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Still no white smoke!

 

 

At the time of going to press there was no progress in the quest to find a new Roscommon senior football manager. The name of former St. Brigid’s manager Anthony Cunningham has been mentioned in recent days after the Dublin hurling job was given to Cuala’s Mattie Kenny at the weekend.  Cunningham had been a candidate for that position. It’s not known if the former Galway hurling manager would be interested in the Roscommon job. David Casey has been mentioned a number of times in connection with the vacant post but it’s also unclear whether he is interested in the post.

  Meanwhile, Frankie Dolan has stepped down as manager of the St. Brigid’s senior team. He managed his native club for three years bringing them two county senior titles in a row.

  A statement from St. Brigid’s read: ‘St. Brigid’s executive would sincerely like to thank Frankie for all his hard work, dedication and commitment to the club as both a manager and player. We would also like to extend our thanks to all the people that Frankie has brought in around him in backroom teams and helpers over the years.’

 

Dooner's weekend predictions - November 9th

 

 

 

 

There are a couple of stand out ties this weekend including the meeting of Ballinasloe Town and Castlerea Celtic in the Connacht Junior Cup and a local derby between Roscommon United and Manor United in Division Two.

Friday, November 9th

Raftery’s Oakland Hotel Premier Division           

At Lecarrow: Skyvalley Rovers v Ballymoe FC. 8 pm

The 2017 champions have been terrific so far this season.

Prediction: Ballymoe FC

Saturday, November 10th

Raftery’s Oakland Hotel Premier Division (7.45 pm)

Moore United v Boyle Celtic

League leaders Boyle could face a stern examination of their title credentials this weekend but will be expected to prevail.

Prediction: Boyle Celtic

Shiven Rovers v Strokestown United

The hosts will be favourites.

Prediction: Shiven Rovers

Killeen Sports Grounds Division Two

Cloonfad United B v Castlerea Celtic B

Division Two leaders Castlerea will be expected to extend their lead at the top of the table ahead of Sunday’s big matches.

Prediction: Castlerea Celtic B

Sunday, November 11th

FAI New Balance Junior Cup Round 4 (2 pm)

Ballinasloe Town v Castlerea Celtic

A mouth-watering tie in prospect. Home advantage may swing it in Ballinasloe’s favour but the visitors have been impressive on the road this season.

Prediction: Ballinasloe Town. Narrowly.           

St. Peter’s FC v Carbury FC           

The defending RDFL champions should have enough to account for Carbury.

Prediction: St. Peter’s FC

Raftery’s Oakland Hotel Premier Division (2 pm)

Dysart FC v Kilkerrin United

The visitors can take heart from their performance against Castlerea last weekend and will be confident going to Dysart this Sunday.

Prediction: Kilkerrin United                       

Norio’s Takeaway Division One (2 pm unless stated)

St. John’s Athletic v Rahara Rovers.11 am

While the future looks a little brighter for Rahara following their win over Ballinasloe, the hosts will be favourites this weekend.

Prediction: St. John’s Athletic

Ahascragh United v Moylough ‘79           

The visitors should prevail. Prediction: Moylough ‘79

CP Ajax v Cam Celtic

The Castleplunkett side will be eager to take advantage of any Moylough slip-up. Prediction: CP Ajax

Dunmore Town v Ballaghaderreen FC                       

Dunmore are capable of getting a result at home but the visitors are slight favourites.

Prediction: Ballaghaderreen FC

Killeen Sports Grounds Division Two

Ballymoe FC B v Shiven Rovers B. 11 am

Shiven seem capable of upping their performance against the stronger sides in this division. They should have few problems in Ballymoe.

Prediction: Shiven Rovers B

Roscommon United v Manor United. 11 am

A huge game in Division Two this Sunday as Roscommon United welcome Manor United. I’m leaning towards the hosts here but it will be close.

Prediction: Roscommon United           

Skyvalley Rovers B v Glen Celtic. 2 pm           

This could be a big weekend for Glen.

Prediction: Glen Celtic

Clann the underdogs as champions arrive

 

 

 

 

AIB Connacht Club SFC Semi-Final: Clann na nGael v Corofin on Sunday at Dr. Hyde Park at 1.30 pm

 

 

There will huge interest in this one, the visit of the All-Ireland champions to Hyde Park to face the new Roscommon champions who will go into the game as underdogs but who have a great chance of upsetting the odds if they can hit the form we saw in the county final.

  On the form that Corofin showed when winning their national title in Croke Park in March, Clann would have no chance on Sunday. But this is a different day and a different set of circumstances, and after a poor enough display against Tir Chonaill Gaels last Sunday, Clann will know that they will have to up the ante if they want to progress to the final. However there is loads of room for improvement.

  Corofin have emerged from the Galway championship after a dour double battle with Mountbellew-Moylough when defences were definitely on top. A couple of friends who attended both games told me that it was brutal stuff to watch. But Corofin will not worry about that and maybe now that they have emerged from the county for the sixth year in a row they will throw the shackles off. If they do, it could be a long evening for Clann.

  The Galway side have very familiar names in their side. The evergreen Kieran Fitzgerald is still a very good full-back and inspiration for the rest of his team mates. Liam Silke, Dylan McHugh and Kieran Molloy form a very solid half-back line.

  Hurling hero Daithi Burke and Ronan Steede will be hoping to win the midfield battle. Michael Lundy leads the attack from centre half-forward while Gary Sice and the two Farraghers will be hoping to get the scores inside.

  Clann will certainly have to tighten up in the full-back line. They were in trouble against the exiles last Sunday. Hopefully Jack Connaughton will be back for this encounter. His energy and running and ball carrying ability are vital to his side. Ultan Harney and Cathal Shine will have to do more at midfield. That battle will be pivotal.

  Once again Donie Shine’s contribution will be important. His free-taking prowess and ability to inspire those around him is priceless for Clann. Ciarán Lennon is a super target man. Clann must be able to get the ball to him and let the likes of Cathal Callinan, Cian McManus and Jamie Fahy feed off him.

  After a ropey display last Sunday, Clann will know what they have to do to be in with a chance in this match. It’s a good way to be going into the game. Expectations will not be high. I won’t be surprised if Clann give this a huge rattle but it would be more than a shock if they were to overturn the All-Ireland champions.

Prediction: Corofin

Clann the underdogs as champions arrive

 

 

 

 

AIB Connacht Club SFC Semi-Final: Clann na nGael v Corofin on Sunday at Dr. Hyde Park at 1.30 pm

 

 

There will huge interest in this one, the visit of the All-Ireland champions to Hyde Park to face the new Roscommon champions who will go into the game as underdogs but who have a great chance of upsetting the odds if they can hit the form we saw in the county final.

  On the form that Corofin showed when winning their national title in Croke Park in March, Clann would have no chance on Sunday. But this is a different day and a different set of circumstances, and after a poor enough display against Tir Chonaill Gaels last Sunday, Clann will know that they will have to up the ante if they want to progress to the final. However there is loads of room for improvement.

  Corofin have emerged from the Galway championship after a dour double battle with Mountbellew-Moylough when defences were definitely on top. A couple of friends who attended both games told me that it was brutal stuff to watch. But Corofin will not worry about that and maybe now that they have emerged from the county for the sixth year in a row they will throw the shackles off. If they do, it could be a long evening for Clann.

  The Galway side have very familiar names in their side. The evergreen Kieran Fitzgerald is still a very good full-back and inspiration for the rest of his team mates. Liam Silke, Dylan McHugh and Kieran Molloy form a very solid half-back line.

  Hurling hero Daithi Burke and Ronan Steede will be hoping to win the midfield battle. Michael Lundy leads the attack from centre half-forward while Gary Sice and the two Farraghers will be hoping to get the scores inside.

