Keenan Cup Final:
The Keenan Cup Final between Boyle and Castlerea took place on Thursday evening in Boyle. It was an impressive win for Boyle with this very good team playing fine football. Good combination play. Good passing at the right height, varied scoring approaches foot and fist, a big squad, top players comfortable on the ball. The future. Good to see an enlightened use of all subs last night when it was evident that the game was secure. It showed the appropriate consideration for a weaker opposition which equals sportsmanship. It was nice to see two great veterans of Roscommon football Sean Young of Boyle and Danny Burke of Castlerea present the medals. The Keenan family were out in force and the Keenan Cup was presented by Karl Keenan home on a break from Australia but who returns there today. Bon voyage Karl good to see you around again. This continues to be an excellent foundation tournament for young players and is a barometer of a team’s standing for the under-age cycle. So if you attend on Thursday evening I imagine you will not be disappointed with the standard of play.
The Scottish Vote:
It was somewhat as I anticipated with Scotland turning down the opportunity to go it alone. The traditional song line of ‘Scotland the Brave’ took a bit of a hit in the process. The increasing influence of the ‘grey ’ and ‘quiet’ vote seemed to be very influential. For those who were dedicated to a ‘Yes’ future it must be a huge disappointment considering the panorama of possibilities and challenges that it presented. I’m sure the result will be parsed in great detail ongoing. Still to reach the percentage of 44.7% for Yes was an achievement. It also achieved the wringing of many concessions from the Westminster Parliament for Scotland with a knock-on effect for Wales and Northern Ireland. Ironically it is having resonances also for England itself with the call for ‘English Laws for and by English people’. Perhaps there is an historic thread here in that this is the era of Federalism as opposed to unitary states. And when the nationalism aspiration has been vented as in the Balkans there is the return to the Federal dependency, efficiencies and maybe betterment.
Thoughts on Kerry v Donegal:
I saw this described in one tweet as; ‘An absorbing game of bad football’. I have seen quite a number of games this season where one could write off the first forty minutes and really call it a twenty minute game.
The absorbing element in it was waiting to see if Donegal could untangle themselves from the Kerry’s spiders web. Kerry of all people playing like that! Kerry used the Donegal template and the old saying of ‘he who lives by the sword dies by the sword’ obtained. The game was dominated by the tactics engineered by Donegal in the last four years. A half-time score of Donegal 0.6 and especially Kerry’s 1.3 was a miserable viewing vista. Still Eamon Fitzmaurice proved the better general on this occasion.
The defeat of their minors had a deflationary effect on the huge Donegal support and this was endorsed when Kerry struck for that early Geaney goal. Also it has to be said, in the clarity of hindsight, that the McGuinness managerial reputation hit a downward curve. There were a number of questionable decisions such as starting young O’Connor perhaps anticipating a running game as in the Semi-Final. Not starting McBrearty and Christy Toye was a dual mistake. Toye was on the very short list for Donegal ‘Man of the Match’. Retaining the ineffective McFadden for so long seems another mistake. The suggested philosophy of Kilkenny manager Brian Cody of starting players who showed form in training might have promoted both of these but of course I would not know. The error of Paul Durcan where he gifted a goal to Donaghy, turned out to be decisive. Indeed Durcan, a good keeper generally, had a confusing game or perhaps Kerry made it so.
The effectiveness of the Kerry stranglehold was epitomised by the performance of Aidan O’Mahoney in that he hobbled Donegal’s key player Michael Murphy. In a sense it is a pity that a great player like Murphy was unable to shine. Former Kerry stars of the traditional game must have been cringing at the style on display. It was, in my view, the poorest Kerry team to win an All-Ireland in decades. While I heard the suggestion that last Sunday we had the volleyball final and on next Sunday we’ll have the football…the Ladies final Cork v Dublin!
Still when all is said and done had McFadden’s touch gone to goal it would have been a draw ! There are so many finals like that but sport’s history is not too interested in the pain of the losers. History will record it as Kerry’s day. Back to Croke Park on next Saturday evening for Kilkenny v Tipperary in the replay. If it matches last year’s Clare v Cork replay that will do me !
1944 Seventy Years On:
It is hard to believe that it is seventy years since Roscommon last won an All-Ireland senior final. I attended a function on Saturday night in The Gresham Hotel, in Dublin, to commemorate that win. It was held in the Gresham because the celebratory dinner after the ’44 final was held there organised by a Roscommon Association grouping then headed by a man from Ballinameen, and uncle of the late Sean J. McQuaid, called Murty O’Beirne. He was an active business man and politician in the capital in his time and stood for election, unsuccessfully, in 1937. Last Saturday night’s event was also organised by the Roscommon Association and Roscommon GAA Supporters Club in Dublin spearheaded by Mike Lennon from between Elphin and Strokestown with Seamus Scally as M.C.. The attendance included many members of the families of the participating Roscommon players such as the O’Callaghans, Murrays, Lynches, Kinloughs, Keenans and the Gibbons family and others. The highlight of the evening was an address by one of the surviving players of 1944 against Kerry, 94 year old Liam Gilmartin. Liam had captained the first Roscommon team to win an All-Ireland, the minors of 1939. He won Senior All-Irelands in ’43 and ’44. He has the distinction of having won three All-Ireland medals and never being on a losing Roscommon C’ship team. He got T.B. early in ’45 and this ended his playing career. Had he not gotten ill the possibilities for that Roscommon side were many. But ‘fate goes where fate must’ as Seamus Heaney once said. Liam with John Joe Nerney of Boyle and Paddy Beisty of Rathcroghan are the three surviving members of the team. Among the gathering on Saturday night was one of the greatest servants of Roscommon’s interests down the years in the capital, Michael Fitmaurice uncle of footballer Gerry Fitmaurice of Ballinlough. Michael is married to a Drury lady whose father was postmaster in Boyle a long time ago. Also present was the former ‘Mayor of Boyle’ , from the middle fifties, Bill Corcoran with his wife Phil. Bill was originally from Corrigeenroe but came into Boyle and operated a bar where Londis is now. He played in goals for Boyle through the fifties and still keeps a keen eye on Boyle and Roscommon’s fortunes. It was interesting to attend and address such a gathering in the setting of an iconic hotel in the capital. While my dad would have been proud of my elevated circumstances my mother would have been pretty surprised by it all.
I see the upcoming Water Charges becoming a battleground for social angst and unrest as they progress especially with the probability that the juggernaut’s charges will be all over the place. Their requirement for P.P.S. numbers, for dubious reasons, is a serious issue and the organisation’s explanation re. their requirement and proposed use is unconvincing. Last Sunday Gene Kerrigan had a hard-hitting piece on this issue in the Sunday Independent. Gene’s soapbox is worth a read for the alternate piercing view to ‘all is well with the world’.
Leicester 5 Manchester United 3
A scribe in Monday’s Independent, in the aftermath of the above result, referenced United’s rebuilding programme in terms of the hugely expensive players bought in to the club recently as; ‘The folly of their fur coat and no knickers approach to team building’!