A banquet fit for champions
I have to say that I am not a big follower of dinner dances and I haven’t been at one for a number of years, but I decided that it would be nice to see our senior footballers get their Connacht senior medals for 2017 and I attended the banquet in The Hodson Bay Hotel last Friday night.
It was a really well organised and well run night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The vast majority of the panel were there and the speeches were entertaining – and short too which is always a help!
Ciaráin Murtagh, as captain of the team, spoke very well and his words were from the heart and were very powerful indeed. Mick Rock is an excellent speaker and he captured the mood of the occasion perfectly. Kevin McStay was justifiably proud of his charges and he was delighted with the turn out and that his old buddy from The Sunday Game Colm O’Rourke was there to present the medals.
The Meath man was sharp and to the point. I like O’Rourke anyway because he sings from the same hymn sheet as myself on a lot of issues to do with the GAA. The SKY TV deal, elitism in the GAA with regard to corporate dinners and scholarships, and the GPA all got a lash and it was great to meet him again. He also told a great story about employing Roscommon’s ladies star Aisling McAuliffe in his school in Navan!
The lads on the team seemed to enjoy the night and it was a fitting way to celebrate what was a major achievement that few of us saw coming earlier in the year. With a lot of the players that were missing in 2017 back on the panel and training away 2018 is now looking a very appetising prospect.
As I sat watching and enjoying the proceedings last Friday night my mind turned to those who had passed away during the year and who would have enjoyed the night. Men like Pat Dennehy and Donie Shine came to mind. They would have enjoyed it for sure.
Plenty of options ahead of Six Nations
It’s hard to know where Ireland are after the three November matches. At times they played some fantastic stuff and then at other times they looked ordinary enough. One thing is for certain, Joe Schmidt has plenty of options as he looks ahead to the Six Nations, but the hard part will be getting the blend right.
Jacob Stockdale looks a certain starter with Simon Zebo out of the picture. Andrew Conway looks a great prospect too, but will he start? Has Bundee Aki done enough to warrant a starting spot too? These are just some of the questions that Joe Schmidt will have to answer before the first week in February.
Expectations in Ireland are high and a championship win would be the minimum for a lot of fans with a Triple Crown or even a Grand Slam thrown in! But it will not be easy. Scotland have improved out of all proportion and are now a huge threat. Wales are there or thereabouts and we have France and England away and anything can happen in those games. Ireland are now a top four side and well worth their place there too but as we know from history that can change very quickly.
City could go unbeaten!
With the GAA season a little quieter now there will be a big focus on the Premier League and Manchester City could have the title in the bag before we sit down to eat the Christmas dinner (if they haven’t got it secured already).
They are playing football at a different level than any of the other teams in the top six and they have scored a lot of goals. But even more ominous for the rest is that even when they are playing poorly they are winning and that’s a sign of a championship winning team. Manchester United did it for years and looking at the City players after they scraped by Huddersfield last Sunday showed how much that win meant to them. They could go through this season unbeaten. Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs, and Liverpool are all playing reasonably well at times but they do not have the consistency of City.
More choice needed for sporting moments
I have been meaning to comment on ‘Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Moment’ TV programme for the past few weeks but ran out of time and space each week. I didn’t see last week’s programme but the first two shows were over almost before they had begun.
The sporting moments chosen by the public were so far ahead debate was pointless. The idea for the programme is a good one but they went about it the wrong way. Sport (like most other things in life) is a matter of opinion and to narrow a whole ten years of sporting memories down to just five was a mistake. The public choice was far too narrow. Maybe it will improve in the programmes that are left but I suspect that Ray Houghton and Packie Bonner will be there when it’s all decided.
Glavey’s to meet Kilanerin
The club GAA championship provided great entertainment again last weekend. Corofin proved too good for Castlebar in the Connacht final. It took them until extra-time to beat the Mayo men but they were by far the better team. It shows just how close St. Brigid’s were a few weeks ago.
Nemo Rangers were outstanding against Dr Crokes and they could, and should, have won by a lot more than five points.
Slaughtneil were very impressive in the Ulster final and are still my choice to win the All-Ireland this season.
But even more interesting last weekend was the intermediate football action. Two very strong teams, Moy of Tyrone (with the Cavanaghs) and An Gaeltacht of Kerry (with the O’Sés) won in Ulster and Munster. They will meet each other in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Michael Glavey’s will meet with Kilanerin of Wexford in the other semi-final. I’m sure there will be a delegation from west Roscommon travelling to the Leinster final!