At the outset of the National League I doubt if there were any supporters who have any idea about the game, who were playing down the task that faced Jim McGuinness and his management team on how to keep us in Division One.
Unlike last year where you might get a victory out of a below par performance, this year, if you’re not up to the speed of the game, you will come out on the wrong end of the result. After last weekend’s defeat to Kerry, already our place in Division One is in doubt for next year.
I said before the Cork game that it was ‘a win at all costs’ and to be fair to the team, while maybe not playing to the standard they’re capable of, they fought hard for the win.
Mayo in Ballyshannon next Sunday is another such game. Going to Kerry was always going to be a big ask, especially after their defeat to Armagh in their last game. They were always going to come out fighting.
Donegal did get off to a great start with three points in the first five minutes but the bad habits that we showed in the Down and Laois games, where we conceded far too many frees, especially in scorable positions, came back to haunt us. And with the likes of Brian Sheehan about - he finished with a personal tally of 1-7, all from placed balls - we were always struggling.
In his after-match analysis of the game, Jim McGuinness said he was disappointed with the lack of intensity and fight from his players.
Last year in every game this was the one trait that whatever 15 went out, you could be sure they would never give up and make it damn hard for the opposition to play.
There will be suggestions from different sections of supporters that all the negative publicity that the county team got from the end of last year might have had some effect on the players. Maybe the loss of experienced players like Kevin Cassidy and Michael Hegerty has had a negative effect on the squad. I have no doubt that they may be factors but I think the step-up from Division Two to the top tier is a huge difference and when you don’t have your best players available and fit. You are then going to struggle against the top teams.
Mayo will come to Ballyshannon on Sunday knowing their defeat to Down last weekend puts them in a perilous position as well.
They too will not be in any mood to give up their place in Division One without a fight and will realise that Donegal are not in a good place at the moment. But they will also know that on their day, Donegal are as good as anyone in the country.
If we are to survive in this division, we have to show the same intensity that we did against Cork. We have to improve in front of goal and players have to believe that they belong at this level. So far this season we have lacked consistency and we’ve only three games left to save ourselves from relegation and get things right before we head into the Ulster championship.
I have no doubt that the players and the management team will get themselves right for Sunday and if we can get good supply of ball to Murphy, McFadden and Patrick McBrearty, we have the scoring power to turn our season around.
Price of admission
Hopefully there will be a better crowd at the game this Sunday than that which turned up to watch Cork a few weeks ago.
I have asked a number of people who have always attended county games over the years why they have stopped going. The price of admission and the cost of travelling are definitely major factors. They also felt that the type of football that was being played by many teams now was not what they wanted to watch. Another factor was that supporters could watch plenty of games on TG4.
While I have no problem with the games being shown on the telly and it’s up to the government to decide on the price of petrol or diesel not the GAA, I do believe that the price to attend games should be reduced to at most 10 euro. After all, what do we need the money for? We’re an amateur organisation.