Who said that it was easy to predict championship games in Donegal? Last weekend underlined that championship is always different.
On form Malin or Ardara should not be in the last for of the RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta Senior Championship, but they are there on merit.
Who would have forecast that the top two clubs in the county, unbeaten in the championship until then and lining out at one and two in the Division One league table would have their championship campaign ended.
St. Eunan’s will probably end up with the league title as a consolation, but they had their eye on the bigger prize. Or did they take their eye off for a moment and take Malin lightly?
Malin (along with Killybegs) are the story of this year’s race for Dr. Maguire. They bring a freshness and with them drawn against Killybegs, who, at the start of the year, would have given either a chance to make final day
Kilcar have only themselves to blame for their exit to Glenswilly as they had enough chances in the closing minutes to at least get a draw.
This game’s greatest feature was the display of Colin Kelly, who was back to his best of a few years ago, while Ciaran Bonner’s strength on the ball was another factor which Kilcar just couldn’t deal with.
Another feature of the was the false start to the game with Glenswilly having 16 players on the pitch, spotted by umpire John Murrin. Glenswilly, manager Gary McDaid was poker faced when he said he didn’t know how it happened, but these short of sideshows are associated with Glenswilly. Remember Neil’s Gallagher’s false start against St. Michael’s and the team given to the ‘hacks’ in Kilcar bore little resemblance to what took the field for throw-in.
Glenswilly don’t really need those sideshows. They are a very good side and are well fit to carry the mantle of favourites into the semi-finals.
Ardara are back in the last four despite their league form of late being very mediocre. But they proved once again that they are one of the most difficult teams to beat. That spirit has kept them in Donegal’s top flight longer than any other club and it is for that reason that they won’t have any fear of Glenswilly in the semi-final.
Which takes us to Killybegs. How can a team that loses 13 league games in-a-row end up in the county championship semi-final. Like Ardara, it comes down to championship pedigree. Imagine the team that Martin ‘Slua’ Boyle could have but for emigration - Brendan Faherty, Paul McGinley and Shane Boyle to name just three.
Whatever happens we can look forward to a new pairing in the county final. At the start of the year St. Eunan’s, Naomh Conaill and Kilcar were probably the top three. They are all gone. It’s 17 years since Killybegs’ last title; nine since Ardara last won and two since Glenswilly’s only title.
Could Malin be a new name on the Dr. Maguire?