Seamus Duke on sport – May 3rd





Showdown with Leitrim edges closer


The only real test of how a team is going is when they take the field for the championship but the signs for Roscommon footballers in recent weeks have been positive. A number of players have rejoined the panel and there is real competition for places in the starting fifteen. Training is going well and there is a positive mood in the group which is great.


  The only focus now is the match against Leitrim on Sunday week. It will be a very difficult game but I am expecting Roscommon to win it in the end. If Roscommon can prevail by five or six points it will be excellent preparation for a game against Mayo in Castlebar. That’s for another day but all Roscommon can do is prepare the best they can for the Connacht championship and one thing is for certain, on their best day Roscommon can be a match for anyone. It’s hard to believe it, but the big day against Leitrim is on Sunday week!

  The Roscommon hurlers are also in action in Dr. Hyde Park on the same bill in their opening championship match so it will be a big day out for Roscommon GAA. Plenty to look forward to next week here in People Sport!


Best title race we’ve ever seen!

It is the best title race we have ever seen in the English Premier League. If Manchester City do not slip up Liverpool could have 97 points and not win the title which would be quite incredible. As a Manchester United fan I can only say that both sides have been excellent this season.

  Last week I predicted that Liverpool would defeat Huddersfield by five or six goals and that’s what happened. They swatted away the very poor resistance offered by the worst team in the division to win again. I cannot see them losing their final two games.

  Can City win their two games? I think they can but there’s more chance of them slipping up. Kevin De Bruyne is a massive loss but they have coped without him thus far. There will be incredible tension over the next couple of weeks. We are running out of time for a twist in the race but there could be one or two yet.

  In the Championship, Leeds United are heading for the play-offs but what a circus we had at Elland Road last Sunday when they allowed Aston Villa to equalise uncontested after the Leeds opening goal was scored while a Villa player lay injured on the pitch. I would genuinely love to see Leeds promoted but coming through the play-offs? I wouldn’t have a shilling on them! Villa are my fancy now to join Norwich and  Sheffield United.


Can Minors make the breakthrough?


The Roscommon Minor Ladies footballers will be in action in the Connacht ‘A’ final on Monday next against Galway and as we have been reporting in recent weeks here, it is only a matter of time before Roscommon make a major breakthrough at ‘A’ level and it would be super if it happened on Monday in Enfield. To have beaten Mayo already is a great achievement. Beating Galway on Monday evening would be very sweet indeed. The best of luck to all concerned.


Still punching above our weight!


Boxing is another sport that we here in Ireland have excelled at in recent years with shed loads of medals won at European and World Championships and at the Olympic Games. Now all that talent is beginning to come through in the professional ranks.


  Katie Taylor is on the brink of immortality if she can unify the belts in her weight division when she fights in June in New York, although Kellie Harrington is not far behind her in the woman’s game.

  Michael Conlon is looking good too and should be a champion within a year and there are several more too.

  TJ Doheny from Portlaoise was narrowly beaten by Daniel Roman last Friday night at World Super Bantamweight level. The American TV networks are calling it the ‘fight of the year’ so far. Doheny is certain to get a valuable re-match.

  Former Western Gaels and Roscommon footballer Donal Ward was also in the news lately when he contested the ‘Golden Gloves’ final in New York and according to all reports he was very unlucky to have lost. I hope to see the video of that fight this weekend.


Connacht set for tough Belfast trip


It promises to be another big weekend of rugby with two great quarter-finals coming up in the Pro14 League.

  Ulster and Connacht clash in Belfast in what promises to be a cracking match. If Ulster produce anywhere near the form we saw against Leinster in the Champions Cup at the Aviva then they will be impossible to beat at home. But Connacht have played some marvellous rugby this season and on their best day are a match for anyone. If Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion are directing traffic from half-back Connacht have a great chance of winning through to the last four.

  Munster should be too good for Benetton. The Italians have done really well to get to the quarter-finals but Johann Van Graan’s men should have the edge in big match experience.

Plenty of Punchestown action left

By the time most people read this most of the Punchestown Festival will be over although there is excellent racing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (when Roscommon GAA are holding a fundraiser).

  Many of the successful Irish horses from Cheltenham will be running including City Island which was so impressive in The Cotswolds in March. It would be nice for Sean Mulryan to have a winner so close to his home in Ballymore Eustace. Punchestown is a fantastic end to the national hunt season and it seems to be getting bigger every year.

Championship Watch


Connacht SFC Round One


London v Galway on Sunday at Ruislip at 3 pm

At the launch of the Connacht SFC last week Galway manager Kevin Walsh told me that to have to travel to London was certainly not a distraction and that he was welcoming a chance to play a championship game so early in the summer. He has a lot of injury problems with six players doubtful or out including their captain Damien Comer. However he won’t be needed in this game as London have had a particularly poor year, losing all their games in Division Four of the League. It’s a chance for Galway to stretch their legs and get their championship season underway. I expect them to win this match easily.

Prediction: Galway


Connacht SFC Round One

New York v Mayo on Sunday in Gaelic Park at 8 pm (Irish time)

Mayo will bring a massive crowd across the Atlantic as the new NFL champions get their championship campaign underway.

  The last time James Horan was in charge there was confusion and some controversy over the arrangements for the trip to The Big Apple and whether the players should be available for social functions over the weekend or not. No such problems are anticipated this time around as they have streamlined arrangements. The Mayo squad will remain on in the New York area for a week or so after the match for a training camp. There will be great craic for the supporters this weekend and a comfortable win for the team too.

Prediction: Mayo