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Carty to answer Ireland's call



Ireland have called up Connacht's uncapped trio Jack Carty, Caolin Blade and Tom Farrell for the opening Six Nations games against England and Scotland.

Carty, a former Roscommon minor footballer, has been picked ahead of Leinster's Ross Byrne by head coach Joe Schmidt in a 38-man squad as defending champions Ireland prepare to kick off against England on February 2nd.

The Lead Story: History makers set for All-Ireland semi-final!






The hurlers of Carrick-on-Shannon made history last November when they became the first men’s team from Leitrim to claim a provincial club championship title.

  Carrick defeated Ballygar of Galway in the AIB Connacht Junior Hurling Championship Final on a scoreline of 2-11 to 1-9. They will now face Ulster champions Castleblayney from Monaghan in Cusack Park, Mullingar in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final with throw-in at 2 pm.

   Olcan Conway from Derry is the man in charge of the Carrick club.

  “It’s a big achievement. Carrick is the next closest club after the likes of Roscommon Gaels and Oran in Co. Roscommon so we have players from all over and some of the boys play football for Shannon Gaels and Kilmore.

  “All of our underage teams compete in Roscommon, of course, but a few years ago would have been the whipping boys! Now it’s different, they like going down and you can sense a bit of fear creeping in in Roscommon!”

  In terms of the men’s team, Olcan said Carrick had been battling away for a number of years and had reached a couple of Connacht finals in the past. The big breakthrough arrived this year though as the Connacht title made its way across the Shannon to a rapturous welcome.

  So how does a man from Derry end up managing a Connacht-conquering team in Leitrim?

  “Ah look, you know yourself, you meet a woman, you marry her and you end up living in Leitrim – it’s definitely not the worst thing I’ve ever done!” (Laughs)

  Sunday’s semi-final showdown certainly won’t need any more hype in Carrick and Castleblayney nor among members of the Glancy family. As Hughie and Tomás prepare to tog out with Carrick, brother Cian will be waiting for them among the opposition.

  From a Roscommon point of view, David McKenna, Kevin O’Dowd, Lorcan Dolan, Shane and Dessie Beirne and Cian French will be lining out for the Connacht champions, who, due to players being spread out all over Ireland, must meet in Tubber in Co. Offaly twice a week for training sessions.

  Manager Olcan is happy the waiting is over and is quietly confident of his team’s chances.

  “I’m really looking forward to it now, been a lot of waiting around since November. We’ve enjoyed it though; it’s a whole new experience playing through the winter months. There are no distractions because there’s nothing else on! We’ll give it a good rattle on Sunday, I’ve seen Castleblayney and there’s not a lot between the teams”.

  The hurling history makers from just across the border will be hoping to come back across the bridge with another scalp and plans for another big day out this Sunday evening.

Creggs advance in Connacht Junior Cup




Connacht Junior Cup Round One

Creggs 32 Sligo 12


Creggs maintained their recent run of results with an excellent victory over a strong Sligo team in the first round of the Connacht Junior Cup at The Green on Saturday evening.

  After a scoreless opening quarter, hooker Maurice Buckley finally broke through for a vital try following some powerful mauling by the home pack.

  Shortly afterwards, a superbly placed kick by Shane Dowd unlocked the Sligo defence for winger Thomas Flynn to gather the ball at full speed and cross for a fine try in the right corner.

  Sligo responded with a series of attacks which yielded a try after a defensive mix-up close to the Creggs line. With half-time looming, out-half Shane Dowd cut through for a superb solo try to put Creggs 15-5 ahead but Sligo closed the half with a converted try to reduce the deficit to three points.

  Maurice Buckley scored his second try in the 54th minute following a close-in maul and Tom Oates crossed for another in the 67th minute as Creggs took control.

  In the final minute, Creggs scored a magnificent try with winger Chris Duignan crossing out wide. Duignan richly deserved his try as his defensive display was top class from start to finish.

  Creggs advance to the quarter-finals where they have a home game against Monivea on the weekend of February 9th.

  Creggs resume Connacht J1 League action with back-to-back games against Galwegians, one of which has been re-fixed from earlier in the season.

  First up is a trip to Glenina on Sunday, and then it’s back to Creggs the following Sunday. These are two difficult hurdles which must be safely negotiated before what could be the clash of the season on February 3rd against league leaders Connemara in Creggs.


