Eoin McHugh on the ball for Donegal
This was one that definitely got away. Wasteful Donegal, once again, came up short against a gritty Monaghan side and they have not beaten them in the NFL since March 2014.
But kicking 16 wides is never a help any day and two of those came from Paddy McBrearty and Michael Murphy after Conor McManus cooly converted a late penalty.
And Tir Chonaill’s flying machine Eoin McHugh made no attempt to mask his deep disappointment at not sealing the deal.
The Kilcar man had his usual busy performance bur ruefully reflected on a game that was literally “kicked away”.
And he described talk of a “transition” in Donegal as “crap”.
“It is just so disappointing at the minute as it is slowly sinking in that we managed not to win the game after being on top for so long.
“We just let it slip at the end and it is very disappointing.
“It is extremely disappointing”.
But McHugh pointed to the litany of wides as a key factor in this late draw for Monaghan.
“We were by far the better team in the second half and we just missed so many chances.
“And in the end they got the penalty and they scored it and fair play to Conor McManus for scoring it.
“It was just a wee bit too late then for us to get back into it again”.
So what is it about Monaghan and their apparent Indian sign over Donegal?
“Look they are a great side and they have proved it this past few years in Ulster finals in 2013 and 2015 against us.
“They are a very dogged side and you have to give them credit for that”.
Donegal did manage to get a crucial goal from Michael Carroll that set the marker in the first half.
“But it is so disappointing and it is hard to take a real positive from it at the minute”.
Donegal dominated the second half and were clearly “in the driving seat”.
“But you just have to give Monaghan credit, they are really good at digging out results no matter how serious the situation is.
“They stuck with us and they did not let us get away from them and now it is back to Mayo for us next week.
“That is another important game for us”.
On the positive, there were not too many people who would have predicted that Donegal would come within an ace of a League final spot by the second last game.
“People were talking about this transition.
“That is crap to me.
"The new boys have come and it is even better than last year and there is a serious buzz at the minute.
“The young fellows are a serious credit to themselves, they are a serious size and have put in a serious pre season effort”.
But Donegal is still in a great position to reach a NFL final.
“That would be a great thing to achieve and real nice thing.
“At the start of the year people were writing us off and everyone thought we were in transition, but it is good to prove people wrong.
“Any day you get into a final of any competition would be nice for us.
“We will be going our full tilt against Mayo after pondering this match today”.
Eoin made his debut in 2015 and is in his third year and is becoming one of the “older boys” even though he is only 22.
“There is a lot of youth in this team and they have given us a great burst of speed.
“And there is a great buzz with the U-21s going so well also.
“And Kieran Gillespie came in and did a fabulous job; Ciaran Thompson has also impressed and Cian Mulligan started today and stood out also.
“These are all good players and they proved it our there today," said McHugh.