Seamus Duke on sport – September 20th



Dubs make history with 5-in-a-row!


Last week I predicted that Dublin would win the replay by four points so I suppose I was close enough to the mark! Either way it was another magnificent occasion and another mighty game of football and a privilege to have been there to see it. The atmosphere was the best I have experienced in Croke Park since I started going there and an excellent young Kerry team played their part too.

  Thankfully we didn’t have to endure the bore that we saw in 2018 when Tyrone made no attempt to play football at all. Kerry were excellent last Sunday but they found that Dublin were just too good on the day.

  It didn’t take a genius to work out that a lot of Dublin’s big guns did not play well in the drawn game and that was not going to happen again. But Kerry gave the Dubs a severe test. Some of their attacking play was out of the top drawer. Sean O’Shea is a fantastic player. He has had a better year overall than Clifford, and that’s saying something. But Mannion, O’Callaghan and Kilkenny were lethal and the Kerry defence was in big trouble from the throw-in.

  It was also incredible to note that Kerry did not concede one free inside the 45-metre line which has to be a record in any kind of a football match, All-Ireland final or not.

  I have questioned in the past whether this Dublin team should be labelled as the best of all time, and while I would have strongly disputed that label a number of times in the past few years, I have to admit that they are the greatest football team that I have seen in my time, and that includes the great Kerry team of the 70s and 80s.

  It’s easy to use the funding issue and the fact that they play most of their games in Croke Park to beat Dublin with, but the players have to be organised, motivated, and trained year after year which is an incredibly hard thing to do. It remains to be seen what will happen now with Jim Gavin and several of the older players. My guess is that Gavin will step down. His legacy is written in the history books now forever.

  I like watching Dublin play football and I also like watching Kerry play too. They try to play the game the way it should be played. I was delighted to be there to watch history being made. It will never happen again in my lifetime.

  My Man of the Match would have been Stephen Cluxton as I thought he was superb. I was down his end of the ground in the first half and had a chance to study him carefully and he never put a foot wrong. His kick-outs were immaculate and he made several great saves and was brilliant under the high ball. He is the greatest goalkeeper that has ever played the game. The 2019 Player of the Year in my book.

RTÉ panel’s questionable picks

The RTÉ panel picked a very strange ‘Team of the Year’ last Saturday night after the All-Ireland Final replay that included two Mayo defenders despite the fact that they were beaten by both Roscommon and Dublin, and conceded big scores.

  For what it’s worth, here is my ‘Team of the Year’: Stephen Cluxton; Jonny Cooper, Ronan McNamee, Tom O’Sullivan; Paddy Durkan, James McCarthy, Jack McCaffrey; Brian Fenton, David Moran; Ciaran Kilkenny, Sean O’Shea, Brian Howard; David Clifford, Michael Murphy, Con O’Callaghan.

  My ‘Player of the Year’ would be Stephen Cluxton with Sean O’Shea the Young Player of the Year.

Huge weekend for club championships

It’s a huge weekend in Roscommon club football with quarter-finals at junior, intermediate and senior. The matches are previewed in detail elsewhere in the paper but when Sunday evening comes about we should have a clearer idea about the possible front-runners in the various grades.

  As things stand, Roscommon Gaels and Pádraig Pearses have emerged as strong candidates in the senior championship but there is a lot of football to be played yet.

  Tulsk and Castlerea have been the form teams in the intermediate and Ballinameen have not yet put a foot wrong in the junior championship. But there are always twists and turns and as we have seen in the championships so far, the formbook has been thrown out the window and you can be sure there will be at least one or two big shocks this weekend.

Low expectations ahead of World Cup

This weekend the Rugby World Cup will begin in Japan and expectations for Ireland have been lowered over the past few months and rightly so too. It will be a festival of rugby but I expect the title to be won by England, New Zealand or South Africa. I would be hopeful that Ireland would make it out of their group but even that’s not certain at all.

  Scotland will be dangerous opponents on Sunday but the great unknowns are Japan who have a number of very good players and who will be very keen to take at least one big scalp while playing at home. Remember that in the last World Cup they beat South Africa.

  Ireland should be good enough to beat Scotland but it looks like a quarter-final exit again. Most of the matches are on in the early morning Irish time so don’t forget to set your alarm clocks!

Ladies’ senior final was a poor show

It was the biggest day of the year in Ladies football last Sunday, and with a crowd of over 56,000 people, it was a pity that the senior final between Galway and Dublin was such a poor game. The conditions didn’t help but it was poor stuff. At least the intermediate and junior finals were good games.

  Meath were defeated in the intermediate final once again which means that they will be in with Roscommon again next year and that is not good news. The Royals have proven too strong for Roscommon over the past few years.

  Here in the county it’s county finals day in Kiltoom next Saturday and in the senior decider the best two teams in the county by some distance, Clann na nGael  and Kilbride, will square up once again. Kilbride have ruled the roost for the past few years but maybe it’s time for Clann to take the title this year. It will be a great game.

Best of luck to Mick in Presidential race!

Mick Rock has decided to throw his hat into the ring in the GAA Presidential election and I wish him the best of luck. He is an excellent candidate, a great clubman, a very good speaker and administrator and a man with plenty of experience throughout the years at local, county and national level. But this is a much sought after position and it will require a tough and intense campaign for Mick to step into the shoes of Dan O’Rourke and Dr. Donal Keenan.

  I believe that Jarlath Burns of Armagh, Patrick O’Sullivan of Cork and Larry McCarthy of New York are also in the field and there are sure to be a few more so it will be a tall order. But Mick Rock is certainly as good as any of those names and would make a great President. What an honour that would be for his family, his club and our county. It will be a tough few months for him as he hits the road looking for support.