People’s champions of the week




This week’s champions are all the Roscommon teams who represented the county with great distinction at last weekend’s Connacht Scór finals in Claremorris.

  There were wins for St. Dominic’s (Rince Foirne and Léiriú), Kilglass Gaels (Tráth na gCéist) and Evan Gunn of Elphin (Recitation).

  Well done to everyone who took part and congratulations to the winners!


Seamus Duke on sport - January 18th



Reserving judgement on new rules!

Maybe those of us who were in Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday saw a game where the proposed new playing rules did not affect the game hardly at all and that was unusual but I will have to see a few more games before I make up my mind about them.

  The much-criticised three hand pass rule was only pulled for once in the game and Roscommon in particular played some great long kick-passes. It was obvious that both sides had been practicing the new rules in training. There were loads of kick-passes.

 The kick-out from the 20-metre line cost Sligo a goal in the first half but that was a very easy mistake to make. The only new rule that had a big impact on the game was the ‘offensive mark’. During the course of the game players claiming the marks scored six points (four to Sligo). After the game Anthony Cunningham stated that a couple of those ‘marks’ were very questionable and he is right when he says that that rule is very hard to police. Is the kicker outside or inside the ’45?

  All in all, the new rules did not really affect the game much and it was a high scoring and enjoyable affair but I wouldn’t like to make a judgement on just one game.

  I would be worried that the workload of referees would become intolerable if all these new rules come in. It’s easy to be blasé about the proposals at this time of the year but in the heat of a huge championship game it could be very different. We have heard loads of opinions from players, managers and pundits in recent weeks. We should hear from referees too. The GAA will be meeting to review the proposals next weekend. It will be interesting to see what they do.

A good start to Cunningham era

It was a good start to the Anthony Cunningham era last weekend given the circumstances. To score 2-18 against any opposition was very satisfying and there were 11 different scorers too. There were some very good displays and plenty to build on.

  However, I hope that the injury to Sean Mullooly is not a serious one. He is a vital part of this team. Roscommon will also have to improve at midfield. Sligo got the better of that duel last Sunday and that kept them in the game right to the finish.

  The standard of opposition in Division One will be several levels higher than what we saw last Sunday if anyone needed reminding but it’s good to have another competitive game to play next Sunday. Galway will provide a stiff test ahead of what will be a massive game in Castlebar on Saturday week.

Ole’s revolution continues at Old Trafford

With Liverpool making serious tracks towards their first Premier League title in 29 years the goings on at Manchester United are not much of a concern to them. However, the transformation under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is continuing.

  Last Sunday’s win against Spurs was the first real test for the Norwegian and although I would have to admit that United were a little lucky to win the game (they can thank De Gea) it’s clear that the players are all playing for the new manager and they all look happy to be out on the field of play. It just goes to confirm what most people thought of the José Mourinho reign. It was all about him and no one else.

  In my humble opinion the United board should just get on with it now. Give the job to Solskjaer and start planning for next season. It may be a bit of a stretch to see them qualify for the Champions League but if you said that to anyone six weeks ago it would have been deemed impossible.

  At the top of the table Liverpool are going along well and the win against Brighton at the weekend was just the type of victory that a team who wins championships have at this time of the year. I was looking at Liverpool’s remaining games and save for an away game against Manchester United and a Merseyside Derby against Everton, every other game is winnable. Remember that they can afford to lose a game and still win the title.

  Manchester City, on the other hand, must win every one of their remaining games and hope for a slip-up. It is definitely looking good for Klopp’s men. City were middling against 10-man Wolves on Monday night. They are a super side but they are still involved in four competitions and that could take its toll.

Portlaoise boxer defends his crown

TJ Doheny from Portlaoise has been pretty much under the radar as an Irish sporting hero. However last August he became the IBF super bantamweight champion when he beat the reigning title holder (from Japan) in Tokyo. This coming Friday night he defends his title against another Japanese fighter, Ryohei Takahashi, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight will be shown live coast to coast in the USA and also on here Sky Sports and their coverage starts at 2 am Irish time. The Irishman is the very strong favourite to win.

‘No deal’ could affect racing industry!

