I’m back but not for long. I’ve been on a mission since my last posting. I’m off to distant shores this week again and hopefully the internet technology is more advanced there than the place of my last visit.
Since I’ve been gone, Clare has won the All-Ireland hurling title; Killybegs and Glenswilly have reached the senior Donegal club final and a new backroom coaching team has been installed into the Donegal senior football set up.
I’m pleased for the Clare hurling team since they were the better team in the drawn game in early September. Closer to home, it is no surprise that Glenswilly beat Ardara in the county championship semi-final since the latter was missing intercounty player Paddy McGrath.
The other finalist in the Donegal senior club championship is Killybegs. Given Malin’s defeat of St. Eunan’s and Glenties in earlier rounds, one would assume that they would beat Killybegs who haven’t been in great league form all season. Still, one has to commend Killybegs for their victory and they will undoubtedly fancy their chances against Glenswilly. We can look forward to a very good final and good luck to both sides in their quest for the Dr. Maguire Cup.
Glenswilly’s Michael Murphy now faces a tough decision in respect of representing his country as team captain in the compromise rules game against Australia the Saturday evening before the county club final. It is a great honour for young Murphy but he is in an awkward position.
At the time of writing it is unlikely that the Donegal CCC will rearrange the county final to suit Murphy since the Ulster club championship is also imminent.
Donegal have another two representatives in Paddy McBrearty and Neil McGee. Interest has waned in recent years for the Compromise Rules. It’s not a game that particularly excites me because it is too stop start.
I would like to see this game played with the oval ball for a half and the round ball for a half.
I believe that playing with the round ball greatly hinders the Australians and gives the Irish lads an unfair advantage over the Aussies.
The Aussie guys are not used to our round ball which makes for an ugly game on their part. The area in which the visitors do have the advantage is in their fitness levels since they are full-time paid professionals.
For the Irish players the Compromise rules provide a great opportunity for them to represent their country. To be selected for the squad is a huge honour indeed.
Many players have not made themselves available due to club commitments. There are a lot of county club finals taking place at this time of year and I suppose pressure from their clubs has made the decision for them.
It is a pity that this situation arises.
The Ulster Championship draw sees Donegal in what people would perceive as the easier side of the draw. A first round game against Derry away is not in any way handy.
Derry performed very well last season and will see this as a great opportunity to gain a major scalp especially given the fact that they are at home in Celtic Park.
On the other hand, Donegal will be eager this season to redeem themselves after our heavy defeat to Mayo in the All-Irfeland quarter-final.
The first priority will be to get out of Division 2 and back into Division 1 football where the big guns still reside.
It is encouraging that there have been no retirements from the Donegal squad. I believe that every player wants to make amends for last year. All-Ireland champions Dublin has set a high standard and there are still only a handful of teams that have the potential to match or exceed that standard.
Donegal certainly is one of those teams. Provided our players stay injury free then we have as good as what is in the country. Last season was always going to be a difficult task after the huge efforts made the previous year.
Our players will have recovered both mentally and physically this season and they will be in a much stronger position to compete for honours.
I am looking forward with huge optimism to what should be a great season for Donegal football. Tir Conaill Abu!
P.S. Next week I will be writing from one of the most special places on earth God willing. Watch this space.