Seamus Duke on sport – May 10th





Rossies back in action this weekend

Is it me, or does the championship seem to come around faster every year? We are back in the thick of it on Sunday in Dr. Hyde Park and the game against Leitrim is previewed in detail elsewhere in the paper this week. I am expecting a spirited challenge from Leitrim but I am expecting a comfortable win for Roscommon.

  The Roscommon hurlers are playing this weekend too and they face a huge task against Kildare who hammered them last year in Newbridge. I was there that day and it was one of the heaviest defeats that I have seen in the many years that I have been covering Roscommon hurlers. But as the song says: ‘The only way is up!’ and I have been impressed with how Ciaran Comerford has gone about his business this year, quietly and under the radar. I know that the players have worked hard and a good league campaign will give them confidence. It’s probably too much to expect them to win against Kildare but watch out for a big improvement.

  It’s a pity that the game is not being played in Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday. Athleague may be the home of Roscommon hurling but fixing the game there with a throw-in time of 12.45 pm will ensure a very small attendance. Good luck to all concerned.

Racing returns to Lenebane

Roscommon Races are back on Monday for another season and this year they will unveil their magnificent new facilities, which include new changing rooms and a sauna, new press facilities, first aid room and a new secretary’s office. There is hardly a year that goes by that Roscommon have not upgraded their facilities and Michael Finneran has done a marvellous job there as manager. He deserves huge praise for his hard work at the track over the years and hopefully it will be another very successful year at Lenebane.

Connacht championship up and running

The matches for Mayo and Galway last weekend  in the Connacht championship were all about winning and both did so, and will now move on.

  Galway were poor against London but Kevin Walsh will be happy with the win and with another fairly easy match coming up against Sligo, the Tribesmen can prepare for a Connacht final.

  Mayo were never out of second gear as they hammered New York and they are spending a week out in the Catskill Mountains on a training camp ahead of tougher tests down the road.

  One can only marvel at the level of support that Mayo footballers have. Everyone saw the video clips of thousands of Mayo supporters singing and dancing in Times Square last Saturday and if Roscommon are able to beat Leitrim on Sunday there will be at least 25,000 people at the Mayo v Rossies clash on May 25th and 20,000 of them will be supporting Mayo. It seems that their support base is growing all the time which is phenomenal.

Title race goes right to the wire!

The Premier League title race is going right down to the wire and after weeks of predicting that there would be a twist in the tail of the season, it’s looking very much like Manchester City will nick it at the death. When Divock Origi scored that late goal for Liverpool on Saturday night against Newcastle I thought that Liverpool’s name was on the trophy. But just as Manchester City looked like they were going to slip up against Leicester City up comes Vincent Kompany with a contender for goal of the season on Monday night.

  On Sunday next Liverpool should beat Wolves at Anfield but City should be far too good for Brighton. It’s unlikely we will see any shock result. If that happens Liverpool will have gathered an amazing 97 points and not won the title. Liverpool and City have been miles ahead of the rest this season and they will be even stronger next season.

  As for Manchester United, they are going from one crisis to another. It could be many years before they are contenders again. I am happy with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager. At least he has respect for the club and the people who follow them. Mourinho had respect for no one except himself.

Irish women to the fore

The annual Byron Nelson Championship this weekend on the PGA Tour will see a lot of the big guns in action as it is only one week ahead of the second major of the year, the PGA Championship, which this year will be held at Bethpage in New York.

  Tiger Woods is not playing this weekend and he will go straight to the PGA and play on a course that he has won the US Open on in the past. 

  In women’s golf Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire have both qualified to play in the forthcoming US Open which is huge for them. Maguire is steadily making her way to the top of the sport and it is only a matter of time before the County Cavan woman is competing for the top prizes in the professional game.

Note: An article about the late Eugene McGee can be seen in the Straight Talking Column this week.

Championship Watch

Leinster SFC Round One

Wicklow v Kildare in Aughrim on Saturday at 7 pm

Wicklow have had a poor league campaign and can have no lofty ambitions about this game never mind the Leinster Championship. Kildare are a notch or two below a top eight side but they will be far too strong for John Evans’ men. Prediction: Kildare

Wexford v Louth at Wexford Park on Sunday at 3 pm

Not a tie to set the pulses racing. Louth had a reasonable league campaign and only narrowly missed out on promotion from Division Three. Wexford have slipped down the rankings. Louth might just have enough.

Prediction: Louth

Meath v Offaly on Sunday in Navan at 3 pm

Meath are on a high after promotion to Division One and are definitely improving. John Maughan will be hoping that his side can keep the margin to a respectable level. I just hope that it’s not too one-sided.

Prediction: Meath

Munster SFC Quarter-Finals

Tipperary v Limerick in Thurles on Saturday at 7 pm

Tipperary have not been as impressive this year as they have been for the past four or five. Nevertheless, Liam Kerins’ charges should be too good for Limerick. Prediction: Tipperary

Clare v Waterford in Ennis on Saturday at 7 pm

No record breaking crowd expected in Ennis for this one. Clare are a very solid outfit under Colm Collins and it would be more than a surprise if they don’t prevail here.

Prediction: Clare

Ulster SFC Preliminary Round

Tyrone v Derry in Omagh on Sunday at 4 pm

Only a few short years ago this would have been the game of the day in the football championship. But with Tyrone looking a very good side and genuine All-Ireland contenders, it will be easy for them at home.

Prediction: Tyrone

Leinster SHC Round One

Kilkenny v Dublin in Nowlan Park on Saturday at 7 pm

Now this should be interesting. Kilkenny are short a few vital players through injury. Mattie Kenny seems to be getting a nice tune out of this Dublin team. This could be a cracking game settled by home advantage. Kilkenny by two or three points.

Prediction: Kilkenny

Galway v Carlow in Pearse Stadium on Sunday at 3 pm

Prediction: Galway

Munster SHC Round One

Waterford v Clare in Waterford on Sunday at 2 pm

If the Munster championship is half as good last last year’s then we are all in for a treat. Fasten your seatbelts folks the roller coaster-ride begins here. I have a suspicion that Clare will be a dark horse this summer. Prediction: Clare

Cork v Tipperary in Pairc Ui Caoimh on Sunday at 4 pm

Assuming that they have looked after the pitch, this promises to be another thriller. Tipp are under pressure to perform under Liam Sheedy. Cork were probably the unlucky team in last year’s championship. They can start with a win on home soil.

Prediction: Cork

Connacht SFC Quarter-Final

Roscommon v Leitrim in Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday at 3.30 pm

Comprehensive preview elsewhere in our sports section.

Prediction: Roscommon