Why would Brexit make it onto the sports pages? Well apparently if Britain crash out of the EU without any deal it could have immediate consequences for the horse racing industry. In the event of a ‘no deal’ the movement of live animals (which would include horses) would be directly affected and huge festivals such as Ascot, the Derby and all the other major classics would be affected. Just imagine if Gordon Elliott or Willie Mullins were not able to send their horses to Aintree or if Aidan O’Brien was not able to challenge for the classics this summer. It would also affect the show jumping and greyhound racing industry too…frightening stuff!

The future looks bright for Irish Rugby

It was another unbelievable weekend for Irish Rugby. There were four great wins for the four Irish teams against very strong opposition. We have never had so many really talented rugby players in this country as we have at this present time.

  Ulster’s win against Racing ’92 was fantastic. What a player Jacob Stockdale is. His two tries were of the highest quality. Then we had Joey Carbery putting on a master class for Munster against Gloucester. It was his best ever display in a major game and he is turning into a real class act and a super understudy to Johnny Sexton. At the RDS, Garry Ringrose was the star of the show as Leinster dismantled Toulouse. The centre was rampant as the champions won really well.

  Then in Galway Connacht held on to defeat Sale and now they are in with a great chance of a home quarter-finals in the Challenge Cup. It was also a very special day for Denis Buckley who made his 150th appearance for Connacht against Sale and he played really well too. There were some lovely photos going around on Saturday night of Denis and his mother Mary after the game. To play so many top class games is a great achievement.

  On a more serious note, Joe Schmidt must be licking his lips at the prospect of picking a squad for the Six Nations and World Cup. These are really exciting times for Irish Rugby.


New era off to a winning start!






FBD Insurance League Semi-Final

Roscommon 2-18

Sligo 1-16


As opening games go this was a very good effort to start the Anthony Cunningham regime. Given the number of players missing since last year, to score 2-18 is a very creditable total against any opposition (with 11 different scorers), and the result puts the team into the FBD League final against Galway next Sunday. It will be another welcome competitive game ahead of the league opener in Castlebar on Saturday week.

  On the plus side, there were very good displays from Niall Daly (first half) Enda Smith, Shane Killoran (Roscommon’s best player), Ciarán Lennon and subs Dara Pettit and Colin Compton. Some of the accurate kick-passing was a joy to watch and the attack took some great scores throughout.

  But before anyone starts getting carried away there were negatives too. Sean Mullooly limped out of the match and must be a doubt for the start of the league now. We can ill afford to lose him.

  In addition, this was a very inexperienced Sligo side who pushed Roscommon all the way to the final few minutes of the game. A second quarter fade-out by Roscommon was also a worry. The manager and his selectors have plenty to work on ahead of a very busy and intense season.

  On a chilly and blustery evening Roscommon played against the strong wind in the opening half and in the first quarter they racked up some great scores. Cathal Cregg (free) and Conor Daly had early points before Roscommon scored an opportunist goal in the tenth minute. Sligo goalkeeper Aidan Devanney kicked out from the 13-metre line instead of the 20-metre line. Referee Jerome Henry threw up the ball and Shane Killoran grabbed it and drove it to the Sligo net.

  By the 17th minute Roscommon were ahead by 1-4 to 0-2 and looking comfortable, but inspired by a magnificent display from Niall Murphy, Sligo came storming back into the game and they held Roscommon scoreless for almost 15 minutes. Murphy kicked a couple of monster points from way out, and their goal arrived in the 24th minute. After a poor kick-out from Darren O’Malley, Patrick O’Connor was fouled and Murphy drove the resultant spot kick to the net. Niall Kilroy and Shane Killoran scored late points in the half but by the break Sligo led by 1-10 to 1-6 with Murphy having accounted for 1-6.

  Roscommon were much better after the break and by the 48th minute they were level at 1-10 apiece with Ronan Daly, Donie Smith, Kilroy and Caoileann Fitzmaurice on target.

  There was a touch of controversy about Roscommon’s second goal in the 49th minute. Enda Smith made a great run towards goal. He fisted the ball goalwards and it seemed to go into the net directly but the umpire indicated that a Sligo defender had touched it on its way and the goal was given.

  But even at that Roscommon were getting it hard to shake off a resilient Sligo. Sub Pat Hughes did very well for the Yeats County and on three occasions they came to within two points of the home side. But in the final five minutes of play Roscommon sealed the win helped by three fine points from sub Colin Compton and another from Donie Smith (a free).

