Seamus Duke on sport – June 7th



Katie’s victory is tainted by decision

The achievement of Katie Taylor in becoming the undisputed world champion at lightweight level is huge and the Bray woman is an example to everyone involved in sport – both women and men – as to what can be achieved through hard work, dedication and sheer determination.

  However, her victory at Madison Square Garden last weekend is tainted by the injustice of the fight verdict. I am certainly no boxing expert but I watched the fight on Monday in the company of a lifelong boxing fan who said to me afterwards that there was no way that Katie Taylor had won on the balance of the action.

  Her Belgian opponent, Delfine Persoon, had started slowly and if the fight were judged at the half-way mark then Taylor would have won, but Persoon came very strong in the second half of the fight and she was totally dominant in the last three rounds in particular.

  I know that Taylor didn’t judge the fight and it’s not her fault, but this was a serious injustice. It’s something that happens in professional boxing all the time and at the end of the day it’s all about money. The comments of Katie Taylor’s manager Brian Peters after the fight say all you need to know.

  Ruling out an immediate re-match with Persoon, Peters said: “We have our own plans which will involve fighting in New York again. Unfortunately, Belgians wouldn’t sell too many tickets in New York. So we will be looking at someone local”. 

  Selling tickets and pay-per-view…that’s what it’s all about. Katie Taylor’s place as a modern Irish sporting superstar is certainly not in question but it’s a pity that it had to happen the way that it did.

Minor Championship hard to call!

The Connacht Minor (U-17) football championship has had some amount of twists and turns this year. Only Leitrim are out of contention now with all the other four in with a chance. The final two games will decide who qualifies for the final and who will go into the play-off.

  Mayo were looking good until they ran into Sligo last week but Sligo themselves have been beaten (narrowly) by Galway. Roscommon beat Galway and Leitrim but were hammered by Mayo. The Roscommon v Sligo game will be a huge one for Emmett Durney and his team. They have a few weeks to prepare now but the competition shows once again that it is impossible to predict what will happen at this level of football.

Rossies won’t mind lack of media attention

The fall-out since Roscommon’s win against Mayo in the Connacht SFC semi-final has been very interesting. Hardly any credit or attention has been given to Roscommon or their performance. It has all been about Mayo and how they might cope after the loss. The general consensus (following the initial shock at the result) is that Mayo are still the only team that will trouble the Dubs and that maybe a trip through the qualifiers will be the best thing that ever happened to them! Unbelievable stuff, to be honest and in a lot of cases just lazy journalism.

  It’s probably just as well that there is very little about Roscommon so that they can prepare quietly for the Connacht final against Galway. Come to think about it there hasn’t been too much about Galway either. It could happen that it is the best provincial final of the year!

  I want to mention Eamonn Sweeney’s article on the back of the sports section in the Irish Independent last Sunday, however, in which he praised the Roscommon and Longford GAA teams. A superbly written article and it captured the mood in both counties to a tee. A bit of balance in the national media for once. Well done sir!

Hurlers’ heroics are heart-warming!

Having spent a lifetime covering Roscommon hurlers I have seen the highs of operating in Division Two of the league when the likes of Antrim, Dublin, Westmeath and Carlow were regular visitors to Athleague, down to the situation in recent years when Roscommon struggled against teams like Donegal, Mayo and Tyrone. But it is heart-warming to see the transformation in their fortunes this year.

  I fully realise that they have won nothing yet but their displays against Kildare, London and Meath have been excellent and Ciaran Comerford and his management team have instilled a newfound confidence into the squad. I know that the players themselves have worked hard and they are reaping the rewards.

  This Saturday they face Down in the Christy Ring Cup semi-final. Regardless of the result they have made great progress this year and  have laid down a marker for further progress in the years to come.

Poor hurling championship so far…

I’m almost afraid to say it but the hurling championship this year has not been a patch on what we saw last year. I suppose that it was too much to hope for that the thrills and spills we saw in 2018 would be repeated.

  I sat down and watched both games last Sunday in the Munster championship and there were two very one-sided matches. Tipperary and Limerick do look very strong, however, and maybe when they meet we will have a great game.

  In fairness the much-maligned football championship has thrown up several very good games so far: Down v Armagh, Cavan v Monaghan, Roscommon v Mayo, Longford v Kildare (drawn game) and Cavan v Armagh have all provided excellent entertainment. Is the tide turning? It’s probably too early to say.

Grudging admirer of Klopp’s Liverpool

Through gritted teeth I will congratulate Liverpool on winning the Champions League. After the season they had, they deserved to get something out of it. However, this particular Liverpool team and Jurgen Klopp will only be counted as a really great team when they win the Premier League. They have the team to do it, but Manchester City will be there again next season just as strong as ever.

  The final itself was a very poor game but that won’t bother Liverpool one little bit. Finals are all about winning. They did the heavy lifting earlier in the competition.

  Fans of Manchester United can only look on in admiration at what Liverpool have done under Klopp. Now The ‘Pool will be a very attractive club for some of the top players in the world and they will be able to make their squad even stronger. Why would a top class player want to go to Old Trafford for Thursday night football in the Europa League when they can be guaranteed to qualify for the Champions League and compete for the Premier League title at Anfield? It’s going to be a long, long road back for United as they watch Liverpool go from strength to strength.

Mick’s Boys in Green back in action

It’s very hard to drum up any enthusiasm about Ireland’s forthcoming matches against Gibraltar and Denmark in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. If we could win both it would put Ireland in a great position on the table. It would be nice to qualify for the finals given there are a number of games being played in Dublin.