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Week of hope ends in 70 minutes of carnage

 

It’s the hope that kills you. It fluttered around the county last week ahead of Monday’s replay, tantalising us with daydreams of what might be. There was a quiet confidence among many in Roscommon as Mayo’s age, stamina and resolve were called into question.

  Fast-forward to the dying minutes in Croke Park on Monday evening and Roscommon fans, shell-shocked by events on the field below, were urging referee Anthony Nolan to put them out of their misery. Mayo hadn’t gone away and Roscommon weren’t yet ready to join the top table.

  It was devastating. Giant Mayo midfielders and forwards smothered the Roscommon kick-out as Aidan O’Shea’s aerial bombardment and physicality set the tone early on. ‘Men against boys’ was how some in the press box described it. It was hard to argue.

  Roscommon’s inexperience and naivety was apparent for the goals as Keith Higgins danced through the back-line on two separate occasions. Roscommon take pride in their football but there are times when the dark arts are required at the business end of the summer and one wonders whether Higgins would have made it through a more seasoned defence without being stopped in his tracks.

  It was a humbling lesson for both players and management but we must not forget the progress that has been made this year. Connacht Championships don’t come along very often and this is still a young team. Humbling defeats are part and parcel of the learning curve. All the top teams have been there, Mayo included.

  While Tuesday morning won’t have been easy for Roscommon supporters it’s also important to remember the effect Monday’s defeat will have on young Roscommon players. They too had to report to work this week and they will also have to lift themselves for the club championships in the next couple of weeks.

  The drubbing on Monday will live long in the memory but hopefully one day it will be looked back on as a positive turning point for those young footballers. As manager, Kevin McStay, said in the aftermath of last Monday’s defeat, this young panel can now continue their development away from the unforgiving spotlight of Allianz Division One.

‘We were steamrolled’

 

McStay surveys wreckage but looks to future

What a difference a week makes. Just eight days earlier, Kevin McStay bounced into the press area under the Hogan Stand after seeing his side go toe to toe with Mayo and come out with a share of the spoils. The mood was one of optimism as he looked to the replay. This time around, his native county went out and showed the football world that any suggestion that they were slipping back to the pack was pie in the sky stuff as they hammered a hapless Roscommon with a ruthless display of power football.

  There wasn’t a lot that could be said as he surveyed the wreckage of a 22-point defeat.

  “Mayo got their act together and we fell off the edge of a cliff today. The pace and power that we knew Mayo had but we thought was waning a bit was back and they brought the full force of it to the table from the throw-in. Our young team got steamrolled by a very experienced team who knew what they were about. My sense of it is that these things happen. I wish they didn’t happen because it is a tough place to be right now. Mayo were just miles ahead of us today.

  “Momentum is a big thing and their first goal gave them the confidence to go for the jugular and after that, every second attack they were looking to score goals. We have no complaints whatsoever and we wish them well in the semi-final and if they continue to play like that, they will test their next opponents.

  “Colm Boyle and Keith Higgins made a huge impact from sweeping positions and they opened us up and we could not track them. They showed huge energy there today and that is the most energetic that we have seen from Mayo in a long time.

  “Our lads were not making the same runs as last week for the kick-outs, (but) there is no blame game here in our dressing room this evening. It is a steep learning curve for our lads but overall this has been a decent year for us. We got a championship out of it and we had three trips to Croke Park and we are learning all the time,” he said.

  There was a huge managerial call to leave out the two goalscorers from the drawn game, Fintan Cregg and team captain Ciaráin Murtagh, and replace them with the inexperienced Caoileann Fitzmaurice and Cathal Compton. McStay explained that he needed to try to beef up his attack.

  “Firstly, at the end of the game last week we had five starting forwards sitting on the bench so when we looked at it we found it hard to see where we were going to get the scores. So we decided we would get as much out of the first half as possible and then we would bring on Fintan and Ciaráin in the second half.

  “We wanted to make a few changes and throw a few different things at Mayo with Cathal Compton at full-forward. Caoileann Fitzmaurice was going well at training and we threw him in at the deep end and he did great. I don’t think it made any difference what team we started with the way Mayo went at us. They just jumped at us from the word go. They pummelled us all through.

  “Mayo went back to their strong running game today and they have big strong athletic men and when they get their touch right and their confidence up, they are hard to beat. They had eight or nine goal chances in that game today.

  “It’s hard to believe (what happened), we were coming in on the bus and we were saying we will make this hugely competitive and we will get it down to the wire and then you see the scoreboard at the end of the game. It is hard to believe that we had such a positive mindset and then to see what happened,” he said.

  So what’s next? How can Roscommon recover from this defeat and what are the plans for 2018?

  “When we get back to the hotel we will have something to eat and we will say goodbye for a few months and the lads can get back to the club stuff. I am going to emphasise the positives and the strides forward that we have made as a group. This (the defeat) leaves a little bit of a smell for sure. It’s not a nice way to finish the season but we are in good company. Most of the so-called second tier teams have said goodbye to the championship with fairly big margins of defeat behind them.

  “We won the Connacht Championship and we are well placed next year in Division Two to develop the team further away from the pressure of Division One. We will be taking a few months off now and we will go again then and I would be very hopeful that we would further improve. I take plenty of positives and you have to remember where we were earlier in the year.

  “It is very important that we get promoted from Division Two next year but it won’t be easy; there are plenty of good teams in that division. Days like today will count. It is a tough experience but we are determined to develop the team further,” he concluded.

Doping’s shadow lingers over all sport

 

Watching Usain Bolt’s last race at the weekend, it became clear just how much the world of sport has changed in the past two decades. Spectators can’t simply enjoy wonderful athletic performances anymore, such is the stain left by repeated drug cheating.

  It has become increasingly difficult to watch events such as the World Athletics Championships, the Olympics and the Tour de France without being skeptical of top class performances.

  Irish innocence, when it comes to doping, was lost in the aftermath of the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, where Michelle Smith stormed to three gold and a bronze in the pool. We couldn’t believe the allegations levelled at her at the time, she was our ‘golden girl’ after all.  

  Watching the British sporting public’s reaction to both Mo Farah’s success and that of Justin Gatlin, the cynic in me wondered how many more heroes would suffer a similar fall from grace.

  Then there’s Bolt. The man has lit up the world of athletics throughout his career, powering to medal after medal with a cocky swagger, but last Saturday he was in no mood to discuss the problem of doping, judging by reports from the post-race press conference.

  According to an excellent piece by Cathal Dennehy in the Irish Independent, he was asked about the slower times in the 100m by a French journalist. She was asking whether it was as a result of the stricter doping controls including the Athlete Biological Passport, which keeps a record of drug tests. Bolt shrugged it off and became noticeably irritated by the question.  

  Surely, the main man of athletics should carry the torch against all those who attempt to bring his sport into disrepute? Surely it must have rankled with him that a 35-year-old, who has been banned twice previously for doping, beat him in his final race? Maybe Bolt was just being magnanimous and maybe the booing of Gatlin by the majority in the stadium was enough.

  Gatlin, for his part, also piped up at the press conference. One thing he said stood out for me:

  “As athletes, regardless of what the sport is, we’re human beings. We work hard. We train every day as you are all sitting typing on your computers,” he said, apparently with a straight face.

  The shadow cast by “hard-working” athletes like Gatlin over sport will only be lifted by open, transparent testing and the condemnation of cheats by clean athletes. I for one hope that the journalists “sitting and typing” on their computers continue to ask the hard questions.

  Doping has already robbed many of the world’s greatest sporting spectacles of their integrity and cast shame on those involved, many spectators are merely sitting and waiting to see who, or what sport, is next.

 

Merciless Mayo rout Roscommon

 

 

Any delusions of grandeur that Roscommon may have felt after drawing with Mayo a week earlier were crushed in the most ruthless and clinical manner on Monday as Stephen Rochford’s men dished out as heavy a beating as Roscommon have ever had to endure in the championship in Croke Park, or anywhere else for that matter.

