Nobody expected 22-point drubbing
To lose to Mayo was always going to be a possibility but a 22-point beating was certainly not expected and noone, even the most committed Mayo fan, saw that coming. Looking back over the years, it is Mayo who have handed Roscommon their biggest hammerings in league and championship.
Since Monday last, several people said to me, that in hindsight, it might have been much better if Roscommon had lost the drawn game by a point. It would have left everyone in Roscommon very happy with their lot and their summer. On the other hand, Mayo would have been questioning whether they had the stomach for another semi-final battle against Kerry after a poor enough display.
However, despite the hammering Roscommon got on Monday, I don’t subscribe to that view. It was to Roscommon’s credit that they drew that game and the extra week’s training and another appearance in Croke Park (however painful) will stand to the players in the long run.
It was a huge managerial call to throw Cathal Compton and Caoileann Fitzmaurice into such a big game given their inexperience. I know it didn’t matter on the day what team started because it wouldn’t have changed the result but it was still a massive decision to drop two experienced players like Ciaráin Murtagh and Fintan Cregg.
The extent of the beating we took on Monday is looked at in detail elsewhere in the sports section this week but it is just as well that it will be January before the team play again because it will take a while to recover from this defeat. But it has been a good summer overall. We won the Connacht championship in style and that has not happened too often to Roscommon in all the years that I have been involved.
2018 will be a very difficult year and the strength and conditioning of the players will have to improve if we want to progress further. Even though promotion from Division Two of the league will be a legitimate aim it will not be easily achieved. To defend the Connacht title will also be another ambition and with Mayo and Galway around that will not be easy either but if Roscommon want to progress then they will have to aim for those targets.
In general, last Monday’s game proved that the elite of Gaelic football are just so far ahead of the rest and the gap is growing. The Super Eight which will be introduced next year is set to be a fiasco with many one-sided games like the ones we have seen in the quarter-finals over the past couple of weeks. Mayo, Dublin, Tyrone and Kerry won by a combined total of 58 points. It will make for two excellent semi-finals but the other 28 counties can only look on and admire as the top four pull far into the distance.
I think Kerry and Tyrone have great chances in their respective semi-finals. Just a word too about the Roscommon supporters, who were there again on Monday in massive numbers. Remember that Roscommon’s population is about half that of Mayo yet on the two days in Croke Park there were at least as many there from Roscommon as there were from Mayo. We have got used to heavy defeats over the years but Roscommon fans keep coming back and they are a credit to the county.
Future stars set for national stage
Future Roscommon star footballers will be taking to the All-Ireland stage this Saturday when Roscommon take on Kerry in the All-Ireland U-17 semi-final at Cusack Park in Ennis.
Roscommon were very impressive in the Connacht championship, beating a fancied Galway in the final, but they will be up against it on Saturday against a highly-rated Kerry outfit.
Liam Tully and his management team have done a great job with the team so far and to go into a game like this as underdogs will suit Roscommon down to the ground. I wish them the very best of luck.
Final major of the year
The final golf major of the year, the PGA Championship will take place this weekend at Quail Hollow and Rory McIlroy must be the favourite to win as he has won twice at this course in the past and he actually holds the course record of 62 as well.
However, I have heard him say this week that he is predicting he will have a low score. Any time he has predicted that he will do well he has missed the cut or played poorly. Jordan Spieth has to be a consideration and watch out for the Japanese star Matsuyama who is the form player at the moment.
Galway and Tipp compelling viewing
The game of hurling has a habit of turning up classic clashes every year and the game last Sunday between Tipperary and Galway was one of the most compelling that I have seen in years. The drama and excitement served up by both teams in that second half was as good as has ever been seen in Croke Park.
I thought that Galway just about deserved to win it but Tipp put up a mighty battle. I love watching the top players do their stuff and Joe Canning wrote another glorious chapter in what has been a wonderful career with that magical last ditch winning point. He needs one more thing before he is finished and that’s an All-Ireland medal. I think he might well get one this year.
Waterford and Cork go at it hammer and tongs next Sunday. I have a feeling that Waterford might cause a surprise.
I listened back to the RTE radio commentary last Sunday on the Galway v Tipp game and John Mullane’s contributions are priceless. He is so passionate about the game and a welcome change to the usual analysis that we hear.
Ireland set for Women’s Rugby World Cup
The Women’s Rugby World Cup takes centre stage starting this week and it is a great honour for Ireland to be hosting the championships. The big three in the game are England, Australia and New Zealand and it is hard to see any other team winning it.
Ireland will have a huge following at home and they could reach the semi-finals. If this tournament goes well the rugby authorities will be hopeful that it will be a precursor to the staging of the men’s World Cup in 2023.
Premier League returns this weekend
It is hard to believe it, but the circus that is the Premier League is back this weekend. Such has been the massive amount of sporting action this summer, I have not had much of a chance to look at who might win it but I suspect that Manchester City will be the favourites after all the players they have bought.
Manchester United will also need to be in the hunt and it is time for Mourinho to put in a decent title challenge.
Arsenal look weaker and I am not convinced that Liverpool have the squad to deliver a title.
If Spurs can avoid any serious injuries to their main players like Dele Alli and Harry Kane they can challenge, and Chelsea will surely be a force again too.
A dark horse? Maybe Everton, who have bought a lot of players, and who have a very good manager in Ronald Koeman.