It seems that Donegal’s win over Derry was a ‘surprise’ result. When our so called experts or pundits keep writing off a team we generally start to believe them and so do they themselves.
Well, they got it so wrong. Donegal’s three point margin of victory could and should have been much more. When was the last time that Derry won anything? I’d suggest a long time ago. So how do our experts get their predictions so wrong? On what criteria do they and the public base their opinions? There is an old adage which states that ‘a team is only as good as their last game’. Rubbish.
Donegal’s last game was against Monaghan. Were Donegal as good or as bad as their last game? I’m genuinely fed up with the disrespect that is shown to Donegal football by our national media and especially some television panellists.
I do not have a gripe with Owen Mulligan. He was a fine player but he inferred recently that Donegal were on a holiday in Portugal. I was there with the team. It was far from a holiday. Our players worked tirelessly there in the intensive training sessions undertaken. Back in the day, trips abroad were actual holidays which happened at the end of the season. Things have moved on and evolved rapidly.
It is my opinion that those who are making public predictions in our national media should be guys who are up to speed with the modern game and what inter county training sessions entails nowadays. It has been a long time since I watched the Sunday Game. I did last Sunday evening. Tomas O Se from Kerry is totally au fait with current trends in intercounty football since he has just retired from the game and his comments were spot on.
So who knows what goes on within any inter ounty set up especially within Donegal? I do but I’m not telling you! On the assumption that Donegal is only as good as their last game can we predict that Donegal will beat either Antrim or Fermanagh in the Ulster semi final? No, not at all. Nothing, absolutely nothing can be taken for granted in the championship. I will give you my verdict nearer the game so watch this space.
In respect to our game last Sunday, I could not believe the hype surrounding this Derry team. They got a hiding from Dublin in their last outing prior to the Donegal game. This seems to have been ignored by many people. Their great run in the National League was admirable but it added up to nothing against Donegal. Although the National League is important it pales into insignificance when the championship starts. In fairness, to Derry, the pressure was on them to produce the goods after their league campaign and they went into last Sunday’s game as red hot favourites. It is always easier to carry the underdog tag.
Derry will still be a formidable force in this year’s championship. I believe that the media did nothing to help their cause especially their own local media. I’m sure that the Derry players trained and prepared just as hard and as well as Donegal. I firmly believe that they themselves believed what was written and spoken about them. They played as well as they were allowed to play. At the end of the day, it’s not the journalists who play the actual game. Period.
Donegal beat Tyrone at this same stage last year but the team’s performances deteriorated thereafter. A culmination of factors attributed to this. Lessons have been learned I’m sure by all and sundry within the Donegal camp. We have won one, only a first round championship game. So have many other counties. Derry and Down have lost their respective games but are still in contention with the qualifiers to come. There were no wild celebrations in the Donegal dressing room. It was job done with immediate preparations for our next game initiated.
While Donegal will be satisfied with this victory in Celtic Park, it was by no means a perfect performance. We had some very good individual displays but also had some mediocre individual performances. This is par for the course with any game but in order to progress and develop, it is no secret that we need all players playing to their potential to achieve ultimate success. I do not expect that the other teams in the Ulster championship will give us much respect even after this victory. This is also par for the course in respect for Donegal. It suits us fine.
Donegal will continue to prepare off the radar as we have done. Monaghan and Tyrone will command more media coverage than Donegal, Armagh Cavan, Fermanagh, and Antrim combined. I have no doubt that the winner of the Monaghan and Tyrone game will be installed as favourites to win the Ulster championship. I have no complaints about that. I suggest you keep listening to your experts and adopt the opposite opinion.
In the meantime, keep the faith!