Damian Diver takes the limelight as Donegal see off Armagh - in the dark

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Damian Diver takes the limelight as Donegal see off Armagh - in the dark
We’ve all heard of Armagh’s media black-out in recent weeks but after Donegal overcame Paul Grimley’s side 1-12 to 1-11 in Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final, Damian Diver was the one in the dark - literally.

We’ve all heard of Armagh’s media black-out in recent weeks but after Donegal overcame Paul Grimley’s side 1-12 to 1-11 in Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final, Damian Diver was the one in the dark - literally.

Jim McGuinness, the Donegal manager, had just sprinted from the Cusack Stand dressing-rooms to catch the action from the last of the last eight ties, as Dublin walloped Monaghan 2-22 to 0-11.

In his stead, Diver, McGuinness’s trusted selector, fielded the questions.

To start with, the small press room, which is like a little cinema without the screen, was lit as normal.

“It was major - the spirit - but listen there’s four years of character in that team. They’ve been working away and doing it year in year out since Jim came in,” Diver said of the narrow win.

As Diver was continuing to talk the lights in the room went out, with him only visible through the shine of the scatter of mobile phones and recording equipment of the table in front of him.

He was content enough to continue, as thanks to Patrick McBrearty’s late point, at least the lights hadn’t gone out on Donegal’s season.

The Ulster champions probably shouldn’t really have found themselves in the position of composed desperation.

Fifteen wides meant Armagh were still in the contest and their challenge breathed fresh impetus when Stefan Campbell goaled and a Michael Murray point put them in front.

“We had a 10-minute period there in the second half when things were coming easy to us,” Diver added of Donegal’s period of failing to capitalise on their dominance.

“It’s important at that stage of the game that you do convert your chances, and I wouldn’t say they were easy chances either. They weren’t tapovers that we were missing either - they were well out.

“But maybe it was wrong decisions at critical parts of the game when we were on top rather that working it in to an easier point.”

In his time as a player, Armagh were Diver’s biggest obstacle, denying him an Ulster championship winners’ medal and a place in the 2003 All-Ireland.

Donegal were almost unbackable favourites on Saturday. But the margins were always likely to be tight against a team who are finally looking to be on the right path towards their former glories.

“Armagh are the up and coming team in Ulster so there and you can say that with confidence,” Diver said.

“I would say there’s an Ulster title in them maybe next year or the year after.

“They have the players there now - dynamic players, good players, good footballers and they’re very fit.

And they have a gameplan now in place and Kieran McGeeney brought a lot to the table too.”

Donegal are still dining at the top table themselves. They’ll not be in the dark too long.