Seamus Duke Media Roscommon

Category: Sport (Page 1 of 2)


9th March 2023 


The fact that there is a break from the National Football League action this week will give us all a chance to catch our breath and look ahead to the remaining two fixtures.

Looking at what Roscommon have left I am in the ‘glass half-full’ department and I have to say I am looking forward to the two games coming up.

A lot of people are of the opinion that the trip to Kerry will result in a defeat but I am not so sure about that. Roscommon have started many of their games very slowly and have relied on coming late to either win or to get within a shout of a win.

If Davy Burke’s side can make a reasonable start in Tralee they will have every chance and I am convinced about that. Against Mayo, Roscommon did not deserve to win but despite playing so poorly especially in the first half, they only went down by two points and had a late chance to actually win it.

I was in Hyde Park early on Sunday and watched the Tyrone v Kerry game in it’s entirety and Kerry are certainly not unbeatable. Tyrone marked David Clifford tightly and worked ever so hard around the field and deserved their win. Having watched that I have no doubt if Roscommon work hard and produce a 70 minute performance they can make life very uncomfortable for Kerry. I am expecting Roscommon to give Kerry loads of it next weekend. If Roscommon play their best 15 available they have every chance.

I would also be very confident that Roscommon will be able to beat Donegal in their final game in Dr Hyde Park. Donegal are struggling especially up front and if they lose their second last game which is against Mayo they could already be relegated by the time they come to Dr Hyde Park.

Elsewhere Mayo are going well and they certainly have responded to Kevin McStay and his new management team. They have strength in depth and they called a number of very strong players from the bench against Roscommon last Sunday. They are pleying well but they will be concerned that they were not able to close out a comfortable win against Roscommon when they were in such a strong position last Sunday.

Galway have also improved and without Shane Walsh, Robert Finnerty and Damian Comer they have recorded a couple of very good wins in recent weeks. When they have their full side out they will be formidable.

Elsewhere around the country Derry continue to impress and they are playing some great football again this year. They are an improved team from last year and they will definitely be in the All Ireland conversation later in the year.

Dublin are hard to figure out. They looked very good in the first half against Derry but they faded badly after the break. They are certainly not the machine that we became used to under Jim Gavin. They remain a threat but they have come back to the pack. They look a tired enough outfit.

Other teams that have been impressive have been Armagh and Tyrone who seem to have got their ‘mojo’ back.

I At this stage I think that the race for Sam Maguire this year is one of the most open in many many years.

With two rounds of the league to go my top 10 rankings would be:

  1. Kerry
  2. Mayo
  3. Derry
  4. Dublin
  5. Galway
  6. Armagh
  7. Roscommon
  8. Monaghan
  9. Cork
  10. Donegal

With Cheltenham coming up this week there will be almost more tips than runners and although I am not a huge racing fan I always love the excitement of the festival in the Cotswolds.

There are two horses with local connections in with a shout so here goes: Fastorslow on Tuesday (2.50) and Ashroe Diamond on Thursday (4.50)


50 years of Dr Hyde Park

On the 20th of June 1971 a further chapter began in Roscommon GAA when a new county ground was opened in Roscommon Town. It was called Dr Hyde Park. The first Connacht SFC game played at the new venue was between Roscommon and Sligo and it was a game that didn’t live long in the memory as a Mickey Kearins-led Sligo beat Roscommon by 0-10 to 1-5.

In fact the first ever competitive game played in Dr Hyde Park 50 years ago was the curtain-raiser that day which was an U-14 county final between Roscommon Gaels and St Michael’s. The player to have the honour of being the first to score at the new venue was Roscommon Gaels player Greg McCrann who scored a point early in that final. In fact Greg went on to win an All Ireland U-21 medal with Roscommon when they beat Kerry also at Dr Hyde Park in some years later 1978.

The land where Dr Hyde Park now stands was known as ‘Raftery’s Field’. It was owned by a man called Brodie Raftery from Glenamaddy. The field had seen some GAA action in the past and the 1943 county final was played there between St Patrick’s and Strokestown.

The Roscommon county GAA grounds had been located at St Coman’s Park in Roscommon town. However that pitch flooded during the winter time and after it was determined that it could not be drained, a group of local GAA people got together to buy land in the town area to develop it as a county ground. Raftery’s Field was purchased in 1969 for a sum in the region of 3,000 pounds. A local committee had been set up to raise the funding required for the purchase of the field and to develop a county ground.

