Seamus Duke on sport – April 12th



CBS write themselves into the history books

We don’t win too many All-Irelands in Roscommon. That’s why last Saturday’s magnificent effort from Roscommon CBS is such a boost for the county. I am looking forward to seeing those lads play in the Primrose and Blue at U-17, U-20 and senior level in the future. Apart from the superb management team in the CBS this win is also a great triumph for all the local clubs who work so hard to coach these young players. Oran had eight on the panel. What a great achievement that is for a small rural club.  

  Looking on last Saturday brought back many great memories of great CBS teams of the past. I was involved in one when we were narrowly beaten in an All-Ireland semi-final, then Mick Fahey coached a magnificent CBS team that were beaten by a point in an All-Ireland B final. The following year that same team were desperately unlucky not to have won the ‘A’ title. Then in recent years Willie Hegarty’s magnificent team of 2011 brought home the Paddy Drummond Cup for the first time and in 2015 they were narrowly beaten by a very accomplished Kerry side in the ’A’ final.

  For a relatively small school there is a magnificent tradition of Gaelic Games there for many decades and now they have new photographs to put up on the walls, new heroes and another chapter to be written into the history of sporting success at the school. I am not sure if the lads that were playing last Saturday realise it but a lot of people were very proud last Saturday night.

The US Masters is a sporting highlight

One of my favourite sporting weekends of the year is on the way with the US Masters at Augusta. There is something magical about The Masters and this year is no different.

  Rory McIlroy has to have a huge chance as he has been playing really well but I have a feeling that the pressure will get to him again. The fact that he has never won at Augusta seems to be weighing him down as the years pass by.

  Of the others I like Justin Rose, who is so consistent and was so unlucky not to have won last year. Louis Oosthuizen will also be a fancy of mine this week. He always plays well in this championship. I am also going to have a small each-way bet on Shane Lowry. He will be a huge price. He is very streaky in terms of his form but on his best days he is as good as anyone else in the field.

Tiger Roll makes it two-in-a-row

If we hadn’t had enough excitement on Saturday, we watched more history on Saturday evening when Tiger Roll won the Grand National for the second year in a row. I didn’t back him because I had Eddie O’Leary of Gigginstown on the radio last Friday and he reckoned that the price was far too low for a horse in a national. The price is never too low if he wins!

  It was a magnificent win for the horse who has now won two Grand Nationals and has won at four different Cheltenham Festivals. Michael O’Leary says he is very reluctant to have a go at three-in-a-row next year. I have a feeling when it comes to next spring, if the horse is in good form early next year he will be under serious pressure to have a go.

Proud Derry man and Roscommon legend

The word legend is misused and far too often bandied about when it comes to the GAA in particular.  But I am entirely comfortable using the word to describe the late Sean Young who gave his life to the GAA and Roscommon GAA in particular.

  I’m not sure when I first came in contact with Sean Young but it was probably in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He was coaching the Roscommon minor team that my brother Declan was on. Even though he was a Derry man his contribution to Roscommon GAA was simply enormous. For over five decades, there was hardly a year that he wasn’t involved with some team or other, whether it was Boyle or Roscommon. He loved coaching and he loved coaching young players in particular.

  I was a very young County Board delegate and when I was going to County Board meetings every month one of the most vocal delegates was Sean Young. He passionately believed in club football and he argued for many years that county players should be playing far more club football all the time. Having said that, he coached and managed every Roscommon county team there was at the time. In fact, he was manager of the county senior team twice, once in the 70s (when Roscommon were beaten by Kerry in a league final replay) and again in the 80s.

  Another remarkable thing about Sean Young was that although he put his entire life into Roscommon football he remained a very staunch Derry man. He loved to tell us all about his great friend, the legendary Jim McKeever, and anytime Derry were doing well he was over the moon. Needless to say he was so excited in 1993 when his beloved county won the Sam Maguire cup for the first time.

  He was great company and loved the craic. Even though he never drank nor smoked, many a long day and night we enjoyed in his company after matches and at GAA Golf outings. I will always remember the evening of Jimmy Murray’s funeral in P. Walsh’s pub. There was a big crowd there and we were telling yarns and football stories and singing songs, remembering the great Knockcroghery man. Sean stood up and gave a rendition of ‘The Town I Loved So Well’ the likes of which I never heard before or since. You would hear a pin drop as he sang that night. Not a drink taken but still mad to be in the middle of the craic. He was a mighty singer and I heard him many, many times over the years. That was Sean Young.

  There was a period of about 15 years when Sean Young rang me almost every week to comment on what I had written in the paper about GAA and football in particular. The phone call always started with him saying ‘Young man’. Some weeks he agreed with me and others he disagreed with me. We argued plenty but we never fell out. He was so passionate about football but here was never any malice in what he had to say.

  I know in recent years he didn’t enjoy the best of health but his contribution to Roscommon GAA was simply immense over 50 years and he was happiest when he was coaching young players. Up to just a few years ago he was working with the Boyle U-14s. He was into his 80s at that stage and he loved every minute of it.

  To his wife Ann, his sons Liam, Joe, Sean and Paul, daughters Aileen and Catherine and all his family, and many friends and particularly those in Boyle GAA, I extend my heartfelt sympathy. May his kind and gentle soul rest in peace. RIP.

Liverpool bandwagon rolls on!

The Liverpool bandwagon rolls on and now the winning post is coming into view in the Premier League. They rode their luck again last weekend against Southampton but they came out on top and they have only a few more hurdles to jump.

  I am still of the opinion that Manchester City will falter. They have three games against Spurs over the next couple of weeks and I cannot see them beating them in all three. They are a magnificent side but surely their punishing schedule will catch up with them soon. They are playing well but not putting teams away on the scoreboard. I would still like to be holding a betting slip that says Liverpool for the Premier League title!