Seamus Duke on sport – December 14th




Mullinalaghta underdogs conquer Leinster

Every so often a sporting event comes along that restores one’s faith in the romance of sport. That anything is possible. What Mullinalaghta did last Sunday in the Leinster SFC Final is something that happens once or twice in a lifetime. Since last Sunday the only match that would come close to or equal what they did was in 1994 when Leitrim beat Roscommon, Galway and Mayo to win the Connacht senior football title.

  Everyone has heard the figures with regard to the number of members and population etc. but it shows what can be done if a team is well organised and have a squad who believes in what they are doing.

  I was in Frenchpark at the O’Rourke Cup final and we went into Tully’s Bar afterwards and we saw the second half of the Leinster final. There was a big crowd there and all were shouting for Mullinalaghta. I would say that scene was repeated all over the country. It was a fantastic win for such a small club.

  I would contend that while this type of win is always possible in club football or hurling it is not possible at inter-county level any more. The gap in standards between the teams at the top and those further down has grown wider and wider.

  The club championships have been a Godsend for the GAA. Just take a look at the roll of honour in the provincial and All-Ireland championships. The number of new names that come along almost every year is fantastic.

  Do Mullinalaghta have a chance of winning the All-Ireland title? Probably not, but what they did last Sunday will give hope to every small GAA club in the country. It was great to see it.


Valerie becomes first female secretary


I wouldn’t like to count how many annual Roscommon GAA conventions I have attended over the years but time was when it was a major event. It started at about one o’clock on a Sunday and if we were lucky it was over by 8 pm. Frequently the convention went to a second night. There used to be 25 or 30 motions on ‘The Clár’ which were vehemently argued with every club having a say. There were many heated arguments and tight votes which made for a long, long day.

  Thankfully the whole system has been streamlined over the years and a lot of committee work has taken the tedium out of the annual meeting.

  This year we have a new secretary with Valerie Murray becoming the first female to hold the post in Roscommon. She will be an excellent appointment too and she has been working away over the years with Michael Glavey’s and latterly with Roscommon County Board in a number of roles. I wish her the very best of luck.

  A word of thanks to the outgoing secretary Brian Carroll. A diehard Rossie, he won’t be going away or leaving Roscommon GAA but maybe he will get more time to watch his beloved Leeds United finally secure promotion to the Premier League in 2019! (I wouldn’t be holding my breath!)

  I wish all the officers the best of luck in 2019. It’s easy to criticise but the majority of these people do these jobs for the love of the GAA and don’t ever get anything out of it. The other issues are covered elsewhere in the sports section this week.


Do we have a title race in England?


Well lo and behold, I think we may have a title race on our hands in the English Premier League! Manchester City looked unbeatable for most of the season but suddenly they look vulnerable and although they dominated the first half against Chelsea last Saturday night there was no cutting edge and Sergio Aguero was badly missed up front.

  Liverpool are ploughing along and are winning games that they would have lost or drawn in any other season. Their clash against Manchester United on Sunday next is a huge one. United fans like myself will be hoping that United can come up with a performance that we have not seen so far this season because it will take that to overturn Klopp’s side. The ‘Pool will go into the game the hot favourites. It could be a long evening for José and his team at Anfield.


Fixtures proposal at annual convention


There are proposals to change the fixtures calendar that will be discussed at this week’s Roscommon GAA Annual Convention and what I have heard makes sense.

  The tentative proposals would be to start the leagues in March and have them completed before the championships start in August. It would mean that the two rounds of the championship that were played in April would be abandoned and that would certainly be no harm. It might mean a game or two less for clubs in the senior championship but so be it. Three groups of four teams could be the way to go with each team having three group games instead of five.

  The details would have to be hammered out in January at the first meeting of the County Board but it would be an improvement on what happened this year. I realise that the hands of the fixtures committee were tied but a little tweaking would make things much better for clubs and club players. It would also give Anthony Cunningham a free run to prepare his team for the championship. We await developments.


Clann and Fuerty on the double!


Congratulations to Fuerty and Clann na nGael on completing league and championship doubles last weekend. It is a tribute to both clubs that they took the leagues seriously enough to go flat out to win it and with the winning margin of one point in each game they were really well contested. Michael Glavey’s and Western Gaels lost out but they ensured that the games were very competitive even if it was December.


Mixed reaction to new rules


In the course of my radio work I got some reaction from players and managers who were involved in matches last weekend where the proposed new playing rules were in operation and the reaction was mixed. There was no outright opposition but there were some interesting views.

  All parties agreed that players were kicking the ball a lot more during the course of the games but there was also a widely held view that there would likely be less goal scoring chances under the new rules because of the four hand pass rule.

  It was also agreed that if the new rules were all brought in for the league it would lead to a much increased workload for referees, which is a worry. Early days though.


Another super weekend of rugby


It was another great weekend for Irish Rugby with all four teams winning well in European competition.

  Connacht are going well and should qualify for the knock-out stages of the Challenge Cup easily.

  Leinster are also going very well in the Champions Cup. Their win against Bath was a real bruiser of a match played in brutal conditions but they cane through the test well and should be too good for the same side at the Aviva on Saturday.

  Munster could be up against it in France this weekend because Castres are a much different side at home than they are away from home. That promises to be a great game.

  Ulster are also going well and their win against the Scarlets at the weekend was a really enjoyable game to watch. When they have a full team they are a formidable outfit.

  A mention too for Creggs, who are going great guns and won again at the weekend against Monivea. It’s now a straight shootout between Creggs and Connemara for the Connacht Junior 1A league title. Exciting times at The Green!