Sports Editor Peter Campbell
Big day in MacCumhaill Park
There is one thing for certain on Sunday next. There will be a big crowd at the Donegal county final with the two best supported teams in the county clashing. The bookies say that Kilcar are clear favourites at 4/11 but there is none the 1/6 that was being bandied about last year.
The question everyone is asking is have Kilcar learned lessons from losing last year, when there was great hype in the parish in the lead up to the final. Last year they were up against arch rivals, Glenswilly, and if there was a rival to the Glen men for that honour, then Naomh Conaill would run them very close.
There was a lot of niggle in their final league game at the end of last year when the Democrat Cup was up for grabs. One would hope that Sunday’s encounter will be competitive but a little more sporting.
Everyone you ask feels that Kilcar will have too much, but then in the next breath they say that Naomh Conaill won’t allow them the freedom that they had against St. Michael’s in the semi-final.
The Glenties men put one great half of football together in the second half against Gaoth Dobhair. If they can get their act together and reproduce that then anything is possible.
The big lesson that Kilcar have to learn from last year is to have a defensive shield when not in possession. It worked against Glenswilly in the group with Michael Hegarty covering; it was absent against Bundoran and Christy Keaney gave them trouble, but it was back in place for St. Michael’s with a collective shield working very well and breaking at pace.
With apprehension among the supporters after last year’s reversal, the build-up has been low-key for them.
Naomh Conaill have a strong half-back line and they will not allow Kilcar the space they had in the semi-final. Hopefully the weather is okay, as this will also be a fixture that will be attractive to neutral, especially with no TV coverage of the game.
It promises to be a cracker.
Another heroic Irish win
So Ireland are in the World Cup play-offs. Along with the likes of European champions Portugal, Italy and Croatia. Even the RTE panel changed their tune at the end of the game in Cardiff on Monday night.
I listened to Newstalk last week on the subject of Martin O’Neill signing a contract extension and the presenter went to great lengths to question the timing. Johnny Giles came on the line and the presenter did everything to try and get Giles to agree with his opinion. He persisted to the stage when Giles said: “What are you trying to get me to say?”
Someone needs to bring a large section of the national media into a dark room and explain to them that Ireland, as a soccer nation, are punching above their weight every time they take the field. Martin O’Neill has them in contention to go another major championship. For some, though, that is not good enough. They think we should be automatic qualifiers even though we are third or fourth seeds in the group.
And these are our soccer experts!
We had a true champion in our midst last weekend when Katie-George Dunlevy returned once more to Mountcharles with her dad, John, and mum, Alana. An Olympic champion and now a world champion cyclist, she is so proud of her Donegal roots and so modest about an achievement that ranks among the best by any Irish athlete this year.
‘Gooch’ in the news
The Colm Cooper autobiography ‘Gooch’ is surely going to the best seller in the book market this Christmas. You just couldn’t buy the publicity the Kerry star has received recently, and it has nothing to do with the book.
His upcoming ‘Testimonial’ has divided opinion in the GAA and most people I meet just can’t make up their mind either way on the issue.
There are others - like Joe Brolly - who have very strong opinions against an individual being rewarded in this way. Testimonials used to be a way of rewarding soccer stars at the end of the careers in England, a sort of pension scheme. But with the money available there now on a weekly basis, they are not necessary.
I met one person who said, if it was for Michael Murphy, he would support it.
I’m not sure if it will gather much momentum, as trying to fill a room with 500 people willing to fork out €500 each is no easy task.
But it certainly opens up a new chapter in the GAA.
What has happened to Burt?
Burt reached the quarter-final of the Donegal Senior Championship and ran St. Michael’s close in that game. But since then they have played three league games, losing all three, and scoring just 11 points between the three games. Burt are operating in Division Three of the league. What has happened them since reaching the last eight of the Donegal senior championship?