The loss of Aidan McLaughlin to sickness was a factor, but could Donegal Minors have done much better on Sunday against Connacht champions, Galway.
McLaughlin had to leave the field after 25 minutes in the Croke Park All-Ireland minor semi-final and he was a huge loss. The Naomh Padraig, Muff, player has been one of the most consistent players for Shaun Paul Barrett’s team this year; his ability to break the tackle and take a score has been his hallmark, and he has also been one Donegal player who had a consistent performance from the start of each game to the end.
But it might be stretching it to say that McLaughlin’s loss was the main cause of Donegal’s defeat. Donegal mentor, Neilly Byrne, feels that Donegal met a very good Galway side, but also felt that they “made it easy” for them.
“We did not perform in a lot of areas,” said the Kilcar man, speaking on Tuesday, after having had time to digest the disappointment.
“We did well in some areas, but Galway were probably a better side,” said Byrne, who felt that Mark Curran did well and had improved during the entire campaign.
“Our midfield competed well. Jason McGee is a good footballer and it will be interesting to see how these players develop as they become seniors,” said Byrne, who pointed out also that Niall O’Donnell is an excellent player and they would will be watching him going forward. He also mentioned the performance of Peadar Mogan, especially in an attacking role.
On a scale of disappointment, the Kilcar man said Sunday’s defeat wasn’t in the same category as losing the All-Ireland schools’ semi-final in Cusack Park, Mullingar a couple of years ago.
Byrne paid tribute to minor manager, Shaun Paul Barrett, for his enthusiastic approach to the role of minor manager. “Winning an Ulster Minor Championship was a great achievement. Shaun Paul puts his heart and soul into it and he will do the same next year,” said Byrne, who said that they would probably have a meeting in the next few weeks to plan for next year.
MINOR REPORT IN BRIEF