I'm disappointed for the U-21s and Declan


I'm disappointed for the U-21s and Declan

I’m awfully disappointed for the U-21s following Saturday’s defeat to Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final in Cavan.

The games caught up with them in the end and to ask them to play an All-Ireland semi-final final five days after winning the Ulster final was very unfair.

And that is not making excuses, but it was pretty evident from very early in Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday, that they were a tired team, both mentally and physically. The spark that was so evident in the final against Derry in Armagh on Monday night was gone.

They didn’t score until the 24th minute and only scored two points in the whole of the first half.

And they only scored 0-9 in total. Now for a team that had hit 3-17 in their two previous games that was a poor return.

In fairness to Dessie Farrell and Dublin, they had done their homework on us and had a game plan and stuck to it.

Dessie had got two chances to look at us. He was in Enniskillen for the semi-final against Cavan and in the Athletic Grounds for the final against Derry .

Dublin had a couple of weeks from their Leinster final win over Offaly to get ready for the semi-final.

I’m really disappointed for Declan and the players and the fact that they were not playing on a level playing pitch.

We had a couple of half goal chances in the first half and if we had scored one of them it might be a different story.

We definitely needed a goal to lift them. But in the second half we never really looked like getting in for a goal.

And for a team that scored seven goals in their four previous games this, more than anything else, highlights how off colour we were.

It certainly was a far cry from five days earlier in the Ulster final against Derry.

After an indifferent first half - maybe with hindsight that was the first sign of fatigue - they blew Derry away in the second half with what I can only describe as an awesome display and as good of football as I have seen from a Donegal team in a few years.

But look, we are Ulster champions and there is no argument about that. Time was, and not all that long ago, we would be quite happy with an Ulster U-21 title.

It is just a shame that when we did not get a crack at an All-Ireland; the field was not a level one.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.