  Clann will certainly have to tighten up in the full-back line. They were in trouble against the exiles last Sunday. Hopefully Jack Connaughton will be back for this encounter. His energy and running and ball carrying ability are vital to his side. Ultan Harney and Cathal Shine will have to do more at midfield. That battle will be pivotal.

  Once again Donie Shine’s contribution will be important. His free-taking prowess and ability to inspire those around him is priceless for Clann. Ciarán Lennon is a super target man. Clann must be able to get the ball to him and let the likes of Cathal Callinan, Cian McManus and Jamie Fahy feed off him.

  After a ropey display last Sunday, Clann will know what they have to do to be in with a chance in this match. It’s a good way to be going into the game. Expectations will not be high. I won’t be surprised if Clann give this a huge rattle but it would be more than a shock if they were to overturn the All-Ireland champions.

Prediction: Corofin

Seamus Duke's weekend preview - November 9th

 

 

Fuerty to prevail

 

AIB Connacht IFC Semi-Final: Shamrock Gaels (Sligo) v Fuerty on Sunday in Coolooney at 1.30 pm

The outcome of this game will depend on a number of factors, not least on how the Fuerty players have recovered after a week of celebrations following their memorable success in the county final replay last weekend. It is interesting to note that the Gaels needed a replay to oust Curry in the Sligo county final.

  Not having seen Shamrock Gaels play it is difficult to make any kind of a solid judgement but Fuerty have a very good blend of younger and more experienced players. The Bannons, Philip Neilan, Niall Kilroy, Pete Kellehan, Aengus Lyons, Gearoid Ennis and company should have enough to defeat the home side and make it to the provincial final.

Prediction: Fuerty

 

Kilglass heart can be the difference

AIB Connacht Club JFC Semi-Final: Clonbur (Galway) v Kilglass Gaels  in Tuam Stadium on Sunday at 1.30 pm

Kilglass will fancy their chances against a Clonbur team who were actually beaten by Corofin in the county final in Galway last weekend. Kilglass will know themselves that it is very hard to lift a team for the provincial championships not having won your own county title. Kilglass showed huge heart and determination to battle back and take the title against Clann na nGael and if they can show the same qualities on Sunday they can make it to the final.

Prediction: Kilglass Gaels

 

Clann to prevail against The Exiles

 

 

 

 

 

AIB Connacht Club SFC Quarter-Final

 

Clann na nGael v Tir Chonaill Gaels (London) at Dr. Hyde Park at 1 pm

 

 

Having won the Roscommon title in such swaggering style, Clann na nGael return to the bread and butter of the Connacht championship at Hyde Park on Sunday and while they will be expecting to advance to the semi-finals, it might not be as easy as they might expect against a Tir Chonaill Gaels side who come into the game following a hard-fought county final replay win against Fulham Irish last Sunday.

  Championship football at this time of the year is a hard grind. Clann will have to keep it tight at the back, perform at midfield, and score about 1-12 or something of that nature to ensure their passage through and they are well capable of doing that.

  The Clann defence has been impressive this year. With Stephen Flynn commanding at full-back, Graham Pettit, Dara Pettit, Ronan Gavin and Shane Pettit have been doing their defensive duties well. Add in the human dynamo that is Jack Connaughton who gets about the field so well and it’s an impressive mix.

  Ultan Harney has had a super year for his club and his midfield partnership with a revitalised Cathal Shine looks well capable of providing enough possession for the Clann attack on the day.

  To have a free-taker of the ability of Donie Shine is always a huge asset, but especially at this time of the year to have a player who can score anywhere from up to 60 metres out from the placed ball is a massive advantage. Ciarán Lennon is a top class target man and with the likes of Cian McManus, Jamie Fahy, Cathal Callinan and Emmet Kenny also playing well, Clann look to have a good mix overall.

