Seamus Duke on sport – June 21st




One of our best ever Connacht victories!

Having attended more Connacht senior finals than I would ever be prepared to admit, last Sunday’s win in Salthill was one of our best ever. I expected Roscommon to win the game, but at half-time it looked like it was not going to be our day. Anyone who tells you that they still believed Roscommon would win at half-time is telling you a lie!

  The reason why I didn’t think we would win at that stage is because Galway had become masters at shutting down a game and strangling the life out of the opposition over the past three years. But in fairness to Roscommon, they didn’t panic, got the goal at the crucial time and they upped the intensity all over the field. It was a majestic performance from Anthony Cunningham’s men and one of our best ever Connacht final wins.

  Galway fans will be very unhappy with the performance of their team in the second half. A lot of their players simply didn’t want to know when Roscommon turned up the heat. All-Ireland contenders? Not this Galway team. I fear that Kevin Walsh will be out of a job if they are beaten in the qualifiers. They will have to go back to the traditional style of Galway football but that’s their problem!

  For Roscommon, they now face into the Super 8s with confidence. To have the first game at home is a huge boost. We could be meeting anyone in that game. I just hope that it’s not Mayo. I’d prefer not to have to play them again. With the exception of Dublin, Roscommon will be confident against any other team left in the competition.

  To have three championship games left is fantastic, and a further learning process for our young team who will only improve with these experiences.

  Just a few observations about off-field matters concerning the Connacht final, the attendance of 17,639 would have fit comfortably into Dr. Hyde Park (if the game was fixed there) but alas, it has been banned from holding Connacht finals!

  The most incredible thing is that regardless of who Roscommon play in the opening round of the Super 8s, the game will be held at Dr. Hyde Park, even if it’s Mayo. Try and figure that one out! 

  Remember too that 2020 won’t be long coming around, and if Roscommon are playing Mayo or Galway, it will be a ’home’ venue. More controversy around the corner unless the planned works are carried out soon.

  At the end of the game last Sunday thousands of Roscommon fans ran onto the field thinking the game was over. It was all a bit of a laugh and joke afterwards and no harm was done at all. Two observations about that, however; it would never have happened in Dr. Hyde Park because on a big match day there are about 300 stewards working and there would have been no pitch invasion. And if such an incident ever did happen at Dr. Hyde Park you can be sure that they would be banned from having any more matches for 50 years!

Hoping for a Cavan win this Sunday

I am really looking forward to seeing the Ulster final on Sunday. I have nothing whatsoever against Donegal and I admire their magnificent players like Michael Murphy, Paddy McBrearty and Ryan McHugh but I have many great friends in Cavan and they are a county very much like Roscommon. There is a huge passion for Gaelic football in Cavan and the atmosphere in the county is palpable as they prepare for their first Ulster final since 2001.

  The match in Clones is a 35,000 sell-out and Cavan people are coming from all over the world for the occasion. They will take huge inspiration from Roscommon’s win last Sunday against Galway – I’d love to see them win it!

Ladies and Minors take centre stage

This weekend it’s the turn of the Roscommon Ladies and minors to take centre stage. The minors are up against it on Friday night in Sligo. It’s a ‘win or bust’ match and it will be a very difficult game to win as this is a very talented Sligo side who have beaten Mayo and run Galway to a couple of points.

  Roscommon Ladies return to MacHale Park for their Connacht final clash with Sligo and the Yeats County will be very anxious to reverse last year’s result. Roscommon are progressing well and will be hoping that they can produce it on the day. It would be a huge boost to record another win. They are well capable of putting two titles back-to-back.

Solskjaer needs committed signings!

The summer transfer deals across the channel are underway and it would appear that Paul Pogba is set to leave Manchester United and I for one will not shed too many tears at that turn of events.

  If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to do one positive thing while he is manager at Manchester United it would be to recruit players who really want to play for the club and have the passion required.

  Only this week there was a reminder of what the former Inter Milan President, Massimo Moratti, once said about Paul Scholes:

  “We tried really hard to sign Scholes several times. We gave Manchester United a blank cheque. We talked to him and his replies were always short and simple. ‘If you want me to play for you, then you will have to buy this club’, he said. He was one of a kind. He didn’t even have an agent. We gave up eventually”. 

  That’s the kind of commitment that Solskjaer needs from his players at Manchester United. Until that happens they have no chance of competing with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.

A good year for Irish golfers…so far

Despite not winning the US Open title, it is proving to be a very good year for Irish golfers with the Irish, Scottish and British Opens coming up over the next few weeks.

  Rory McIlroy is now at number four in the world after his heroics in Canada. Shane Lowry is gaining a consistency that has been absent from his game and he is now up to 31 in the rankings this week. Graeme McDowell is back into the top 100 and is in good form ahead of the British Open, which is being held on his home course at Portrush. Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan are both improving too and it will be interesting to see how they do in the next few weeks.

  When you add in Leona Maguire who is improving with every passing week in the ladies game it is a very exciting time for the game in this country.

Martin Breheny’s final report from Connacht

I have been friendly with Martin Breheny for many years. Since he wrote for the Irish Press in fact, and that’s not today nor yesterday. He has been with the Irish Independent for the past two decades and while there are people who might not have agreed with his views, he is a man who loves the GAA and is not just someone who gets paid to report on it.

  Last Sunday he covered his last Connacht final after 45 years in the job and there was a small presentation to him in the press area which was made by former Roscommon manager John Tobin.

  During the year I would have occasion to chat to Martin Breheny many times and even if we disagreed he would always listen to your point of view and respect it too. He was always fair and I always found him to be very fair to Roscommon. 

  I’m sure that he will stay involved in some form or other after this year is over. Martin’s buddy and fellow Barnaderg man Michael Lyster hung up his microphone on The Sunday Game last year and now he will be stepping aside at the end of the 2019 championship. I wish him the best of luck.