  I was one of those who mistakenly thought that there was major improvement possible in the Roscommon performance from the previous week. I actually thought that Kevin McStay’s men could win this replay. How naive I was.

  In fact it was Mayo who made the major improvement. They stood on Roscommon’s throat from the minute the ball was thrown in at 2 pm and they never relented until Anthony Nolan called a halt to proceedings at about 3.30 pm. It made for difficult viewing as Mayo brushed Roscommon aside all over the field and the reality is that the margin could have been even greater if Mayo’s shooting had been a bit better.

  When it became known before the game that Lee Keegan was ruled out through injury, there was a rumble of excitement amongst the huge Roscommon following. But that didn’t last too long as Mayo brushed aside the loss of their talisman to exploit the huge gaps in the Roscommon defence time after time with powerful running and some mesmerising teamwork.

   The Roscommon team management made a massive selection call by excluding team captain Ciaráin Murtagh and Fintan Cregg, both goalscorers from the drawn game, and they pitched in the very inexperienced Caoileann Fitzmaurice and Cathal Compton. It was a move that did not work, as both played in an attack that simply saw none of the ball.

  In fairness to Caoileann Fitzmaurice, he got on the ball in the second half and was one of Roscommon’s better players when he was playing further out the field, but the game was over at that stage.

  Fintan Cregg and Ciaráin Murtagh did see action in the second half but by then Roscommon were a whopping 3-8 to 0-4 down. There was no way back. It was far too late.

The truth is that it would not have made any difference who Roscommon picked last Monday. It was clear that Mayo had heard enough from their noisy neighbours this year. It was time to put them back in their box and they did it clinically. Roscommon were beaten in almost every position on the field but Niall Kilroy and Niall McInerney stood defiantly against the green and red onslaught. There were too many gaps to plug but both men went down with their boots on.

   Looking down from the press area on Monday, it was a totally different Roscommon team that we saw. The intense tackling, the high workrate and the great movement of eight days earlier were absent.

  At one stage midway through the first half, a Roscommon player made his way up along the Cusack Stand side of the field. He looked inside but there was no one to kick it to. He had to turn back and go on a solo run across the field. He was dispossessed and Mayo went down and scored another point. It was symptomatic of what was happening all day long.

  Mayo pushed up on Roscommon’s kick-outs and Colm Lavin was left with no option except to kick it long. We hardly won any of those kick-outs at all and another few went out over the sideline. That put us under pressure from the start. Then our defending was almost non-existent as Mayo ran straight down the middle time after time, to devastating effect. Aidan O’Shea, Kevin McLoughlin, Keith Higgins (by far the best player on the field), Andy Moran, Tom Parsons, Cillian O’Connor and Paddy Durcan bombed forward as if it was a training session.

   Six points down after 15 minutes (a couple of questionable refereeing decisions not helping Roscommon), the writing was on the wall already, but Mayo were not in a charitable mood and they pulverised Roscommon in the second quarter. Kevin McLoughlin’s goal in the 23rd minute (he hopped the ball twice on his way to goal) opened the floodgates. A minute later Keith Higgins powered through and fed Andy Moran who shot low under Colm Lavin. Goal number three wasn’t long coming either as the Roscommon defence parted like the Red Sea again in the 28th minute when Keith Higgins waltzed through and blasted home. Game, set, match. In the second half it was a matter of how much Mayo would win by as their delirious supporters lapped it up to the very last second.

   Roscommon will just have to get over this thrashing. It was one of those days. It’s not the first time that Mayo have dished out a championship hammering to their near-neighbours and it probably won’t be the last. But it has to be remembered that it was a good summer overall for Roscommon. The Connacht title was won in great style and the excitement over the past few months in the county was palpable. If Roscommon can learn, get stronger and become more streetwise then maybe (and I say maybe) we can compete with the likes of Mayo. But that situation is far into the future as it stands. I felt for the Roscommon players in Croke Park on Monday. They gave us a lot of enjoyment this year. What a pity it had to end like it did.

