Seamus Duke Sports Column – 4th November

Oran stop the juggernaut to take title!

In the middle of the mayhem that followed Oran’s historic win against Four Roads in the county senior hurling replay on Saturday, Michael Kelly stood in the middle of the field in Athleague with a beaming smile on his face and a tear in his eye. The man who helped to found the Oran hurling club in the 1980s and who managed his beloved team to win five titles, had just seen his son, Colm, take charge of their 6th title win and it couldn’t have come in a more dramatic way. Colm Kelly, along with two other club legends Harry Crowley and Francie Quine had masterminded this fantastic win and if you could bottle the drive and enthusiasm that all three displayed on the line all year you would be very wealthy.

  Then there was the Jerry Fallon free. Even though the day was calm, the game was into its last few seconds and Four Roads were hanging on to a one-point lead. The ball was on the Oran 45 metre line. Jerry steadied himself and drove it between the posts for a free that will go down in Roscommon GAA folklore. By any standards, it was an incredible free to score. If it was struck over by a Tipperary or Kilkenny man we would be hearing about it for the next twenty years.

  Indeed, Jerry Fallon would be the first man to admit that he was not having a brilliant year. He was scoring the frees alright but his contribution from play was less than he would have liked. But that all changed last Saturday. The Oran management decided that Jerry would be an ideal sweeper and they were so right. He mopped up ball after ball and set up many attacks on the day and of course his striking of the placed ball was top class. 1-9 in a county final is a great return any day. It was a sensational finish to the game.

  Spare a thought for the vanquished Four Roads side who were unlucky on the day. They will regroup and will be back for certain. They have been magnificent champions and their eight in a row run of titles is a record that will probably never be beaten. But back to Oran, and the club made a magnificent recovery from losing the intermediate football replay just a week earlier and they deserve full praise as they are such a strong force in both football and hurling.

  Finally on the hurling, when Jerry Fallon was lining up that famous free I videoed the twenty seconds or so in the press box. Just in case! Little did I know at the time that the clip would appear on YouTube,, and many other sports websites around the country. It’s great that so many people have seen our little bit of history in Roscommon.

Kiltoom conveyor belt rolls on!

What a year it has been for St. Brigid’s. Last Friday night they won the Minor ‘A’ football title. Thay have won the U-14, U-16, minor and senior football championships this year. The power base of Roscommon football is definitely in Kiltoom in 2016 and you have to hand it to them, they are superbly well organised.

  In last Friday’s minor final they were the underdogs against Pearses but they played some delightful football in the game. It is now up to all the other clubs in the county to try to catch up to St. Brigid’s. The future certainly looks bright for them.

  I was also pleasantly surprised at the size of the crowd at the minor final in Johnstown. Playing a county final on a Friday night under lights was always a risk but it paid off as there was a huge crowd there to see the final and the venue was perfect. Maybe it is something that we will see happen in the future.

Is this Liverpool’s year?

The Premier League is shaping up to be a really exciting race this year. The big question is: have Liverpool finally got the team to bridge that 27-year gap? They certainly have the manager and Klopp is doing a marvellous job as I predicted he would when he arrived at Anfield. They might just be a bit dodgy at the back to go all the way but they certainly look really good going forward.  

  Manchester United certainly won’t be winning it this year either. They are too far behind even as it is. But I would not be getting carried away with talk of a crisis. They had 37 shots on goal last Saturday against Burnley and they were unlucky and came up against a goalkeeper that had the game of his life. United actually played well and when the goals start to go in they will be fine. But they probably will not even get into the top four.  

  Man City will be there or thereabouts for sure but the decision of Pep Guardiola to drop Sergio Aguero two weeks ago was bizarre. Aguero is probably the best player in the Premier League and to leave him out was madness. He showed when he came back into the City team last weekend just how good he is.

  Arsenal and Spurs are both playing well but Spurs are drawing too many matches and that caught them last season too.

Sky’s the limit for GAA money

When one hears Padraig Duffy and the people at the top in the GAA say that they are not motivated by money it is hard to square the circle when you hear that the GAA are determined to sign another long-term deal with Sky TV to broadcast the games. I have not met one GAA person who thinks that the Sky deal is a good one.

  Not only that, but the viewing figures show that the audiences for their coverage is miniscule (in most cases, less than 10,000). So what is the attraction? There can only be one answer to that question and that’s deep pockets. Regardless of whether anyone is watching, the GAA are raking in Rupert Murdoch’s cash and that’s all that matters.  

  It is still extremely unfair that the elderly, housebound and people who cannot afford Sky Sports subscriptions cannot see major GAA championship games over the summer months.

Can Katie make the grade?

It will be interesting to see how Katie Taylor does in the women’s professional boxing game. I wonder what the standard is like or whether there will be a lucrative career for her there.

  Her first fight will be live on Sky Sports but it remains to be seen if the interest will be there to support her and her sport.

TG4 a super service to sport

TG4 celebrated it’s 20th birthday on October the 31st and while it is true to say that the station has probably cost the taxpayer a fortune over the years, it has provided a massive service to sports followers over the years and especially in the GAA. To be able to see the club matches during the winter is superb and they have done a great job with ladies football in particular. The growth in viewership and interest for the ladies’ game is phenomenal and it is down to the promotion it gets from TG4.

  It is also great to be able to see the rugby on TG4 and most of the Connacht games can be seen live which is a great service and there is huge and growing interest in it too.

  Some of the documentaries that it has screened like the Laochra Gael series is superb and the Paidi Ó Sé documentary called ‘Ri An Paroiste’ was a brilliant piece of work. Lá breithe shóna duit TG 4.