The ‘Gaelic or soccer’ debate was brought firmly into focus last weekend when a leading Donegal League club had to forfeit a place in the semi-finals of the Knockalla Cup because they couldn't field a team.
Glenea United might be leading the way in the Premier Division of the Donegal League, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t without their problems when it comes to player availability.
Their meeting with the Ulster Senior League leaders Cockhill Celtic was billed as the tie of the round. But the match, fixed for McGettigan Park on Sunday, was called off when Glenea had to pull out because of a lack of players.
The game coincided with the start of the opening weekend in Donegal’s All County League season and several of the Glenea United players committed to playing with Cloughaneely in Glenfin on Sunday.
Glenea’s manager, Anthony McCafferty, said the club did their best to switch the cup tie to Friday or Saturday evening.
“We tried a couple of venues in Letterkenny which would have saved Cockhill having to travel all the way to our pitch,” he said.
“But getting a pitch at this time of the year is not easy and it just didn’t work out.
“It’s one of those unfortunate things. We would have six or seven players away playing gaelic and with others out injured, we weren’t in a position to field. We only have a small panel of players.”
There’s a full programme of games in the All County League again this weekend but fortunately for Glenea, Cloughaneely are down to play away to Killybegs on St. Patrick’s Day.
“We’ll be okay this weekend,” McClafferty said.
“Cloughaneely have a game on Friday so it won’t be an issue. We’ve got Castlefinn on Sunday and it’s another big game for us.”
Glenea have been leading the Premier Division since Christmas but McCafferty and his team know there’s a long way to go in the title race.
“This could go right down to the last couple of games,” he said.
“Apart from Convoy Arsenal, who have been relegated, every other club in the division has something to play for, whether that’s to avoid going down, or to win the league. It’s that close and every side is capable of beating everyone else.”
Glenea sit on 27 points from 13 games played. They lead the way by two points from Lagan Harps (25) and then Castlefinn (21), although they both have played 14 matches.
Sunday’s game is one of three in the top division with Drumoghill FC at home to St. Catherine’s and Milford United hosing Kilmacrennan Celtic.
There’s only one game in Division One and it’s an important one for Glenree United who need to beat Keadue Rovers to avoid being relegated.
In the CT Ball Division, Ballybofey United will finally be crowned champions this Sunday if they manage to avoid defeat at home to bottom side Copany Rovers.
The battle for second spot is between Dunkineely Celtic, Lifford Celtic and Letterbarrow.
Of those three, only Lifford play this Sunday, at home to Cranford United.
Friday, 17th March
GLENCAR INN SATURDAY DIV - 2pm
Dunlewey Celtic v Orchard FC
Saturday, 18th March
GLENCAR INN SATURDAY DIVISION
Arranmore United v Glencar Celtic
Fintown Harps AFC v Strand Rovers
SATURDAY RESERVE DIVISION
Kilmacrennan Celtic v Milford United
Keadue Rovers v Castlefin Celtic
Glenree United v Cappry Rovers
Sunday, 19th March
BRIAN MC CORMICK SPORTS PREMIER DIVISION
Glenea United v Castlefin Celtic
Drumoghill FC v St Catherines FC
Milford United v Kilmacrennan Celtic
TEMPLE DOMESTIC APPLIANCES
Glenree United v Keadue Rovers
CT BALL DIVISION TWO
Drumkeen United v Eany Celtic FC
Lifford Celtic v Cranford FC
Curragh Athletic v Whitestrand United
Ballybofey United v Copany Rovers