Gaoth Dobhair sharpshooter Odhran MacNiallais
Finally after ten years wearing a Gaoth Dobhair jersey Odhran MacNiallais is going to play in a Donegal Senior Championship final.
It has been a long ten summers for the talented MacNiallais, who admits to dreaming about playing in a county final since his days in a short trousers.
“My ambition has always been to play in and win a county final ever since I started playing with the seniors around 2010,” said the versatile MacNiallais, who is equally at home in midfield and the half-forward line.
“It is something you dream of growing up as a young boy when you first start playing football.”
He felt the passion and the drive has always been in the team but they always just came up short until this season.
“The players have always been there, we’ve always had good teams. But the last two years the young lads have come along and they have won at every level under 16, minor and under 21 and they have given us a massive boost.
“They have really pushed on and proven themselves as senior players.
“The young fellas have been a big boost and taken us to another level which has taken us to the county final. But every man is vital and the management as well.”
The stylish MacNiallais feels the mix between young and old in the team is good.
“You have the older boys like Kevin Cassidy, the McGees and then you have James Carroll and Peter McGee, who are younger than Cassidy and the McGees, and older than my age group.
“And then you have the younger lads again that have won at minor and two U-21 titles, it is the perfect mix.”
Gaoth Dobhair are appearing in their first final since 2006 and he feels that is far too long for a club with such tradition and history.
“Twelve years is far too long and to be not in even in a final in that time is not good enough for a parish the size of Gaoth Dobhair,” says Odhran, who admits there is relief in the parish and the club that they have finally made the breakthrough.
Gaoth Dobhair, on the back of a swashbuckling run to the final and the talent in the squad are favourites to overcome Naomh Conaill.
“We don’t look at ourselves as favourites. Glenties have been there in 2010 and 2015, most of their squad have county medals whereas I would say only five or six of our boys have played in a a final. It is a one-off game. Anything can happen in a final as we saw what happened with Glenswilly in 2016; everybody had Kilcar as the favourites.
“They were supposedly going to walk it but Glenswilly turned them over. That is football; you cannot prepare for those kind of things, injuries, red cards. We have just to prepare ourselves and get the body right and hope everything goes right for us on the day.”
There is a good buzz about Gaoth Dobhair and we are all looking forward to the final.
“Everybody is just mad to go. The boys were saying after the semi-final it is going to be a long two weeks to the final because everybody is just mad to get out to playing.