I can vividly recall that as school children attending Roscommon CBS, Brother Dwyer and Brother Coffey both of whom were heavily involved in the GAA, brought us all out to Dr Hyde Park on a regular basis to pick stones from the new pitch. I remember Dick Hughes and Ned Casey driving the tractors as the pitch was prepared to become a major county GAA ground.

The surrounds consisted of three grass banks and a bank of concrete seats- which are still there. The dressing rooms were situated in the Hyde Community Centre and the players had to walk a couple of hundred yards through the crowds to get to the pitch on the day of a big game. The present dressing rooms were only built in the early 1990’s

Many people who were around at the time will find it hard to believe that Dr Hyde Park is in existence for 50 years. There has been plenty of drama and excitement there over the years both at club and county level.

In terms of the county scene my own personal highlights were the 1977 SFC final win against Galway which was Roscommon’s first senior Connacht win at the venue.
Winning the 1978 All Ireland U-21 title at Dr Hyde Park was a day that no one who was present will ever forget as Roscommon overturned a highly fancied Kerry team in front of a huge crowd.
The Connacht SFC wins in 1990 and 1991 (replay) were very special days too. In 1990 (v Galway) it was Roscommon’s first senior title in 10 years while the following year, to beat Mayo in Hyde Park in a replay was especially sweet.

The replayed Connacht final against Galway in 1998 was also a very special day. The atmosphere that Saturday evening was something I shall never forget as both teams went hammer and tongs in a very high quality game. A goal from Michael Donnellan in extra time settled the issue, but it was some occasion.

However, the win for Roscommon against Mayo in the 2001 final was probably the most dramatic and exciting day that I recall at Dr Hyde Park. A beautiful day, a massive crowd, and a last minute goal from Gerry Lohan to win by a single point. It doesn’t get any better than that. It’s hard to believe but that’s the last Connacht senior title that Roscommon have won in ‘The Hyde’.

The facilities at Dr Hyde Park have been upgraded over the years but most people would agree that a further major overhaul is well past time at the moment. Terracing on three sides was added in the 1990’s while in the early 00’s a 3,500 seater stand was built. In addition a new pitch was laid in 2017 and after years of problems with the surface it is now recognized as one of the best in the country.

But with strict ‘Health and Safety’ guidelines in place the capacity of Dr Hyde Park has been reduced from 30,000 to 18,500 in the past five years hence the urgent need to upgrade the facilities at the stadium. The ease of access and it’s ideal central location makes it a fantastic venue for big games all year around.

The responsibility for the upkeep and the running of Dr Hyde Park now rests with Roscommon county board following an agreement drawn up with the Roscommon Gaels club. I spent over 20 years on the Hyde Park Committee at one stage and I know about the huge efforts that have been made over the years by many people to keep the stadium running.

There have been so many memorable moments at Dr Hyde Park over the years,at club level it would take many articles to cover even some of them.

Dr Hyde Park has been part and parcel of the fabric of Roscommon life for 50 years now and with the Connacht semi-final coming up between Roscommon and Galway on July the 4th that legacy is set to continue for many decades more. It is the earnest hope of everyone that the crowds will soon be back at ‘The Hyde’.

We have seen the greatest players in gaelic football over the past 50 years play at Dr Hyde Park and some great hurlers too. The park has brought great excitement and drama to Roscommon Town in that time not to mention badly needed business on the weekends of big games. Sadly the pandemic has put a temporary stop to all that but hopefully things will be back to normal on that score very soon.

The people involved in the Hyde Park Committee from 1969 to 1972 and who were responsible for the purchase and development of Dr Hyde Park were: Barry Molloy, Dr Donal Keenan, John Joe Fahey, Frank Lannon, Michael Mulry, Michael Cassidy, Paddy O’Connor, Paddy O’Donovan, T.S. O Dolain, Seamus Hunt, Willie Gilmartin, Seamus Duke, Jimmy Costello, Brother Coffey, Brother Dwyer, Gabriel Keating, Mick Hoare, Michael Stephens, Tony Robinson, Jackie Brennan, PJ Oates, Paddy Walshe, Bernie Hoare.

(from The Roscommon People)



In any conversation about the best Roscommon footballers over the past 25 years Frankie Dolan would have to be near the top or indeed at the top of those rankings. The St Brigid’s and Roscommon forward was a brilliant player for club and county and he had a wonderful playing career.
But it is only when reading his autobiography ‘Outside of the Right’ (written with the assistance of our own Dan Dooner) that one remembers just how colourful a career it has been both on and off the field. But in the end it was his talent as a footballer that shone through and there are many great stories from Frankie about some of the biggest days in Roscommon and St Brigid’s football history over the past quarter of a century and some off the field incidents too which makes it a very memorable memoir.
Even Frankie himself will admit that over the years he fell foul of officialdom both on and off the field. Yes, there were some people whom he felt let him down over his career but his passion for the game always shines through.
Having played mostly Soccer for various clubs, including Athlone Town and Bohemians until he was 17 he settled for Gaelic Football with St Brigid’s and Roscommon.

The breakthrough for St Brigid’s to win the senior championship in 1997 evokes fond memories for Frankie in his first year playing senior. “We won the minor in 1996 and myself and John Tiernan and a couple of others were brought into the senior squad.”
“ The club got in John O’Mahony as manager and it was a great appointment. He trained us very hard and we ended up winning the championship. We beat Clann na nGael in the final by a point. We were lucky enough in the end. Paul McManus was inured for Clann and it was probably fitness that got us through that day. But it was a huge win for the club.” It was a first senior title for Brigid’s in 28 years.

Another very interesting assertion in Frankie’s book is his admiration for Gay Sheerin who he says was the best and most passionate Roscommon senior team manager he played for during his career. “I was so sorry for Gay the way his tenure finished up (defeat to Leitrim in the Connacht Championship in Dr Hyde Park in 2000). We should have been 12 to 15 points up at half-time that day and we collapsed in the second half. That loss was certainly not Gay Sheerin’s fault. It was down to us players on the field. We let him down. He took the blame for that defeat and it was very unfair.”
“All Gay Sheerin wanted was the best for Roscommon football and that was unlike some of the other people that managed Roscommon over the years, who probably wanted the best for themselves. I know that you always have a soft spot for the manager who brings you in to the county set up, but Gay was a great Roscommon man. I have great time for him “he said.

One of Roscommon’s most memorable wins in the past 25 years was the dramatic last minute victory against Mayo in the Connacht final in Dr Hyde Park in 2001 and while the details of that match are well known, one thing that I was just made aware of in the book was that the Roscommon players actually walked out to Dr Hyde Park that day from the Abbey Hotel. “It was great craic to be honest. We walked out the Golf Links Road. There was great banter from the supporters and I think it made the players more relaxed. I think it was a great idea but you wouldn’t see it happening today.”

Even though Frankie had so much success on the field for club and county the book would not be complete without a reference to the infamous ‘naked pool’ incident in Derry which made national news at the time and which led to the disbandment of the senior football panel. Frankie says that the whole saga was handled very badly by the county board. “The county board and the team management could have tried to sort something out at the time. Look, it is something that should not have happened, but having said that I have seen things a hundred times worse over the years. What we did was probably stupid but it was harmless. But the full blame was heaped on just two players (Frankie and Nigel Dineen) and we didn’t get any support at all.”
“I didn’t go to the meeting when they disbanded the team but I knew what was coming. It was an easy way out for the county board to blame the players. That whole thing really annoyed me.”
“I was injured then after that and had an operation (shoulder) and was really down in the dumps. I was unemployed and I went off to Australia for six months in 2002 and it was the best thing I ever did. I cleared my head, I did a bit of training and I was ready for action when I came back for 2003 and I had the hunger back.”
That year was Frankie’s best in a Roscommon county jersey. Roscommon under Tommy Carr went on a run in the qualifiers and Frankie weighed in with some sensational performances scoring 12 points against Offaly in Mullingar and he followed that up with an even better performance scoring 0-13 against Kildare the following week. Many people saw Frankie as a shoo-in for an All Star but it didn’t happen. Frankie was disappointed but is philosophical about it. “We had a good year as a team and I played well but it was just one of those things.”

On winning the club All Ireland in 2013 Frankie says that the team were building every year in terms of experience and the All Ireland semi-final win against Crossmaglen in Mullingar that year was one of the most intense championship games he was ever involved in. “That was the day when we really won that All Ireland. They (Cross) were such a great team. That was some game. There was everything in it. There was great play, rows, hard hits, great scores, a huge crowd and incredible intensity. It was brilliant stuff and probably the best big game that I ever played in. To beat Crossmaglen and then beat the Dublin champions in the final to win an All Ireland was some achievement and one that I am very proud of.”

Frankie says that mental health is a huge issue for players and he maintains that thankfully there is help for players out there now but that was not the case when he was involved and especially when there was any controversy. “In 2002 there was absolutely no help out there at all (after the pool incident). If that happened now it would be a totally different situation and there would be plenty of people there to help. But at that time myself and Nigel really suffered and it was very unfair. There was no one there to give us advice or to chat to us about it at all. We were totally hung out to dry. I mean I left the country as a result of what happened because I couldn’t put up with the hassle. I never realised what I was going through until I spoke to someone about it. I went to a counsellor and it really helped me I have to say and I was able to move on afterwards. People’s mental health is a very important issue.”

Needless to say that Frankie is not content to slip into the backround over the next few years. He is involved in the development of a revolutionary new sports aid called the ‘Ball Hive Pro Rebounder’ which can be used as a training aid by teams playing any kinds of ball sports. He has teamed up with Fergal Kelly for this new venture. “There has been huge interest in the rebounder and we have had interest from a couple of Premier League clubs in the UK and we are hoping to develop the product for use in the UK and USA as well as in Ireland. The covid situation has held us up but we are hoping to get back on track soon.”
Frankie has enlisted the help of well known Ballyforan man Padraig Kelly help distribute his book. “Padraig is a great guy, an Aidan’s man who is now living in Kiltoom and he has loads of connections and contacts throughout the country and he will be a great asset to me to get the book out there. “

Frankie continues to ply his trade as a very popular postman and lives in Roscommon Town with his wife Caroline and sons Ryen and Jack. He says he decided to write the book to give people an insight into what the real Frankie Dolan is like. “It’s not something that I was ever interested in but several people were asking me to do it and when the lockdown came I thought it might be a good way of passing the time. A lot of people have a perception of what kind of a person Frankie Dolan is but people that know me know what I’m like and that this tries to set the record straight.” He concluded.

What’s included in this interview barely skims the surface of what is a cracking good read. If you have been a follower of Roscommon club and county football and want a different perspective told with striking honesty and clarity then I recommend this highly and I wish him the best of luck with it.
‘Outside of the Right’ the Frankie Dolan Biography by Frankie Dolan and Dan Dooner is on sale now at all good book shops and online and is priced at 17.99 Euro.

(From The Roscommon People)

Best SF XV Since 1975 – Nationally and Connacht

Last week I chose my best Roscommon starting XV since 1975 and it has generated a lot of debate.

Prompted by Joe Kelly and others I am now going to attempt to pick my best National XV in that time.

Here goes:

1. Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)
2. Harry Keegan (Roscommon)
3. John O Keeffe (Kerry)
4. Tony Scullion (Derry)
5. Tomas O Se (Kerry)
6. Kieran McGeeney (Armagh)
7. Jack McCaffrey (Dublin)
8. Brian Fenton (Dublin)
9. Jack O’Shea (Kerry)
10. Peter Canavan (Tyrone)
11. Matt Connor (Offaly)
12. Pat Spillane (Kerry)
13. Colm Cooper (Kerry)
14. Padraig Joyce (Galway)
15. Mikey Sheehy (Kerry)

Best Connacht XV Since 1975:

1. David Clarke (Mayo)
2. Harry Keegan (Roscommon)
3. Gary Fahy (Galway)
4. Kenneth Mortimer (Mayo)
5. Lee Keegan (Mayo)
6. Declan Darcy (Leitrim)
7. Sean Og De Paor (Galway)
8. Dermot Earley (Roscommon)
9. Kevin Walsh (Galway)
10. Michael Donnellan (Galway)
11. Mickey Kearins (Sligo)
12. Ciaran McDonald (Mayo)
13. Andy Moran (Mayo)
14. Padraig Joyce (Galway)
15. Tony McManus (Roscommon)

Arguments/alternatives to:

Roscomons Best SF XV Since 1975

The Best Roscommon XV since 1975

I am this week going to publish the best Roscommon SF team that I have seen since I
started going to and reporting on matches.
I am not including any of the players who were on the great team of the
40’s or the team that got to the All-Ireland final in the early 60’s.
However it includes the four-in-a row- Connacht team from the late 70’s
So here goes:
1. Gay Sheeran – Gay had a long and distinguished career between
the posts and his passion and dedication to the cause was
legendary. He beats Paul Staunton to the number one position
with Darren O’Malley also a consideration.
2. Harry Keegan – The easiest choice of the whole lot. He got three
All-Stars playing for a county that didn’t win an All-Ireland which
was some achievement. The great Castlerea man was the best
corner-back I have seen- on any team.
3. Pat Lindsay- The St Faithleach’s man was a brilliant full-back and
a great leader. He trained harder than anyone else and was an
inspirational captain when Roscommon won the league in 1979.
As tough as they come, he beats Pat Doorey to the position.
4. Enon Gavin – This was a tough choice between the Clann na
nGael man and Gerry Connellan both of whom were All Stars.
Gavin burst on to the scene as a 19 year old in 1991 and remained
a part of the Roscommon team for many years after that.
5. Seanie McDermott – I know that Seanie played most of his football
in the full-back line but he played many times out in the half-back
line too. He was a magnificent servant to Roscommon and richly
deserves his place on the team. Niall Daly’s consistent displays
meant he was also in contention.
6. Francie Grehan – The St Aidan’s man was so fiercely determined
and passionate that he deserves his place. His performances in
the early noughties were sensational. Tom Donnellan from the
team of the late 70’s and early 80’s was also an outstanding
7. Danny Murray- One of the classiest players that I have ever seen.
He won two All-Stars and should have won more. Was always in
great shape and loved to bomb forward with the ball.
8. John Newton- For me this was a straight choice between the big
Garda and Elphin’s Seamus Killoran. A lot of Roscommon fans
would say that Killoran did the hard work while Newton did the
fancy stuff but that would be unfair to the Shannon Gaels man who
was a superb player
9. Dermot Earley- Another easy choice. A legend on and off the field.
An inspiration for so many Roscommon footballers, Roscommon
football fans and for everyone who knew him. What a Roscommon
man he was.
10. Mickey Freyne- The Castlerea man won his All-Star in the
full forward position but he played in almost every attacking
position for club and county. He was a very classy player and was
a mighty man to get a vital goal, Edges out the brilliant John
‘Jigger’ O’Connor.
11. Fergal O’Donnell- Another hugely influential player and
one that always led by example. For club and county Fergal was
an outstanding leader and his qualities extended to masterminding
that unforgettable All-Ireland minor triumph is 2006. One of the
great Roscommon GAA figures of the modern era.
12. Nigel Dineen- There are a number of live contenders for
this position but after a long career Nigel got a lot of vital scores for
Roscommon and edges out the likes of Eamon Junior McManus,
Tommy Grehan and Vinny Glennon.
13. Frankie Dolan – His inter-county career was not as long as
it might have been but he turned in some sensational displays in
the Primrose and Blue jersey and was a prolific scorer. His
contribution to St Brigid’s All-Ireland club win will go down in
folklore. Cathal Cregg would also be in contention here.
14. Paul Earley- there were a number of contenders here
including Ciaran Murtagh but Earley was a magnificent player
when he was on his game. He was a great target man and could
15. Tony McManus- The greatest Roscommon forward that I
have seen in my time. His career spanned two different successful
Roscommon teams and he was a fierce competitor who hated to
lose. Even more impressive was that he stuck with the
Roscommon team through lean times from 1981 to 1990. A
Roscommon football legend for sure.

16. Paul Staunton
17. John ‘Jigger’ O’Connor
18. Niall Daly
19. Seamus Hayden
20. Tommy Grehan
21. Gerry Connellan
22. Pat Doorey
23. Eamon McManus Senior
24. Seamus Killoran
25. Ciaran Murtagh
26. Enda Smith

So that’s my choice. I know that there will be fans out there with a much
different idea and of course it’s arguments like these that keeps us all

(Roscommon People)

Cathal Cregg Interview December 2019

When Cathal Cregg runs out for the Roscommon senior football team in 2020 he will be starting his 15th season in the Primrose and Blue. It’s doesn’t seem that long ago that he was one of the county’s best young players when he was a minor in 2005. But since making his debut in 2006, and with three Connacht senior medals in his back pocket the Western Gaels man is as enthusiastic as ever to represent his county and is looking forward to 2020.
Work and home is incredibly busy for Cathal. He is married to Lorna and has a two and half year old son Fionn, and he lives in Strokestown. Cathal was appointed as the Games Development Officer for Connacht taking over from John Tobin in April 2018, and if that wasn’t enough, he is completing a PhD (needless to say it’s in connection withGaelic Games) which he hopes to have completed in 2020
We sat down for a chat recently and we talked about Western Gaels, The Dubs, coaching and development, the new rules, oh and of course, The Rossies.

