Will Croke Park investigate Jamie Brennan goal for Donegal?

THE SPORTING DIARY with Sports Ed Peter Campbell

Will Croke Park investigate Jamie Brennan goal for Donegal?

Will Croke Park investigate Brennan goal?

Imagine how Croke Park might have reacted fifty years ago to the goal fashioned by Jamie Brennan in the Athletic Grounds, Armagh on Monday evening. After watching the match again on YouTube and especially the first Donegal goal just before half-time, the thought came to me that the purists wouldn’t have been too happy to see the Bundoran man set off on a dribble from the half-way line and then look up to see his full-forward colleague, Lorcan Connor, lurking in the right place.

The control from Brennan was majestic and the pass was precision-like and Connor only had to pick up and fire home.

If it had happened 50 years ago, there would have been talk of a rule change to prohibit playing the ball on the ground.

Around the same time on Monday night across channel, Arsenal were struggling against Crystal Palace. Arsene Wenger would have been happy to see one of his players show the bottle that Brennan did and create a goal chance. Indeed, it was not just the dribble; it was the tenacity shown to win a ball that was never his in the first place.

It was the ultimate highlight of a great night for Donegal football. There was a bit of symmetry about the result. Donegal won the first running of the Ulster competition in 1963 and won the final running of this U-21 competition on Monday night. The Irish News Cup can stay in Donegal forever! Six months in Killybegs and six months in Moville!

Hats off to Declan Bonner, the management team and the players. There is a lot of talent in the panel, and they have welded together the best from the last three minor teams into a very strong unit.

A fully fit Niall O’Donnell would be a starting option for the semi-final next Saturday. Selection headaches show the strength of the panel. It will not be an easy game for Donegal. Apart from facing the Dubs, there is another very short turnaround. One hopes that all these tough games don’t catch up on Donegal.

For a good part of the first half on Monday night, they found the going tough against Derry. They must not give the same space to Dublin on Saturday or they could be punished much more than they were against Derry.

They are likely to again be without Kieran Gillespie, which is a big loss, but they have been up to every task set for them so far.

It could have been all so different, though. As Edmund Brennan pointed out on the field in Armagh after the presentation on Monday night, thank goodness for Ethan O’Donnell and that goalline clearance against Tyrone in the first round. The difference between winning an Ulster title and being turfed out in the first round can be so small. This Donegal team deserved that bit of luck.

Programme disaster

After all that praise comes the down side. Once again the Donegal team submitted for the programme for Monday night was nothing short of a disgrace. Lack of accuracy in programmes is one thing; omitting starting players from the programme altogether is disrespectful to the players, their families and to the GAA public, who were urged to travel in large numbers to support the team on Monday night.

The Donegal GAA public did that, outnumbering Derry by 20 to 1. They were given the option of buying a programme linked to a half-time draw ticket, but there wasn’t an option. To get a programme, you also got a draw ticket, all for the price of €4.

But when they opened the programme, they would see a Donegal team that was copied and pasted from the programme for the semi-final with Cavan. For Jason McGee, Colm Kelly and Conor Doherty, it was especially disrespectful, as their names didn’t even appear.

I contacted the Co. PRO about the matter on Tuesday morning and he informed me that he was not given any team, and furthermore that the team for the All-Ireland semi-final programme on Saturday next was being forwarded by the team management.

By that, I can only surmise that the team management are responsible for the team list that was sent to the Ulster Council for the programme. Surely the Co. Board main officers should have stepped in before now to do something about this. There were something like seven changes for the first game against Tyrone, and almost as many for the replay, while it was a little better for the semi-final against Cavan.

What do the management think they are gaining by leaving Jason McGee’s name off the team programme? By Saturday next, Dublin will have watched Donegal on two occasions and will know most of the team set-up. As I’ve said before, why can’t Donegal put their chests out and be confident about their selection? By doing that they would be doing Donegal proud and they would also be much more respectful of their great supporters, who will, no doubt, again travel in big numbers to Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday.