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St Dominic’s reach quarter-finals

 

 

Kepak Roscommon SHC Round-up

 

Gaels suffer again

St. Dominic’s 1-23   

Roscommon Gaels 0-3

Another heavy defeat for the Gaels as Dominic’s qualified for the quarter-finals. It was one-way traffic all through as Dominic’s were far too strong for the town side. It was 1-10 to 0-1 at half-time with Mickey Joe Egan the goalscorer. Dominic’s added another 13 points to their tally in the second half with Naos Connaughton deadly accurate from the placed ball.

Scorers - St. Dominic’s: N Connaughton (0-10), MJ Egan (1-5), T Doyle (0-3), J Murray (0-2), J Martin, J Lohan and A O’Riordan (0-1) each. Roscommon Gaels: K Doolan, T Mullen and D Mulry (0-1) each.

Tremane on a roll!

Tremane 2-12  

Oran 1-14

Tremane’s good form continued with a hard-fought win against Oran. It was Oran who started best and at half-time they led by 1-8 to 0-9. It was Jerry Fallon who was the Oran goalscorer and his accuracy from frees was crucial.

  But Tremane were sharper in the second period. Cian O’Brien scored a well-taken goal and almost immediately Sean Mahony scored a second to establish control for them. Oran did draw level coming toward the end of the game but two pointed frees from Michael Kellehan won the day for Tremane.

Scorers - Tremane: S Mahony (1-0), C O’Brien (1-1), M Kellehan (0-4), P Kellehan and J Brennan (0-3) each, Joe Brennan (0-1). Oran: J Fallon (1-9), G Keenan (0-4), E Kenny (0-1).

 

 

Dominant Rossies seal semi-final spot

 

 

 

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Premier Junior Camogie Championship

Roscommon 2-18

Armagh 0-11

 

Roscommon were the very impressive winners against Armagh at Rockfield on Saturday evening last. Following a good win against Clare and a walk-over against Tyrone, Roscommon are now on full points and into the semi-finals after a very solid display against the Orchard.

  It was a closely fought encounter early on with Niamh Farrells’ early injury not helping Roscommon’s play. But points from Rachel Fitzmaurice, Alisha Lenehan and Shauna Fallon kept the scoreboard ticking over and when Fiona Connell and Kathy Jones added further points Roscommon led at half-time by seven points to six.

  Roscommon were totally on top on the re-start and a string of fine points saw the home side pull away. Goals followed from Niamh Watson and Alisha Lenehan to copper-fasten an excellent all-round display.

Roscommon: M Fallon; M Tiernan, N Farrell, A McDermott; A O’Meara, E McNally, J Beattie; R Fitzmaurice (0-1), S Spillane (0-1); A Lenihan (1-3), N Watson (1-5), S Fallon (0-5); F Connell (0-1), K Jones (0-2), C Whyte-Lennon. Subs: L Kenny for Farrell, L Dolan for Connell, C Kelly for Lenihan.

 

 

Crowds flock to the Galway Races

 

 

Ballybrit Review

On the first day of Galway the crowd, slightly up on last year, saw Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell start the week with a winner as Lethal Steps battled up the hill to hold the JP McManus pair of Morosini and Winner Takes Itall.

  The Easyfix Handicap Hurdle went to the favourite, Linger, trained by Joseph O’Brien who beat Roachdale House and Volatile Lady held on by 6l and ½l. 

  Punters were again correct in the first flat race of the meeting as Inishfree, who was headed in the final furlong by Shekhem, fought back under Donnacha O’Brien to win by a neck. The winner is trained by Aidan O’Brien and Dermot Weld trained the runner up. Cap D’antibes finished 3rd for JJ Walsh 6 ½ l further back.

  The Claytonhotelgalway.com Handicap was won by the outsider Galtee Mist at 20/1 by a head from Syrena with Cruella Dovil 1½l back in 3rd. The winner had finished 6th in Roscommon in July beaten about 6½l by Calling Time.

  Jodi Townend won the 2017 Connaught Hotel Qualified Riders Handicap on Great White Shark trained by Willie Mullins from Dermot Weld’s Dalton Highway and the English raider Litterale ridden by Aine O’Connor for Harry Fry by 1¾l and ¾l. The Mullins trained favourite, Mr Adjudicator finished 4th, and the trainer was completing a hattrick of wins in the race.

  The penultimate Eventus Handicap was won by the Jim Bolger trained Halami who battled well for Kevin Manning to hold Millswyn and Donnacha O’Brien by ½ l with Red Gerry third. The bumper provided local Galway jockey Derek O’Connor with victory on the Emmet Mullins trained Russian Diamond from the favourite Risk Factor and Soldiers Hill.

