It was a brilliant day in Clones yesterday for Donegal with both the minors and seniors winning against Antrim.
We are now looking forward to two teams in an Ulster final for the first time in eight years. Strangely enough, those finals in 2006 were in Croke Park.
Let’s start with the seniors. After a sluggish enough first half they really opened up in the second half and put in a big performance. We have to temper the performance and the result with the fact that Antrim were very poor. They are a Division Four team and played like a Division Four team, especially in the second half when we upped the ante.
Nevertheless it was good to win and to win it comfortably in the end. There were many positives to come out of the game. The performances of the two young lads Odhran MacNiallais and Darach O’Connor was very pleasing. McNiallais had a big game in the middle of the field and kicked four points, while O’Connor really threatened every time he got the ball and his goal was class. He took it brilliantly after being involved in the initial move that opened up the Antrim defence.
I know MacNiallais won the man of the match award and was a deserving winner but it must have been a close thing between himself and Christy Toye, who put in another big shift while he was on the field. I’m really delighted for him given he has gone through injury and illness wise in recent years.
Leo McLoone was another that I must say impressed me and he is really growing into his role at centre-forward and is finally realising his true potential. He took his goal well too.
The defence coped well against what I would term a decent enough Antrim forward line. Frank McGlynn has become a very versatile player. He slotted in well at centre-back for Karl Lacey, though the position restricted him somewhat from going forward, which is a trademark of his game. Ryan McHugh proved he can play anywhere.
Colm McFadden and Patrick McBrearty are struggling to find their form. There was a good liberal supply of ball going into both corners and they both really never got going.
This is a worry going forward because we need both to find their A games for the Ulster final let it be against Monaghan or Armagh. I suspect it will be Monaghan a repeat of last year’s final.
Yesterday’s performance in the Ulster final whether it is Armagh and Monaghan won’t be good enough. We are going to have to step it up a notch or two for the final. But I suspect Jim McGuinness and the boys are well aware of that and by the time Sunday, July 20 comes around we will be ready.
My only concern going into the final is injuries. We seem to be picking up a lot of them. Lacey and Rory Kavanagh both missed yesterday’s game with injuries and Neil Gallagher had to come off with what I have heard since is a hamstring injury. We need all our best players for the final.
A big well done to Declan Bonner and the minors. They got the day off to winning start and just like the seniors they were off-colour a little in the first half. But Ethan O’Donnell scored a goal before half-time and we came out and blitzed Antrim at the start of the second half and it was lights out for the Saffrons. This is a good minor team and great credit must go to Declan and his backroom team. They are in with a great chance in the final.
Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack