Seamus Duke on sport – October 26th







Club scene provides a lift for fans 


The attendances may not be great, but the excitement of the club football scene over the past few weeks has lifted the hearts of fans around the county. Last weekend I was at three county finals and all three were superb games.

  The Minor Division 2 final on Saturday night was as good a game as I was at this year. Well done to St. Dominic ‘s on a great win, but it was a pity that there had to be a winner such was the huge contribution by Roscommon Gaels to what was a match that will be remembered for many a long day.

  On Sunday Kilglass Gaels were not looking good at one stage in the second half, but they fought back in the last fifteen minutes to take the junior crown. The intermediate final was a rattling good game of football and a draw was probably a fair result. There is always a huge sense of anti-climax when a big game ends in a draw but that will not matter to whoever wins the replay. There was also glory for Boyle in the Minor Division Three final, and Elphin in the Junior B championship last weekend too.

  You can say what you like about the GAA inter-county scene, and we all love it during the summer, but the last few weeks of action have underlined once again that the GAA is all about the club scene and nothing is more important than that. The sense of community and pride in the parish is huge and we have seen that time and time again every year.

  I hope the rest of the clubs will forgive me if I single out two achievements last weekend. Firstly, Kilglass Gaels winning the junior championship was absolutely huge. To see what it meant to the people of the parish, the local community and everyone involved in the club was a humbling experience. If Roscommon won the All-Ireland senior title I don’t think that there would be as many celebrations.

  The other club success I want to mention is that of St. Joseph’s who won the league Division 5 title at the weekend. ‘The Joe’s’ are one of the smallest clubs in the GAA and to win a county title was just huge for them and the celebrations were just as intense as they were in Johnstown, Rooskey Athleague or anywhere else in recent weeks. And it’s replicated all around the country in every county.


O’Rourke withdraws from selection process


Roscommon GAA is once again mired in controversy with the confusion over the appointment of a new senior football team manager. Aidan O’Rourke was the preferred candidate but he got cold feet on Monday night/Tuesday morning. The reasons for those cold feet are disputed. The official line is that Karl Lacy of Donegal was not certain to commit to joining the backroom team and that may well have been the case. However, it is also fair to say that the imminent appointment of O’Rourke was not going down well in some quarters and maybe the Armagh man got wind of that prior to making his final decision.

  It is a pity that the work of the committee to identify Kevin McStay’s successor has not borne fruit. It now looks odds-on that we will be appointing a manager from within the county. I hope it happens soon and that the blame game is stopped as soon as possible because what’s going on at the moment will do no good for Roscommon football going forward. Whatever management is appointed, we have to support them and we have to get on with it and start the preparations for what is going to be a very difficult year in 2019.

  With regard to leaks and rumours, this current process has been the quietest I have experienced in my time dealing with these things until the past week. The committee involved has done well to keep a lid on most of the speculation, which is an achievement. The facts are that the GAA is an amateur organisation (for the most part) and there is huge interest in these appointments which leads to all kinds of chat.  Some of that chat is so far removed from the truth it’s a joke, but there is absolutely nothing that can be done about that. This has been the way for 130 years and that will continue as long as the GAA exists. Does it happen in other counties? Of course it does. I wouldn’t be too worried about it to be honest.


O’Neill and Keane to survive


It would appear that Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will survive in charge of the Republic of Ireland team for at least another six months. I listened to Seamus Coleman on Sunday night as he strongly supported O’Neill and it would appear that that has bought the manager time. But Ireland simply do not have the calibre of player anymore that is able to compete at the top level regardless of who is the manager.

  It was interesting last week to learn that O’Neil and Keane are on €2 million per year and that Ryan Giggs, the winner of 13 Premier League titles and a football legend, is getting £200,000 as manager of Wales. At that rate why wouldn’t O’Neill want to stay in his job? It may be that the FAI can’t afford to sack O’Neill and Keane even if they wanted to.


Big weekend for Castlerea St. Kevin’s


This Sunday is a huge day for the Castlerea St. Kevin’s club as not only do they celebrate 50 years in existence, they are opening new facilities and a new pitch as well. A lot of our younger readers will not remember the 1970s when Castlerea were one of the finest club teams in Connacht and probably in Ireland. At that time they had players like Harry Keegan, Tom Heneghan, John Kerrane, Adrian O’Sullivan, Jimmy Finnegan and Mickey Freyne to name just a few.  In latter years the likes of Ger Heneghan, Nigel Dineen, Shane Curran and Derek Duggan have been very prominent club and county players.

  Over the years Castlerea St. Kevin’s have also contributed so many major personalities to Roscommon GAA. There have been great characters involved in the club not least the great Danny Burke who is still involved in underage football after all the years. He was there from the very start. Eamon Campion, Brian Stenson, Johnny Mahony and many others have been a part of the club over many decades too and have worked hard to bring it where it is today. I have many fond memories of many matches and enjoyable evenings spent in O’Rourke Park. I wish them the very best of luck on Sunday and into the future.


Time to go back to the drawing board…


The Club Players Association are about to make their voices heard on the question of fixtures over the next couple of months. It has been a slow process but they are going about it in the right way as they are proposing motions that will go through the county board system and on to Central Council after that.

  The reality of the situation is that we had a big brouhaha this year about the club scene and the GAA announced that April was to be a ‘club month’. Nothing has changed at all with regard to fixtures. In fact Roscommon were one of the few counties that actually applied the new rules yet the fixtures meant that there were two rounds of the championship in April and then a four month break. The county finals around the country have not been played any earlier at all and in fact some will be played even later than usual.

  The new system has failed utterly and they will have to go back to the drawing board. The request by the Club Players Association to start with a completely blank sheet is the only way that anything positive for club players will be achieved.