Seamus Duke on sport – November 1st




Finalists shouldn’t be put on the spot

Now that the dust has settled after last weekend’s epic Intermediate Football Championship Final replay I am even more convinced than ever that no championship final should be settled by penalty kicks. Despite what a couple of officials said to me at the weekend, there is nothing in the official guide that says that penalty kicks should decide anything. In fact, this is a new departure this year. Last year if you recall, the so-called ‘rule’ was 45-metre kicks. What happened to that? It seems to have been forgotten.

  The GAA at national level stand accused of once again making a laugh out of club fixtures. ‘Get them finished as fast as you can’ seems to be the policy. People who run the GAA get hyper-sensitive when there is any kind of criticism at all, whether it’s constructive or not, but the situation with this development is that they got it wrong and it should never be allowed to happen again.

  Of course, this is in no way any slight on Tulsk who won the intermediate championship in Roscommon in 2019 fair and square and they only operated within the regulations as they were laid down.

  Great GAA men like Gerry Lohan, Seamie O’Neill and Padraig Scott all said to me after the game that it was no way to settle the final and they are genuine guys who desperately wanted to win that title for their club.

  I also met a number of long-standing Tulsk GAA people out on the field after the game who were ecstatic at having won the title but all agreed it was not a satisfactory way to do it. 

  I’m delighted for Tusk. They deserve to win after the heartbreak in recent seasons. But on the other side are Oran who lost out. What a horrible and unjust way to lose a championship after the effort they put in.

  Since the game was played on Saturday evening I have not met one person who thought that it was a good idea to settle the championship on penalty kicks. The game could have been replayed on Wednesday night under the lights in Kiltoom or played next weekend. If the Connacht IFC fixtures had to go back a week, then so what? It’s about time that the people in clubs were front and centre of decision-making and not the egos of administrators in Croke Park who can say at the end of the year that they played their fixtures within the time limit set.

  I would be shocked if there are not a number of motions at convention this year from clubs who will want to ensure that this never happens again. If not, I’ll propose such a motion at my own club meeting. What we are talking about here are the local club championships being played by amateur players. It’s not the Champions League or the World Cup Final. It should be decided on the field of play, simple as that.

  Having said all of the above, I heartily congratulate Tulsk and wish them the very best in the Connacht Club Championship and in the Roscommon Senior Football Championship in 2020. This is not a swipe at anyone in Roscommon because fixtures are a very hard thing to manage but if something is unjust then it needs to be highlighted.


England will be favourites this Saturday


This Saturday’s Rugby World Cup Final should be a great game although England have to be the warm favourites. The way they dismissed the All Blacks last Saturday was awesome and one of the best performances that we have ever seen in the World Cup. In fact, they could have won by far more.

  South Africa were lucky enough to beat Wales but they will be going into the final as underdogs and that will suit them. They are a very physical team and they will be able to match England in that department but to me England have far too many class players and I have them to win by seven to ten points.

  Meanwhile, the fall-out (or lack of it) since Ireland’s quarter-final hammering by New Zealand is mystifying. None of the Irish players have done interviews since they returned and Joe Schmidt has gone to ground too.

  I understand they may be very disappointed but contrast that to the way New Zealand faced up to their big defeat by England at the weekend. All of their major players have been out expressing their devastation at their loss as has their coach Steve Hansen who put his hands up and admitted his part in the defeat.

Maybe there is a lesson in there for our players and the set-up as we go forward.


Focussed Pearses should go through


Pádraig Pearses face a tough task when they play Tourlestrane in the AIB Connacht Club SFC quarter-final on Sunday in Sligo. The Eamon O’Hara trained side are now seasoned campaigners and recently they won their fourth Sligo title on the trot and they have made no secret of their ambitions with regard to a Connacht title.

  Pearses will have to be at their best to win. Their warm-up was not ideal, losing the O’Rourke Cup semi-final to Clann na nGael last weekend. However, if they can bring their ‘A’ game this weekend then they can edge through.

Tiger does it again in Japan!

Tiger Woods has done it again. I thought that the supreme effort he had put in to winning a 15th major earlier in the year had finally taken its toll on him physically because he looked shattered later in the year. But he has had another knee surgery and he swept to another big win in Japan at the weekend.

  He fended off a world class field to win and now he is in a great position as we come towards the end of this year and the preparations for another year are close. If he can stay healthy he is well capable of adding to his majors total, which is incredible. He has won three times in the past 13 months. Who would have thought it was possible?


Remembering a gent of the press box


Sean Guinan is not a name that many Roscommon people will recognise but he is a man that those of us in the media have worked with over the years covering GAA games in Roscommon. He worked for the Athlone papers (principally the Westmeath Independent) and so he was usually to be seen whenever St. Brigid’s, Clann na nGael or Pádraig Pearses were playing and he also covered Roscommon league and championship games as well.

  Sean was ‘old school’. No laptops or social media for Sean. But he was a gentleman and I mean ‘gentle’. He always had a smile and a handshake for everyone he met and he loved going to matches and ‘having the chat’. He was also very knowledgeable about a range of sports not just GAA.

  Last week I was shocked when I heard the news of his untimely death. To his wife and family I extend my deepest sympathy on their loss. It was a pleasure to have known him. May his kind and gentle soul rest in peace.


New proposals just won’t work…

The more I think about the new proposals with regard to the sin-bin and the ‘advanced mark’ the more I think they will simply not work. They are innovations that may work in the inter-county games but when there are lower league club games with no neutral officials it will be very hard to police.

  I actually feel very sorry for referees. Now in addition to everything else they have to be able to guess how far a player kicks a ball (advanced mark) plus he will have to note the minute that he sends anyone to the sin-bin. Chances are that there will be substitutions, injuries and all sorts of distractions in-between. It is going to make an already hard job nigh on impossible. Referees are only human. There is only so much they can do.