Seamus Duke on sport – February 1st



Should the game have gone ahead?

The fall-out after the Mayo game is well documented elsewhere but several people I have spoken to since Saturday night have questioned whether the game should have gone ahead at all. I have said in my match report that they were the worst conditions that I have ever seen for a National League game and I stand by that.

  It was, however, quite incredible that almost 11,000 people paid into the game. It begs the question as to what the attendance would have been if it was a fine and calm evening. I know many people who left at half-time because they were soaked and frozen and couldn’t take any more. Thankfully there were no injuries or mishaps that I heard about. But there were at least three trees down on the way home that we had to avoid, and the traffic in Castlebar after the game was unbelievable. It was as miserable a night as I’ve ever seen at any game.

  The players themselves were absolutely frozen when they came off the field and to add to their misery the showers in MacHale Park were not working ad they had to go to the nearby Castlebar GAA Club to wash themselves.

  I won’t dwell too much on the game itself here but it was a battling and brave display from Roscommon and they were unlucky. Missed chances in the second quarter proved costly in the end.


It doesn’t get any easier this Sunday…


It certainly doesn’t get any easier this Sunday when high-flying Monaghan are the visitors to Dr. Hyde Park. I like this Monaghan team, they are playing super football for the past number of years and were very unlucky not to have been in the All-Ireland final in 2018. They have a number of battle-hardened seasoned experienced county players and they will be very hard to beat.

  It would be impossible to judge Roscommon fairly after the lottery that was MacHale Park on Saturday night. One thing is for certain, there is a steel and edge about Roscommon that we haven’t seen for a number of years and the team are definitely harder to beat. I just feel that Monaghan will have too much class on the day.

  It’s good that there is a double header in Hyde Park on Sunday but it means a long day for those of us who will have to cover both games! The hurlers began with a good win last weekend, they should repeat the dose on Sunday.


League decider at The Green this Sunday


This Sunday Creggs’ junior side face their biggest game in many years when they face Connemara at home in the Connacht Junior League at The Green at 2.30 pm. The destination of the Junior 1A League crown is between these two teams and a win would almost certainly give Creggs the title and it would revive memories of huge successes in the past, What a pity it clashes with the games in Dr. Hyde Park but I wish all concerned the best of luck.


The golf season is heating up!


The golf season is really cranking up now and Justin Rose is the top man in the world and playing well. Tiger Woods made a solid start to his year at the weekend and was just out of luck on the greens.

  Shane Lowry is in a rich vein of  form at the moment and had another very solid showing at the Dubai Desert Classic. He is not playing this week but will appear on the PGA Tour the weekend after next. His win in Abu Dhabi means that he is now inside the world’s top 50 and if he can stay there he will play in all the World Championship events and the Masters too. He has the game to win a major. He just needs more consistency.


RTE’s league programme is promising


I would be the first to give out about RTÉ’s TV coverage of the GAA during the winter but their new ‘Allianz Leagues’ programme last Sunday night was very promising. There was plenty of action in football and hurling and Joanne Cantwell made a good start as replacement for Michael Lyster. When it came to the football segment she refused to let Joe Brolly go off on a tangent and if she keeps that up there will be many a clash between the two of them as the year goes on.

  The fact that RTÉ will show some live league games is also very welcome. For many counties the National League is the highlight of their year and it’s good to see it getting more recognition.

  With regard to the new rules, the ‘advanced mark’ was used to great effect in some of the games. There was just one black card in Castlebar but in the Cavan v Galway game Cavan had three players in the sin bin at one stage of the second half. We will learn more as the weeks go on.


Donie was treated unfairly!


Much has been made this week about the ‘Donie Smith incident’ and while I would never for one second condone any kind of contact with anyone’s eyes, I think he is being treated unfairly.

  There was an outcry on social media on Saturday night and Sunday before the RTÉ Sunday night programme acted as judge, jury and executioner. Surely he should be allowed to explain his actions and Keith Higgins should be given a chance to have his say too. I know the pictures do not look good but the only one who really knows if there was any intent there or not is Donie Smith himself. He should be given a chance to explain himself before anyone takes action. Guilty without a trial is unfair.


Elsewhere in the division last weekend…


I have to say I really enjoyed the Monaghan match against Dublin last Sunday. After 20 minutes it looked like the Dubs would blow them away but slowly but surely Monaghan got a grip on proceedings and it was a well-deserved win in the end.

  Elsewhere, it would appear Peter Keane is taking a leaf out of Anthony Cunningham’s book with a more defensive gameplan for Kerry. They kept the back door shut against Tyrone and scored a very good win.

  The game between Galway and Cavan was poor. They are two teams that Roscommon can beat.


Hurling rules causing confusion!


Just as the controversy over the new football playing rules was beginning to die down we have hurling managers players and pundits up in arms over a new emphasis that referees are putting on some rules.

  There is terrible confusion about the hand pass and players and spectators alike were non-plussed at some decisions made by referees over the weekend. There were also complaints about some of the sendings-off that we saw.

  I am certainly no hurling expert but after what was probably the greatest year in the history of the game, was there any need to go messing with the rules?


Six Nations kicks off on Saturday


The biggest game of the Rugby Six Nations Championship is at the Aviva on Saturday when Ireland take on England. With the World Cup later in the year this is the biggest year in the history of the Irish Rugby team.

  Expectations are high and rightly so. Gone are the days when Ireland were cannon fodder for the English and now Irish fans expect their team to win. England would love to turn over Joe Schmidt’s men on their own home turf but I am confident that Ireland will win. It will be hugely physical and probably close too, but Ireland will not want to lose to their great rivals in World Cup year.