Neilly Byrne, Kilcar
The name Neilly Byrne is closely associated with underage teams in Kilcar for a long number of years now and it was no surprise that his name was mentioned by captain, Patrick McBrearty, at the homecoming for the Kilcar senior team on Sunday night in the town.
“I would have worked with 90% of them down through the years. They are all good footballers, naturally good players. They play football, football. It was what they were taught through the schools,” says Neilly.
“Even though today, we played the game on Glenties’ terms. Glenties played the defensive game and Kilcar were quite happy when they got three or four points up, just to hold that.
“If I was a neutral I wouldn’t be happy. There were a lot of people around me in the stand complaining about the football being played. But that’s the way Donegal football is going. Where are we going?” asks Neilly.
“The day of kicking the ball in Donegal is gone. I don’t know what they are going to do about it but something is going to have to be done eventually. People are not going to turn up to watch games like that.
“It is not good for the county either. The county manager looking out there today; it doesn’t give the good chance to stand out. Once they get the ball they are surrounded by two or three players, so the game is slowed down, slowed down.
“Unless it comes down from national school, secondary school; unless they bringing the kicking of the ball back into it. Teams like Kerry are doing, kicking the ball, right foot, left foot; unless that comes into the game it is going to be difficult to see Donegal pushing on and winning an All-Ireland again,” said Neilly.
When put to him that Kilcar would be a team that would play if allowed, he didn’t agree totally. “We can’t blame other teams all the time. We have got to bring our game to the thing and try to find the inside men, to be able to play short and long. But at the moment we are all playing the short game and there were several times today Kilcar drove at Glenties and got to 35 yards out but there was no man off the shoulder and we finished back on our own 50 yard line.
“You could say we had the lead and we were trying to hold that lead and we didn’t want to make mistakes. I thought the game would open up in the second half and Glenties would attack us more, because there are good footballers as well in Glenties, but they had no support for the man on the ball,” said Neilly, who said he had watched Dublin against Donegal in the National League and when they came up against the massed defence, they were able to foot pass the ball quickly across the field to attack from the other side.
“The foot pass just has to be coached back into the game, because at the moment it’s all basketball stuff. I have nothing against basketball.
“But this win will bring Kilcar on, because behind this group of players there are good players coming through. Success, like in the 1980s, will breed success. They have something to aim for after today,” says Neilly.
ALSO - Check out the exceptional club championship career of Michael Hegarty for Kilcar