  The good sized crowd enjoyed the high scoring nature of the game however Roscommon will know that the standard of opposition they are about to face starting on January 26th will be so different to what they faced here. There are still problems in midfield and if Mullooly is missing at full-back it will be hard to replace him. But to start the year with a win is always good.


Cunningham: ‘We’ve plenty to work on’



New Roscommon manager, Anthony Cunningham, was understandably pleased to get his reign off to a winning start but cautioned that a lot of work still had to be done ahead of the National League.

  “You’d always be happy with a win but it’s a work in progress. It was nice to get a good match. There’s a lot of tidying up from our point of view; we made a lot of mistakes so we have plenty to work on.

  “There were a lot of unforced errors and we’ll be looking at that strenuously during the week but we’re looking forward to playing Galway next Sunday,” he said.

  Cunningham was also concerned with the manner in which Roscommon faded at the end of the first half.

  “We switched off, and that would be a concern. At any level, you can’t switch off to that extent, no matter where you’re playing. On the positive side, we scored freely and we scored well, and we worked very, very hard.

  “The spread of scorers was good but it’s early days, and, for us, it’s heads down for the week. Next Sunday will be another day’s work to prepare for the league but it’s good to be in the final,” he said.

  The new rules are a work in progress too according to the Roscommon boss.

  “A few of the scores from the inside mark were questionable but it’s very hard to police for referees and hopefully they will tidy all that up (the new rules) in the next couple of weeks,” he concluded.




Positive performance needed in FBD finale






FBD League Final

Galway v Roscommon on Sunday in Tuam at 1.30 pm


This is a very welcome additional competitive game for Anthony Cunningham, his selectors and the players ahead of what is going to be a very tough league campaign which starts in Castlebar on Saturday week.

  If Mayo had won in Tuam last Sunday Roscommon would have had to travel to Castlebar two weekends in a row which was not a very appetising prospect. Now Roscommon can have a look at other systems and players as they ramp up their preparations.

  Galway pipped Mayo after a penalty shootout last Sunday and they fielded a strong team on the day. Sean Andy O’Ceallaigh will be full-back again this week while Kevin Walsh tried out John Daly at centre half-back and he scored two points in an impressive display.

  Up front Michael Farragher of Corofin and Barry McHugh were impressive and it was noticeable that Shane Walsh and Damien Comer took no part against Mayo. Maybe we will see them in Tuam on Sunday.

  Of more interest to our readers will be the Roscommon team. Hopefully Sean Mullooly is not as badly injured as was first feared. He won’t play on Sunday. Gary Patterson and Conor Hussey are new recruits to the defence and they will surely get another run on Sunday. Evan McGrath and Dara Pettit also looked good when introduced last Sunday while Tadgh O’Rourke and Caoileann Fitzmaurice will be up against it in midfield, but these are the games to see what our options are.

  The Smiths, Ciarán Lennon, Cathal Cregg, Shane Killoran, and Niall Kilroy all did well at various times at the weekend and I would like to see Colin Compton get a longer stint. He knows where the posts are and could be a big addition in attack.

  It’s not the result that matters in Tuam on Sunday. The performance is everything, and a further chance to get ready for MacHale Park on Saturday week. That’s what it’s all about.


Prediction: Galway

GAA in brief…



Carroll set for new role

Former Roscommon GAA Secretary Brian Carroll is set to become the new Vice-Chairman of the County Board this week. He is the only candidate nominated to replace Padraig Naughton who stepped down recently.


Durney takes U-17 reins

Emmett Durney will be ratified as the Roscommon U-17 manager this week. The Clann na nGael man is a previous U-21 and minor selector.


Curran continues in charge

Shane Curran will continue as the manager of the Roscommon U-20 team this year.


Scór success for Roscommon clubs

Roscommon won four provincial titles at the Scór finals in Castlebar last weekend: Kilglass Gaels (quiz), St. Dominic’s (figure dancing), Evan Gunn, Elphin (recitation), and St. Dominic’s (Léiriú).



New Year, New Era!