  On Tuesday the crowd was slightly down on last year but things got off to a great start for punters as Fast Buck, trained by WP Mullins, won the novice hurdle by 1¼l and 3¼l from Turnpike Trip and Road To Dubai under Paul Townend, following his sister into the winner’s enclosure.

  The favourite in the Latin Quarter Beginners Chase, the second race, Zero Ten at odds on at 1/2, made it two winning favourites in a row coming home by 3l and 3¾l from outsiders Stormey, trained locally by Steve Mahon,  and Charlie Stout. The winner was repeating Emmet Mullins and his cousin David’s victory of 12 months ago and doubling up on Emmet’s score this year.

  Flat racing opened with a win for the favourite Petite Mustique ridden by Donnacha O’Brien for his father Aidan. The favourite beat Chasing The Dawn and Mythic by 2¾l and ½l. In the Caulfield Industrial EBF Maiden the Ger Lyons trained Rita Levi won by a neck and 5l from Mudlahhim and Dedillon to give some relief to the layers.

  The feature race of the day the Colm Quinn BMW Mile was won by Saltonstall who finished ½l and a head in front of Innamorare and Quizical in the hands of champion jockey Colin Keane   

  In the Caulfield Industrial Athlone Handicap was won by One Cool Poet trained by Matthew Smith and ridden by Billy Lee who beat Emphatic and Sharp Focus by a neck and 1½l.

  More misery for the punters in the final race as 10/1 Make A Challenge held off the challenge of the well backed favourite Beckwith Place, 6’s to 2’s, by a nose. Moxy Mares was another 1¼l back in 3rd.

  On Wednesday, racing opened with The Tote Supporting Irish Racing Maiden Hurdle and another winner for Mullins and Townend as Diamond Hill beat Days Without End and Sky Marshall 1¼l and ½l.

  The second was won by Gavin Cromwell’s well backed favourite, Ilikedwayurthinkin at 2/1 from outsider Sweet Home Chicago and Whatsyourstatus. Three more of the Mullins family were in the winners enclosure after the Mares Handicap Hurdle as Bercassa, owned by Helen, trained by Tom and ridden by there son David beat Imastartoo and Like An Open Book by 3½l and 1¼l

  Relief for punters in the amateur flat handicap as father and son, Willie and Patrick Mullins, produced Diamond Hill to beat National Wealth by a head with Rising 9l back in 3rd. 

  The big one the Galway Plate went to Gordon Elliott for the third year running as Borice and Luke Dempsey came with a run on the outer rail to catch Byrony Frost on the English raider, Black Corton, with Snugsborough Benny 3rd and Peregrine Run 4th. The winning distances were 3¼l, a neck and ½l.

Ballybrit Preview

Day 4 of the festival, the card sponsored by Guinness, opens with a beginners chase which looks an open 8-runner race with Joseph O’Brien’s Early Doors fancied. A flat bred he may not take to fences and the experienced Rathnure Rebel is preferred.

  Again, only eight go to post in the novice chase with Zero Ten looking for a second win this week but Wicklow Brave and Moon Over Germany have solid claims. Philip Reynolds likes to win in the west and Moon Over Germany, making the long journey from Waterford is selected.

  There are two flat handicap races, an 18-runner and 13-runner, on the card both of which are wide open and are best watched. Only six go to post in the novice hurdle before the big one with Charles Byrnes’ Doctor Duffy the one to beat on his form 2nd to Peregrine Run. 

 JP McManus supplies three of the 22 runners in the Guinness Galway Hurdle including Band Of Outlaws trained by Joseph O’Brien. Willie Mullins has Riven Light and Shanning among his four runners but the one that catches my eye is Sole Pretender trained outside Gort by Norman Lee seeking four in a row. Norman’s father, Christy, was associated with the 1973 winner Lesabelle. Head says Band Of Outlaws, heart says Sole Pretender and I think I’ll let my heart win. 

  In the Open Gate Pure Brew Handicap, Gavin Cromwell’s Green Panda has been running well and could win at a nice price and is an e/w bet. The closing bumper, which is timed for 5.59 pm (1759 the year Guinness started in St James’s Gate), sees ten horses go to post. The booking of Jamie Codd for Ballylig by John McConnell and the fact that he has had a run will do me but he will get it all to do from Derek O’Connor on All Those Years and Tom Hamilton on Tudors Glory.

  Today is Ladies Day and the prize an €10,000 for the winner of the g Hotel & Spa Best Dressed Lady competition and €2,000 prize for the Best Hat competition. The competition will be judged by Sile Seogie, Rosanna Davidson and Gillian Fitzpatrick of the sponsors HER throughout the day, there will be live music on-course.

  If you do not collect today’s Best Dressed Lady competition fear not as Athlone Town Centre sponsor The Fair Lady at Galway Races with €1,500 shopping voucher and a lot of other prizes tomorrow. Judging will be television presenter James Patrice, Marietta Doran and Manager of Athlone Towncentre Shirley Delahunt. This year sees the biggest Prize Fund on offer for the competition yet, in excess of €3000. The lucky winner will leave Galway Racecourse with a €1500 Athlone Towncentre shopping spree, a two-night luxury hotel & spa break at Sheraton Athlone Hotel, an Emporio Armani Watch courtesy of Fields The Jeweller and bespoke head piece created by Milliner Suzie Mahony plus racing hat hire for the year.

  Sunday is Family Day and children are free in. There is also the Mad Hatters Competition very popular among younger, and some older, punters with loads holiday vouchers including flights on offer to the winners.

  On the racing scene Saturday features the Grade B Galway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle and Sunday the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Ahonoora Handicap over 7f.

Rock star leads rout as Rossies sing the blues

 

 

All-Ireland SFC Super 8s (Round 2)

 

Dublin 2-26 Roscommon 0-14

 

 

 

 

 

The small contingent of fans that travelled from Roscommon to Croke Park last Saturday was probably an indication of what was to come. For those of us who were there it was as painful an experience at a match as we have had to endure for many a day as the gulf in class between the Rossies and Dublin was clear for all to see. The difference in class between the teams was wide last year. It is even wider this year, and the gap is growing too.

  The curtain-raiser, which saw Tyrone come from seven points down to beat Cork by three, meant that Roscommon would have to beat Dublin to maintain interest in this year’s Super 8s series, but once Dean Rock fisted in the first Dublin goal in the 14th minute this game was effectively all over. Done and dusted. It was just a matter of what the margin would be.

  Earlier this year, in the sports column that I write for this newspaper every week, I expressed doubts as to whether this Dublin team was the greatest ever to play the game. I am revising that opinion here today. To see them flex their considerable muscles in the flesh is an awesome experience. They are much stronger than they were last year. I cannot see any team to come near them in their quest for five All-Irelands in a row.

  In-depth analysis of this mismatch is probably a waste of time, because once Dublin started to pull away towards the end of the first quarter it was a done deal. Roscommon were chasing shadows as Dublin produced their full array of powerful, hard-running and extremely skilful football which, if they were facing any other team than Roscommon, would have been a pleasure to watch!

  From a Roscommon perspective, there are certainly no complaints. Conor Cox was by far their best performer and was probably the only Roscommon player who won his personal battle on the day. Niall Daly and Conor Hussey kept going all the way to the end – despite the insurmountable odds – and Niall Kilroy was everywhere as he tried to link the play between defence and attack (but for the most part he was fighting a losing battle).

  In fairness to Roscommon it must be said that they had a modicum of joy going forward in the first quarter. Colin Compton’s point after 20 seconds could have been a goal. Shane Killoran blazed wide (of goal) in the 17th minute when in a good position, while Diarmuid Murtagh’s fisted effort in the 28th minute was easily saved by Stephen Cluxton. But lest anyone get the impression that Roscommon were ever in command of this game, these were sporadic attacks only. The traffic was one-way for most of the game except for a 10-minute spell in the middle of the second half.

  In fact, Dublin themselves missed at least four clear goal chances, three of which ended up as points. Con O’Callaghan hit the butt of a post in the 21st minute after a mesmerising move.

  Roscommon’s cause was certainly not helped when Conor Daly was sent off in the 33rd minute for a trip on Con O’Callaghan, the Pearses’ man having picked up a first yellow card earlier in the half. To try to beat Dublin with 15 players is hard enough. With just 14 players, it is an impossible task. Roscommon players were also losing the ball in the tackle and turning over possession far too softly.

  With four minutes gone into the second half it was Dublin 2-18 Roscommon 0-7 and the Connacht champions were looking at a possible 30-point defeat as Dublin pulled further and further away. But, mercifully from a Roscommon point of view, Jim Gavin decided that Ciaran Kilkenny, Paul Mannion, Michael Fitzsimons and Jack McCaffrey had seen enough action as he ran his bench.

  In fairness to Roscommon, from the 45th minute to the 56th minute they kicked six out of the seven points scored in the phase of the game to take the bare look off the scoreboard. But Dublin re-set again in the final 10 minutes and they kicked seven further points from a variety of angles, sub Paddy Small catching the eye with three fine long-range efforts.

  It was vintage Dublin on Saturday. Gavin’s team had powerhouses on every line. Jack McCaffrey, Jonny Cooper and the majestic James McCarthy were always in control at the back. Brian Fenton is a ‘Rolls Royce’ performer at midfield. What a player he is. He was magnificent again. Michael Darragh MacAuley is back to his best this year and his goal in the 38th minute was brilliantly taken.

  Up front, the full-forward line of Ciaran Kilkenny, Paul Mannion and Con O’Callaghan were in lethal form from the first minute. They are a joy to watch when in full flow. Dean Rock was my man of the match. He has been a sub on this Dublin team in recent weeks, coming on and scoring freely. But last Saturday he was in from the start and took his chance with both hands. His free-taking was absolutely flawless and he scored 1-11 over the course of the game.

  For Roscommon, it was a disappointing way to end the year, but let us not forget the joy and excitement that this team has brought to us this season. The Connacht title win was one of the most memorable in recent memory. The history books will show that there was no shame attached to losing heavily to this very special Dublin team.

  The pity about this Super 8s’ format is that for the second year in a row Roscommon will have to play a totally meaningless game (this time against Cork, on Sunday week). Inevitably, there will be a small attendance. A system must be worked out that would give teams a chance going into their final game. The fact that this ’neutral’ game was played in Croke Park is also something that will have to be looked at in the future.

  The challenge for Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham and the players now is to rise again in February, compete for promotion from Division 2, and aim to successfully defend their Connacht title. Roscommon can and will improve and are well equipped to knock on the door at the very top of the game.

  This Dublin team are an exception, but there is no reason why Roscommon cannot go on to challenge teams like Kerry, Tyrone and Donegal. I say to the players and management to remember that when the pain of this defeat ebbs away, we will have some great memories from this summer to reflect on. Last Saturday will just have to go down as ‘one of those days’. Here’s to the future.

 

 

Dublin

Stephen Cluxton; Jonny Cooper, Philip McMahon, Michael Fitzsimons; Jack McCaffrey (0-1), John Small, James McCarthy; Brian Fenton (0-2), Michael Darragh MacAuley (1-1); Niall Scully (0-1), Ciarán Kilkenny (0-2), Brian Howard; Con O’Callaghan (0-2), Paul Mannion (0-2), Dean Rock (1-11, 0-10 frees).

Subs used: Paddy Small (0-3) for Mannion (39), Kevin McManamon (0-1) for Kilkenny (39), Eric Lowndes for Fitzsimons (47), Rory O’Carroll for McCaffrey (47), Paddy Andrews for O’Callaghan (52), David Byrne for MacAuley (61, black card).

 

Roscommon

Darren O’Malley; Seán Mullooly (0-1), David Murray, Conor Daly; Ronan Daly, Conor Hussey (0-3), Niall Daly (0-1); Enda Smith, Shane Killoran; Brian Stack, Cathal Cregg, Niall Kilroy; Diarmuid Murtagh (0-1), Conor Cox (0-7, 4 frees), Colin Compton (0-1).

Subs used:  Fintan Cregg for Killoran (half-time), Aengus Lyons for Compton (45), John McManus for C Cregg (47), Andrew Glennon for Murtagh (52), Gary Patterson for Murray (60), Cian McKeon for Kilroy (66).

 

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).

We’ll get to next level – Cunningham

 

Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham says his team will learn the harsh lessons of last Saturday – and do everything required to get to the next level.

  Despite the crushing defeat, the Roscommon boss was philosophical – and pledged his own future to the team, making it clear that he believes Roscommon can and will continue to progress.

  Cunningham lamented missed goal opportunities in the first half but was proud of how his team rallied in the second period, at which point they had a man less than Dublin. The Roscommon manager recognised the tremendous qualities of the Dublin team and had no issue with the outcome.

  On first-half goal chances that fell to Shane Killoran and Diarmuid Murtagh, Cunningham said: “You have to take your chances and we had two great goal chances in the first half. If you don’t take them against a team like Dublin you will be in trouble and that’s the way it turned out”.

  As to the entire sobering experience, he reflected: “It’s all about learning and developing the team and today was another learning experience for us.

  “Dublin are at a level of physicality that we would aspire to and it takes a long time to get to that level. We are hoping to get there in time, but it’s a slow-burner”.

  Cunningham acknowledged that Roscommon’s chances of an unlikely victory fell away after a close opening ten minutes.

  “I was disappointed with the first half, but I thought we made it competitive in the second half in parts with 14 players. But you know, it was a harsh lesson there in the first half. There is huge variety in Dublin’s game. Huge pace, huge physicality. For us, it’s all in a day’s learning”.

  The loss of a key player, red-carded just before half-time, was of course a subject of the post-match media interviews.

  Cunningham: “It’s something we’ve got to learn as well (the Conor Daly sending-off). If you are on a yellow, you can’t be clumsy on the second tackle. I suppose Conor probably left him (the referee) with no other option, he had to produce the black”.

  Given that they had only fourteen men and also conceded a goal just after half-time, Roscommon rallied well, at one stage closing the gap from a massive 17 points back down to 12.

  The manager reflected: “I think they showed character and came out there and chipped away with some good passages of play in the second half. But overall, we wouldn’t have played as well as we can play in the first half, that’s disappointing for the players…

  “But look, they could have stopped playing there and gone through the motions for the second half, but I think they showed character”.

 Cunningham is ready to continue his project with the Connacht champions.

  “I’m looking forward to working with this set of players into the future. We got a great tune out of them this year and they are massively interested in getting to the next level. There is great character in this team and that’s something we can build on”.

  The process of bouncing back will begin on Sunday week when Roscommon will aim to win a Super 8s’ match for the first time, and finish the season on a positive note.

  Anthony Cunningham: “We will enjoy going to Cork. It’s a match between two developing teams and it’s a game we will want to win”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comans’ swimmers end season on high

 

 

 

 

 

Young Comans’ swimmers ended their season on a high recently as they competed in the Summer National Division Two competition at the University of Limerick recently.

  Seven swimmers from the Comans Swimming Club took part in the Swim Ireland competition, achieving personal bests and making the finals in each event.

  Robert Tobin swam his last race with the club, signing off with a personal best in the 100m Backstroke event.

  Sean Kilkenny was on top form with personal best times in his four races while also breaking that all-important one minute mark for the 100m Freestyle. He capped off a very impressive display by taking a bronze medal.

  Ellie Moran also achieved PBs and made the finals in all of her races, just missing out on a bronze medal by a second. 

  Sisters Anastazya and Antonina Pliszka were in impressive form also. Anastazya clocked a PB in her 50m event, just missing out on third place in the process.

  For Antonina there was medal success in the 200m Backstroke with a 9 second PB while she was also unfortunate not to have taken a second medal, just missing out by 0.04s of a second.

  Club success continued for Michael Lavin, who achieved exceptional PBs in his 200m Backstroke and 200m Breaststroke, while making the finals in all of his events. He took home a bronze and two silver medals just missing out on gold on both occasions.

  Special mention has to go to Sinead Freeman, the youngest Comans’ swimmer, who took part in nine events and took home seven medals, including two gold in a dominant display.

  So the curtain comes down on yet another successful season for the Comans’ swimmers who will be returning to the pool at Roscommon Leisure Centre in the autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

Seamus Duke on sport - July 26th

 

 

 

 

Super 8s format needs to be reviewed

The concept of the Super 8s will be reviewed after next year’s championship and there are a number of things about this format that require instant attention.

  The fixing of the ‘neutral’ round of games for Croke Park cannot continue. During the first half of the Tyrone v Cork game the atmosphere was so dead that you could hear clearly what the mentors were shouting to the players on the field. Then during the Roscommon game, save for an odd chant from Hill 16, all you could hear was the chatter of the people in the stands as the game went on. There would be a better atmosphere in a morgue.

  The reality is that there was a very small Roscommon crowd there last Saturday night and who would blame them for not travelling?  I am not suggesting for one minute that Roscommon would have beaten Dublin at another venue but if the game was in Tullamore or Portlaoise at least there would have been a reasonable crowd and atmosphere.

  The official crowd was given as 36,000 people on Saturday night. I couldn’t see where they were. Maybe that number included all the Tyrone people and the two or three hundred that were there from Cork that left when the first game was over.

  The fact that Roscommon and Cork are out mean that they will have to play what is a totally meaningless game in Pairc Uí Rinn next weekend. We have heard a lot of chat about money in recent times, I would presume that it will cost a lot of money to bring our senior team down to Cork for a game that makes no difference to anyone. I suppose that there is pride at stake but in a month’s time no one will remember who finished third and fourth in the Super 8 groups.

  It’s a disappointing way to end what was a great summer for Roscommon regardless of what happened last Saturday. The team gave great entertainment to Roscommon people in the Connacht championship. I am looking forward already to 2020 and I know that further progress can be made.

  However, as far as I can see, Dublin are untouchable at the moment. I am convinced that they are much better than they were last year. I don’t think the pick of the teams that are left will beat them.

