There were mixed fortunes for Donegal GAA underage teams yesterday as the minors went down to a heavy defeat to Armagh in the Ulster Minor League Shield decider against Armagh in Clones, but the Development squads fared better in Ballyshannon.
The minors, without the U-17 and 16 players, were just not good enough to compete with a very strong Armagh minor team for whom Ethan Rafferty (son of former star John) was excellent at midfield and Ciaran O’Hanlon was excellent at centre half-forward, hitting five points from play.
Afterwards Donegal minor manager, Stephen Friel, played down the result as he felt his side had not performed and that they were also short a big number of their first choice players.
“We had to give two players a fitness test before the game (Raymond McNamee and Mark Gallagher) and they didn’t come through it so we had to completely rejig the team. But it’s not about making excuses today. We were well beaten by a very well drilled Armagh team.
“They were very sharp up front. We had an awful lot of chances in the first half which we didn’t take and just Armagh took their chances better,” said Stephen. The Donegal manager didn’t feel that there was a need to push the panic button. “I wouldn’t be unduly concerned. This is a team that will bear no reflection on the team that we will put out in the championship. I knew that as the team took the field at the start. This was an opportunity for some panel members to stake a claim for a starting place. Unfortunately, there’s wasn’t a lot of players who put their hands up today. It was a very disappointing performance. I’m not unduly disappointed as our focus all year has been on the Cavan game,” said Friel.
“It’s about three weeks time and getting the team right for Cavan. I think the game was lost in the first half. I think we had maybe nine wides. We conceded a very soft goal. I think the heads went down a bit in the second half and Armagh were very clinical and pushed on and did what all good teams done and didn’t give us an opportunity to get back into it,” said Friel.
U-16s qualify for Buncrana Cup semi-final
In Ballyshannon the Donegal U-16 team under Declan Bonner were more successful, winning their two games in style in the round-robin with Derry and Cavan. They defeated Derry by 1-9 to 1-4 and Cavan by 2-8 to 0-5 to qualify.
In the U-17 competition, Donegal defeated Derry by 3-5 to 1-6 and lost narrowly to Cavan, 0-7 to 0-5, and must now go into a losers group where they will also have a chance of reaching the Ulster semi-final.