A lot of people (this writer included) would say that Cathal Cregg played the best football of his career in 2019. But he reckons that there were other good years too!
“2019 was a great year for sure. Any year you win a Connacht title is a great year because they don’t come around too often, but we have been very lucky to have won three over the past ten years, and two out of the last three. It was brilliant to beat Leitrim, Mayo in Castlebar and Galway in Pearse Stadium”
“The Super 8’s was disappointing. The Tyrone game was the one that got away. We missed two goal chances in the first half, I missed one and Enda (Smith) missed the other. If one or the two of those had gone in it might have been a different game. The Dublin game was tough but it was great to finish off with the win in Cork. It was very important for the group to get that first Super 8’s win”
“I am not sure was it my best year but it went well. I thought that in 2010 and 2015 I did fairly well too but I was in decent form this year and I played ok in the matches against Mayo and Galway which were high profile games”
Beating Mayo
When Roscommon fans look back on 2019 beating Mayo in a thrilling game in Castlebar was extra special.
“The Mayo match was special all right. To win after 33 years in Castlebar was fantastic. The enormity of the celebrations in the county afterwards was something I definitely didn’t see coming. I suppose when you are involved you don’t get caught up in that stuff. But it was a cracking game. We started well, they came back and it was a tough game and a tough night, and it was a hell of a game to win”

Playing For Roscommon
Cathal has played in all four league divisions for Roscommon in his time in the senior jersey.
“I was a minor in 2005 and I made by debut for the seniors in 2006 down in Limerick. Later in that summer I made my championship debut against New York. I am enjoying it as much as even I have to say. I was lucky that I had no injuries this year at all. I started every game, and when you get into a bit of form and you have a flow of games it’s a huge help. I find it very satisfying playing for Roscommon and especially this year”

Kevin McStay
It was rumoured that Cathal and Kevin McStay did not see eye to eye but he played that down when we spoke.
“I suppose I was out of favour with Kevin. I took a year out, and when you do that it takes a while to get back into it in terms of fitness levels etc, but I came on in almost every game and I started the Armagh game and played in the Super 8’ matches after that. I was in and out of form and in and out of favour I suppose” (laughs)
Changes in the games since he started playing in 2006

The amount of training hasn’t changed much since he started out but Cathal says that there has been a fundamental change in the lifestyle of players at the top level.
“I started with John Maughan (as manager) and in fairness to him he had a professional approach and I have had several managers since who were all very professional too, But I suppose the biggest change is the attention to detail in the backround, and the changes in lifestyle you have to have if you want to play inter-county football at the highest level.”
“Even at that stage when I started you could go out and socialise, but you just can’t do that now because if you do you will be left behind. With the volume of training that we are doing and the requirement for recovery, if you were drinking and not eating properly you just would not survive in Division 1 and Division 2. That’s probably the biggest change. We were probably training just as hard when I started but now if you don’t prepare properly you will get left at the starting gate. We had a few bad experiences the first year we were in the Super 8’s but I think we are learning from those games and getting better all the time”

A young family and demanding job ensures that Cathal has very little time to himself.
“It can be tough to juggle everything between the job training and home life. My wife (Lorna) also works and we have a two and a half year old son (Fionn) who keeps us on our toes. Work is very busy and I am finishing a PhD and I hope to complete that in 2020. It’s busy but I have so say I’m enjoying it”

Western Gaels
The Western Gaels club is close to Cathal’s heart all the time. They have been in the shake up for honours at senior level in Roscommon over the past decade without making the breakthrough.
“The one thing that is very disappointing is that we haven’t won a senior championship. Over the past few years we haven’t even got to a quarter-final and we have a very good team. We played ok in the group stages this year but we had a poor outing against St Brigid’s and we should be doing better. We have got to finals and semi-finals over the years but never got over the line. But we are not finished yet!!

The current Roscommon set up
Cathal has been re-energised since the arrival of Anthony Cunningham as team manager and thinks that the team is improving all the time.
“The lads in the group are all very happy. Anthony (Cunningham) is a very good coach and manager. He has the pedigree in club and county, football and hurling. It’s a top class set up with Mark Dowd and Iain Daly there too who are top class guys. We are very lucky to have the three of them together and we have a very good panel of players and the aim is to push on again in 2020”

So what are the aims in 2020?
“Promotion in the league has to be an aim for 2020 but we have four very difficult away games. In Division 2 you will probably have to win every game to be certain of going up wheras in Division 1 two or three wins will keep you in the division. We will be looking to get back up to the top group because that’s where you have to be competing. When you are playing the top teams you are learning all the time. Even though we were relegated in 2019 we learned a lot in Division 1”
“In the championship Mayo will be very strong again. They won’t like the fact that we beat them. They have a very good management team. Galway have a very good team too and with Padraig Joyce there now as manager it will be a big boost to them. They have a lot of good young players coming through. It’s a very exciting championship. Remember too that Leitrim are an improving side and Nigel Dineen is with Sligo and they are sure to be getting better as well”

