BREAKING BALL: Division One is where you want to be

Manus Boyle


Manus Boyle

BREAKING BALL: Division One is where you want to be
What a great result by Donegal last Sunday in the Athletic Grounds to secure promotion back to the Allianz League Division One.

What a great result by Donegal last Sunday in the Athletic Grounds to secure promotion back to the Allianz League Division One.

Maybe some people might think makes no difference - whether you play your football in Division One or Division Two.

But anyone that got to see this year’s Allianz League will understand that there is a huge gulf between the strong teams in Division One and those in Division Two.

How far has Armagh football dropped since the days of their winning Ulster championships for fun?

Their competing at the top level was second nature to those players but when you drop your standards then it’s easy to find yourself dropping down the ladder.

If you’re playing at a lower standard for too many years it’s extremely hard to get back out of there again.

Donegal could not afford to stay in Division Two for another year.

We’ve new players breaking into the team and if they’re going to make the grade they need to play against the best teams.

Donegal players and management can now enjoy a break in warmer climates for their training camp in the Algarve.

They can work on their fitness, match tactics and team morale; they can look forward to the Division Two final at Croke Park against Monaghan on their return as a warm up to the first round of the Ulster championship match against Derry.

While I have said all along this year I felt that we were too strong for Division Two and we should have no bother getting promoted, at times we did struggle.

When Meath went direct, we found it difficult to cope with a high ball on top of our full-back line.

And even though we played with a sweeper in Mark McHugh, Down still managed to run through us and had numerous goal chances.

Against Louth in Ballyshannon, we were far too open up the middle. We certainly should not be conceding three goals against a team as limited as Louth.

This year’s league has helped the like of Odhran MacNaillais, Dermot Molloy and Martin McElhinney establish them selves as contenders for a spot on the championship team.

Christy Toye has being exceptional in nearly every game he has played and if he can keep clear from injury then he will give Jim McGuinness, the Donegal manager, another option.

I have to come back to one point that I have made on several occasions - we are still heavily dependant on the likes of Michal Murphy, Colm McFadden and Paddy McBrearty for our scores.

When we get into the championship we will need other players to come into the mix. Derry will set their team out to combat the strengths of that trio.

If they succeed we will struggle. Teams will look back at how Monaghan closed us down in the Ulster final last year and set up accordingly - so we will need another plan in place.

As the debate around the GAA’s deal with Sky has heated up a bit, it’s surprising to hear all the different arguments and excuses that are being put forward from both sides.

Listening to Paraic Duffy, the GAA’s director general, on RTE’s Primetime, he stuck to the point that this was a great deal for the Irish abroad.

Nicky Brennan, the ex-president, was of the opinion that 80 per cent of the money would go back to the clubs. But he added that county boards and provincial councils would also be part of the 80 per cent.

Duffy and Brennan added that the GAA would not be going down the road where games would ultimately become pay-per-view.

One of the major questions that has yet to be answered is will the players demanding their bit of the pie?

Will the thorny issue of image rights and who owns those rights now come into play?

It certainly might.

Another aspect to the argument is whether or not it is right for parents to bring youngsters to the pub to see the games.

The GAA said they would rather that parents bring their children to the games.

But while they do promote special deals for youngsters to go to games, that cost is still sometimes too great.

I have heard the argument too many times that in rugby and soccer they pay their players, yet we don’t.

They openly pay their managers and coaches. It is said we don’t and we are quick to say that all the profit in the GAA goes back to the grass roots but the same is said of rugby and soccer.

If we don’t want children to go to the pub with their parents to watch games, let them in for free.

Also, reduce the cost of tickets to those who follow their clubs and counties religiously. This will be an argument that will go on for a while.

Both sides will be saying they were right and the other side was wrong, but this comes down to two things.

Is the GAA a commercial entity with only profit as it’s main objective?

Or is the organisation one with a certain principles in that it is more than just sport?

For me, if Croke Park officials were so worried about showing the games abroad why didn’t they set up their own television channel?