  I enjoyed the Cork v Tyrone game and Cork were looking good at half-time but Tyrone simply pushed up the field by about 10 metres and they stopped Cork’s running game. Tyrone finished very strongly and Mattie Donnelly was once again majestic. But can they challenge Dublin? In a word: no.

  Kerry and Donegal provided us with the game of the year on Sunday. A draw was a fair result but it was Gaelic football as it should be played.

  Mayo are hanging in there but I fear that they will find Donegal too good for them in round three. But what an occasion it promises to be at MacHale Park. Meath battled hard all the way through but they were just not able to perform at the very highest level.

 

A Super Sunday at Esker Hills!

 

Last Saturday evening coming out of Croke Park, I got a call from the sports editor in Midlands103 to ask me would I be able to go to Esker Hills Golf Club on Sunday to do some live broadcasting, as Shane Lowry was looking good at that stage in The Open Championship. It meant missing the live action from Croke Park on the TV but this was a once-in-a-lifetime event and it was great to be a part of it.

  The Molloy family (Course directors) have been synonymous with Esker Hills since it was opened in the 1990s. It’s about half-way between Tullamore and Clara. It’s an excellent course and a tough track for the ordinary golfer. It’s where Shane Lowry learned how to play golf.

  I have to say that spending the day at Esker Hills last Sunday was one of the most emotional and electrifying days that I have experienced since I started doing this job.

  The place was packed and there was a nervous tension there for most of the way as the members watched their hero battle it out with the best players in the world. But as the holes ran out, it became clear that Lowry would be the champion. Every shot, every putt, every grimace and every smile was cheered to the echo. When Lowry birdied the 15th a chorus of ‘The Offaly Rover’ broke out and people had tears in their eyes. It was the first of many renditions that day and night. The locals couldn’t believe that this kid that they know so well from down the road was winning the biggest golf tournament in the world, and in style too.

  I almost choked up myself as Lowry strode up the 18th hole, the winner of the Open. I have met Shane a few times and he is the most down to earth guy you could wish to encounter. No airs or graces at all. But he is blessed with a very rare talent and he will win again and again, take it from me.

  A good friend of mine was in Dublin on Monday afternoon and met Shane for a few beers in The Boar’s Head in Capel Street. He had the Claret Jug on the counter beside him and stood in for photos and chatted to everyone. That’s why Lowry is such a popular winner. He is an ordinary guy with an extraordinary talent. He was also a great price at 66/1 and 50/1 but he will never be that price again!

  After the disappointment of Croke Park on Saturday night it was fantastic to experience the joy that I witnessed in Esker Hills on Sunday. I heard someone say that it was one of the greatest Irish sporting performances in history. To win the Open Championship by six shots? It’s certainly up there. It was a fantastic tournament and the crowds broke all records.

 

All-Ireland SHC Semi-Finals (Both in Croke Park)

 

Limerick v Kilkenny on Saturday at 6 pm

It’s remarkable that Kilkenny are still in this championship and they are there on merit. They have battled back after their Leinster final defeat and they were very impressive against Cork. No one likes a challenge better than Brian Cody and he will surely get one here.

  Limerick are adding to their reputation with every game they play and if they could retain their Liam MacCarthy Cup title it would mark them out as a really great team. I know it’s foolish to write off Kilkenny but Limerick look to have all the aces.

Prediction: Limerick

 

Tipperary v Wexford on Sunday at 3.30 pm

What a battle this promises to be. The capacity of Croke Park will be tested as these two teams have a huge following. Tipp will be very anxious to get another rattle at Limerick but I wouldn’t be writing off Davy Fitz and Wexford. Looking at both teams, Tipp look just that little bit stronger up front and I give them a hesitant vote to edge it.

Prediction: Tipperary

 

Note: The All-Ireland MHC semi-finals and MFC quarter-finals are this weekend and the U-20 football semi-finals will be played too.

 

English Premier League set to return

 

It’s going to creep up on us like a thief in the night…the soccer season is about to start again with all the excesses that we have become used to in recent years. Today I read where David De Gea will sign a new deal at Manchester United worth €400,000 per week. It’s absolute madness. However, I suppose if you consider that Alexis Sanchez has been earning 500,000 per week for the past two years and is not able to kick the ball out of his way De Gea’s money might make sense.

  But all this madness will be set aside as Liverpool, Manchester City, United, Arsenal and all the rest swing into action again and people (like me) who have absolutely no ties to any club (or reason to follow them) will be getting carried away on a weekly basis. When you think about it logically, it makes no sense at all!

