The Sporting Diary

with Sports Editor Peter Campbell

The Sporting Diary

Completed‘Training Centre’ legacy

The Donegal GAA chairman, Sean Dunnion, has set the bar high for the final year of his tenure in the top seat. The provision of dressing room facilities at what we know as the Centre of Excellence in Convoy is his main priority in 2017.

He has renamed the facility, the ‘Donegal Training Centre’ and wants to make it available for all levels of expertise, which is what is should be.

Getting a home for Donegal GAA has been on the agenda for a long time. It started in Drumboe and since then the journey has been long and difficult. With close to €3m spent on the project so far (purchase and development of four playing fields), the next most important part of the jigsaw is the provision of dressing rooms/meeting rooms, etc.

On Sunday last at Co. Convention, the chairman, Sean Dunnion, outlined the provision of dressing rooms at Convoy as his No. 1 priority.

The cost of this phase of the Training Centre is being put at €1.5m, which is a substantial sum, but there are grants available which will help. However, close on €1m will be required to complete the phase. It is a substantial sum but nothing worthwhile comes cheaply.

Donegal have been very successful on the Gaelic fields in the past five or six years at all levels and you need to strike when the iron is hot.

Back on the field

Donegal were back on the field at the weekend with a challenge game against Sligo at the very well appointed facilities at Coláiste Ailigh in Letterkenny.

Donegal have been using the facilities and it is little wonder, as they are state of the art.

On the field Donegal proved much too strong for a Sligo side that seemed to be a little behind in fitness. It was refreshing to see the amount of young players that are putting their hand up and giving Rory Gallagher a major selection headache come the start of the National Football League.

As well as the younger brigade, former Leitrim player, Paul Brennan, made his first start and he certainly has the physique to play at that level. Of the younger brigade Jamie Brennan and Cian Mulligan looked exceptionally sharp, while Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Kieran Gillespie looked like veterans.

With most of the U-21s being used in the Dr. McKenna Cup and three fixtures in the U-21 North West Cup in January (against Sligo, Derry and Mayo), Declan Bonner should have his side well prepared for the tricky Ulster Championship assignment in Healy Park, Omagh on March 15th.

RTE Sports Person
of the year

At the end of this week the RTE Sports Person of the Year will be announced and, by all accounts, it is a foregone conclusion that Conor McGregor will be announced the winner.

Putting what McGregor does and sport in the same sentence takes about the same amount of arrogance as the Dubliner has neck.

He has built up a fan-base and it seems to be what the youth of the country has a liking for. I have to confess that I got up from my bed to watch his last fight, probably because other members in the house I was staying in that night were getting up too.

For whatever reason, McGregor has attracted a huge base of support. Maybe I’m getting a bit too old, but I have to agree with a number of articles penned by different national journalists at the weekend, who seem to be at odds with McGregor being awarded the Sports Person of the Year award.

For me the Donovan brothers are head and shoulders ahead of everyone for the award, not just in the water, but for their personality and wit on dry land.

If you are of a certain age, which of these would you like your daughter taking home - one of the O’Donovans or McGregor! !

The Mac Rory story

It seems Anthony Harkin has started a conversation in Donegal with something he included in his report to the Donegal GAA Convention on Sunday.

The outgoing Coaching Officer put forward the idea that Donegal should consider entering a Donegal North and Donegal South in the premier Ulster Colleges football competition, the MacRory Cup.

There was a conversation on twitter about the merits of the proposal and Glenswilly mentor and St. Eunan’s College underage manager, Gary McDaid, made reference to it in comments after the Loch an Iúir final on Tuesday.

McDaid wondered why no coaching officer had ever made contact with St. Eunan’s College to offer them any advice on the Mac Rory Cup, which they have entered at various stages, but only on the odd occasion in recent years.

The level needed to play in the Mac Rory Cup is very high, and St. Eunan’s are the only college that have any aspirations in that regard. The Letterkenny college have been competing well in recent years and with the St. Eunan’s U-16 team winning Ulster this year, maybe they will be close to Mac Rory level in two years’ time.

But what Anthony Harkin was mooting may well have some merit. It at least deserves a conversation. Colaisti Inis Eoghain (an amalgamation of schools in Inishowen) were able to compete in the Mac Larnon Cup, reaching the final (where they met St. Eunan’s College), so maybe there is a case to be made for two Donegal teams.

I can only think that what Anthony Harkin was proposing was to give the top players at secondary level in Donegal a chance to play at the highest level, and thereby give them a chance to improve as players.

Nothing might ever materialise, but the conversation has started.