Club scene dominates the airwaves
I was away at the weekend but travelling back on Sunday it was very interesting to hear the GAA club championships dominate the RTÉ Radio Sunday Sport programme. It is probably the only Sunday in the whole year that GAA club activity is centre stage. There were matches going on in football, hurling, ladies football, and camogie all over the country and I have to say their coverage was excellent .
Even our own Frankie Dolan was featured as an analyst on the game between Corofin and Ballintubber in the Connacht Club SFC semi-final.
Here in Roscommon, only Pádraig Pearses remain in the championships as all our other teams have been knocked out. Ballinameeen and Tulsk were well beaten on Saturday, but when both clubs get over the disappointment they will look back on 2019 with great satisfaction.
St. Dominic’s will also take great encouragement from their camogie season and they were very competitive against a strong Raharney side in the All-Ireland semi-final last Sunday.
Time to end penalties for clubs
Last Sunday saw the Leinster quarter-final game between Portlaoise and St. Patrick’s of Wicklow town decided on penalties, and while the sides complied with the regulations, there was widespread opposition to the idea from both camps.
In my radio work on Monday there were repeated calls to stop this latest practice which is nowhere to be seen in the rule book. Whatever about a quarter-final, it is very unfair to decide a championship as happened recently between Oran and Tulsk.
‘Pool heading for first Premier League title
The biggest game of the Premier League season so far was very revealing. It showed Liverpool as by far the best team in the division this year and although Manchester City are still a good side, Jurgen Klopp’s men have improved at least another 20% since last season. They are lethal going forward and players like Van Dijk and Fabinho have really stiffened up their defence.
In contrast, City look very weak at the back and they are certainly missing their retired captain Vincent Kompany.
Even with only a quarter of the season gone the title looks like it is bound for Anfield for the first time in 31 years. I know it’s early to be making that statement but I simply cannot see Liverpool losing three or four times before the end of the season.
Leicester City look the best team apart from Liverpool so far this season while Manchester United have improved somewhat in recent weeks but are not in the same league as Liverpool in terms of quality.
Dunne’s star has fallen since 2017
In 2017 Paul Dunne looked like he would be Ireland’s next golfing superstar. He had just won the British Masters, shooting a 61 in the final round, and he held off a top-class field to do so.
This Friday, after two disastrous years, he heads for the European Tour qualifying school in Spain where 25 players out of 156 will get their cards for 2020. The Wicklow man has had a serious dip in form and he has missed 12 cuts out of his last 14 tournaments. It just goes to show how quickly things can change at the top level in golf.
Many years ago I read a marvellous book called ‘A Good Walk Spoiled’ by John Feinstein. It’s about professional golf and it’s one of the best sports books I ever read. Paul Dunne will recognise many of the characters in that book this week.
Pearses can cause provincial shock!
Pádraig Pearses have done really well in their first ever senior club championship. They have faced tricky matches against Tourlestrane and Tir Conaill Gaels and came through with flying colours. They will be underdogs against Corofin in the final and that will suit them fine.
I was talking a to a number of people who were at the matches between Corofin and Ballintubber last Sunday and while the All-Ireland champions won comfortably enough in the end, there was nothing on view to really scare Pearses.
There is a feeling that Corofin are not the force that they were last year. We all remember what they did to Clann na nGael last year, but if Pearses can bring their best form into the provincial final on Sunday week there no doubt that Tuam could be the venue for a shock. It’s all to play for.
Connacht welcome Montpellier this Sunday
The rugby season will step a notch when the Champions Cup starts again this coming weekend. It’s hard to drum up any real interest in the competition at this stage after the World Cup but when it gets going people will begin to forget. Life goes on.
Connacht are back in the biggest European competition and their campaign starts in Galway next Sunday with the visit of crack French outfit Montpellier. It is sure to draw a huge crowd to The Sportsground and I know several Rossies who will be heading west on Sunday to see the big game. Connacht will be a match for anyone on their home patch. It would be super to start with a win.
Clifford is set to be a true great
I wonder are we in the era of one of the true legends of Gaelic football with David Clifford on the scene. The young man from Fossa was talked about for years in his native county before he appeared in minor football and of course we all remember him scoring a sensational 4-4 in an All-Ireland minor final.
Now at just 19 he has two years of inter-county senior fare behind him and his star continues to burn brighter and brighter. He now has Munster titles and All-Stars to his name and I listened to the commentary last Sunday as he led East Kerry to a first county title in 20 years. It’s hard to believe that he is still so young. If he stays fit and interested he could be spoken about in the same breath as the greatest who have ever played the game. He is that good.
Boys in Green face Danish showdown
The Republic of Ireland face their biggest game in a few years on Monday next when they take on Denmark in a must-win game in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
As we all know, Ireland have suffered of late with poor quality teams but at home on Monday night they will give it a lash and they have a chance in a one-off game.
Ireland simply lack the quality of player that they need to be a top-class side so they will have to play out of their skins if they hope to win this match, but anything is possible.
The signs are, however, that there are a few good young players on the way into the squad. Stephen Kenny has been doing good work with the U-21 team and that is always good news.
I can’t figure out why there is a friendly game tonight (Thursday) against New Zealand with such a big game coming up a few days later. It’s all to do with money I suspect.
Gaels celebrate 60 years this Friday
This Friday night the Roscommon Gaels GAA club celebrates 60 years in existence and the town club have contributed richly to the GAA in Roscommon over the years. I have been present for most of that time and have many fond memories of playing underage football for the club.
For decades the town side were the number one team in the county in the underage ranks. Sadly that situation has changed in recent years but I am aware of a lot of hard work going on in the club, particularly over the past decade and hopefully that will bear fruit soon.
The purchase and development of the new grounds at Lisnamult over the past decade has been a big success and it will ensure the future of the club for the coming generations.
On Friday night the club will be recalling the past 60 years and remembering all those people who worked so hard for the club over the years and who are no longer with us. Great players, officials, and mentors, great characters, friends and relations too.