Seamus Duke on sport – December 21st

 

 

Where will United go from here?

 

With the GAA calendar almost empty, last Sunday gave a lot of us a free run to watch Liverpool and Manchester Utd. at Anfield and the match was a very accurate reflection of where both clubs are right now.

  Liverpool are improving season by season and now they are a formidable outfit capable of challenging at the very top level. They may not win this Premier League title but Manchester City will have to be at their very best to pip them. In the Champions League Liverpool will fear no one and that includes their opponents in the next round Bayern Munich.

  United’s sad descent into mediocrity continues. Last Sunday, Liverpool had a total of 36 shots on goal, which is a Premier League record. Even when they were at their worst over the past 35 years United would never, ever allow Liverpool to have that many chances. The United goal came about after a bad goalkeeping error and if it were not for David De Gea, Liverpool would have won the game five or six nil. United are now a mid-table team and heaven help them when they meet PSG in the New Year.

  Just as I was submitting my column for this week the news is coming through that United have sacked Mourinho. I would have left him where he was until the end of the season because it’s a write-off anyway now. United as a club will now have to be very careful what they do now and who they choose to manage the team going forward. They need to take their time and make sure that they get it right this time. They cannot afford another lame duck manager to follow Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho. I actually thought Mourinho was a good choice when he came but how wrong I was. He is in a once great manager who has lost his mojo.

  Let Ole Gunnnar Solskjaer look after the team for the rest of the season and then start again for next season under a new regime. If you told any Liverpool fan in 1990 when they last won the league that it would be 30 years before they won another title they would have laughed heartily. It has happened and it could happen to United as well. The next managerial appointment could decide the future of Manchester for the next 20 years or more.

 

Not ‘Shaw’ about ‘Coach of the Year’

 

The RTÉ Sports Awards were held last Saturday night and as per usual there are various opinions offered as to who should have won in the various categories.

  Johnny Sexton was an excellent choice for the main award in my view as was the Young Star of the Year Rhys McClenaghan. The Team of the Year went to the Irish women’s hockey team, which was fair enough as they had reached a World Cup Final. The Limerick hurlers and the Irish rugby team were very strong contenders there too.

  However, when it came to the Coach of the Year award I think the majority of sports fans were absolutely gobsmacked with the choice of Graham Shaw (the hockey coach).

  Joe Schmidt presided over an unbeaten year for the Irish rugby team, a Grand Slam, victory over Australia in Australia, a win against the All Blacks and a rise to number two in the world rankings. John Keily managed Limerick hurlers to come from nowhere to win the All-Ireland title. Jim Gavin has managed the Dubs to four in a row as well. I’m sure Graham Shaw is a nice guy, but Coach of the Year with the other contenders who were there? Serious credibility issues after that one for whoever was responsible for making that decision.

 

Full of admiration for Katie Taylor

 

You cannot but admire the way that Katie Taylor went about her business at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night last. She was utterly dominant against a highly rated opponent and she has a very busy 2019 ahead of her.

  Listening to the experts evaluating her latest performance, they were all of the opinion that this was by far her best display since entering the paid ranks two years ago and that augurs well for the future.

  It would appear that from now on Katie will have all her fights in the USA. The money is there and she is building a huge profile Stateside which is always good for TV. She seems to be improving.

 

Hoping to ‘Win a House in Dublin’!

 

By the time I have another column to write, I hope to be the owner of a brand new house in Ashtown in Dublin! I understand that the hard-working committee are poised to achieve sales well in excess of 10,000 tickets which would be a marvellous success and a huge boost to the finances of the Roscommon County Board. A lot of hard work went into the selling of the tickets but it has been worthwhile. Now won’t it be grand to have a base in Ashtown for those Super 8 games later in in the year!

 

Nastiness between Munster and Castres

 

The Munster v Castres match in the Champions Cup last Saturday evening was a throwback to some of the really nasty games we saw at the top level of the game in the 80s and 90s.

  For such an experienced referee, Wayne Barnes had a stinker and he missed several really serious and violent incidents. While Munster were no angels themselves, a lot of the more serious stuff was carried out by Castres players.

  In these days of TMOs and top class camerawork it was very disappointing to see. Having said all of the above, Munster should still have won the game. Joey Carbery is no Johnny Sexton unfortunately and he had an off day, which cost his side.

  Leinster, on the other hand, ploughed on with another brilliant display against Bath. Their game against Toulouse in the New Year will be worth seeing.

  Ulster are surprising a lot of people with how good they are playing and Connacht are unbeaten in the Challenge Cup.

 

Cork issues could impact on The Hyde

 

The spectacular overrun in the cost of re-developing Pairc Uí Chaoimh could have repercussions here in Roscommon. The decision of Croke Park to take over the running of the Cork stadium and the massive overspend will mean that the association will have little or no money to spend on other major infrastructural projects in the medium term. That would include about €1million which is needed to be spent on Dr. Hyde Park to bring it up to the standards required in that Connacht Council diktat last year.

  The fact that the actual pitch at Pairc Uí Chaoimh will have to be totally re-laid after just 12 months is a shocking indictment of the way this project was managed or to be more correct, mismanaged.

  Over the years the people at the top in Cork GAA were not behind the door at looking down their noses and lecturing everyone else in the GAA as to how they were running their affairs. This disaster will cost them dearly for many years to come. How the mighty have fallen!

 

What’s another year…

 

It’s hard to believe it but this is the final column of the year. As one gets older the time seems to pass by so quickly as one year rolls into another. 2018 has been a fantastic year of sport and we are looking back in other articles in the paper this week.

  I always say that people who don’t appreciate sport have something missing from their lives. The big matches, the big tournaments, the small matches, the small tournaments, the personalities, the controversies, the talking points, the near misses, the great performances, the mistakes, the ecstasy of winning, and the despair of losing is a microcosm of life in general and every year it enriches those of us who love it.

  I would have strong views on a lot of issues but at the end of the day the people who read this column every week and yours truly share a love of sport and long may that continue. Whether you agree or disagree with what I say makes no difference, it’s only a sporting opinion after all.

  Thanks for reading and a Happy Christmas and a Sporting New Year to one and all.