Seamus Duke on sport – 9th of February



Glavey’s can be proud of All-Ireland journey

I saw the devastation on the faces of the Michael Glavey’s players and management out on the field in the immediate aftermath of last Saturday’s All-Ireland final but when the pain begins to ease as the week goes on, they will realise what they have achieved for their club, their families, their parish and their county.

  I want to state clearly first of all that Moy were the better football team and deserved to win the game, but their two best players, Colm and Seán Kavanagh, and particularly Seán, had a major influence on the game and it was not all by their excellent play. They were in the referee’s ear non-stop and it was a major factor in the harsh sending-off of Caoileann Fitzmaurice. I thought that Brendan Cawley gave any marginal decision to Moy and it frustrated the Glavey’s players throughout. But it was not the reason that Glavey’s lost.

  Moy were a better team and they played the more direct football. To score a goal after only 30 seconds gave them a dream start and it was all over at half-time. You knew it was not going to be Glavey’s’ day when one of their main men, Cathal Heneghan, had to go off injured after only 20 minutes. But all credit to Glavey’s; they threw the kitchen sink at Moy in the last 20 minutes and when the gap went down to four there was a fleeting moment when we questioned whether a miracle could happen. But in fairness to the Tyrone side, they had done enough to win it.

  Glavey’s must build on this magnificent campaign now and I expect that they will be a factor in this year’s senior championship. It has been a great journey in Roscommon, in Connacht and to the All-Ireland series. There are great people in the Glavey’s club on and off the field and I thank them sincerely for their co-operation and kindness over the past few months. It’s a pity that it didn’t end in glory but the memories will always be there.

A memorable comeback in Thurles!

I don’t know how many national league games that I have been at involving Roscommon footballers. It may even be more than a thousand, and I can seldom, if ever, remember a comeback the likes of what we saw in Semple Stadium last Sunday.

  With six minutes to go Tipperary were cruising. They had scored three goals and nine points and could have scored at least three more goals. Roscommon were on the rack and looking like they would be returning with only one league point after two games and any hope of promotion well and truly gone. But you have to credit the players for staying at it and playing to the end.

  In contrast to last week, the subs made a big difference this time around and the game was pulled out of the fire but Roscommon have some big problems to iron out. They are giving the ball away time after time and they are also vulnerable when a team runs straight at them down the centre. But it is a great sign of the morale within the group that they could get a win out of this game and these two points will give the whole group a huge boost.

  A home game against Down is next on Sunday and it is reasonable to expect that Roscommon can win that encounter. If they were to get two points there, five points out of six would be a mighty return going into a mini-break. Sean Mullooly will almost certainly be out for the Down game and he will be a big loss. But Roscommon have a strong panel now and they should be able to cope with the loss. This is a very competitive division and Down will not be easy to beat but in Hyde Park Roscommon should be good enough to get the two points.

  We are still struggling at midfield and the search goes on for the right combination. Now Gary Patterson, Caoileann Fitzmaurice and Conor Hussey will be available for selection which is a boost. Roscommon will need them all.

  Just a few words about Semple Stadium, which is a credit to Tipperary County Board. It shows what can be done in terms of facilities for spectators, the players and even the media. Not a lot of major work would transform Dr Hyde Park into something comparable.

Around the divisions…

Elsewhere in the leagues at the weekend there were some very interesting results. Galway are blazing a trail in Division One with two great wins. Damien Comer and Shane Walsh are shooting the lights out for Kevin Walsh’s men. It would be wise not to get too carried away with league form. In Roscommon we remember how excited we were when we won a few games in Division One a few years ago.

  I only saw the highlights of the games at the weekend but Kerry’s young team were very impressive against Mayo and the Dubs were outstanding (again) against Tyrone in Omagh.  

  In Roscommon’s division, it would appear that Louth and Clare are odds-on for relegation. Both sides were well beaten again at the weekend and they will do well to avoid the trap door to Division Three.

A Croke Park mental block?

Michael Glavey’s captain Conor Hussey made a number of very interesting comments in the wake of Glavey’s’ loss to Moy on Saturday. He reckons that teams from Roscommon and the west (with the exception of St. Brigid’s in 2013) have a mental block about playing big games in Croke Park. It is something that is worth exploring in more detail and I intend to do that later in the year.

60 years on from Munich aiir disaster

This week is the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster that claimed the lives of eight Manchester United players and three staff including 21-year-old Dubliner, Liam Whelan, who was one of the finest young players in the English Football League at the time. I listened to an excellent documentary at the weekend about the events of that day and it must have been a horrific experience especially for those who survived.

Ray Houghton’s goal against England, Seamus Darby’s goal for Offaly against Kerry, Padraig Harrington winning the British Open are all iconic moments in Irish sport over the years and now we have another one to add to the list, Johnny Sexton’s drop-goal against France.

Ireland stay on course for ‘Slam

I only saw the final ten minutes of the game as I was in Croke Park at the Glavey’s game but I saw the best ten minutes! That the team were able to go through 41 phases and manoeuvre Sexton into a scoring position was something to behold but he still had to score the kick on a wet and horrible day when he was unsure of his footing and had to cope with the wind as well. It was an extraordinary kick by any yardstick.

  It was a great way to win any match but a horrible way to lose one. Ireland are still alive in the championship and a Gland Slam attempt is still on, but only just! They played poorly for a lot of the game as far as I can make out.

  This weekend, Joe Schmidt will get a chance to try a few of his squad players against Italy. There will be a huge clamour for Jordan Larmour to get a starting jersey and this might be the perfect game to introduce the young star to international rugby. With Joe Schmidt in charge I don’t think there will be any complacency about the Italian game and Ireland should win with a fair bit to spare.