Seamus Duke on sport – March 1st




A bad day at the office in Cavan

I was expecting that Roscommon would come unstuck at some stage of this league and that came to pass against Cavan last Sunday. I wouldn’t be too hard on the team because they have put in a magnificent effort since the start of the year. The only pity about last Sunday’s game is that it comes a week ahead of a meeting with Dublin and our chances of winning that game are very slight indeed.

  Last Sunday, the intensity that we saw in the opening three league games was missing and Cavan were far sharper for almost the entire game. Roscommon were well beaten at midfield and won very little breaking ball in that vital middle third.

  After the match a lot of supporters were very critical of Ultan Harney and the fact that he got a red card early in the second half, but I have seen the incident on video a number of times since Sunday and it hardly warranted a free, never mind a straight red card. It was extremely harsh and I expect that Roscommon will be appealing that decision and rightly so too. One of the top referees in the country rang me on Monday and said it was as harsh an award as he had seen in a long time and very unfair on the player. I know that Ultan Harney’s recent disciplinary record is not great but in this case I think he was hard done by.

  But his sending off was not the reason Roscommon lost. Cavan were in control almost from the start of the game and only for a serious bout of ‘squandermania’ they should have been at least six points ahead at half-time. It was just a bad day at the office and we have to move on.

All-Ireland champions come to town

Next Sunday will be a marvellous occasion for Roscommon GAA. To have the All-Ireland champions in Dr. Hyde Park is a real treat for everyone who loves the game and there should be a huge crowd there too. All Roscommon can hope for is to be competitive on the day. No one will expect anything from Anthony Cunningham’s men so they can go out and enjoy the atmosphere.

  The real big game now in terms of survival will come on March 16th against Galway at Pearse Stadium. It’s a game that Roscommon can win, and if they could get two points there it would almost certainly keep them up. It will not be easy but it is achievable.

  Kerry now look certain to reach the league final and I expect Dublin to join them. Mayo are safe but they might get stuck on the six points they have. The relegation dog fight is between ourselves, Cavan, Monaghan and maybe Tyrone but they look safe at this stage. There is a lot of football to be played yet. Roscommon can still stay up.

Ladies lose but hurlers still unbeaten

It was mixed results for the other Roscommon teams at the weekend. The hurlers had a high-scoring win against Tyrone in the Hyde and the camogie side also accounted for Tyrone last weekend but there was no luck for the ladies football team who suffered a big defeat at the hands of Meath once again. 

  The hurlers are now into the Division 3A final and that’s a real sign of progress for Ciaran Comerford’s side. They face Lancashire this coming weekend in  Abbotstown.

  The ladies will be trying to get the train back on track against Down at home while the camogie side are at home to Clare. We wish them all the best of luck but it is a pity that all these games are clashing every weekend – it’s impossible to be at them all!

Donegal’s Croker motion rightly defeated

I have attended the GAA Congress twice in my lifetime and that was many moons ago.Time was when it was a massive affair that received huge coverage but now with the various committees it is streamlined and there is not as much controversy at the annual gathering.  

  This year there was a bit of controversy about the Donegal motion that sought to have Dublin taken out of Croke Park for their neutral games in the ‘Super 8s’ but it was defeated –  and rightly so too in my opinion. I hold no torch for the Dubs at all but the period of dominance that they are enjoying at the moment will pass and there won’t be a word about it then. When Meath and Kildare and Kerry were beating Dublin every year there wasn’t a word about this kind of motion and that situation will come around again for sure. It was very interesting to hear Colm O’Rourke say on Sunday night that he would have played Dublin in Croke Park in every game when he was playing for Meath if he got his way.

Magic Messi the greatest of them all!

The legend that is Lionel Messi grows with every passing week. Last weekend he scored another hat-trick for Barcelona which was his 50th career treble. Anyone who saw the highlights saw a stunning left foot volley for the first goal,  e blasted home the second goal with his right foot from the edge of the area and then to top the lot he chipped the ‘keeper for the third.

  The little genius has scored a phenomenal 33 goals in 32 games already this season and holds the record for the number of assists in La Liga. He has now scored an astonishing 650 goals in his career. I think the debate was over a long time ago – he is the greatest of all time!

Have Ireland gone off the boil?

I only saw the ‘highlights’ of Ireland’s win against Italy in the Six Nations and I suspect that we are dealing with a team that has gone off the boil. I said it here a couple of months ago that it was a pity that the World Cup was not in October 2018 because Ireland were on fire at that stage but they are not playing well now at all. I know that they got their bonus point win against Italy but the way they are performing, they might be under pressure against France at this stage. Looking at Wales against England at the weekend, Ireland will be up against it in Cardiff on St. Patrick’s weekend.

  But it’s not all doom and gloom. Jack Carty, a former Roscommon minor county player, got his first Irish senior cap in Rome and what a great honour that is for himself and his family. We were asking the question at the weekend: Is Jack the first Rossie to get a senior cap for the Irish team? As far as I know he is but I am open to correction if any reader knows differently.

Liverpool must attack to get back on track!

I didn’t get to see Manchester United v Liverpool either but by all accounts I didn’t miss much as I believe it was a game of very few chances and caution was the main tactic from both teams. It’s still a positive result for Liverpool but they will have to revert to the way they were playing if they want to win the title. They seem to have gone back into their shell a little in recent weeks and if they are too cautious they will pay a heavy penalty for it. They play Everton in another big game on Sunday. If they can win that it will be a huge step along the way towards winning the title but they will have to go out and attack.