Seamus Duke on sport – April 13th


All set for club championships!


It is hard to believe that the Roscommon Club Football Championships begin again this weekend and every team will begin their campaign with high hopes.

  It is hard to credit that after the second round of fixtures are played next weekend it is likely that there will not be anymore action in the club championships until August. The GAA reckon they have the greatest of respect for their club players. If that’s true then this crazy fixtures calendar would not have been brought in, but that argument is for another day.

  This weekend’s matches and the championships are previewed in detail elsewhere in the paper but in the senior championship St. Brigid’s will be the team to beat again. They are preparing quietly, and while they are not the team that they were, they still have some excellent players.

  Roscommon Gaels and Western Gaels will also be there or thereabouts again. Both clubs have flattered to deceive over the past few years but both have live chances. Western Gaels have tended to flop on the big day and Roscommon Gaels need to show more in attack. The sides meet in what is the game of the opening weekend. We will know more about both sides come Sunday evening.

  St. Brigid’s and Clann na nGael is another very attractive fixture on Saturday evening. My dark horses this year are Pádraig Pearses, who have an excellent manager in Pat Flanagan. It will be a major surprise if they do not emerge from Section B.

  Boyle and St. Faithleach’s are both very strong up front but have problems in defence which may cost them when it comes to the big games.

  Clann na nGael could be another dark horse but they will have to become more consistent if they want to challenge.

  It will be very interesting to see how Michael Glavey’s get on in the senior championship. On their best form they are a formidable side and they will be looking for a place in the top two in Section B. St. Croan’s, Elphin and Castlerea will have something to say about that.

  Strokestown are a side with loads of talented players but they have been very disappointing in the past few years. If they get their act together they could beat anyone.

  In the intermediate championship, Fuerty have to be the team to beat. They ran Glavey’s so close in the final in 2017 and they have a very good squad of players. Oran, Tulsk, Creggs and St. Dominic’s will also feature but will have to improve on recent form. The best of luck to all the clubs involved.  

  Having seen more championship campaigns than I would care to remember I’m still looking forward to it. There is always a nervous excitement about the start of another championship season.

Patrick Reed claimed the Green Jacket at the US Masters last weekend.

Reed claims the Green Jacket

The US Masters was a bit of an anti-climax but you have to hand it to Patrick Reed, it was on Saturday that he won the Green Jacket after a phenomenal round that set up the victory. He hung on grimly on Sunday to repel all challengers.

  It was amazing that the vast majority of the crowd wanted anyone other than Reed to win. He is not exactly the most engaging personality and the stories about his rows with his own family have been all over the media since his win. However, he won fair and square with no arguments.

  No Green Jacket for Rory McIlroy either. His putter went cold and it was as simple as that. He missed too many chances. Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth were unlucky. Tiger Woods did very well but he was never in contention. However, the 69 he had in the final round shows that he is not going away and I expect him to challenge for at least one major title this year.

  Once again it was brilliant sporting TV and it was great to be able to watch it on the BBC where there are no ads and Peter Aliss is still able to make it interesting. Remember that Aliss is 87-years-old – the man is a legend!

Ray fondly remembered in Roscommon

I was very sorry to hear last week of the passing at the young age of 61 of former Manchester United and Chelsea star Ray Wilkins. There are a good few people around Roscommon town who will remember him with affection.

  The Manchester United team stopped in the county town many years ago on their way to Westport for Kevin Moran’s engagement party. They stopped at the Royal Hotel and Frank Stapleton, Kevin Moran, Paul McGrath and Wilkins were among the players who were there. They spent a few hours in the Royal and they had a few drinks and chatted with the locals.

  I was lucky enough to be there and Ray Wilkins was a lovely man. He chatted away and stood in for loads of photos. In fact, visitors to Paddy Joe Burke’s barber shop in Church Street can see one such photo. There was great excitement that day and Wilkins was a real gentleman. May he rest in peace.

Never write off the Cats!

There were so-called hurling experts that doubted Kilkenny’s ability to bounce back and some even went as far as to say that Brian Cody was finished as a manager. Anyone who looked at the Allianz National Hurling League final last Sunday will have got their answer.

  Cody has come with a new team and it has taken only a few months for them to blend into the ‘Kilkenny Way’. The Cats were sensational and remember that they have five or six regulars like Richie Hogan, Paul Murphy and Colin Fennelly to come back into the team yet.  

  It promises to be a fantastic hurling championship this year with as many as 6 or 7 teams in with a live chance of winning the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Kilkenny are among those teams too. You write them off at your peril. The championship match between Galway and Kilkenny on the 20th of May in Pearse Stadium promises to be a real cracker.

Manchester’s game of two halves

Last Saturday’s Manchester Derby was an extraordinary match. United should have been 5-0 down at half-time. But at least they came out and showed a bit of fighting spirit and attacking flair in the second half.

  As a United fan, I don’t really care if they don’t win as long as they give it everything and throw caution to the wind as they did when Alex Ferguson was in charge. Will it continue? Under Mourinho I doubt it somehow.

The passing of a darts trailblazer

Eric Bristow was one of the personalities that brought the sport of darts to a much wider appeal. He is one of the people responsible for the huge popularity it enjoys now with huge TV viewing figures and thousands attending the big events. His flair and arrogance ensured that he was always watchable and his undoubted talent meant that he won five world titles. With his little finger sticking up in the air he had a distinctive style and he will also be remembered for his eclectic punditry on Sky Sports in recent years. The players who are doing so well today in terms of finances can thank Eric Bristow for what he did for their sport. May he rest in peace.

Tony Mac’s ‘Hole in One’

My old buddy Tony McManus was in the news at the weekend after he had a hole-in-one at the 6th hole at Roscommon Golf Club. A member of his management team texted me to say: “The ball went past the hole and he drew back into the cup”.

  However, speaking to an unnamed playing partner on the day I was told that it was of the much more fortunate variety! (Thanks Mickey Oates). Nevertheless, well done Tony!

Still no Connacht decision

I got plenty of reaction to my piece last week here about Dr Hyde Park. No decision has been made in the past week about the Connacht final and where it might be played. Meetings are continuing so we will leave it there for another week or two.