The Sporting Diary

with Sports Editor Peter Campbell

The Sporting Diary

A good night for Donegal GAA

Once in a while you attend a GAA function and you go home with a good feeling. It’s not often, as most of them are drawn-out affairs.

On Saturday night last in the Abbey Hotel, the annual Donegal GAA Banquet took place and it turned out to be a special night for a couple of reasons.

The first ever Gradam Shéamuis Mhic Géidigh (player of the club championship) was presented with Glenswilly’s Michael Murphy fittingly the first winner. Everything about the presentation was tastefully presented with the highlight being a clip of Séamus in full flow with commentary on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta in the closing stages of the All-Ireland final of 2012. It was a night tinged with sadness but it was great to see the entire Mhic Ghéidigh family there at the event.

Great credit is due to the Donegal Co. Board and to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta for the way in which the award was presented on the night.

Speaking to Dolores Mhic Géidigh after an emotional night for the family, she said that Séamus would have been mortified but secretly so proud.

We must never forget him.

At the end of the awards, there was also a fitting tribute to the two retiring All-Ireland winners with Donegal, Eamon McGee and Colm Anthony McFadden. Both have given amazing service to the county; Colm Anthony playing 173 times and scoring 25 goals and 434 points, while Eamon, operating at the other end of the field, played 154 times. Imagine how many ‘caps’ Eamon would have if he had been involved consistently throughout that time.

They both deserved their send-off on Saturday night and again in this regard, hats off to the organisers for making it special.

FOOTNOTE: The footage shown of both players was revealing with one clip showing Eamon McGee hitting a fantastic goal against Mayo in Castlebar in the league. The Gaoth Dobhair man will be remembered more for his defensive role, but he did get the odd score and remember how he set up the goal for Ryan McHugh in this year’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin - a game that proved to be his last in the Donegal shirt. The goal in Castlebar, I’m told, was missed by a good number of Donegal supporters who had left for home early, among them one of Donegal’s biggest supporters from the Donegal Town/Dunkineely area!

Murphy’s Transfer Target

For the inaugural winner of the Séamus Mac Géidigh Player of the Club Championship award, Michael Murphy, it was a busy weekend, with underage presentations in Naomh Muire on Friday night and Aodh Ruadh, Ballyshannon on Saturday evening.

At the packed Abbey Centre in Ballyshannon, Murphy looked at home handing out medals to expectant young boys and girls.

Afterwards in a question and answer session, he was put on the spot and there were some interesting observations. As regards singers on the Donegal squad, it emerged that Neil McGee needs to get some singing lessons. When asked if there was a transfer market in place in the GAA, what player would he like to transfer to Donegal. He thought for a moment and answered that he would probably like to take two - Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper of Kerry and Monaghan’s Conor McManus. Not a bad choice!

I wonder if there are any players on the Donegal panel he would put on the transfer market?

What price a good ‘keeper

With only a third of the season gone in the Premiership it looks likely that there will be no ‘Leicester’ type shocks this year. The big teams are hovering around the top and the teams who have the big panels of players are going to contest the top four.

While strikers are so important to success and getting those goals at vital stages, it is also very clear that not having a top, top goalkeeper will play a big part in whether the ultimate success is achieved.

Two of the top four clubs are in a bit of trouble in this regard. Manchester City discarded Joe Hart in order to bring in a ‘keeper who could play ball on the ground, Claudio Bravo.

Liverpool also went into the transfer market but don’t seem to have got what they were looking for in Loris Karius.

Both managers, Klopp and Guardiola, have a dilemma. Do they stick with their choices or do they bite the bullet and change?

With Chelsea and Arsenal possessing two of the best stoppers in Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech, the odds on those two fighting out for the top spot will shorten over the coming weeks.

Just goes to show that any team needs a good No. 1.