Championship needs a good finale!
It’s county senior football final time again and I had to be convinced that St. Brigid’s and Clann na nGael had not met in a final for 21 years but that’s the reality. The game is previewed in more detail elsewhere in the sports section of the paper this week.
Looking back at this year’s championship, I would rate it a mediocre championship at best. I realise that under the current fixtures programme it cannot be done any other way but to have two rounds in April followed by a four month break is certainly not ideal. It is almost impossible for clubs to keep the interest going throughout the summer months. The games are all shoehorned into a two-month period at the end of August and through September. There have been a number of close fought games, and the effort being made by all club players is unquestioned, but having watched dozens of club games this year, are there any new county senior players coming on the scene? The answer quite frankly is no.
I am not expecting a classic on Sunday either and whoever wins won’t bother too much about the quality of the game but the fact remains that the standard of club football in Roscommon is not great by any standards. However, maybe that can change in time; it’s not long ago that a Roscommon club were All-Ireland champions. The winners this Sunday face the Leitrim champions with a place in the Connacht club final up for grabs. Let’s get Sunday out of the way first and hopefully it will be a good, exciting, and well-contested final. The game in the county needs it badly.
Athleague end hurling title drought
Last Sunday’s hurling final was a very enjoyable match and Athleague just about held out to record a rare win against Four Roads. Before the final started it looked like the gale force winds would ruin the game but it proved an added fascination. Athleague played with the elements in the opening half and they had to build up a good lead and they did that. Four Roads just took too long to reel them in and they ran out of time in the end. But it was a good match and hopefully Athleague can give the Connacht club championship a good go. It has not been a good year for hurling in the county but that won’t bother Athleague this week as they celebrate a great win.
Seamus Qualter is a very experienced manager and a great hurling man, and he brought the organisation needed to be successful. For veterans like David Connell, Mervyn Connaughton and Niall Connolly to mention just a few, it is reward for their loyalty to the club over the years. Four Roads will be back no doubt, but this was Athleague’s day.
There have been four different winners of the Roscommon SHC in the past four years which is superb for the competition. It was also good to see a defender (Alan Moore) getting the man of the match award. Usually it’s a high-scoring corner-forward or a high-fielding midfielder that wins the award. Any of the Athleague defence could have won that award on Sunday as they played very well and it was key to their win.
Comeback win won’t save Mourinho
I saw the second half of Manchester United v Newcastle on Saturday last. Is it the match that will save José Mourinho? I don’t think so. The team showed fight and determination to retrieve the situation but remember that they were at home against a very poor Newcastle team who are down at the bottom of the table. There are far bigger tests to come and Mourinho is still under major pressure.
I hear people praising the United players and the way they played in the second half last Saturday. A lot of those guys are earning over £200,000 per week. I would hope that they were trying on that kind of money! United’s troubles are not over yet.
Liverpool’s form has dipped in the past three weeks and they were very lucky not to have lost against Manchester City at the weekend. They are an excellent side but Mo Salah has yet to play up to last season’s standard.
Chelsea are also keeping up their good start as well and Arsenal could well be the dark horses. They are playing some great attacking football under their new manager. It looked a few weeks ago that the title race would be a two horse affair but maybe it might not be as clear-cut as that.
A fantastic weekend of rugby
It was a fantastic weekend of rugby. The clash of Leinster and Munster at the Aviva was a tremendous match. There were some very poor refereeing decisions, mostly against Munster but it was a great spectacle. Munster are a very good side and improving too.
I also got to see most of the Connacht v Ulster game on Friday night and history was made as the western province won in Belfast for the first time in 58 years. They are playing really well this season once again under Andy Friend, and Rossies Jack Carty and Dennis Buckley are once again permanent fixtures on the team.
This weekend the European action begins with some great games to look forward to: Leinster have a tough start to the defence of their title when they entertain Wasps at the RDS on Friday night and it will be even tougher for Munster when they travel to face high-flying Exeter. Ulster face the Leicester Tigers in another mouth-watering fixture. Connacht are in the Challenge Cup and it is a competition that they have a chance of winning. They open their campaign against Bordeaux on Saturday at The Sportsground.
It’s good to see that there are plans to upgrade The Sportsground into a state of the art 12,000 capacity stadium. The plans say that it will cost €30 million to carry out the work and it’s a hugely positive development. It’s a far cry from the days when Connacht Rugby was about to be wound up.
Very special guests this Sunday!
The special guests at Sunday’s county final will be the 1978 team who won the All-Ireland U-21 football championship beating Kerry in the final. In all my time following Roscommon county teams there were three occasions that stand out; the National Football League win in 1979, the All-Ireland Minor Final in 2006 and the U-21 final in 1978.
The special thing about 1978 was that the match was played at Dr. Hyde Park and the vast majority of the crowd were Roscommon fans. It was a mighty day. A lot of that Roscommon team went on to great things with Roscommon seniors and played in an All-Ireland final in 1980.
I wrote a lengthy piece on that championship win for Roscommon People Plus magazine recently and it was something that I really enjoyed. I know that the lads on the team are meeting at the weekend for golf, a meal and a social night out. It should be great fun. Well done to Hugh Lynn and the County Board for their gesture; It’s richly deserved.
No time for McGregor!
Meanwhile, I see Conor McGregor was in action last weekend…ZZZZZZ!