Monaghan’s Conor McManus was probably the happiest man in Ulster last Sunday. Neil McGee’s red card against Fermanagh means that McManus and McGee will not face each other in the Ulster semi final when Donegal and Monaghan meet on Saturday week.
Donegal were always going to beat Fermanagh . . . even with twelve men. The difference in class was apparent. Fermanagh did have a good spell for 15 minutes before half-time but I feel that Donegal simply took the foot off the throttle.
If there ever was a day for Fermanagh to cause a shock then last Sunday was it. They played with a man advantage for the second half, missed a penalty and aimlessly shot for scores. They also had a championship game under their belts. Fermanagh also played with two extra defenders at all times. I thought that their approach was naïve.
For Donegal it was like a practice game with a crowd to support them. I thought that we were slick and fluent going forward. Defensively we were solid. I’m still concerned about our discipline though. Against a better team the loss of Neil McGee would have been crucial. We also conceded too many frees inside our own half. Fermanagh’s Tomas Corrigan scored seven points; none from play.
The percentage of possession gained from our kick-outs probably broke even but again this will be a crucial factor against Monaghan and indeed better equipped teams than Fermanagh. By the way, I thought that Frank McGlynn was superb against Fermanagh as was Mac Niallais, O’Reilly and McBrearty.
It is difficult to sum up our overall performance and to gauge it against what to expect from Monaghan. It was a no-win situation for Donegal because we were expected to beat Fermanagh handsomely which we eventually did. The Erne men have improved considerably recently and years ago they were always perceived as an easy touch. This is longer the case.
We now have the four best teams in the province vying for a place in the Ulster final. Tyrone still are most people’s favourites to lift the title. They take on Cavan this Sunday and I don’t expect Tyrone to slip here. They overwhelmed an improved Cavan outfit in the Division 2 League final in April this year.
Donegal will not be elated with their victory last Sunday but will be relieved and glad to have their first championship game behind them. We all know that Monaghan will prove an altogether different proposition. Although Monaghan will fancy their chances they are no world beaters. As stated here before, they have an over-reliance on Conor McManus. Without Neil McGee to shepherd him I’m sure that Donegal manager Rory Gallagher will have other tactics to thwart his threat.
The championship eventually threw up a shock when Tipperary dismissed Cork in the Munster Senior Football championship. The wheels seem to have come off the football and hurling wagon in Cork this year. They are a fading force in both codes and I’m sure there will be a major inquest into last Sunday’s defeat. Kerry will surely be rubbing their hands with glee.
The Donegal County council rolled back the years, 24 to be exact, last Tuesday week 7th June when they gave Donegal 1992 GAA team captain Anthony Molloy the freedom of the county. The Council have to be commended for putting on a magnificent evening. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Well done.
The council chamber was packed with councillors, former GAA managers, past players and dignitaries from across the spectrum. Various speakers lauded Anthony’s achievements. Then Molloy himself spoke. He was visibly humbled by this award which is a measure of the man from the remote and resplendent Gleann Gheis outside Ardara.
Anthony spoke of his love for the Irish language, Irish culture and Gaelic games. He received a standing ovation which was fitting for the man who brought Sam to the hills for the first time ever.
I know Molloy since we were late teenagers. I always liked him because has a charisma that one could not ignore. We were through the thick and the thin for Donegal together down through the years. For the players on and off the field he was always the leader. Whether we won or lost we had craic at the back of the bus. That is not to mean we were not disappointed if we lost. It was a different era then when football was fun. We never dwelled on defeat; we simply moved on.
It was great to see many of the past players pre 1992 in Lifford to support Anthony. Unfortunately we rarely meet these days except at functions or at wakes. This isn’t as morbid as it sounds. It’s a fact of life. And fortunately we do meet from time to time as a group to celebrate past successes.
Next year we will remember 1992 because it will be 25 years since Donegal made history. I’m sure our County Board and County Council will hold celebrations in our honour.
Keeping the faith!