The Inter-provincials or the Railway Cup, as it is know by the older generation, returned at the weekend. I was at the game in Sligo where Ulster proved too strong for a weak Connacht side who were playing an old fashioned brand of football that was from another era.
The good news from a Donegal point of view was that our three men on the team - Neil McGee, Karl Lacey and Rory Kavanagh - all had fine games.
Neil had a brilliant game at full-back and was back to his best while Karl was his usual self in total control of his patch and did not put a foot wrong all day. Neil was marking Adrian Marren, from Sligo, who gave him a tough enough 70 minutes when they met last year in the league. I cannot help but feel his performance benefited from the fact that Karl was playing alongside him.
Not wishing to tell Jim McGuinness his business or interfere in picking the county team, but this is something that maybe is worth noting for down the road.
Rory, too, had a fine game at midfield. He covered a lot of ground and seems to be getting his legs back again.
I must say I was disappointed with the crowd at the game. I would say there was no more than 600 maximum in Markievicz Park on Sunday.
I have to say, I was very impressed with Ulster and in particular with the attack, who moved the ball well and combined and passed the ball well, mostly with the foot.
The pass from Owen Mulligan for Mark Poland’s goal was worth the entry fee on its own. It was a real defence splitting pass.
Three Tyrone forwards, Mulligan, Peter Harte and Martin Penrose, started the game with Harte and Penrose scoring two of the goals. And when you take into account that Mark Donnelly came on in the second half, there were four Tyrone men in the forward line at the finish.
Given the way they played and combined and given that Stephen O’Neill was not playing, let the rest of the country be warned, Tyrone are not gone away and are going to be a mighty force again this season.
Munster won the other semi-final to set up a final meeting with Ulster. Great credit must go to the Munster manager and Cork mentor, Gerry O’Sullivan, who picked in the main players from Division Three and Four teams and they were too good for a star studded Leinster outfit. The Munster full-forward line made of a Clare man (David Turbidy), a Waterford man (Gary Hurney) and a Limerick man (Ian Ryan) scored 1-10 of their team’s total of 1-16.
Fair play to Crossmaglen and indeed fair play to TG4 for showing the club semi-finals on Saturday. I really enjoyed both games and once again you have to hand it to Crossmaglen, despite being hit with an early Dr. Croke’s goal and five points, they battled back to win despite also being reduced to 14 men in the second half.
I must say I was disappointed for St. Brigid’s in the other semi-final; being a West of Ireland team, I would always have a soft spot for them. But you also got to hand it to Garycastle and Dessie Dolan, they did the business when it mattered, though to be honest I cannot see them being up to Crossmaglen in the final.
There was disappointment for Donegal Vocational Schools and the Donegal ladies at the weekend. While, the Vocational Schools were well beaten by Cork, I was speaking to Brendan O’Reilly on Sunday in Sligo and he was not at all happy with the referee.
The ladies also suffered a heavy defeat to Laois, but I expect them to bounce back, though it is worrying to hear Geraldine McLaughlin picked up an injury in that game.
Finally, I want to wish Martin O’Malley in Ballintra, all the best on his retirement from the Gardai. Martin was a good community man and I have no doubt will remain, but he is also an outstanding GAA man and a great servant to Naomh Brid and I hope he has a long and happy retirement.
Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.