 

Ladies easy winners over Faithful

 

 

 

TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate FC (Round Two)

Roscommon 2-14

Offaly 1-4

 

Roscommon are through to the knockout stages of the Intermediate All-Ireland championship following this facile victory in the rain at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park last Sunday.

  There was a slight blip for Michael Finneran’s charges when they conceded a goal to Offaly in the opening minutes but it was one-way traffic after that as the visitors dominated proceedings.

  With Rebecca Finan and Laura Fleming on song from frees and play, it wasn’t long before Roscommon forged ahead and Louise Brady scored a fine goal midway through the half and by the break Roscommon were ahead by eight points. Sub Sinead Glennon scored Roscommon’s second goal shortly after she came on as they ran out easy winners.

  It will be familiar opponents for Roscommon in the All-Ireland quarter-final as Sligo will be in the other corner in two weeks’ time. For the moment, however, it’s so far so good for the Primrose and Blue ladies.

Roscommon: H Cummins; H Ennis, A McLoone, N Feeney; J Cregg, A Kelly, S Bruen; K Daly (0-1), L Fleming (0-7); N McHugh (0-1), R Wynne (0-1), S Tully; R Finan (0-6), L Brady (1-0), R Fitzmaurice (0-1). Subs: S Glennon (1-0), for Daly, K Colgan for Wynne, R Brady for Ennis.

 

‘Roads, Dom’s and Tremane on form

 

 

 

 

Tisrara men thump Oran

Four Roads 2-24  

Oran 1-6

Four Roads handed Oran a heavy beating in Athleague last Friday night to once again underline their favourites’ tag to regain the Mickey Cunniffe Cup is well justified at this stage of the season. It was one-way traffic all through as the men from Tisrara powered away from an out of sorts Oran outfit.

  Donnacha Gately scored the Four Roads goal as they led by 1-11 to 0-2 at the break and when James Fitzmaurice grabbed a second shortly after the re-start there was only going to be one winner. Gearoid Keenan flew an almost lone flag for Oran getting all of his sides’ scores. And Four Roads, for whom Shane Curley, Cathal Mulry, Cathal Dolan and Padraig Kelly were outstanding, were always in control.

Scorers - Four Roads: C Dolan (0-9), C Mulry (0-5), P Kelly (0-4), D Gately and J Fitzmaurice (1-0) each, S Curley (0-2), A Lawlor, N Fallon, N Hynes and D Butler (0-1) each. Oran: G Keenan (1-6).

 

Dominic’s hold on

St. Dominic’s 1-17  

Pádraig Pearses 1-15

St. Dominic’s had to withstand a stirring second half rally from Pearses before emerging victorious in Athleague on Friday night last. The Knockcroghery men totally dominated the first half exchanges and when it came to the break they led by 1-12 to 0-3. Naos Connaughton was the Dominic’s goal-scorer close to the half-time whistle.

  But Pearses were a different side on the resumption and a string of fine points brought them close. With the game in injury-time Leon Fehily’s goal narrowed the gap to just three but Mickey Joe Egan edged Dominic’s four ahead and while Pearses had two late points, Dominic’s held on.

Scorers – St. Dominic’s: N Connaughton (1-8), MJ Egan (0-5), P Halpin, M Byrne, A O’Riordan and J Murray (0-1) each. Pearses: L Fehily (1-3), S Naughton (0-6), E Costello and J Donoghue (0-2) each, P Grehan and L Cravin (0-1) each.

 

Tremane run riot

Tremane 3-23

Roscommon Gaels 0-9

This was another heavy defeat for Roscommon Gaels as Tremane ran riot on their own home grounds last Friday night. Goals from Warren Boyle and John Brennan helped them into a 2-16 to 0-4 lead at the break. Sub Cian O’Brien added a third Tremane goal in the second period as the Gaels went down by 23 points.

Scorers - Tremane: P Kellehan (0-7), W Boyle and J Brennan (1-2) each, C O’Brien (1-1), K Brennan, N Keenan and J Brennan (0-3) each, M Kellehan (0-2). Roscommon Gaels: P Lennon (0-7), K Doolan, and O Walsh (0-1) each.

 

 

Celebrating 150 years of Ballybrit!

 

 

 

 

Sunday provides a very much appreciated rest day for punters before they head west for seven long days of mixed racing at Ballybrit, celebrating 150 years racing at the Galway track.

  On Monday the first day of the Galway Festival starts with the Galwaybayhotel.com and Galmont.com Novice Hurdle over 2m with 24 potential runners at 5.20 pm and the second is the Easyfix Handicap Hurdle over 2m with 66 entered. The third on the card is the Claregalway hotel.ie Irish EBF maiden, 28 runners, followed by the Claytonhotelgalway.ie handicap, 42 runners, both over 7f.

