McGuinness salutes Donegal’s young guns

McGuinness salutes Donegal’s young guns
About 10 minutes before half-time yesterday at a cramped O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny there was a brief, yet abnormal gust of wind that sent every umbrella in the ground tilting in the opposite direction.

About 10 minutes before half-time yesterday at a cramped O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny there was a brief, yet abnormal gust of wind that sent every umbrella in the ground tilting in the opposite direction.

There was a curious feeling that, in these less extreme climates, is this how a hurricane starts in its infancy? And while it only held up for a minute or so before relenting, maybe it was.

At that stage, Donegal, a little like the elements, had produced something that wasn’t a perfect storm but at the time of year it is, it left enough for people to talk about with their 2-11 to 0-10 win over Monaghan.

Jim McGuinness’s side were well on their way to a third win from three and a place at the top of the Allianz Division Two.

Early goals from Odhran MacNiallais and Colm McFadden had established a 2-4 to 0-2 cushion. Donegal never looked back from there.

“We’re working very hard in terms of the young boys and you cannot get there without exposure,” McGuinness said afterwards.

“It’s why we took the McKenna Cup a little more seriously this year.

“We tried to embed them where we could give them an opportunity to play with better players. They’ve got the McKenna Cup and three League games now.”

Life in Division Two, in many ways, suits Donegal. It’s the base camp from which McGuinness first plotted greater things back in 2011. Last year’s laissez-faire attitude to the top flight saw relegation.

This year, Division Two’s slightly more forgiving surroundings is a breeding ground for developing talent - as was seen in Letterkenny.

Patrick McBrearty, introduced from the bench and the scorer of two fine points, is nearing fitness and form, just like Dermot Molloy, Ryan McHugh and yesterday’s star turn, MacNiallias.

“We’re working very hard in terms of the young boys and you cannot get there without exposure,” McGuinness added.

“Odhran MacNiallais came in and did really well. It’s been the same with Darach O’Connor who is only 17 or 18 and Dermot Molloy’s form has been really good.

“Ryan McHugh has been really good in the three games, playing intelligent football and he’s a very fit boy with a great brain. Eamon McGee is there in the stand today and Paddy McGrath is there to come back.

“Those are good problems to have down the line. The new faces have given us a fresh impetus and that’s good for the older players as well.

“Patrick McBrearty is coming back after an overuse injury and we’re trying to give him 15 minutes here and 20 minutes there. He’s making an impact.

“You have to balance that in terms of game-time, not overcooking the young ones but giving them exposure. We’re trying to juggle all those.”