Cautious Cunningham takes the reins



This Sunday Roscommon footballers begin a new era when they play their first competitive game under new manager Anthony Cunningham. The Rossies face Sligo at Dr. Hyde Park in the FBD League. Last Sunday the new team boss sat down with the local media and discussed a number of issues which included what players are available to the panel, their preparations for the new season, ambitions for Division One of the National League and general expectations for the years ahead.


On pre-season preparations…

I don’t want to get into individual names of lads that are in or out but we have a league training panel. We have worked really hard since we started training and we would be very happy with the attitude and application of the players.

  Overall, it’s development work that we are involved with and Roscommon supporters will hopefully understand that. That type of work can take a long time but we are very happy with where we are. We have talked a lot about where we are going, we have done trials, we have got guys training and finalised a panel.

  I am very happy with the way the players have reacted and I am happy with my management team. I have two excellent coaches in Iain Daly and Mark Dowd who are excellent people but it’s the same for every other county and the standard is very high as we know. We are keeping our heads down and working hard at the moment.


Ins and outs…

In terms of players coming in, we have Sean Mullooly back and there are also a number of young development players who have come onto the panel and will train with us. Darren O’Malley is back in contention for a goalie’s position as is John Brian Carthy (RTE’s Brian Carthy’s son). We also have Conor Cox who has come from Kerry and will be plying his trade with Roscommon now. 

  With regard to the players who have left the panel, the perogative for any lad who wants to play football for his club or county lies with that individual. People sometimes get carried away with this aspect of Gaelic football but this is down to the individual themselves. If someone opts out and makes a career choice and cannot commit to the seven days a week that is now required if you are a county player then that’s their decision. The door is always open for them to return at any stage in the future.

  We have some lads who opted out because they are travelling, others because of exams or work commitments, we have some injuries too. Niall McInerney is doing his finals and cannot commit, Ciaráin Murtagh is going travelling, John McManus is developing his career and couldn’t commit while Cathal Compton is also travelling.


Shaping the team…

That’s something that we are always working on but I have to acknowledge that there has been tremendous work going on over the past few years in that regard. To get the defensive set-up right has to be the backbone of any team regardless of where you are playing. It’s a work in progress and that’s what the pre-season tournaments are for and we will be trying out as many combinations as we can but there is always trial and error involved.


First game in charge…

The likes of the FBD League and National League are used by most teams as a bedding-in ground for the year ahead but there is tough competition all along the way.

  Sligo are under a new manager and they will be gunning for Roscommon on Sunday but it will be a learning experience for us and that is the big aspect of it.

  The big focus for this panel is development. We will give players exposure and hopefully they will come through the tests ahead and the hope is that they will develop as serious inter-county footballers in time.


Style of play…

Over the past few years Roscommon were a very entertaining team to watch but they may not have been as defensive as they should have been when it came to the big day. Strength and conditioning is a big part of that equation and there are still a lot of young players on the Roscommon panel and it takes time…but we will be focussing on that and we will continue to focus on that. You have to do that (strength and conditioning work) to be able to compete physically.


The proposed new rules…

We have been practising the new rules at training and although there is a doubt about them (coming in) for the league they will probably stick with them.

  The three hand pass rule has limitations. It stops the flow of the game in terms of attacking and it takes a bit of getting used to. However, the mark is something that people might like in time. The black card rule (10 minutes in the sin bin) is good. It’s unfair to see a player off the pitch for a whole game for a clumsy tackle. There are benefits but I don’t think the three hand pass rule will stand the test of time.


Life in Division One…

We have the desire, ambition and drive to do well in Division One. There is no point in being involved as a player, selector or manager if you don’t want to play at the very top level. There will be difficult days and we realise that. The competition is really high but we are really looking forward to the campaign. We have to take it one game at a time and we will be trying to win our next game and that’s the way it has to be.

  We are not looking any further than Sunday’s game against Sligo and the league opener against Mayo. We want to compete at the highest level so we want to stay in the division.


Managing expectations…

Expectations are only a problem if you let them affect you. Part of the training of a team means that you have to blank out totally what’s said externally. I would hope that Roscommon people would realise that this is still a young team and it will take time to adjust to Division One football. We would be hoping that playing in that division will help them in the championship. Developing players is not an exact science; it may happen quickly or it may take time but supporters will simply have to have patience.


So far, so good…

I am very happy with the work we have done since we started training in early December. It’s all systems go for the season but we are in a development mode and we have to be patient and realistic.


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