The Athletic Grounds has seen many battles between Donegal and Armagh down the years and last Sunday was no exception.
Although the difference between the teams was five points (2-10 to 1-8) after the final whistle, the gulf was bigger than the margin suggests.
Armagh were desperate for victory given that they needed a win to stay in Division 2 of the Allianz League.
Their play was indeed desperate at times. Jamie Clarke is a good player as is Charlie Vernon.
Clarke did OK, while Vernon would have slept with the light on last Sunday night after his poor performance on Michael Murphy.
The Armagh manager Paul Grimley was very critical of the referee Fergal Kelly.
Although Mr Kelly was inconsistent with his interpretation of the rules, Grimley cannot blame the referee for his and his team’s inadequacies.
Armagh were poorly coached on their tackling, which should have warranted a half dozen black cards. He hadn’t the courage, though.
He did issue a black card to Donegal’s David Walsh at the death when the game was in the bag for the visitors.
It was a token gesture of his ability to distinguish between what is a yellow card and black card offence.
David Walsh was his scapegoat for Mr Kelly’s poor performance. So I do concur with Paul Grimley but, on different points.
Donegal’s outright victory sent the Orchard County into Division 3 which will probably terminate Grimley’s tenure as Armagh manager.
On the day Donegal were made to battle given Armagh’s lowly position in the league. Their players were well wired for the game but unfortunately the wiring wasn’t enough to aid them in their cause.
Their fuses were quite short with their tempers boiling over at times due to the pressure. Donegal expected a hard fought game from Armagh. When we arrived at the pitch about half an hour before thrown-in, some pleasantries were exchanged.
I met an ould mate, not Kieran McGeeney, but yer man in the bright luminous ‘don’t hit me’ jacket who shouted angrily at me last January when we played the same opposition in the Dr McKenna Cup. He greeted me with laughter and joviality.
He obviously didn’t “read the Reid” the Thursday after that particular game! In fact, he offered me a full apology for his behaviour.
Donegal’s next outing will take place on Sunday April 27 in Croke Park in the Division Two final against Monaghan.
This should be a tasty affair. Having beaten Monaghan already in the league, Donegal will not want to give any ground to the Farney men.
Monaghan finished their league campaign with the same number of points as Donegal.
In preparation for our Championship fixture with Derry it is great to have another competitive game.
Championship preparation for Donegal begins in earnest this week when the team travel to Portugal for a training camp.
Back in the day, Donegal went to Portugal on a well deserved holiday after a busy and successful championship campaign.
We learned to dance the ‘Lambada’ - also known as the ‘forbidden dance’.
Contrary to common opinion, this is not a holiday. Many teams nowadays go abroad to warmer climes. Muscles are more pliable the warmer it is and therefore the risk of injury is reduced. The sun is a natural way of getting a daily dose of vitamin D.
There can be less chance of picking up colds and ‘flu that will often go around this time of the year. There can be an increase in performance when in cooler temperatures on return.
During training in the heat the body will adapt and have to work harder to keep the body at a certain temperature, once it has adapted though on return training can seem that bit easier and can sometimes lead to a jump in improvement.
The warmer climate allows for higher volumes and intensity of training.
The psychological benefits of the sun are obvious. A different environment in which to train boosts enthusiasm coupled with the feel good factor of the sun.
Some people are also of the opinion that our players need a rest. Well as they say “a change is as good as a rest.”
The lambada will certainly be forbidden this time out!