SPORTS COLUMN

Donegal Club League structure: After all the debate, the status quo is retained

THE SPORTING DIARY with Sports Ed Peter Campbell

Peter Campbell

Reporter:

Peter Campbell

Donegal Club League structure: After all the debate, the status quo is retained

John Haran . . . a great servant to St. Eunan's

After all the discussion - things stay the same!

So much for all the workshops to discuss changes to the club league programme in Donegal. At Monday night’s regulation meeting, as far as we can ascertain, the status quo won out.

The meeting didn’t get to discuss all the motions and the delegates will have to come back in January to complete the task.

However, what was agreed on Monday night was the league numbers would stay the same - 10 teams in Divisions One, Two and Three with clubs getting 18 games. However, what was still not decided was whether there will be Star games or whether clubs will play without their county players. While there are motions to remove Star fixtures, it is learned that these may well be ruled out of order after the motion to keep the present system was passed.

Which is like putting the cart before the horse. If there was any common sense around, deciding whether there are going to be Star games as against clubs playing without county players should have been the first vote.

It is just bizarre to do it the other way around.

With the decision taken, then it looks as if there will be a question mark over half the league programme with players sitting on their hands for much of the summer months.

From the middle of April to the end of July (the period when Donegal are in possible action) there are 15 weeks.  - six games in a 15 week period! It is just madness.

I know that is the doomsday scenario. But that has to be the starting point and club players should realise that now. The only other scenario is clubs deciding for themselves when they will or won’t play games - hardly a recipe for getting a rigid fixture structure.

Club players should make their voices heard at the January meeting. Even though it might be too late for next year, the time has come for them to get what is rightfully theirs - an uninterrupted league programme.

Backs-to-the-wall brilliance

On Tuesday night I watched one of the most spirited defensive displays that I have ever seen on a soccer field in De Goffert Stadion, Nijmegen. The Ireland Senior Women’s team were up against The Netherlands, European champions, in their own back yard and it was a backs-to-the-wall fight for the Irish team from the kick-off.

Once you started watching it, you just couldn’t switch away. There was the added interest of having two Donegal players in the starting line up, Tyler Toland and Amber Barrett.

The Ireland team just refused to allow the ultra talented Netherlands to get a clear chance. Young Tyler Toland made a couple of goalline clearances; the posts came to Ireland’s rescue and they did have a very ‘lucky’ penalty call going their way in the dying minutes.

While Toland was heroic in defence, Amber Barrett was given the toughest role, leading the line on her own; she did create one good chance before being replaced at half-time.

To the bitter end, Ireland defended and their heroics were rewarded with a 0-0 draw. Donegal’s other representative, Roma McLaughlin, was an unused substitute as the Ireland manager kept faith with those on the field who were determined to deny.

The win keeps Ireland joint top with Netherlands in the FIFA 2019 World Cup qualifier table.

And with the spirit shown, they won many new friends.


So long, Big John

It’s the end of the road for Big John Haran, who has announced his retirement from club football. I texted him on Tuesday to get clarification and he came back quickly, “I’m 41, fffs”! I suggested to him that a lot of young full-backs and midfielders would be quite happy to see him gone.

He has been one of the best club servants over the last two decades and also holds forthright views that should not be lost to the Association.

It might take Judge Peter Charleton, after he is finished with the McCabe Tribunal, to decide on how many Donegal Senior Championship medals John has, but there is no doubt that he was a major player in St. Eunan’s great run of success since the late ‘90s.

Enjoy your retirement with the U-6 group.