  Their London opponents are managed by former London county manager and Michael Glavey’s man Paul Coggins and they will be well organised and well-motivated. In common with most London clubs, they rely on Irish players for their playing strength but it is notable that in this Tir Chonaill Gaels side there are a number of London born players who have been very prominent in their recent displays. Liam Gavigan, Killian Butler and Ryan Elliot are all native Londoners, and between the three of them they scored 0-14 of their side’s 0-15 in the county final replay last Sunday.

  The Tir Chonaill Gaels team are back-boned by a number of Donegal players and feature another familiar face at centre half-back in Kilbride man Anthony McDermott. Mark Gottsche, who played a number of times for Galway in the Connacht championship, also features in attack.

   Playing two county finals in the space of two weeks might lead to tired legs among the exiles but I am expecting them to put up a solid display. But it would be a shock if Clann were not to advance to the semi-final. If they can show even some of the attacking prowess that we saw in the county final it should be good enough on the day.

Prediction: Clann na nGael

Tooreen too good for plucky Athleague

 

 

 

 

 

AIB Connacht Club Intermediate HC Quarter-Final

Tooreen (Mayo) 0-17

Athleague 1-9

 

 

Facing the Connacht champions was never going to be an easy task for the newly crowned Roscommon kingpins and so it proved in Athleague last Sunday when Seamus Qualter’s men ran out of steam in the second half against a Shane Boland-inspired Tooreen.

  The first half was a very competitive affair during which Athleague more than matched their opponents. Tooreen were much better on the restart, but still, with six minutes to go in the match, Athleague had the margin down to just a single point after sub Cian Murray’s goal, and a pointed free from Eamon Flanagan.

  However, the Mayo men pulled away again for a deserved win. They shot an incredible total of 20 wides, which indicated their edge in terms of possession and the creation of scoring chances. However their profligacy in front of the posts could have cost them dearly on another day

  On a perfect afternoon for hurling, the fare wasn’t high quality and early on it was a battle between the free-takers, Shane Boland of Tooreen and Eamon Flanagan of Athleague. The home side led by 0-6 to 0-3 after 19 minutes with Flanagan accurate with the placed ball and David Flaherty and Ben McGahon scoring well-taken points from play.

  But by half-time the scores were level at 0-7 each with Shane Boland (2) and Sean Kenny (2) on target for Tooreen with frees. Indeed Athleague should have been a point up going into the break as a free from Eamon Flanagan late in the half that clearly went over the bar, was flagged wide by the officials much to the annoyance of Athleague players and mentors.

  Having said that, the Mayo men were much better after the break and they put Athleague under far more pressure. By the 49th minute they were 0-13 to 0-8 ahead with Boland scoring four points in a row (3 frees) and Brian Morley also on target.

  But then in the 52nd minute, against the run of play, Athleague fashioned a goal that brought them back into the match. Aengus Lyons  (who had a fine game) made the hard yards with a great run and sub Cian Murray flicked the ball to the net. Then, when Flanagan was on target with a free two minutes later there was only a point in it 0-13 to 1-9.

  But Tooreen didn’t panic, they got their ‘go to’ men Fergal Boland, Shane Boland and Sean Kenny on the ball, and they pulled away again. Shane Boland knocked over three great points from play in the final few minutes with his brother Fergal chipping in with another.

  Indeed Athleague’s cause was not helped when their captain Niall Connolly was red carded in the 59th minute after an incident close to the stand sideline but at that stage Tooreen were well on top.

  Best for Tooreen were the imperious Shane Boland, Fergal Boland, Michael Morley, Daniel Huane and Sean Kenny. For Athleague Aengus Lyons had a fine game and JP Murray, Gary Fallon, Eamon Flanagan and Ben McGahon did well.

  After the game Athleague manager Seamus Qualter said that while he was disappointed with the result, he felt that his team had put up a good performance.

  “The lads gave it everything out there and I’m happy with that. We decided after the county final we were going to give it a lash and that’s what we did. Some of the lads have been playing football (with Fuerty) and hurling every week for the past few months and tiredness may have been a factor. But is has been a great year for us overall and I want to wish Fuerty the best of luck in the replay next weekend,” he said.