  The feature race, Connacht Hotel Handicap, for amateur riders, is at 7.40 pm with 35 entries. The 19-runner 1m 4f Eventus Handicap is the penultimate race on the card which closes with the 2m Monami Construction Bumper for amateur riders and 22 entries.

  A horse to note in the opening hurdle is the Willie Mullins’ Punchestown Festival maiden winner, Authorized Art, but could be a very short price and an e/w on Don Patricio Martin Brassil’s Sligo winner might be better value.

  The 2nd is a wide-open handicap but locally trained Ashqar, twice 2nd in Roscommon this season for Ger Lynch is an interesting runner.

  In the 3rd, Aidan O’Brien has eight of the 28 entries.

  The feature again looks wide open and all amateur riders love to put this race on their CV. WP Mullins trains three of the first four in the betting and the pick looks to be Mr Adjudicator who won’t be far away at the death as will Tony Martin’s Newcross. He has dropped in the handicap and on his recent 4th behind Rashaan over an extended 2m at Clonmel he must have reasonable chance and is e/w bet.

  In the penultimate, Heavenly Snow, a winner in Roscommon over 1m 2f, could win for Shelia Lavery if she gets a cut in the ground.

  Day two opens at 5.20 pm with the Colm Quinn BMW Novice hurdle over 2m. The next is the Latin Quarter Beginners’ Chase over 2m 2f, sponsored by businesses in Galway’s Latin Quarter.

  The first flat race is the Colm Quinn BMW Fillies Mdn followed by the Caulfield Industrial Mdn, both sponsored by the Irish EBF and run over the minimum 7f.

  The featured Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap over 1m has 36 entries, with six of them from Britain, of which only 18 will get a run is off at 7.40 pm. The market goes 7/1 the field reflecting how open a race it is.

  The last two races are sponsored by Caulfield Industrial with the penultimate a 1m race and closing with a 7f race, both handicaps.

  Tote Ireland sponsor the entire Wednesday card including the feature of the week, for most race goers, the Tote.com Galway Plate. Note that racing starts at 5.10 pm this year with a maiden hurdle followed by a handicap hurdle both over 2m 5f.

  The Irish EBF join the Tote in sponsoring the third, a handicap for mares over 2m. There is a flat maiden for amateur riders before the feature at 7.20 pm.

  Racing finishes with two flat races, the penultimate is a 1mile handicap and a 2m handicap brings the evening’s entertainment to a close. 

  There are 38 entries in the Galway Plate on Wednesday with seven cross channel raiders including top weight Paul Nicholls’ Black Corton, who will be ridden by Byrony Frost, Dan Skelton’s Azzuri and the Nicky Henderson-trained Pacific De Baune. Gordon Elliott has 13, WP Mullins has six, Henry de Bromhead has three. Owner JP McManus has eight and Michael O’Leary, through Gigginstown Stud, has six horses entered.

  There will be a maximum of 22 runners permitted on the day and I expect Gordon Elliott’s Ravenhill, who has not run a poor race this season, to make a bold effort, and is e/w value for money at 16/1. Barra, who fell in the Midlands National looking a winner, is also 16/1 and is what you could call a winner without a penalty and worth consideration if travelling the long journey up from Waterford. The British challenge is strong with Azzuri and both the Nicholls’ runners Black Corton and Modus all in with chances. They will all have to beat Elliott’s Gigginstown runner Mengli Khan.

  Thursday is Guinness Day with the St. James’s Brewery sponsoring the entire card, including the feature Galway Hurdle with 32 entries. Grade 1 winner Quick Grabim, winner of the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse, Cheltenham Festival hero Band Of Outlaws, Cheltenham Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, and the locally-trained Sole Pretender, winner of his last three races, are notable names among the 32 entries for the €300,000 Guinness Galway Hurdle on Thursday, August 1st.

  Last year, Willie Mullins recorded his third success in the race and Quick Grabim is one of nine entries for the champion trainer. Band Of Outlaws is one of two entries made by Joseph O’Brien, who won the race with Tigris River in 2017.

  Interestingly, the Lee name in no stranger to racing or the Galway Hurdle, given that, if I recall correctly, Norman’s father Christy was associated with 1973 Galway Hurdle winner Lesabelle. Trained in Gort, County Galway by Norman, the Michael Hogan-owned Sole Pretender completed a hat-trick of wins when taking the McHale Mayo Handicap Hurdle recently.

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