Seamus Duke on sport – July 5th




The Hyde misses out on another big game


And so Dr. Hyde Park misses out on another big game: The Roscommon town stadium was the obvious venue for the Galway v Mayo All-Ireland round four qualifier this weekend. But while the people who operate the levers of power in the association can come up with all sorts of reasons why it was not chosen (as they have done) the bottom line is that if the GAA at national level really wanted that game to go ahead in Hyde Park then that’s where it would have been played.

  Roscommon GAA is being treated poorly here again by the powers that be. Last year the County Board signed a deal with the Connacht Council when the Connacht Final was fixed for Hyde Park that a programme of refurbishment work would be carried out at the venue before any more Connacht finals could be held there but sadly to date none of those works have been completed. 

  The reasons why this work has not been done are explained in a press release which was released by Roscommon GAA this week and that’s fine and we have to accept the reasons outlined. But the fact remains that the GAA have a stick to beat Roscommon County Board with whenever it suits them and they have taken it out of the drawer on this occasion.

  I have no skin in this game. Personally I couldn’t care less where Galway play Mayo but there are shops, restaurants, pubs, hotels and B&Bs in Roscommon town that could badly do with a boost who will be missing out.

  I wrote in this column a month ago that 2020 is coming around very quickly and if Roscommon are to play Mayo or Galway, those games are ‘home’ fixtures for Roscommon. If that draw happens then this situation is likely to happen again. The works as agreed will simply have to be carried out in Dr. Hyde Park or this situation will rear its head again and again.

  The mad thing about the whole fixtures situation is that if Cavan were to beat Tyrone this weekend the Roscommon v Cavan game, which would potentially draw a crowd even bigger than the Galway v Mayo game, will definitely be held in Dr. Hyde Park! Try to explain that to anyone who is not involved!

  I would also dispute the fact that an attendance in excess of 18,000 (the capacity of Hyde Park) will be in attendance at the Galway v Mayo game. Will the Mayo fans from Ballina, Belmullet and the west of that county take on the trip to Limerick on Saturday night when the match is on TV? I very much doubt it.

  In the meantime, it is the businesses and the economy of Roscommon town area that will suffer while there are 15-18,000 people from Galway and Mayo being dragged down the country to Limerick for a game that should be going on here in Roscommon. I know that County Board officials work hard and are volunteers and are doing their best. They don’t want this hassle I’m sure. If the required works are done in the Hyde this will not come up again and I’m sure that’s what everyone wants.

Lahinch set to host Irish Open

This weekend Lahinch stages the Irish Open and if the wind blows it’s a really tough course. I have only played it once but have been there a number of times, most notably when Roscommon’s Ken Kearney was narrowly beaten in the South of Ireland final by Graeme McDowell.

  I am expecting that Shane Lowry will do well again this year. He is a superb player on links courses and it’s ten years since his sensational win in Baltray as an amateur which launched his career. Tommy Fleetwood and Louis Osthuizen must be also in the frame. It will be a chance to showcase one of our most beautiful courses to the world. I hope they get the weather.

Not enough critical analysis of racing?

Last Saturday we saw the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby take place at The Curragh. Aidan O’Brien had five horses in the race but the one that won the huge prize was the outsider of the lot. This happened before in the Epsom Derby a few years ago as well.

  Now I am not suggesting for one minute that there is anything untoward going on but something that strikes me about the TV coverage of racing is that there is never any critical analysis of the action at any stage at all. Jockeys are never questioned about how they might have ridden a horse or there is never any questioning as to why a heavily fancied horse trails in behind the rest.

  I totally understand you are dealing with animals and the science is very inexact, but on the racing media everything is always ‘fantastic’ and ‘brilliant’ and is ’such a great win’ no matter what horse wins or what his price is. The people I am thinking about are the poor punters who haven’t a clue what they are doing and splashing out their hard-earned money on horses, who clearly haven’t got a chance of winning the race. I know that this is the way that the ‘game’ (as they call it) has been for decades but it remains the only sport where critical analysis is totally absent from media coverage.

  The previous evening in the Pretty Polly Stakes, TV pundit Brian Gleeson told us that there had been a bet of €50,000 on a horse called Pink Dogwood. Once again the outsider in the race romped home with the favourite trailing well behind. I just find it strange that there is no discussion about those situations at all. Maybe I’m being naïve.


Championship Watch


All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers (Round 4) on Saturday

Mayo v Galway in Limerick at 7 pm

This is the seventh year in a row that these sides have met in the championship. Galway have won the last three meetings. The result of this game may well depend on how Galway have recovered from their Connacht final defeat. They were simply woeful in the second half of that match against Roscommon and any repeat of that form will see them heavily beaten here. Mayo are chugging along again but are beginning to run out of road and they are starting to pick up injuries that they can ill afford. They might have one more kick in them to win this narrowly but if Galway can discover their best form they can edge it. Mayo might just be good enough.

Prediction: Mayo

Meath v Clare on Sunday in Portlaoise at 2 pm

Meath will be reeling after their capitulation against Dublin. Clare will be very dangerous if limited opponents who will travel with optimism. If Meath can recover from the Dublin debacle they have the players to win but it might be a lot closer than people think.

Prediction: Meath

All-Ireland SHC Preliminary Quarter-Finals on Sunday

Laois v Dublin in Portlaoise at 4.15 pm

The Dubs should be hot favourites but they would do well to pay attention to a Laois team that put up huge scores in their Joe McDonagh Cup campaign.

Prediction: Dublin

Westmeath v Cork in Mullingar at 3 pm

Prediction: Cork