Seamus Duke on sport – April 6th



Two great games at cold Croker


On what was the coldest day that I have ever experienced in Croke Park, there were two great games to see for the 36,000 people who turned up.

  The Roscommon and Cavan game is well documented elsewhere here this week but the Galway v Dubin match in the Division One final was a  thriller. Galway have developed a very good side and their system is very hard to play against but you have to credit the Dubs, they found a way to win it in the end as they always do. Galway were not helped by a poor refereeing display from Anthony Nolan who should have given two black cards to Dublin players in the first ten minutes and the Dubs also got two very soft frees in the second half which were both converted by Dean Rock.

  Having said all that, Dublin were slightly the better team on the day but last Sunday’s performance from Galway shows that they are not unbeatable. It will have given a boost to a few other teams who will hope to be challenging later in the year in the championship.

  In the hurling it’s Kilkenny and Tipperary in the league final again. Those people who had written off Kilkenny were badly mistaken and they will give Tipperary plenty to think about on Sunday next. Don’t rule out a Kilkenny win. They were awesome against Wexford last Sunday.


Roscommon Allianz NFL 2018 Awards

Best Player – Conor Devaney

Best Goal – Cathal Cregg v Cavan

Best Game – Roscommon v Cavan (followed by Roscommon v Tipperary)

Worst Game – Roscommon v Down

Biggest Surprise: Down being relegated

Young Player: James Featherston – after a dodgy start played very well in recent games.

Top Scorer: Diarmuid Murtagh 3-26


5 things we learned from 2018 NFL


 Roscommon’s lethal attack

Roscommon forwards are now among the best in the game. They put up some huge totals in the league this year and added another 4-16 last Sunday. To be able to call on players of the quality of Cathal Cregg, Enda Smith, Fintan Cregg and Shane Killoran off the bench is an indication that Roscommon’s strength in depth up front is impressive by any standard. The form of Niall Kilroy, Conor Devaney, the Murtaghs and Donie Smith has been outstanding and Ciarán Lennon is developing as a top class target man all the time.


 Defensive woes

There have been some good displays but any team who succeeded in running straight at the Roscommon defence at pace found that there were gaps. In the championship good teams are at full fitness and always have pace. It’s something that Kevin McStay and his management team will have to sort out.


 Roscommon panel strength

The last time Roscommon were in Division One the lack of strength depth caught them out and the huge effort they put in to do well in the league meant that the team was burnt out when it came to the championship. Now there are up to 30 players who are capable of pulling on the county jersey at senior level and that will be needed if Roscommon want to stay in the top division and be competitive in the championship.


 Connacht football is strong

When was the last time that three Connacht teams were in Division One of the league? Football in the province is going through a really good spell. Mayo showed that they are still a force to be reckoned with as they survived in Division One once more. There is a renewed fire in Galway’s belly. The way they put it up to Dublin last Sunday in the Division One final will give them great hope and belief. The forthcoming Connacht championship will be one of the most hard fought in many years. The Galway v Mayo game on May 13th will be a thunderous affair.


 ‘The Blanket’ is gone

There are some teams who are still playing defensive football but it has been proven not to work, especially in Croke Park. Dublin found a way to win against Galway last Sunday and in all four finals last weekend there were high scores and great entertainment. The game is evolving. Thankfully.


Conway’s try one of the great moments


I don’t think I have ever seen a more exciting game of rugby than the Munster v Toulon game last Saturday at Thomond Park. It was edge of the seat stuff from start to finish. Andrew Conway’s try will go down in history as one of the really great moments of Irish sport. Seamus Darby’s goal, Joe Canning’s point from the sideline, Katie Taylor’s win in London, Ray Houghton’s goal against England. Conway’s try is up there with all those great moments.

  Munster were lucky to win the game though and if it was played anywhere other than Thomond Park it would have been a different result but you must ride your luck in these competitions and now Munster are in the semi-final. There is the possibility of an all Irish final now and what a prospect that would be.  

  Leinster are looking good but I have a feeling Munster will be up against it against Racing.


Dramatic Masters weekend ahead


This week will see the most eagerly awaited US Masters in many decades as the elite field battle it out for the first major of the year. There are so many sub-plots this year that Agatha Christie would be very proud.

  Tiger Woods is back and has a chance of winning, Rory McIlroy is also in good form. Justin Thomas is the choice of many to win his first major. Jordan Spieth is going well and Justin Rose is not far away. Dustin Johnson has yet to fire this season but is a brilliant player and Bubba Watson, a two-time winner here in recent seasons, is back in form again. Can Phil Mickelson win and become the oldest major winner of all time at 47? That is just one of the questions that will be answered this week at Augusta National.

  There is something so special about the Masters and the back 9 holes on Sunday is where it is all decided. I have a few bob on Tiger at huge odds and it would be the greatest sporting comeback off all time if he were to win it. I am really looking forward to it.

City to clinch title this weekend?

It is likely that the Premier League title will be decided at The Etihad Stadium this Saturday evening when Manchester City host rivals Manchester United. I have a feeling that we will see at least one if not two Manchester United buses parked in front of the goal to stop that happening. 

  Mourinho has a massive ego and he will do whatever he can to stop City winning the title against United. He may not be able to do it though. City are several levels above any other team in the league and if they don’t win it this week they will win it next week. Liverpool and Manchester United are playing for second place.

  Mohamed Salah won the game for Livepool last weekend again and although he is having a mighty season, every goal he scores brings a move to Barcelona, Real Madrid or PSG a little closer. I think most Liverpool fans know that too.


Best of luck to St. Nathy’s!

Good luck to St. Nathy’s in their bid for glory this weekend in the All-Ireland Colleges ‘B’ Football Final in Croke Park. They are back in business and will try to emulate the great teams from the school in the past who have tasted All-Ireland success. I have heard absolutely nothing about their opposition Cookstown but I presume that they are a good side and I note that Peter Canavan is in their backroom team. Good luck to everyone concerned.