The New Rules
There are new rules coming in from the first of January and Cathal thinks that they will be positive for an evolving game.
“I like the idea of the black card (sin-bin) because the old system favoured the top teams as they could bring on a very strong player for one sent to the line. Now they will be down to 14 for 10 minutes. It’s much fairer.”
“I’m not 100% certain about the forward mark. We trialled it this year and I played it in the International Rules. I think that it will bring more kicking into the game which would be good. It might reduce the amount of hand passing. The new rules are definitely worth trying. As a forward I would welcome it. Let’s give it a chance and see what happens. It might bring the big full forward back into the teams. If you have a guy isolated inside like Conor Cox, and he is a good fielder it’s an almost certain score. So it will be interesting. The game must evolve”

Dublin after Gavin
The big GAA story of the winter so far has been the retirement announcement made by Dublin manager Jim Gavin. How will it affect them?
“I was surprised that he retired to be honest. Will it weaken them ? It depends if they have any more player retirements. If they retain most of the panel they have it’s hard to see them being beaten. Having said that, Gavin seemed to have a unique management style and he kept the hunger there for all those years and it will hard to replicate that”

Cathal is back to training with the new year in mind.
“I have a bit of a niggle at the moment but we are back into training. We have seven weeks before the league starts and I have to say that I am still really enjoying it all and I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t, so roll on 2020”

From The Roscommon People

Roscommon’s 11 All Star Footballers

Roscommon Football All Stars- To 2016- 11 have been honoured.

1. Mickey Freyne: A marvellous player, strong as an ox and a great football brain. Was a mighty man to get a goal and one of our greatest forwards.
2. Dermot Earley (2 All Stars): There is probably not a lot more we can say about Dermot. What a player he was. The heart and soul of Roscommon football for almost 20 years.
3. Pat Lindsay: Teak tough and uncompromising Pat was one of the fittest full backs Roscommon ever produced. He trained harder than anyone and always gave 100%. A magnificent team player.
4. Harry Keegan: Roscommon’s most decorated player with 3 All Star awards. The prince of corner backs. I have never seen a better one in any era or on any team. What a marvellous player.
5. Tom Heneghan: His contribution to Roscommon football was enormous. He was a superb player and was a very tough nut. Many corner forwards throughout the country will attest to his ‘stickability’ Way ahead of his time as a team manager.
6. Danny Murray: The winner of two awards and a fantastic player with a massive engine. He was a brilliant attacking half back who was a lovely player to watch in full flow.
7. Gerry Connellan: Won is award in 1980 after a phenomenal season and he remained on the Roscommon team for many years. A tough hardy operator he was a very close marker with loads of football in him. A Kilmore man to the very last.
8. Paul Earley: He had everything you needed in a full-forward. Strength power pace and an eye for goal. I always got the impression that he could have achieved even more than he did. But still a mighty Roscommon player.
9. Tony McManus: In my humble opinion the best Roscommon forward of the past 40 years. Massive football ability and a fierce will to win. The only wonder is that he only got one award. Should have got at least two more.
10. Enon Gavin: An All Star winner at 19 he played for Roscommon for many years and was a superb corner back keeping many of the top attackers in the game at bay throughout his career.
11. Francie Grehan: Another man with a fierce passion for Roscommon football and a will to win like few others. But loads of football ability too and richly deserved his award in 2001.
There were others who were unlucky to lose out. John Newton was a magnificent midfielder for so many years and Frankie Dolan was surely close a few times. John ‘Jigger’ O’Connor was also a man who certainly deserved one and Pat Doorey was also in the frame a number of times. Fergal O’Donnell was also someone who would have deserved an award as well. A great leader for many years.

(Article from The Roscommon People)

