Premier League returns this weekend
The Premier League is back with us again this weekend. The big question is can anyone challenge Manchester City for the title? The answer is probably no, but the team who look best equipped to give them a run for their money are Liverpool. They have spent big and Klopp will be under pressure to win a trophy now.
I have followed Manchester United since I was a child. I have gone to see them play at least 30 times over the years but I have to say that I am losing interest in them with every passing week as Jose Mourinho engages in one major whinge after another. I welcomed his appointment when he took over but I was wrong. He is an egomaniac and everything that happens is all about him. His negativity has got to impact on his players and in the dressing room. The quicker he leaves United the better as far as I am concerned. On the field United are good enough to get a Top Four place but that’s about it. Chelsea and Spurs will contend but I see Man City and Liverpool as one and two.
U-20 final a real humdinger
The U-20 final last Sunday was a magnificent game between two teams who attacked from the first minute. Kildare were ten points a better team but they were almost caught by a Mayo side who simply refused to lie down.
It was worth going to Croke Park on Sunday to see Kildare corner-forward Jimmy Hyland alone. It was one of the most sensational performances I have ever seen in an All-Ireland final. He scored 0-10 and 0-8 from play. He can shoot off either foot and is lightening fast. We will be hearing about him again.
I have to say I was surprised that there were over 33,000 people in Croke Park last Sunday. The Dubs had a huge crowd there and there were big crowds from Mayo and Kildare but a tiny Roscommon crowd which was very disappointing.
One thing I noticed on Sunday was that the referee and linesmen for the senior game had a personal trainer who put them through their paces before the game started! A new innovation I have never seen before. What next - flag waving exercises for the umpires before the game starts?
Lessons learned ahead of Division One
So the Roscommon footballers’ campaign is over for another year and overall it has been a good year, but now it is over we all know where the problems lie. Despite the progress that has been made we are still some way off being a top four team. More strength and conditioning and a more defensive minded counter-attacking style will have to be considered and tried out in the Division One campaign which is coming in February.
Hopefully there are more players out there that the selectors can look at in the forthcoming club championship.
One thing is essential for 2019: we have got to find players for full-back and centre half-back and leave them there. This year Roscommon have used at least 8 different players at centre back and 5 or 6 at full-back. The central positions on any team are so important and we have to sort that out as well. Can Roscommon join the elite band of teams? It’s possible. If Monaghan can do it then Roscommon can too.
With the season over I wonder about the position of some of the older players on the panel particularly the likes of Seanie McDermott and Ian Kilbride. There have been no announcements since Sunday but I would not like players like those to slip away having given such a commitment without being acknowledged. I’m sure we will hear more in due course.
Ladies’ big championship day out
The Roscommon Ladies footballers have their big championship day out this weekend when they take on Laois in the All-Ireland quarter-final. There is an air of confidence running through the team this year and that Connacht final win against Sligo has given the team a huge lift. This is a game that Roscommon are well capable of winning.
However, Michael Finneran and his backroom team will know that the team has to go out and perform on the day. We wish them the best of luck.
We’re a great sporting nation!
The range of sports that Ireland is now doing well in is growing with every passing year. The women’s hockey team led the way last week getting to the World Cup final. I doubt if there are 1,000 hockey players in the whole country so it was some achievement.
Our amateur boxers have long been at the top but now Ireland is achieving success at cycling, swimming and athletics where there are a number of young females in particular who are gaining a big reputation on the world stage. For a small country we are a great sporting nation and getting better.
Joe can be the difference for Tribesmen
It was like old times in Thurles last Sunday as over 45,000 people gathered for the Galway v Clare All-Ireland SHC semi-final replay. While it was not as good a game as we had seen the previous week, it was choc-full of incredible drama. Galway were very lucky to survive and Clare will rue those missed chances for many years to come.
It sets up a fantastic All-Ireland final and it can go either way. Limerick will certainly not be afraid of Galway like they would if it was Tipperary, Kilkenny or Cork. But Galway’s main man is Joe Canning. The Portumna man is certainly one of the all-time greats. When Galway needed him last Sunday he came up trumps again. He might be the difference in the final.
Final Major of the year!
It’s another huge week on the golfing calendar with the final Major of the year the PGA Championship at Bellerive. All the top players in the world are playing well at the moment and it promises to be another thriller.
Tiger Woods has made an astonishing comeback to the tour in terms of the quality of his play but he has not won yet. What a week it would be to change that.
Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose have to be considered. I am going to have a few bob on Shane Lowry each way at a very big price. He was having a bad year until a few weeks ago but he has come into a bit of form since changing his caddy. He has contended before in majors so it won’t overawe him. 100/1 looks a great value bet to me.