Rory Gallagher will be somewhat relieved this week after the win over Roscommon last Sunday. The Donegal manager has made no secret of the fact that it is going to take a bit of time for the new players to find their feet at this level.
He has insisted that the new lads have to be given an extended run in the team to experience the tactical way in which he expects Donegal to play.
So two points last weekend would have been a big plus, not only in our effort to stay in Division One but also, and more importantly, to boost the confidence of the young lads.
While many of them have plenty of experience playing at U-21 and minor level, the step up to Division One is a completely new chapter in their football education.
Sunday’s win will have brought them on leaps and bounds and there will be a good buzz at training for the next few weeks in appreciation of the visit of Dublin.
On a more realistic note, Roscommon created a lot of goal chances and were guilty of some poor finishing and Kevin McStay will wonder how the game got away from them. Worrying for Donegal was the way we were opened at the back and but for the experience of Neil McGee at full-back and some great saves from Mark Anthony McGinley we could have found ourselves in a bit of bother.
At the other end, Marty O’Reilly was excellent; his work rate has always been excellent but Sunday saw him kick some great scores and his overall performance was top drawer.
Ciaran Thompson again looks at ease at this level; Eoin McHugh was lively throughout and when he runs at defences he’s hard to stop. Eoghan Ban Gallagher put in another great shift and like Thompson is at home playing at the highest level.
It would be hard not to mention the contribution of Michael Murphy once again; his work rate and leadership is unquestionable and without him we are a lesser side.
The right attitude
This time last year Leicester City were top of the premiership; Chelsea were hovering somewhere in mid-table with very little hope of getting into the European places.
Twelve months later and with very little change in personnel bar maybe one or two players on each side, Chelsea are runaway leaders and Leicester are one point above the relegation places.
What could possibly have gone wrong that would have caused such demise in the Leicester ranks? On the other hand, Chelsea’s fortunes have had a complete turnaround. They changed their manager but the same group of players are there. What could possibly have changed in their camp that has turned their fortunes around?
Thomas Jefferson once said “nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal, nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude”.
People can get so carried away with suggesting that it takes a certain type of manager, a tough regime of training or a backroom team that could run the White House to get the right results.
A couple of weeks back Ireland played Scotland in the first game of the Six Nations; the Scots were written off by the entire Irish media and it was only the experience of a number of pundits who suggested that Ireland would have to be careful.
The Irish players gave their all but their attitude was not what it needed to be; the attitude of the Scots was spot on and they got the win.
Ireland went out to Italy last weekend and it would be fair to say they wiped the floor with the Italians. The difference in the attitude of the Irish was where it had to be.
Yes, the Italians were poor, but it was the way the Irish players went about their business that suggested that they were in a better place than the week before.
Going back to Chelsea, was it all down to the change of manager? Maybe a new voice in the dressing room can go a bit of the way but there has to be more than that. Their mindset has changed; they are playing not only for the new manager but more importantly for the group and their supporters.
The Leicester players, on the other hand, seem to have lost the drive and the team spirit that brought them so much success.
It could be suggested that the players on winning last year’s championship got lucrative new contracts and their desire is no longer evident.
Maybe there is a bit of that but most, if not all, of these players would be millionaires anyway so I doubt that would make the difference that has been suggested.
But the attitude that they showed last year, that willingness to go the extra yard, to go for the ball that wasn’t theirs to win and to play as a team is no longer evident.
Will they get out of trouble? Only time will tell, but if their attitude does not change they will be relegated and if Chelsea show the same attitude, hunger and desire that they have shown already this season, they will win the Premiership at a canter.
Given that all we hear now is about the importance of sports science, tactical awareness, backroom support and all that surrounds team sport, it still comes down to one thing, because every other team has those things in place as well. Sport is simple, those that want it most, apply themselves with the right attitude, will always come out on top.