Mayo people very worried about health of Ryan McHugh

THE SPORTING DIARY with Sports Ed Peter Campbell

Mayo people very worried about health of Ryan McHugh

Knock prayers working for Ryan McHugh injury

“I never heard as many Mayo men worried about the health of Ryan McHugh?” That was the comment of hard line Donegal supporter, Brendan O’Reilly, who encounters some of the Mayo brigade every Sunday night in his Sligo base.

When news was filtering through around midweek that McHugh’s ankle injury, suffered late in the game against Monaghan in Ballyshannon on Sunday, might not be as bad as first feared, O’Reilly quipped: “It’s all them prayers that the Mayo folk were offering in Knock that has done the trick!”

Donegal head to Castlebar on Sunday in something of a quandary as to what might happen. But it is important to underline that they are sitting second in the table at the moment and in pole position to be in the final, probably against Dublin.

However, the permutations are so vast that six counties are still in with a chance of making that decider. Indeed, if Donegal were to beat Mayo and Monaghan overcome Dublin in Clones, then it would be an all-Ulster Division One final on April 9th.

No matter what the outcome of Sunday’s games, it has been a superb league campaign for Donegal. After losing the opening game to Kerry (and looking in a spot of bother), they are unbeaten since. They had a little luck in Roscommon with Eoin McHugh’s late winner, but then on Sunday last the luck was with Monaghan, with the late penalty in Fr. Tierney Park (which has been moved to Ballybofey according to the Irish Independent)!

There were three black cards in Ballyshannon on Sunday, yet again the most blatant black card offence was not punished. Ryan McHugh, not for the first time, was the target. He made a run along the stand-side in the first half as Michael Murphy was about to take a free. He was unceremoniously hauled to the ground by the jersey not far from the referee and linesman. It was a tackle that would have been perfect in another sport. How it went unpunished was astonishing.

Sunday’s game marked the return of Kieran Gillespie and also Karl Lacey, and both made their mark. With news that Jason McGee is also close to a return, the Donegal management have a very nice problem going forward.

Of course, by the time you read this Donegal will, hopefully, be in an Ulster U-21 final also. By Sunday evening next they could be looking ahead to a very busy week - an Ulster U-21 final and an Allianz National League Division One final.

Good Luck Seamie

Sport can bring out so many emotions and it also can be so cruel at times. On Friday night last we all suffered a little when it became immediately obvious that one of our own, Seamie Coleman, had suffered a very bad injury in the Ireland v Wales World Cup qualifier at the Aviva.

It was a bad tackle and the Killybegs man’s determination to play and win the ball was a factor. It is always a risk for all sportsmen and sportswomen and when the outcome is a career-threatening injury, there is always a more emotive-driven outcry.

The need to apportion blame is almost immediate. Some felt the referee did not take proper control of the game prior to the incident; that Gareth Bale should have been shown red for a tackle on John O’Shea. You could also argue that Shane Long and Glenn Whelan should have been yellow carded in the first half.

There was an edge to the game; which is the way both managers would have wanted it. Indeed, how many times have we seen this in ordinary club games; managers and players urging their charges to ‘get stuck in’. Indeed, it was not unknown in the past, that a manager in a dressing room prior to a game would urge one of his players ‘to break his leg’. He would not have meant it like that, but in trying to psyche up his team for the challenge, he was inadvertently urging one of his team to actually harm an opponent.

Thankfully, injuries such as Seamie Coleman’s are rare enough. Seamie’s career has been based on determination and a willingness to keep the head down and get through. I have no doubt that he will get through this too. Our fingers will be crossed for him.

And we do that more so because he is one of our own.