Could FAI directive cause fixture problems?

 

 

 

 

The FAI Cup Final between Cork City and Dundalk which takes place this Sunday (November 4th) at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin will impact on junior soccer across the country due to an FAI directive which asserts that no fixtures should be scheduled on the same day as Republic of Ireland internationals and showpiece events such as the national cup final.

  While it’s at least an attempt to encourage soccer fans to attend those games, it could prove problematic later on in the season as the Irish climate inevitably leads to the cancellation of local fixtures - some teams already have games to make up even at this early stage. The FAI might mean well but they may end up causing a pile-up and headaches for fixtures secretaries across the country.

  While the domestic game at senior level still needs all the support it can get, the two recent standard bearers Cork City and Dundalk, both top class operations from beyond ‘The Pale’, should hopefully serve up a cracking final. Sadly however, I don’t think the FAI should expect to see hoards of interested junior footballers from across the country at the Aviva this Sunday.

  Looking back over the 2018 League of Ireland campaign, I have been impressed with the standard of football on offer. There’s plenty to admire about the way certain clubs are being run and while there’s still work to be done on and off the field, it must be repeated that the move to summer soccer certainly seems to have been beneficial.

  The next logical move should be to steer junior clubs away from the English league calendar and allow players and coaches to make the most of the summer months. It will preserve pitches, prevent fixture pile-ups and most importantly, allow proper football to be played in safer conditions. The word from WhatsApp groups across the Roscommon and District Football League is that league administrators are already testing the water for such a change. It’s time to have the conversation at least.

 

 

Seamus Duke on sport - November 2nd

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAA must address violent incidents

Over the past few weeks we have all seen the footage of violent scenes from around the country at club games and the GAA at national level will have to act to address what is a growing problem.

  Over the past week in the course of my radio work I interviewed John King, father of Ross King, who was seriously injured in an off the ball incident in the Laois county hurling final. Ross King is one of the best hurlers in Laois and was playing for Rathdowney-Errill when he received the butt of a hurley into the face just before half-time. He was very seriously injured, was taken to hospital and the dental repair work alone has cost him €5,000 to date. Pictures of the injuries were shown on the national newspapers last week. 

  I also spoke to former Meath star Bernard Flynn whose son was ‘blindsided’ in a recent Westmeath SFC semi-final and he required eight stitches in a mouth wound.

  We have seen the footage from Kerry where a team mentor ‘clocked’ a player from behind during a melee and several more serious incidents from around the country.

  There are several strands to this. On the field of play young men are now fitter and stronger than ever. They are going to the gym and taking all manner of supplements and more and some are very anxious to show just how strong they are. When they lose their temper they are very dangerous.

  Then there is the problem that there are far too many people allowed on the sideline at club matches. There is no need for any more than three people to be in on the sideline with any club team. A team manager, one selector and the physio is plenty. Everyone else should be outside the wire and the subs in the dug-out at all times.

  It has to be also said that in a lot of cases frustration with poor refereeing standards are also a contributory factor.

  Thankfully we have had no serious incidents in Roscommon but if the trend that we have seen nationally is allowed to continue it is only a matter of time before someone loses their life in one of these incidents. Then there will be a national outcry and action will be taken but it will be too late. It’s a nettle that the GAA will have to grasp sooner rather than later. They have been warned.

 

Still awaiting new county manager!

 

At the time of writing this it looks like there will not be any managerial appointment for the senior football team this week, and while time drags on, a very difficult 2019 gets closer and closer.

  I have sympathy for the committee who were set up to look for a manager. They spent seven weeks looking for a suitable candidate and then when they found one they found that it was not acceptable. It’s clear that Aidan O’Rourke got wind of the opposition to his proposed appointment and he jumped ship. It’s hard not to blame him.

  Now it looks likely that an appointment will be made from within the county and the hope will be that it is done as soon as possible. But what happens if the committee come up with another name and those who were not happy last week object to the new man too? It’s a very unsatisfactory way of doing business. I was under the impression that the way it was supposed to work was that the committee brought a name to a County Board meeting and the clubs would then have their say. Too many people outside official channels seem to be able to influence what is going on.

