The Sporting Diary

with Sports Editor Peter Campbell

The Sporting Diary

Club Championship already taking shape

Even at this early stage, the Donegal senior championship is taking shape and as is normal, the bookies are never far off the mark. Naomh Conaill and Kilcar served notice at the weekend that they are the teams to beat. They are due to meet in the final series of league games and it is conceivable that that game will decide the destiny of the Democrat Cup for 2016.

At the weekend, Kilcar brushed aside St. Michael’s, who have still to deliver on the promise of a few years ago. They face a real test in Dunfanaghy on Sunday against St. Eunan’s for the right to remain in the race.

Amazingly Naomh Conaill are the only side with two wins to their credit, and while they are not absolutely certain of a quarter-final place just yet, it would take two freak results by large margins to deprive them. Termon’s win over Gaoth Dobhair was the shock result and they now look favourites to join Naomh Conaill in the last eight.

Coming out on top in the other two groups will be important to avoid the big guns in the quarter-final draw.

Kilcar look likely to top their group unless Killybegs can park a couple of buses in Fintra to stop their scoring machine. The Towney side are hitting big scores and have a cutting edge this season as more of their young talent gains maturity.

Could the taste of success at club level by Martin McHugh tempt him back into intercounty management in a year or two? Surely there has to be an itch there to manage Donegal at some stage. Could he not have a role alongside Rory Gallagher? Many would say that the Donegal senior management needs a fresh impetus.

Worth pondering!

FOOTNOTE 1: Had complaints from a number of people regarding the throw-in times of games on Sunday last, who felt that they could have been brought forward to allow GAA followers to watch the Dublin-Kerry All-Ireland final live. Most of them felt it ironic that this Sunday’s games were timed for 2 p.m. to allow viewing the All-Ireland hurling final. I was asked to air it. And I have to agree with them.

FOOTNOTE 2: Apologies to Ciaran Thompson of Naomh Conaill for depriving him of a second goal in the report on Sunday last. A Specsavers appointment has been arranged for yours truly, Harry and Frank. Thankfully, no one was copying and pasting.

Bundoran’s first since 1979!

When Bundoran overcame Ardara on Saturday evening, one of their veterans said it was the first championship win since they won the Donegal Senior Championship in 1979. PRO Noel Carr wasn’t so sure, so he contacted Brian McEniff, who felt that they had won a championship game against St. Eunan’s in the early 1980s, when Eamon Travers came on and scored a goal.

But once that appeared on Facebook, Conor McEniff quickly contacted the PRO with a text, ‘Glenfin’. Noel Carr quickly replied, ‘well beaten by MacCumhaill’s’ thinking that Conor was enquiring how Glenfin had got on in the championship.

But Conor came back with the good news that Bundoran had defeated Glenfin in the championship a couple of years ago, in Charlie O’Donnell’s first year in charge.

It turned out that the year was 2012 and Bundoran did defeat Glenfin (twice), in Bundoran and in the play-off in Ardara.

Some of the older Bundoran GAA generation have short memories. The win over St. Eunan’s mentioned by Brian McEniff was in 1981.

He forgot that a year later they defeated neighbours Aodh Ruadh in the first round; Killybegs in the quarter-final and only lost to eventual champions, Four Masters, after a replayed semi-final by a point (with a full-forward line of the late Seamus O’Reilly, Brian McEniff and Seamie Granaghan, the veteranreferred to at the beginning of this story)!

There were also two championship wins against Urris in 1984.

Some GAA history lessons might be needed in Bundoran. Or a few copies of An tAth. Seán’s Book of Facts might do the trick! They only remember the finals!

Kevin McManamon for Player of the Year

It was refreshing to watch the football played by Dublin and Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday, albeit a recording.

Dublin won because they have so many good footballers and a calm belief that they are the best. Kerry had the game in their grasp, but in the end the best team won.

Every time I see Kevin McManamon play he just impresses. He is like James McCartan with four extra stone. He just goes straight, and on top of that on Sunday last, he became the General for the team, setting up scores with quick foot passes; he rarely looks for a handpass.

If he has a reasonable All-Ireland final, he will be hard to pass for Player of the Year.

On the subject of the way the game was refereed, spare a thought for Tipperary, who had a man black carded after eight minutes against Mayo. On Sunday last there were four clear black card offences which were penalised by a yellow and the only black card was handed out seconds from the end. As I said last week, it’s time the black card was shown ‘red’!

Age profile rising

The difficulty being experienced by clubs in fielding teams in Donegal was exemplified last weekend once more. In the Reserve Championship there were some heavy hammerings handed out, not least in Bundoran where Ardara defeated a makeshift home side 4-32 to 1-1. Bundoran struggled to get a team out while Ardara had 29 players with Mary McHugh getting cramp writing substitute slips.

In Dunkineely on Saturday evening also, the Shovlin brothers, Colm (56) and Martin (55) were part of the Naomh Ultan team, and Sean Furey (47) was their top scorer with 0-10. Martin Shovlin notched 0-3. Liam Kennedy (52) must be on holidays. If he had been available the combined age of the four would be a year short of 200!

But that is one of the problems facing GAA clubs, who are not allowed to field 17-year-olds. It is becoming a real difficulty and maybe the 17-year-old rule needs to be revisited.