The Sporting Diary

With Sports Editor Peter Campbell

The Sporting Diary

Big sporting weekend

This coming weekend is the first of the big sporting weekends of the summer with Donegal starting their Ulster campaign on Sunday and Ireland’s first game in Euro 2016 on Monday.

No matter what way you look at it, this Ulster championship will be a defining one for a big number of the Donegal squad and it would be fitting for many of them to pick up a fourth Ulster championship medal.

But those Ulster medals don’t come easy. All it means is three games in five weeks. Looks easy! The news that Neil Gallagher is not available for Sunday and with a question mark over his availability after that, midfield will be a concern. Rory Kavanagh, Martin McElhinney, Odhran MacNiallais, Hugh McFadden and young gun Ciaran Thompson are the men seeking the Nos 8 and 9 jerseys. The likelihood is Kavanagh and McElhinney are the first option, although Michael Murphy is normally used for the throw-in. The future, though, lies in the hands of MacNiallais, McFadden, Thompson and the likes of Michael Carroll and Caolan McGonagle.

Sunday will see Donegal with a debutant ‘keeper with Mark Anthony McGinley and Peter Boyle vying for the No. 1 jersey, while Eoin McHugh is likely to be the only other debutant in the starting 15.

Because the build-up has been low key, it’s been a strange time. I can’t remember a build-up like it with very little interest. Maybe that is because the championship has been so poor so far. And it seems people are voting with their feet with attendances down. Clones wasn’t even half full on Sunday last.

Let’s hope we get a good game at least on Sunday, but don’t put your shirt on it. It will be defensive but something tells me that Donegal should have a little to spare at the finish, maybe four or five points.

Party time in Killybegs

As Manus Boyle says in a special feature on Seamie Coleman elsewhere in this paper, the streets of Killybegs will be deserted on Monday evening when Ireland take on Sweden in the first game in the Euros at 5 p.m.

They are a proud race in Killybegs and they are rightfully proud of Seamie, who they have watched grow from boy to man and remain the same person he was when growing up in the town.

Coleman is one of the leaders of the Irish team now and he will be one of the main driving forces to get Ireland through to the next stage. They are in a tough group and the expectation levels outside the group will be just hopeful rather than confident.

Apart from Coleman, there is plenty of Donegal interest with Shay Given and Shane Duffy waiting in the wings. Roared on by thousands of Irish supporters, who knows what might happen.

No need for Specsavers in Sligo

Mary (Donegal’s No. 1 supporter in Sligo) was in observant mood at the weekend watching the Monaghan v Down Ulster Championship match. The ball being used had the words Maigh Eo marked on it! I thought Sylvester Maguire was the only one that was a collector of balls!