  An appointment will have to be made sooner or later and when it is, we will have to get behind him, whoever he is. But the whole saga has been an unholy mess and not good for football in the county. There was a clarion call at the end of last year for a good ‘strength and conditioning’ coach following heavy losses in the Super 8s and a more defensive gameplan as well. That seemed to have been addressed by the selection committee but that’s gone out the window now. We await more news and an appointment with bated breath.

 

Schmidt to experiment against Italians

 

The November rugby internationals are starting this weekend with a game against the Italy. It will be a chance for Joe Schmidt to experiment and have a look at his options outside his first 15. I presume that he will play his strongest team against Argentina and the All Blacks.

  We are now one year away from the World Cup and the focus will be on the panel and how Ireland will be able to cope if they suffer some injuries. There will be places up for grabs for the 6 Nations Championship and also for the World Cup so it will be interesting to see what team Schmidt goes with this weekend.

 

Busy weekend of football ahead…

 

This weekend Clann na nGael face Tir Chonnail Gaels in the Connacht club championship and it is a game that Clann should be winning. Paul Coggins is manager of the London side and they were the narrow winners of a London final replay last weekend but Clann should be strong enough to get through to a semi-final.

  The Intermediate replay is on Saturday and the match is previewed in more detail elsewhere in the paper this week. I am of the opinion that the pendulum has swung back in favour of Fuerty. Oran have a few bad injuries to contend with and that might be decisive. But there won’t be much in it again.

  Just a word about the Galway SFC final last Sunday between Mountbellew-Moylough and Corofin. I was talking to a few people who were at the match and said it was as poor a game as they have ever seen. It ended 0-7 each with both teams deploying 13 and 14 players behind the ball. Remember that Corofin are All-Ireland champions. At least we had a top class SFC final here in Roscommon.

 

Three-horse race in the Premier League

 

The Premier League title now looks to be a three-horse race. Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea will battle it out and Liverpool are really looking good. Their front three are back in the goals and Virgil van Dijk looks a class player. City will push them all the way but it might be Liverpool’s time.

  That will be very bad news for fans of arch rivals Manchester United who continue to tread water mid-table. They mixed the really good with the very mediocre against Everton last weekend. They are miles off the top as was shown last week against Juventus when they were totally outclassed.

 

 

A sad weekend for English football

 

It was a sad weekend in English soccer with the tragedy in Leicester and the serious illness suffered by Glenn Hoddle.

  The owner of Leicester City had backed the club with his own money and that directly led to them winning the Premier League a few years ago. His sudden and tragic death will probably have huge implications for the club.

  I actually met Glenn Hoddle last year in Kinsale where he was playing golf in a charity event. A really nice, quiet, and pleasant man. He was also a fantastic player. I wish him a full recovery.

 

Still stand-ing after 50 years!

 

 

Castlerea St. Kevin’s open new facilities

 

The weather certainly played ball last Sunday afternoon as Castlerea St. Kevin’s GAA Club officially opened a new stand and playing pitch in front of club members and visitors at O’Rourke Park.

  Roscommon LGFA President Mary Hickey officially opened the new stand, which was blessed by local parish priest Fr. John McManus. The opening of the wonderful new facilities coincides with the 50th anniversary celebrations at the club.

  Castlerea St. Kevin’s Chairman Martin Duggan paid tribute to the hard-working development and fundraising committees and said that the new facilities were vital as the club now fielded 18 teams.

  Mr. Duggan thanked the local CE scheme as well as praising the Sports Capital programme, Roscommon GAA and Connacht GAA.

  Castlerea’s 2003 senior county champions then took on the current crop in an exhibition game and this was followed by a celebration of the club’s 1968 teams which culminated in a meal to mark what was a very special occasion in the history of the Castlerea St. Kevin’s club.

 

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