The dust has just settled on Donegal’s NI Power Dr McKenna campaign and captain Michael Murphy is content enough with the competitiveness shown by his team.
Donegal didn’t make the semi-finals as Monaghan made it through as the best runners-up but can be content enough with a return to fitness of the likes of Neil McGee and Neil Gallagher (both knee), David Walsh (hernia), Christy Toye (virus) and Karl Lacey (hamstring).
After going down 0-13 to 1-7 against Tyrone in their season opener, Jim McGuinness’s team defeated Queen’s 3-17 to 3-5 on Wednesday, which added to their 1-10 to 0-11 win at Armagh on Sunday.
“At this time of year its just about getting men back from injury and getting everybody game time ahead of the National League,” For us its just nice to get games and get a few bodies back who didn’t get game time. We’ll try and keep her lit now.
“The main thing at this time of year is trying to get trainings under the belt and trying to be competitive in games.
“We have been relatively competitive in the McKenna Cup, obviously we didn’t qualify but it gives us a chance to get back training and keep preparing for the league. On the plus side as I said we got a few bodies back, the likes of Christy Toye came in again and Neil Gallagher came back. Its great to see those faces back in the fold.”
Donegal open their Allianz League campaign away to Laois on February 2 before facing Galway in Salthill a week later. It’s a tricky start and Murphy insists there’s been no talk of promotion just yet.
“It’s very hard to be setting your sights like that,” he said. “Our philosophy has always been one game at a time, whether it be McKenna Cup, League or championship. We just try and go out and get a performance every game.
“We try and get as many bodies playing for us as we can and try and get the best performance. At the end of the day we’ll see where that leaves us in the table but either way we won’t be bothered one way or another.”
Each year, regardless of the sideshows, Donegal’s undiluted priority remains the Ulster championship and this year is no different. McGuinness’s team face into a difficult opener against a Derry team managed by Brian McIver - the man who gave Murphy his inter-county debut back in 2007.
“I suppose the sight is still Derry at Celtic Park in the start of the championship and that’s what we are building towards,” Murphy added. “Its about getting performances now in these league games and building towards that Derry game.
“It will be a very tough task playing away from home against our rivals but I suppose that’s what the championship is all about and this is what the league is all about. We have a lot of tricky fixtures, four away and three at home and every one will be very tough.
“But thankfully a lot of injuries are starting to clear up for us now and all we can do is keep hoping for performances, and if those performances can avail results for us then we will be very happy.”