Mundane weekend of championship action
Save for the Clare v Limerick MHC Semi-Final, the championship weekend was mundane enough but there were some talking points.
The Dublin v Carlow match was dire and very hard to watch. In fairness to Carlow they did their best to shut down Dublin with 14 men behind the ball but it was unwatchable and another warning to the powers that be about the decline of the game and the gap between the teams at the top and those at the bottom.
It would seem that Diarmuid Connolly is facing a 12-week ban. What he did with the linesman was harmless enough looking but you cannot put a hand on any official and it is a recurring theme with Connolly. He is a brilliant player but he will have to learn to control his temper.
The Down v Armagh game was very exciting in the first half but it descended into a total mess in the second half. Armagh were very poor and Down deserved to win it.
Meath were very impressive against Louth. Their total of 27 points must be close to a record in a championship football game. Kildare were also impressive as they hammered Laois. Hopefully one of them can put it up to Dublin for the sake of the championship.
This weekend sees several mouth-watering clashes in football and hurling so hopefully there will be more positive stuff to discuss next week.
Unsettled Rossies prepare for Leitrim
The Roscommon senior footballers will complete their preparations this week for the big game against Leitrim on Sunday week. They were impressive as they dismissed Sligo in a challenge match in Strokestown last week but as we all know challenge games are so far removed from the reality of championship games that they can be dismissed as a reliable yardstick of form.
We will have a comprehensive preview of the big game next week but I would still be worried that Roscommon have no settled spine of the team. John McManus was played full-back last week with Sean Mullooly at number six. Is that what we can expect against Leitrim? We have also tried a number of combinations at midfield which is a worry. Is Enda Smith better deployed in the attack? It would seem that Niall Kilroy will be at number 11 and will play a deep role as he did against Cavan and again last week against Sligo. At full-forward we have plenty of options with the two Murtaghs, Enda Smith and Colin Compton just a few of the possibilities. We may have enough firepower to beat Leitrm. But then it gets serious.
Caulfield looks set for deserved success
I got a chance to watch the game between Dundalk and Cork City in the League of Ireland Premier Division last Friday night on the TV and I was so impressed with Cork City. It was a clinical away performance from Johnny Caulfield’s men who are now a whopping 18 points clear of the pack in the title race which is now almost over with less than half the season gone.
A lot of Roscommon people are taking a special interest in the performances of Cork City in recent years and now it looks like they will be crowned the kingpins of Irish club soccer this year.
It would be a marvellous achievement for Johnny Caulfield who keeps very much in touch with what is going on here in Roscommon and is a regular visitor to see his mum and dad in Lecarrow. He is a lovely man and deserves his success.
Ronaldo proves he’s one of the greats
The Champions League final underlined once again that those of us who love sport are lucky to be around to see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in action. They are two of the all time greats and Ronaldo added to his reputation on Saturday night scoring two goals for Real Madrid as they retained the title, which had not been done in the Champions League era previously.
Ronaldo’s record in big games is phenomenal and for any player to have scored 600 career goals is incredible.
Closer to home, Ireland face a massive game against Austria on Sunday at the Aviva Stadium. Martin O’Neill’s team played really well last weekend against Uruguay and while Austria will travel looking for a win, Ireland have the experience and the tactical nous to win it and take a giant leap towards World Cup qualification.
Woods deserved better treatment
I would be the first to admit that I am a big Tiger Woods fan and always have been. He is definitely the greatest golfer of the modern era and possibly the greatest of all time. He may not have 18 majors, but Jack Nicklaus won many of his titles when the opposition may not have been that strong. But that’s an argument for another day.
I thought the treatment of Woods by the police last week in Florida was a disgrace. I am not suggesting for one minute that Woods should be treated differently to any other member of the public who has done wrong, but for the police to release the videos of his arrest on to the Internet which ensured that Woods was humiliated all around the world was wrong. They could have arrested and charged him and brought him home without driving the boot in and making a laughing stock out of him.
I know a lot of people have no sympathy for him but ask Rory McIlroy or Padraig Harrington or any of today’s top golfers why they are making so much money and they will give you a two-word answer – Tiger Woods. Surely he deserved better treatment than he received.
Lions look like lambs to the slaughter
The Lions will have to up their performance level if they are to have any hope against the All Blacks in the test matches coming up. Last weekend’s victory against a team of second division players will not be good enough and Johnny Sexton looked way short of the standard required. Maybe it will take a while for the players to get used to being in New Zealand but it is hard to see them winning the series – or any test match for that matter.
Connacht SFC Semi-Final: Galway v Mayo on Sunday in Pearse Stadium at 2 pm
With respect to what has gone on before, this is the weekend when the championship comes alive in both codes with several great games and there will be huge local interest in this one. Opinions are divided 50/50 about this huge clash. Many feel Mayo are still top three and will not get caught like they were last year by Galway. Just as many feel that Galway are now ready to overtake Mayo as the kingpins in the west. Galway have the players for sure but I just hope that Kevin Walsh trusts them to go out and take Mayo on and not play defensively. Either way it promises to be a mighty game. I am giving a hesitant vote to Galway.
Match odds: Galway 7/4, Mayo 4/7, Draw 15/2.
Munster SFC Semi-Final: Cork v Tipperary on Saturday in Thurles at 5 pm
Cork were very lucky to beat Waterford and Tipperary will be tough opposition after last year’s heroics. A tight call here: if Cork have anything at all they should edge it narrowly.
Match odds: Cork 8/13, Tipperary 13/8.
Leinster SHC Semi-Final: Wexford v Kilkenny in Wexford on Saturday at 7 pm
The most eagerly anticipated hurling championship match of the summer so far. Wexford Park will be bursting at the seams for this one. Wexford under Davy are bristling with confidence but the wily old Brian Cody will have a plan up his sleeve. The result will depend on how far Kilkenny have slipped back. Neither side will not need motivation here.
Match odds: Wexford 11/4, Kilkenny 1/3, Draw 10/1.
Ulster SFC Quarter-Final: Cavan v Monaghan on Sunday in Cavan at 2 pm
Another big game that will see a massive crowd in Breffni Park. Cavan will fancy their chances but Monaghan have some very classy performers particularly up front.
Match odds: Cavan 15/8, Monaghan 4/7, Draw 8/1.
Leinster SFC Quarter-Final: Offaly v Westmeath on Sunday in Tullamore at 3 pm
Another hard match to call here. Offaly are improving but Westmeath look to have more attacking quality. But at home Offaly will be hard to beat in this. We haven’t had a draw in the championship yet.
Match odds: Offaly 11/8, Westmeath 8/11, Draw 15/2.
Prediction: A draw
Munster SFC Semi-Final: Clare v Kerry in Ennis on Sunday at 3.30 pm
Clare are a decent side but Kerry will come, huff and puff a bit, and will then go home with an easy win
Match odds: Clare 8/1, Kerry 1/14, Draw 16/1.