The Sporting Diary

with Sports Editor, Peter Campbell

The Sporting Diary

Good week for underage teams

The Donegal U-17 and Minor teams got very good results last weekend on their trip to Monaghan. It is not an easy task to go to Monaghan and get two wins on the one day and it’s not something we have achieved very often in recent times.

In Clones on Saturday, the minors showed plenty of grit and determination to grind out a win after extra-time. As that wily mentor Neilly Byrne said afterwards, it was good to get to an Ulster final, but he also felt they had plenty to iron out before the championship.

There was one terrific individual performance, St. Eunan’s Niall O’Donnell notching 0-13 out of the total tally of 0-23. O’Donnell is a super talent and also a very good team player. On the ball he is a joy to watch and has also become quite strong physically. He is certainly a talent for the future.

Donegal had a number of lapses during the game when they went out of the game for periods, especially around midfield. But when they got their kick-out strategy working, they also were strong going forward. No doubt Shaun Paul Barrett and his backroom team will be working on the negatives and the positives ahead of their showdown with Tyrone this Saturday in the Ulster Minor League final.

Tyrone turned them over in the league section in MacCumhaill Park on Easter Saturday but there is no reason which Donegal cannot turn the tables on them this Saturday. Donegal are going for a third Ulster Minor League in-a-row, which would be a new record for a Donegal minor team.

The same is true of the Donegal U-17s, who lost out narrowly to Tyrone in Ballybofey on that same Easter Saturday. They had too much firepower for Monaghan on Saturday last, firing in four goals, and if they can repeat that on Saturday, then they could bring home the Jim McGuigan Cup once more.

Harps open gap

As I said here last week, the home game against Bray Wanderers for Finn Harps on Friday night last was a really important game. Harps edged the contest by 1-0 and although they didn’t play well, they got the result.

It is always interesting to listen to manager, Ollie Horgan, speaking after these games. His honesty is refreshing and he could never be accused of ‘talking up’ his charges.

But behind that honesty, Horgan is instilling some steel into the Harps side. They have become a very difficult team to beat and they are not conceding many goals, which is a good omen. Unfortunately, the penalties count went against them on Monday night as they bowed out of the EA Sports Cup in Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway, but again they ran Galway United (who are going really well in the Premier Division) to the wire.

Finn Harps have now established themselves in the middle of the Premier table and have opened a five point gap between themselves and the four bottom teams.