Seamus Duke on sport – March 22nd



Relegation creeps closer for Rossies

Who’d be a pundit? Just when I thought that Roscommon footballers had gotten rid of the dirty petrol in the engine after the poor display against Cavan, with a very good 50-minute effort against Dublin, it was back to the bad old days at Pearse Stadium last Saturday.  

  Roscommon simply never got going, and despite being within two points three minutes before the break, the team never looked like they were in with a chance and the goal and two points scored by Galway before the short whistle were decisive.

  Roscommon got hardly any breaks at midfield and Conor Cox needs more help up front. He was Roscommon’s best player by a country mile, and while Cathal Cregg had a good first half, our options up front are very limited at the moment. We need a fully fit Diarmuid Murtagh back on the team as soon as possible.

  It was a very poor game of football and while Galway did look good going forward, the jury is out on whether they have the team to challenge at the very highest level. They have some excellent, pacy attackers, but they are suspect in defence. But that’s for another day.

  Now Roscommon need a huge display at home against Kerry. Anthony Cunningham’s men have been very good in The Hyde against Monaghan, Tyrone and Dublin and we will need an even bigger effort on Sunday. Kerry losing to Mayo last Saturday was a bad result for Roscommon as they now need a point to get to the league final which means that they will have everything to play for. I would fancy a Mayo win against Monaghan in Castlebar but I fear that it may not be enough to save Roscommon’s bacon. But where there is life there is hope. When Roscommon are not expected to win is when they are at their best.

  This is the final competitive game ahead of what is a very difficult Connacht Championship campaign and a win against The Kingdom would be a big confidence booster ahead of the summer. The Roscommon players will have to dig deep one more time. It’s unlikely we will survive but you know, stranger things have happened!


Hope for challengers after Dubs’ defeat


Last weekend’s results in the football league were very interesting. Dublin losing a third game in the campaign has led to a suspicion that all may not be well in the camp of the champions as they prepare their five-in-a-row bid. The fact that the Dubs will not be in the league final for the first time since 2012 has given a boost to all the other major sides and Kerry, Mayo, Galway and Tyrone will all want to get to the decider now.

   I have to say that I was wrong about Mayo: I thought after the game against Galway they were finished but they were excellent against Kerry in Tralee. Aidan O’Shea played his best game for the county in a couple of years while his midfield partner Matthew Ruane looks a good player too. I expect them to beat Monaghan on Sunday next.

  Tyrone were really comfortable against Dublin at Croke Park and Jim Gavin has a lot of work to do ahead of the championship now. The champions’ full-back line looks weak and Gavin will have to carry out remedial work there ahead of the championship. I wouldn’t be writing them off yet.

World Cup arrives a year too late

In this column two months ago, I wondered if the World Cup was coming 12 months too late for this Irish team and it looks like the answer to that question is yes.

  While everyone gets so down in the dumps after a bad defeat, the reality is that Ireland are not as good as they thought they were before the Six Nations Championship started but are not as bad as we saw last Saturday in Cardiff.  Ireland were well beaten by a mediocre England team and were hammered by a very good Welsh team. They played poorly against Italy and Scotland and were reasonably good against France.

  But looking ahead to the World Cup the realistic prediction is that we have no chance of actually winning it. With luck we might get to the semi-finals and that’s as much as we can expect. A lot of our great players are suffering a loss of form. Lads like Rob Kearney, Rory Best, Conor Murray Johnny Sexton and Sean O’Brien have a lot of miles on the clock and maybe time is running out for them. They are not robots and maybe they are coming to the end of the line. They have been magnificent servants to Ireland and have brought us great moments over the past five years under Joe Schmidt so I wouldn’t be too hard on them.

  Just a word about Warren Gatland who would not be universally popular in this country for a number of reasons. He has been in charge in Wales for 12 years and in that time he has delivered three Grand Slams. That’s the same number as Ireland have won in their entire history! Gatland will be judged as a class coach and one of the all-time greats.

Delaney’s FAI ‘loan’ beggars belief

Just as the Irish soccer team start a new era under Mick McCarthy this weekend, it’s all overshadowed by the incredible story of John Delaney and his €100,000 ‘loan’ to the FAI. If it wasn’t so serious it would be one of the greatest jokes of all time.

  Delaney is one of the highest paid CEOs in world football and has been for over a decade. His €440,000 a year salary (during the boom) is now down to a miserly €360,000 a year which is telephone numbers of most ordinary people. But not only is Delaney been paid massive money, he was so flush that he was able to give his employers a load to tide them over a couple of years ago! It beggars belief.

  One thing that you can be certain of, Delaney will walk away scot free and will come up smiling and smelling of roses again. These people never pay a price for any indiscretions at all. He has so much power that there is no one able to challenge him. Is it any wonder why there are so many problems with the game in this country? It’s the international team at number one and little or nothing is done below that level.

Sporting highs and lows for CBS

It was a great week for Roscommon CBS. On Wednesday evening last they went down to an excellent Garbally side in the Connacht Schools Cup final but they lost nothing in defeat. There was a huge crowd and a mighty atmosphere in The Sportsground and the CBS battled hard all the way to the finish. But Garbally were just too powerful physically for them and they pulled away in the end.

  There was compensation for the school on Saturday afternoon as they hammered Summerhill College to win the Connacht ‘B’ SFC title in some style. They scored an astonishing 5-22 in the process. Now they face the Ulster champions in the semi-final and while it is very wise not to get carried away and take one step at a time, All-Ireland glory beckons if they can maintain their form.

Rory silences his critics!

Rory McIlroy silenced the critics with a very impressive win at The Players’ Championship at the weekend. Once again there was high drama in the last round as some of the top players in the world challenged for the title and the outcome was in doubt until McIlroy edged ahead over the final few holes. The big question now is can he add The Masters title to his major haul? Time will tell but he is back in the winning enclosure now and that’s a warning to the rest.