Seamus Duke on sport – October 11th

 

Who will reign supreme in Roscommon?

 

I love county senior football final day. The match itself is often a disappointment but that never matters to the team that wins it. Last year’s final was a wonderful, attacking, high-scoring game. So what can we expect this year? I have previewed the game itself elsewhere in the paper but when your own club is involved it is a very exciting day.

  Roscommon Gaels have been struggling at senior level for more than a decade, however in the past five years they have been very competitive and naturally I will be hoping that they can get over the line this time around.

  However, I don’t think anyone would begrudge Pádraig Pearses a first ever title and if they are good enough to win it then good luck to them.

  Sitting in the press box on Sunday, it will be hard for the eyes not to stray over the wall at the graveyard end of the ground and think of the many great people who served Roscommon Gaels over the years – both on and off the field – who have gone to their eternal reward. They include my own late father who was chairman of the club when he passed away in 1971.

  I will also be thinking about the many great players who have represented the club over the decades and won senior championships including my two brothers, Frank and Declan. But time moves on, and the heroes of today will be attempting to write their own piece of history. Sport, like life moves on and tomorrow we will have new heroes to look back on and that’s the way it should be. But the big question is, who will those heroes be? Sunday will tell the tale.

 

Controversy in Doha as crowds steer clear

 

It’s so very disappointing when sport is dragged through the mire of controversy and corruption, and unfortunately that has happened a number of sports in recent weeks and years.

  In athletics, the World Championships have been taking place in Doha for the past two weeks. The vast stadium was empty almost every day for the championships and it turns out that there was little or no public interest in Qatar.

  Worse still, the powers that be allowed the championships to take place where the conditions for the athletes were totally unsuitable and put the health of the athletes at risk. All the long distance races had to be held at midnight because of the heat and humidity. Clearly Doha was given the championships because they had the biggest chequebook.

  Remember too that the World Cup is due to be held there in 2022. Not alone is Qatar an unsuitable venue for the competition, the whole soccer season has been changed around the world so it can be held in December. It’s a joke.

  All predictions are that the crowds will be very small and the public interest will be minimal. But again, the biggest chequebook wins out in the end.

  There is also a cloud of suspicion surrounding some of the big athletics winners after the Alberto Salazar controversy as the coach was sent home in disgrace from the championships amid drug-taking allegations.  

  From an Irish point of view, there was a positive note however, as Ciara Mageean was a breath of fresh air following her 10th place finish in the 1,500 meters. She was so positive and so happy to have been in the final it was brilliant to see. Her interview after the final was superb. She was a beacon of light amidst the dark clouds surrounding the championships as a whole.

 

Four Roads back on top!

 

Well done to Four Roads on winning the Senior Hurling Championship last Sunday. Since the start of this year Joe Mannion’s side looked the title favourites and there was a spring in their step all year long. It was another great win for experienced lads like Jamie Lawlor, Noel Fallon, Micheal Kelly and Shane Curley and they are now club legends with a slew of county senior medals to their name.

  Athleague were great champions but it wasn’t their day. Seamus Qualter is a great hurling man and they won’t be forgetting 2018 in a hurry. They have lots of good, young hurlers and they will be back for sure.

  Even though it was a one-sided match it was a very enjoyable day in Athleague as usual and a word of thanks to the Roscommon Hurling Board for their kindness and co-operation all year.

Ireland set for must-win Samoan test

 

This Saturday (typhoon permitting), Ireland will line up against Samoa in a must-win game to finish their pool in the Rugby World Cup. They should win and make it through one way or the other but I fear that the next game in the quarter-final is where the journey will end for Joe Schmidt’s men.

  When they played Russia last week they looked as if the shock of losing to Japan was still in their system and their confidence has been hit by that loss. I am banking on Japan beating Scotland in the other game in the group and if that happens Ireland will be facing the All Blacks in the quarter-finals. Not the most appetising prospect!

  So far the only teams that might pose a threat to the All Blacks are England and South Africa. There is still a lot of rugby to be played yet though.

Rossies face tough league campaign

 

In the next few weeks the Roscommon footballers will be back training again for the new season which is hard to believe. The league fixtures for Division Two were leaked at the weekend, and, if correct, Roscommon will have four tricky away games against Kildare, Fermanagh, Armagh and Cavan. Roscommon will be expected to emerge from Division Two again but if that set of fixtures is right then it will not be easy at all. Three away trips to Ulster and one to Kildare. It will be a big test for sure. The only consolation is that the three home games look very winnable.

  In the Connacht championship, assuming that Roscommon are able to beat London, it looks like Roscommon v Mayo in the Connacht semi-final. The big question now is whether Dr. Hyde Park be ready for that big game!

 

From bad to worse at United…

 

The situation at Manchester United continues to get worse as each week goes by. I feel sorry for Solskjaer; he is a nice guy but he seems to be lurching from one crisis to another. The bottom line is that United’s players are not good enough and even St. Peter himself would not be able to manage that Manchester United team at the moment.

  The midfield trio last weekend against Newcastle were McTominay, Pereira, and Fred. That is possibly the weakest trio that I have ever seen play midfield for the club and I am following them since I was a child.

  Rashford is only a young player and is now one of the regulars, but he needs to be left on the sideline for a while. His form is gone completely, but the amazing thing is United have no one else to put in his place.

  There is even worse on the way because United face Liverpool at Old Trafford in their next league game. The way the season is going Liverpool will blow them away. Solskjaer will certainly be under pressure then. I hope that he walks away because I would hate to see him get sacked. The club are being mis-managed into oblivion the way it’s going.

  At the other end of the table, Liverpool are now winning games that Manchester United used to win for over 20 years. Goalkeeping errors, late penalties and brilliant attacking play have all been features of their league campaign so far. There have only been eight games played so far but even at this stage ‘The Pool’ can afford to lose three games and still they would win the title. After 30 years it looks like the famine is over.