Tom Petty RIP- One Of The Greats

I suppose in the wake of the senseless slaughter that happened in Las Vegas it is probably not very important to note that about the very same time as the horror was unfolding in Vegas that one of the true greats of Rock music Tom Petty, was passing away at a hospital in LA with heart failure.
Tom Petty was one of my all time favourites and a rock great. I thought that my chance to see him live had passed but only a couple of years ago myself and a friend travelled to see him live at the O2 (as it was at the time) in Dublin and he certainly did not disappoint. It was one of the best live gigs I was ever at.
In a lot of cases these older rockers lose a lot of their charisma and enthusiasm as they get older. Not in this case as Tom and his fantastic band The Heartbreakers belted out hit after hit. It was a truly magical night.
Tom Petty may not have been in the same league as the musical giants like Michael Jackson, Bowie or Prince, but such was his status among his fellow musicians that he, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and George Harisson formed The Travelling Wilbury’s in the late 80’s, and if it wasn’t for the death of Roy Orbison they could have been one of the biggest groups in history. They made two brilliant albums before the band broke up.
He was the ultimate cool dude and his music will definitely stand the test of time. “Running Down a Dream, Learning to Fly, Free Fallin, The Last DJ and many great songs with the Travelling Wilbury’s will be his legacy after a 40 year career and an eventful life too.
I am so glad that I got to see him live and he joins the other musical greats who have passed away in recent years. In my book he is up there with the greatest there has been.
May He Rest in Peace.

(Article for The Roscommon People)

The Importance Of The GAA Growing Up

My first memory of the GAA was being brought to underage training and matches by my late father. We trained in St Coman’s Park or sometimes in the CBS field. We changed into our football gear inside the wall or under the ditch. We spent hours and hours every week playing and going to matches. It was a fantastic time.
We had an U-12 street league that captured the imagination of the whole town at the time. There were hundreds of people at those games and the excitement was palpable. Winning one of those games was akin to winning the Sam Maguire Cup. It’s wehre our passion for Gaelic Football was nurtured.
My father, Seamus senior, was also a team mentor so we travelled around the county to various club games and learned about the rivalries with the other clubs. Then on Sunday’s we would be off to see Roscommon playing. Put simply, the GAA was our life growing up in Roscommon town.
As Roscommon Gaels prepare to compete in Sunday’s county senior final, I wonder what my father would have made out of the modern day GAA. He was chairman of the Roscommon Gaels club when he passed away at ridiculously young age of 45. He had so much more to give. All I know for certain is that he would be a very proud man to see the club that he helped to get on the road so vibrant and competing at the top level today.
Indeed it wasn’t all plain sailing over the years, as a former secretary, PRO, team manager etc myself, there were times when we struggled to keep the GAA show on the road in the county town. It was only for the massive work of a few people that kept the club afloat at one stage. But people like Jimmy Menton kept the flag flying against the odds. There were others too, but I have never came across anyone with the passion that Jimmy had for his beloved Gaels club. Now there are plenty of people prepared to help out with the club and it is great to see.
Name checking people who have been integral parts of the Gaels club over the years is always a dangerous thing to do but there are many people with whom I worked alongside when I was involved who kept the club going when there was little or no interest in it and a lot of those people are still around and they will be delighted that The Gaels are back challenging for the Fahey Cup.
Looking back, The Gaels were a fantastic team in the 1970’s, and an All Ireland final appearance in 1976 was the highlight. To lose that match to a St Vincent’s team who were one of the strongest ever seen at club level was certainly no disgrace.
But as the 70’s came to a close Clann na nGael came with a team that were to go on and dominate Roscommon football for 15 years. But at the start of that era Roscommon Gels could always cause a shock.Our rivalry with Clann was intense to say the least. I especially remember great wins in 1978 and 1980 against the odds (both against Clann). I wasn’t much of a footballer myself but both my brothers Frank and Declan featured prominently over the years winning medals at all levels with the club, and indeed Declan helps out with The Gaels senior team today.
It is incredible to report that The Gaels did not appear in a county senior final between 1980 and 1992 (when we were beaten by Strokestown after a replay) and it took until 1994 to win the title again. But after that we had some wonderful players (including today’s senior manager Liam McNeill) who went on to win five titles in a decade. Indeed that Gaels team were unluckly not to win a Connacht club title. But The Gaels fell back again, and this Sunday the club are back in a final after a 13 year wait. It’s a long time, too long really.
But it is a different Gaels club now. There are plenty of people helping out in the back round with underage teams at all levels. New facilities are being developed at Lisnamult and there are great people running the show. It is a far cry from the days when there would be three or four of us at meetings trying to keep things going.
As The Gaels players take the field on Sunday I will be thinking about all the people who have worked so hard for the club over many years and who have slipped into the shadows but who are very proud Gaels men and women. This county final day is just as much for them as for anyone else. Then there are all those who were great Gaels people and who have passed away in recent years, most of whom have been laid to rest in St Coman’s cemetery. Just across the boundary wall at Dr Hyde Park, my father will do his utmost to see the purple and gold over the line on Sunday. If Brigid’s win, then the Gaels will wish them the best of luck. May the best horse jump the ditch.

(Article written for The Roscommon People)

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