Seamus Duke on sport – January 25th



Roscommon can give Mayo a fright!


I was away at the weekend in the UK but needless to say, I was hanging on every tweet  and message coming from Tuam and as the game went on it was clear that Roscommon were going to grind out a victory.

  To win the FBD League will not go down as one of the sporting highlights of the year, but it was the manner of that win that’s most important. Reading the coverage of the game since, Roscommon have really tightened up in defence and that was one thing that was needed, especially with the Division One campaign coming up. It was good to read what other people thought of the Roscommon performance for once and there was universal agreement that Roscommon played really well in defence and that will always provide a real platform for the other aspects of play.

  I was delighted for Donie Smith who is such a talented player. If he could be more consistent he could be one of the stars of the league this year.

  This win and performance will give the team hope as they prepare to travel to MacHale Park on Saturday night. It would be reckless to expect that Roscommon could go there and win, but it’s becoming clear that the Rossies are becoming hard to beat and Mayo will have to earn any scores they might get. If Roscommon can go and put it up to Mayo and give them a fright it will give the team great heart for the tough games ahead.

  The players are clearly working very hard, the performances against Sligo and Galway were excellent but the real business starts this coming weekend. When the league draw was made I have to say that I was dreading having to go to Castlebar for our first game in the league. In common with many Roscommon supporters, we have come back down that road from Castlebar  so many times over the past 30 years cast down after another heavy defeat. But the battling display against Galway means that I am now looking forward to starting another campaign.

  The match and the campaign is previewed in detail elsewhere in the paper this week but if we can keep the margin to less than six points and give Mayo a fright it will do me fine and would represent a very good start to the campaign.


Hurlers open league campaign in Louth


The Roscommon hurlers are also up and running this weekend and promotion must be a priority in this campaign. A trip to face Louth in Darver is a game that must be factored in as a win if progress is to be made. It will be interesting to see what players are available this year to Ciaran Comerford. If he can put close to his best team on the field Roscommon should definitely start with a win.


Not sure about scrapping hand-pass rule


And so the hand-pass rule is in the bin almost before it got a chance to be seen. The other rules will now be trialled in the leagues and at least they will be given a chance to see if they can benefit the game.

  At the weekend I saw two live games of Gaelic football: the Dublin v Westmeath game was very poor overall and featured a lot of negative football. On Saturday night, the McKenna Cup final was a much better game and a great contest. It’s clear that something had to be done to make the game less boring. I am not so sure that scrapping the hand-pass rule will be positive in the long run.


Carty to answer Ireland’s Call!


Huge congratulations to Jack Carty on being picked for the Irish Rugby squad. The former St. Brigid’s and Roscommon player has been phenomenal this year and richly deserves his call-up. It’s likely that he will not make the World Cup squad but you never know what injuries might befall the players who are ahead of him in the pecking order. The Six Nations starts the weekend after next and it will be fiercely contested as usual. Jack Caty’s star is still rising.


Ulster draw short straw


The rugby results at the weekend were interesting. Leinster showed their class against Wasps but both Ulster and Munster are really improving with every game they play.

  Ulster drew the short straw and have to travel to the Aviva to face the champions in a local derby. Leinster should win that with a bit to spare.

  The Munster v Exeter game was a mighty battle. Exeter gave it everything but Munster would not relent. Joey Carbery’s kicking was the difference in the end.

  Connacht also got through after a tough battle in Bordeaux. They will be up against it in the quarter-final as they travel to face Sale, who beat them easily earlier this season.


Shane Lowry into the world’s top 50


I was thrilled for Shane Lowry at the weekend. I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times and he is a lovely guy and a great character. That he is a very talented golfer is in no doubt but his form is very streaky. He has to become more consistent. His win at the weekend puts him into the world’s top 50 which opens so may doors for him and he will get into all the big world golf tournaments and if he stays in the top 50 by the 1st of March he will also play in the Masters at Augusta. He is a down to earth guy who loves all sport and particularly GAA.

  With Padraig Harrington just appointed as the Ryder Cup captain, Lowry will be keen to make the team for next year. He is going about it the right way!


Ticket price hike unfair on fans


The decision of the GAA to increase the prices for all games is ill-advised in my humble opinion. It will now cost €20 for an adult ticket to a National League game and that’s a lot of money especially for couples who like to follow their team throughout the league campaign. Long trips away are dear enough without having to shell out €40 for tickets for two. Championship games have all gone up in price too. An All-Ireland ticket is now €90 and semi-final tickets will be €50.

  You might wonder why I am complaining as I don’t pay into a lot of games that I cover for this paper and the radio, but the GAA could be pricing itself out of the market with this increase. A lot of people have complained bitterly to me about this decision.

  The attendances at big football games in 2018 were well down and it will be interesting to see what the reaction of the public is to these increases. Remember the increase in the price of league tickets is a whopping 33 per cent. It’s way ahead of any sort of inflation figure I have seen even if the last price review was eight years ago.


Rice should be allowed make up his mind


The furore over Declan Rice is very unfair on the lad himself. He is only 20-years-old yet hardly a day passes by without some sort of story in the media about his international future. There is no doubt that he is a very good player and would be a big asset to both countries. Ireland probably need him more than England do but he should be allowed to make up his mind. Regardless of what he decided he should be left alone and let him get on with his career.


Liverpool inch closer to title


Liverpool are continuing to blaze a trail in the Premier League. Although they have a lot of injuries in defence they are still winning games that they would have lost in other seasons. Man City are showing no signs of slipping up but looking at Liverpool’s fixture list they have a decided advantage. With every passing week they are inching closer to their first title in 29 years.