Kerry were always going to be a tough opening game and that is the way it turned out in O’Donnell Park yesterday.
Their final winning margin did not truly reflect their superiority. But I was greatly encouraged by Donegal’s battling performance against what, I believe, is the second best team in the country.
Let’s face it, we were short a lot of experienced players from last year and then we lost Neil McGee from the selected team.
Neil was a huge loss for his physical presence and his experience.
But having said that I thought Caolan Ward did well, as did the whole full-back line.
They were under serious pressure due to David Moran’s dominance at midfield and the quality of the ball that was going through to their full-forward line.
Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Paul Brennan and Marty O’Reilly were the others that impressed me in defence. We were in big trouble in the middle of the field until Michael Murphy moved to the area in the second half.
Michael was colossal once again and Patrick McBrearty was the go-to man up front and had a good game. He ended with four points.
Ciaran Thompson had a good second half and Eoin McHugh and the young Jigger Darach O’Connor showed up well when they were introduced in the second half.
Eoin’s injection of pace caused the Kerry defence problems and Darrach kicked two very good points.
Ryan McHugh seemed to pick up a foot injury before half-time. I saw him signalling to the sideline.
I hope he didn’t do further damage by playing on in the second half because he has a Sigerson Cup game this week and we have Roscommon next Sunday.
He is a vital player for us and we don’t want him getting injured. It was the battling qualities that impressed me most of all.
After that defeat, Roscommon next Sunday in Hyde Park is a big game now. It is a big game for both counties and even at this early stage is a four pointer.
Whoever loses that game will have a fight on their hands to stay up.
Roscommon will be no soft touch either. They may have had their managerial troubles over the winter, but they went away to Omagh yesterday and ran Tyrone to six points.
Remember O’Donnell Park last year, they played very well against us and gave us something of a football lesson.