  The trick now is to come again in February and have a cut at Division Two of the league and try to defend the Connacht title later in the year. The team is young and they are a great bunch of dedicated lads. But we all saw it last Monday. The gap between the top teams and those further down the food chain is massive and it is growing. That’s a debate for another day but for the moment it’s the end of the road for another year. When the dust settles we can look back on a Connacht Championship success which doesn’t happen too often.

  For Mayo, this was their best championship display for a number of years. You have to give them massive credit. Seven All-Ireland semi-finals in a row is some achievement. Any suggestions that they might be slipping were answered emphatically on Monday. I think they have a great chance of beating Kerry on the evidence of what we saw in this game. I for one would love to see that happen.

 

Seamus Duke on sport - 11th of August

 

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.

 

Ladies make quarters in style!

 

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies IFC Qualifier: Roscommon 4-13 Down 1-9

Roscommon produced an excellent performance to qualify for the All-Ireland quarter-finals where they will face Sligo after this qualifier played at Drumlane, Co. Cavan last Saturday.

  Roscommon got off to a good start and they never looked back. After only eight minutes good work from Rebecca Finan and Natalie McHugh set up Alice Kelly who scored a fine goal. A couple of points from Natalie McHugh and Rebecca Finan followed and Roscommon were really in the driving seat when Amanda McLoone scored their second goal in the 28th minute. Half-time score: Roscommon 2-7 Down 1-4.

  Down were better in the third quarter and had three points from their best player Aisling Cull.

  Roscommon added a third goal in the 44th minute from Rebecca Finan to increase the lead again. In fairness to Down they kept battling away. Aisling Cull scored a fine goal with 14 minutes left but Roscommon were never in danger and they scored their fourth goal in injury-time courtesy of sub Jenny Higgins.

Roscommon: H Cummins: A Kelly (1-0), R Mullaney, R Brady; J Cregg, B McHugh, S Kenny; A McLoone (1-0), L Fleming (0-2); A McAuliffe, J Downey (0-2); T Taylor (0-1), N McHugh (0-3), R Finan (1-3), R Fitzmaurice (0-1). Subs: J Higgins (1-1) for McAuliffe, G Dufficy for Cregg, N Feeney for Taylor, S Brady for McLoone, M Freyne for N McHugh.

Youngsters set to face mighty Kingdom

 

All-Ireland U-17 Football Championship Semi-Final: Roscommon v Kerry on Saturday in Cusack Park, Ennis at 2 pm

Roscommon’s stars of the future will strut their stuff in an All-Ireland semi-final against what looks a very strong Kerry side this Saturday in Ennis. It is a marvellous opportunity for this talented Roscommon side to test themselves against a Kingdom side who are highly-rated and Kerry underage football is flying high at the moment with their minor team going for four in a row All-Ireland titles this year.

  But Roscommon have been improving with every outing and the team saw off Leitrim in the Connacht semi-final at Hyde Park by 0-14 to 0-11 and then they defeated a fancied Galway team 2-8 to 1-8 in the Connacht final at the Connacht Centre of Excellence playing some excellent football.

  Roscommon manager Liam Tully says that the game is a marvellous opportunity for the players to test themselves against a quality opponent and he says that they are looking forward to the game.

  “It is a huge task for us but it is a task that we are looking forward to. Kerry are a top class side but we have trained hard and will travel down to Ennis quietly confident. There is a great spirit among our lads and they are a great bunch altogether. They are a credit to their clubs and their families I have to say.

  “We are without Paul McManus and Darren Duff, both of whom are ruled out with injury. Long-term injury victim Darragh Walsh is recovering from a leg injury but is unlikely to be able to feature. Billy McDonnell and Cathal Crehan are also out, so we have a number of injuries.

  “We have done a lot of work with this team and we are trying to develop an open, attacking brand of football. It takes time but we feel we are getting there. Midfield is a very important area and we will need to get at least 50% possession there to give ourselves a chance. We are the Connacht champions and we are travelling to Ennis to compete strongly with Kerry.

  “Roscommon have great followers and we hope that there will be a big crowd in Ennis to follow us on Saturday. We have happy memories of our trips to Ennis in the past and hopefully we can produce another win on Saturday” he concluded.

