Four Roads will go into the game as hot favourites and deservedly so too as they have breezed through the championship so far. The game is previewed in detail elsewhere in the sports section this week but in truth, Pearses will have to play the game of their lives if they are to win.

  With Johnny Kelly now gone as the Roscommon hurling manager, the hope will be that we have a good final. There is no doubt that the standard of hurling in Roscommon has dropped in recent years and it will be a hard job to raise it again.

  On the national stage, I am not so sure about the huge changes in the hurling championship now agreed to start next year. I have a feeling that it is a knee-jerk reaction to the ‘Super 8’ in football, which I am also suspicious of. 

  The big argument in favour of the new system is that there will be far more big games but I wonder if that will lead to an increase in quality overall. Maybe the beauty of the hurling championship up to now is that it brings together the top teams once or twice a year and as a result the games are often classics. If they are playing each other five or six times every year maybe the classic games might be rare enough.

  I also cannot see how the clubs will be looked after in the new situation in both hurling and football and in a county with dual players it will be even trickier. There will be 20 more major championship games in 2018 in football and hurling. I cannot see how that’s going to benefit clubs.

Rugby continues to develop in Creggs

You have to hand it to Creggs Rugby Club. I was out that way last week and had a look at their new development and while it has a way to go, it is progressing nicely.

  We all know the great story of Creggs here locally but the way they have kept the show on the road over the past 30 years in such a small area is truly remarkable. They are set to grow into the future too. Well done to all concerned.

President’s Cup a ‘turkey’ shoot

I love watching top class golf on TV but the President’s Cup last weekend was the biggest bore of the year in sport. The USA hammered a hapless “International” team whose players didn’t seem to care less. Needless to say Sky Sports did the usual in terms of hype but even they could not save this completely meaningless competition from being the biggest turkey of the year in terms of viewers. 

  At least the even more hyped Ryder Cup is competitive but they should scrap the President’s Cup because the International team and players have no interest in it. The only thing that happened at the President’s Cup this year was Tiger Woods telling the media that he would probably never play again which is a pity. He has never been replaced since he retired despite all the hype.

Paul’s Masters-stroke!

What Paul Dunne did last weekend in winning the British Masters was one of the sporting achievements of the decade, not alone the year. To shoot 61 and not only win the tournament but to pass out a top class field, and Rory McIlroy in particular, was quite incredible and now we have another golfing superstar on our hands here. We certainly are punching above our weight as a nation when it comes to golf with so many top class players. Paul Dunne is only 24 and now has the world at his feet.

Luck of the Irish can clinch qualification

The Irish soccer team play their final two qualifying games for the World Cup this coming weekend and while we have to win both games I think that luck will be on our side and that we will end up at least second in the group.

  Apart from the fact that Martin O’Neill is doing a good job with a very limited panel of players, he is also a lucky general and you need that too. Ireland are not a good side but they have spirit and determination and that should be good enough against a weak Moldova.

  Wales are no great shakes and we are well capable of going to Cardiff and getting a result. It’s never over until it’s over and Ireland are still in with a chance.

Not happy with fixture planning

I received the following e-mail from a well-known Roscommon GAA follower earlier this week…

Seamus,

I want to use your widely read column to highlight the farcical situation that we had last weekend when the intermediate football semi-final was fixed for Ballintubber at 1 o‘clock and the two senior semi-finals started at 2 pm at Dr Hyde Park. Did noone on the fixtures committee of the County Board ever consider that maybe there might be people who would want to see the intermediate semi-final AND the senior semi-finals as well?

  I (have) also read that the Roscommon County Board were in financial trouble so it makes no financial sense to have big championship matches clashing. The clash would have cost the County Board money that it cannot afford. Surely it would have been possible for the fixtures committee to fix three games over a weekend at different times.  Come on County Board, a bit of initiative please!

(name and address with me)