Seamus Duke on sport – May 17th




Tougher challenges ahead for Rossies

I was genuinely expecting that Leitrim would give Roscommon a really tough game in the Connacht championship last Sunday. It was an impressive performance from Roscommon on the day but Leitrim were very poor. In fact, I thought they were worse than they were last year. The match is analysed in far more detail elsewhere in our sports section, but Roscommon looked very strong and fit.

  The game against Mayo will be a much different proposition. Roscommon will not be given a hope in that game and it’s a nice way to be going into it from a players’ and management point of view. More about that next week.

  I was very disappointed the the Sunday Game coverage (or lack of same) of the match last Sunday night. The Tyrone v Derry game was given extended highlights and about ten minutes of analysis however when it came to Roscommon v Leitrim they showed a couple of minutes and afterwards we were treated to a rant by Joe Brolly about how great Leitrim were in Division Four and the way they played against Derry in the league final and the need for a three-tier championship. Everyone knows that the championship format is lop-sided but that’s not Roscommon’s fault. They were not mentioned once which was very unfair. Wait until Roscommon play Mayo. Win or lose there will be plenty of analysis that weekend. Not good enough lads!

How physical can top class rugby get?

I know I have said this here a few times over the past couple of years but the game of rugby at the very top level is now so intense that it is frightening to watch at times. Saracens were the deserved winners of the Champions Cup last Saturday but it was won with brute force, massive hits and frightening physicality. Some of the tackling was brutal as the English champions battered their way to victory. One would ask the question as to where it will all end?

  On a more local level well done to Connacht’s junior inter-pro team on their super 29-21 win against Munster last Saturday. The match was played in Creggs and the club unveiled its magnificent new terracing for the first time. It’s been a great year for Creggs and with six players in that Connacht team it’s onwards and upwards. Well done to everyone concerned, it’s a great community effort.

Huge turnaround for Comerford’s hurlers!

In May of 2018 I sat into the car here in Roscommon town and drove to Newbridge in County Kildare on the second Saturday in May to watch Roscommon hurlers play Kildare in the Christy Ring Cup. The result of the game was Kildare 4-26 Roscommon 1-9, a 26-point win for Kildare.

  Last Sunday in Athleague Roscommon faced the Lilywhites in round one of the competition again. However it was a different story this time around as Ciaran Comerford’s men prevailed by two points. Not only that, but Roscommon played most of the second half with only 14 men after the sending off of Peter Kelleghan. It was a magnificent victory and some turnaround in a year.

  Ciaran Comerford and the players deserve the greatest of praise for this achievement. When I spoke to the Roscommon manager here last week he told me that they could have played the match in Dr. Hyde Park but preferred to play in Athleague as he reckoned that they had a better chance of winning there. What an inspired decision that was. It is Roscommon’s best win at senior hurling level in at least a decade. Let’s hope they can follow it up against London this coming weekend. Congratulations to one and all!

Minors face tough opener

Roscommon minor footballers (U-17s) begin their championship campaign against Galway this Friday night in Dr. Hyde Park and it is a very tough opener. With Mayo to come in round two, Roscommon will have to get something out of the first two rounds which will be very difficult. There are plenty of good young footballers in the county. Emmett Durney is this year’s manager. We wish him the very best of luck.

City win incredible title race

And so Manchester City finally put their name on the Premier League trophy after what was an incredible title race. For Liverpool to amass 97 points and not win the title is some story. City and Liverpool are two fantastic teams and the way both of them have played this year they are certain to be able to attract some top class players during the summer transfer window. City still have the FA Cup final against Watford to play this Saturday and they should win that one as well.

  Liverpool will face Spurs in the Champions League Final on June 1st. They will be hot favourites to win it. If Liverpool played Spurs ten times in a row they would probably win nine times but in a one-off game you never know what is going to happen and Spurs will have a chance.

  Soccer is a game that can be extremely boring to watch at times but the two Champions league semi-finals from last week were the most exciting that I have ever seen at club level in the sport. What drama and entertainment!

  As for Manchester United, the less said about them the better. They seem to be slipping further and further down the pecking order. It may be a couple of decades before they are a force again.

PGA Championship this weekend

This weekend the PGA Championship will be played at its new time on the calendar and it will be interesting to see how successful it is. All of the world’s top 50 will be there including Tiger Woods who plays for the first time since winning The Masters.

  The championship is being played in New York at the Bethpage Black Course on Long Island where Woods won one of his US Open titles. It is a notoriously difficult course and has a par of just 70. Five under par could be a winning score.

  Shane Lowry will be there and hopefully he will hit a good vein of form. I don’t think Woods will win it but if you fancy a good each way bet have a few bob on Brooks Koepka who is Mr. Consistency this year. It should make for fantastic viewing again.

Munster SHC Round Robin

Tipperary v Waterford on Sunday at Thurles at 2 pm

Tipp were fantastic in victory against Cork and if they can maintain that form they will record another victory here. Waterford will give it everything as they do not want to lose again. Home advantage to count.

Prediction: Tipperary

Limerick v Cork on Sunday in Limerick at 4 pm

The All-Ireland champions make their championship debut against a Cork team who need a win after last Sunday. What a game this promises to be. A hesitant vote for the Treaty men to continue where they left off last year.

Prediction: Limerick

Leinster SHC Round Robin

Carlow v Kilkenny on Sunday in Carlow at 3 pm

No fairytale here.

Prediction: Kilkenny

Dublin v Wexford on Sunday in Parnell Park at 3 pm

Could be a cracker. I’m presuming Wexford will be up to full strength. If they are, they might just shade it.

Prediction: Wexford

Ulster SFC Quarter-Finals

Cavan v Monaghan in Kingspan Breffni on Saturday at 7 pm

This could be the match of the weekend in the football championship. Monaghan will be hot favourites but they might not have it all their own way. Monaghan get a very hesitant vote.

Prediction: Monaghan

Down v Armagh on Sunday in Newry at 4 pm

This is an age-old rivalry that has produced some epic battles in the past. There won’t be much in this one either. I have the slightest preference for Armagh.

Prediction: Armagh

Connacht SFC Semi-Final 

Sligo v Galway in Markievicz Park at 3.30 pm

When the sides met last year Galway won the match by 21 points. I don’t think the gap has narrowed. In fact it may well have grown.

Prediction: Galway