  Given their injury problems, Roscommon’s hand will be weakened but there are still plenty of top class performers on their team. The likes of Shane Cunnane, Peter Gillooly, Paul Carey, Ciaran Lawless, Jack Keane, Oisin Lennon, Niall Higgins, John Martin Ciaran Sugrue, Andrew Lyons and Michael O’Donnell between the posts have all played well in the championship so far.

  Kerry underage football is on the crest of a wave at the moment and they have qualified for this semi-final after an unconvincing 0-15 to 0-10 win in the Munster final against Cork. They have a number of highly-rated players including full-forward Michael Slattery and corner-forward Sean Keane. Eddie Horan looks a fine prospect at centre half-back and Shane O’Connell captains the Kerry team at midfield.

  Predicting the outcome of underage games is a very tricky business and mentors will tell you that a lot depends on what happens on the day. If Roscommon can go into the game and show discipline in the tackle and an intensity to secure possession and show a high workrate all over the field there is no reason why they cannot win this semi-final. It will not be easy but it is not an impossible task either.

 

Dooner’s weekend predictions

 

The Roscommon & District Football League returns this weekend with the first round of the Premier Division Cup and the annual Shield curtain raiser.

  It’ll be interesting to see how new boys Boyle Celtic and St. Peter’s fare this season in what looks like a very strong Premier Division. Best of luck to all involved!

Friday, August 11th

RDFL Premier Division Cup Round 1

Shiven Rovers v Moore United (8 pm)

Moore have been there or thereabouts for the last couple of seasons and I’m not expecting much to change this year. Prediction: Moore United

Saturday, August 12th

RDFL Shield Final

At RDFL grounds:
Ballymoe FC v Castlerea Celtic.
(6.30 pm)

This local rivalry looks set to continue this season. Castlerea’s Challenge Cup win in the last game of last season will give them confidence going into the new campaign. Prediction: Castlerea Celtic

RDFL Premier Division Cup Round 1

Ballaghaderreen FC v St. Peter’s FC. (6.30 pm)

A really interesting fixture this one. St. Peter’s will be looking to get off to a winning start but Ballaghaderreen will be no pushovers. Prediction: St. Peter’s FC

Sunday, August 13th

RDFL Premier Division Cup Round 1

St. John’s Athletic v Ballinasloe Town. (12 pm)

The Lecarrow side struggled at times last season and they face a tough opener against the reigning Connacht champions. Prediction: Ballinasloe Town

Cloonfad United v Skyvalley Rovers. 2 pm

Cloonfad were impressive in Division One last season and will provide a test for Skyvalley Rovers. The away side’s Premier experience should see them through however. Prediction: Skyvalley Rovers

Soccer Fixtures

RDFL Umbro Masters Cup Semi-Finals

Dunmore Town v Glen Celtic. 5.30 pm

Ballinasloe Town v Skyvalley Rovers. 6.30 pm

 

Soccer season kicks off in Roscommon

 

The Roscommon & District Football league season kicks off this weekend. This season sees the arrival of Boyle Celtic and St. Peter’s of Athlone to the Premier Division in the 47th year of the league. This week PRO Vincent Brooks looks ahead to another competitive season.

This weekend sees the beginning of the forty-seventh season of football for the Roscommon & District League. This season will see a change in format with the first two rounds of the Premier Division Cup being played before all three divisions kick-off on August 26th.

  A big change for the Roscommon & District League will be the increase of teams competing in the Premier Division from the traditional ten to twelve for the coming season. This increase has come about as a result of the return to the league of former greats Boyle Celtic and new side St. Peter’s FC from Athlone.

  Boyle Celtic were in existence before the formation of the Roscommon & District League and were one of the founding members. They won just about every competition in the RDFL before moving to the Sligo/Leitrim Super League in the late 80s. The main reason for their departure was to enable them to make the shorter journeys to teams in the Sligo/Leitrim area.

