Frank McGlynn a shining light in making Donegal a team to fear again

THE SPORTING DIARY with Sports Ed Peter Campbell

Frank McGlynn a shining light in making Donegal a team to fear again

McGlynn showing true team spirit

“Regardless of how many years you are on the team you are no different than other players in the panel.

“It is important, too, for the young lads that they feel that they are on a level playing field with everybody else and that is the way the squad is built.”

Those are the comments of Frank McGlynn, speaking after Sunday’s game against Dublin in MacCumhaill Park. Donegal got a draw, maybe with a little luck from a very debatable free, but the fighting spirit which got them into that position owes much to the transition that is going on within the Donegal panel.

The words and attitude of Frank McGlynn are so important in that transition. We are so lucky in Donegal to have players of this calibre (and McGlynn is not alone). They have achieved more success than any Donegal team before them, bar none. Yet they are showing a humility that can make a huge difference.

Also this week, Karl Lacey was talking at the launch of the partnership between Letterkenny IT and the U-16 and U-17 development squads, and here again we have something really positive taking place, passing on the experience and ensuring that the younger players avoid the pitfalls of over-training and preparing properly for their senior careers.

And what about McGlynn on Sunday? For a change, I watched the game from the stand, and it was a privilege to watch a player take the correct option each time. There is so much that the young players starting out can learn from the Glenfin All-Star.

Donegal got a result, and to do so against the best team in the country, has to be celebrated. Apart from the fighting spirit, there will also be plenty to work on for the coming weeks. Only scoring one point from play, albeit in very difficult conditions, was a negative. There was a slight fear at times to take some opportunities but that can be worked on.

There were so many strong performances that it is seems churlish to even mention anything negative. Thank goodness Caolan Ward decided to hang on for another year for his chance; he is an exciting player on the ball and has been getting better with each game.

The same can be said of young Jason McGee, Eoghan Bán Gallagher and Ciaran Thompson.

With four games in five weeks in the league and a possible three games in the Ulster U-21 Championship, there will be a very busy schedule for some of these players over the next month or so. A win in Breffni Park against Cavan on Saturday night could allow for careful management of these players to ensure that they can give of their best without being put at risk. Karl Lacey’s words at the launch of the development squads come to mind.

‘Super 8s’ - is there a bigger picture?

There has been plenty of reaction to the decisions taken at the GAA Congress at the weekend, especially about the introduction of the ‘Super 8s’ and the changing of the All-Ireland football and hurling finals from September to August.

I was surprised at the reaction, because it was obvious in the last few weeks that the lobby for change was well ahead of the posse.

Eugene McGee, in his Irish Independent column, was very critical of the moving of the finals to August, and also put forward the view in relation to the problems with club football, that the ‘elephant in the room’ was county managers, who were dictating when club games were being played.

But surely the ‘bigger elephants in the room’ are the provincial councils who are working to their own agenda as regards intercounty fixtures.

Elsewhere in this issue, Gary McDaid of Glenswilly, who has had experience at club and county level, puts forward a plan based on getting an All-Ireland series with two 16s, a sort of A and B, which would produce semi-finals in both grades, which is worth a hearing.

The ‘Super 8s’, in my opinion, has been designed to put pressure on provincial councils to tighten up their competitions. Maybe when that is completed, the whole structure can be looked at again.

The changes are for a trial period of three years and I see Brian McEniff has mentioned that maybe two years would be enough. He has a point, and I’m sure that could be changed with a motion to Congress next year.

The GPA (Gaelic Players’ Association) have come in for criticism for not putting their views more strongly (they had a 70% vote against the changes), but at the end of the day they only represent a small number of the overall playing pool. The newly formed CPA (Club Players’ Association) didn’t have a voice, and surely they will be a factor in any decisions made going forward.

No doubt there will be plenty of opinions, but getting solutions is never easy. But change is necessary. The changing of the minor and U-21 will also be thrown into the mix. At least we won’t have a silly season of U-21 Championship and National Football League that we are about to witness later this month.

We could do with condensing other competitions also at college and club level which would help fixture-makers, who have sometimes an impossible task.

Can't see a perfect solution surfacing any time soon.