  In recent years they have been one of the top teams in the Super League, winning the championship twice in the last three seasons. They also reached the FAI Junior Cup Semi-Final last season only to be beaten in a penalty shootout by the Kilkenny side Evergreen. They were also beaten in the Connacht Cup Semi-Final. They will provide stiff opposition to teams in the Premier Division in the coming season but they will be a very popular side.

  St. Peter’s from Athlone are based on the Connacht side of the town but draw their players from all over Athlone. The club, which was formed in 1980, played up to now in the Leinster Combined Counties League.

  While they played in the shadow of Willow Park for a number of seasons, they still succeeded in winning many trophies. In 2007, they finished runners-up in the FAI Junior Cup and last season they were the Combined Counties League champions. Given their choice of players they will be among the favourites to win the Premier Division this season.

  Last season’s RDFL Premier Division champions Ballymoe FC and Challenge Cup holders Castlerea Celtic meet on Saturday evening at 6.30 pm in this season’s Shield final.

  Moore United travel to Newbridge on Friday where they play Shiven Rovers in the first round of the Premier Division Cup with a kick-off at 8 pm.

  St. Peter’s travel to Ballaghaderreen where they play the home side on Saturday evening at 6.30 pm.

  On Sunday, newly promoted Cloonfad United play old rivals Skyvalley Rovers at Cloonfad at 2 pm while St. John’s Athletic are in action against Ballinasloe Town at noon.

  A reminder that results with goal scorers for both teams should be sent by the home side to the PRO Vincent Brooks 087-6476597 as soon as games finish.

 

You shouldn’t pick a pocket or boo!

 

People Sport received two separate press releases from Roscommon GAA earlier this week. Both concerned events at last Sunday’s All-Ireland Quarter-Final in Dublin.

  The first press release highlighted the scourge of pickpockets around Heuston Station and the second addressed the booing of Andy Moran.

  The advice I’d give in terms of avoiding petty theft is quite simple: Be on your guard and avoid carrying belongings in open view or quantities of cash on your person if you can.

  The issue of booing is slightly more complex but it didn’t just start last Sunday in Croke Park, nor did it rear its ugly head for the first time ever in an FBD League game in Kiltoom earlier in the year. It has been around for a few years now and doesn’t look like it’ll be eradicated anytime soon.

  Firstly, no county can claim the moral high ground when it comes to the behaviour of supporters. While the vast majority of Mayo fans have been brilliant over the last few years - even in times of cruel heartbreak – there will always be a minority (like any county) who let the side down.

  Roscommon are certainly no different. Success and participation in Croke Park means an increase in the numbers travelling to games. This increase may include a small number of fans you may never see huddled on the terraces for FBD League games in the depths of winter and are therefore unfamiliar with the spirit in which Gaelic football is supposed to be played.

  However, the jeering of Andy Moran did occur at a FBD League game and as such it’s unfair to lay all the blame at the door of those unfamiliar with the atmosphere at a Gaelic football match. So-called ‘real’ GAA fans can obviously get caught up in the heat of the moment too and not just in Roscommon - Donie Smith’s last minute free was also booed by a section of Mayo fans last Sunday.

  So what’s happening? Has the rise of social media added to the ‘pressure’ on fans? Perhaps, thinking ahead to the possibility of slagging and bragging on Facebook and Twitter, supporters are more inclined to vent frustration at the opposition, referee and even their own team. Maybe winning has become too important in Gaelic games and the idea of defeat isn’t as easily accepted.

  Whatever the reasons, Andy Moran, just like Donie Smith, is representing his county in his free time away from his day to day job. He deserves to be treated with respect from the terraces – and 99% of fans don’t need to be told this.

  Personally, I don’t think there was any real malice in any of the booing last Sunday. I believe the jeering of Andy Moran was a delayed response to his goal celebration in Kiltoom a few months ago. In fairness to Andy, he was probably only responding to a few heckles that day too!

  In the end, it’s a storm in a teacup and the vast majority of Roscommon and Mayo fans will travel to Croke Park once again next Monday to cheer on their respective teams. They’ll continue to ‘Give Respect and Get Respect’ as Andy and Donie and Co. go about their business in their usual sporting way.

 

 

 

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