Donegal dug deep and showed commendable character to emerge from their round 3A qualifier clash with Meath in Navan.
That is the view of James McHugh, one of the Donegal 1992 All-Ireland heroes, on last Saturday evening’s one point (1-15 to 1-14) win over the Royal County.
And while the Kilcar man and former All-Star was happy with the win and the manner in which it was achieved, he still feels Rory Gallagher’s new look side are far from the finished article.
He feels that Donegal are going to have unearth a few more young players if they are to challenge the big boys of Kerry, Dublin, Mayo and Tyrone and be in with a chance of the ultimate honours.
Nevertheless, he insists that Saturday night’s result in Navan was a good result for Donegal and Donegal football.
“It was a big win and a it will do a lot for the younger players to come through a tight game like that,”James told the Democrat.
“It was a good performance coming on the back of the poor showing against Tyrone and last weekend against Longford.
“I must say I enjoyed the game. They were level something like 11 times and Donegal did really well to come away with the win.
“Meath are no world beaters but I thought we showed great character to dig it out.
“Patrick (McBrearty) kicked a great point to win it and his one from the free just beforehand to level the game was even a better score.
“It was from a tight angle and a pressure kick but he nailed it.
“Ryan (McHugh) had a good game and finished well and was very influential; he set up and scored the goal and he also laid the ball back to Patrick for the winner.
“Michael Murphy’s display once again was top drawer and what can one say about him that hasn’t been already said about him.
“He is a very special player and we are very lucky to have him.
“Jason McGee, Kieran Gillespie, Eoghan Bán (Gallagher) and Caolan Ward all had good games too.”
One of the disappointment for James was that Donegal were opened up for the Meath goal so soon after they had scored their own own goal.
“To concede the goal so soon after scoring at the other end was disappointing and it made it more difficult than it should have been.
“Hopefully, the lesson will be learned and that after scoring a goal you always close up the shop for a few minutes and maybe try and score the next score.
“But overall that apart It was a good all round team performance and it was a big improvement on the performance the week before against Longford. They did what they had to do and move on now to face Galway.
James, like most observers, was surprised at Roscommon’s shock nine point win over Galway in Salthill on Sunday in the Connacht final.
He had watched Galway a few times and felt that they could have been one of the dark horses this season.
The Tribesmen were Division Two league champions, they had defeated Leinster finalists Kildare in the league final.
They had dumped Mayou out of the Connacht championship for the second year in-a-row and were the odds on favourites against relegated Roscommon.
But Roscommon, under the guidance of former Mayo, All-Star forward and former RTE Sunday Game analyst, Kevin McStay, ignored the script.
Roscommon rocked Galway as they ran out 2-15 to 0-12 winners to produce the upset of the year so far.
“I didn’t see that one coming and I think very few did. I felt that Galway were a coming team and were even dark horses to break into the top three or four and challenge for honours in a year or two.
“They probably underestimated Roscommon and got caught but I still think Galway are a good team. They still have a lot of quality in the team.
“They have won a couple of U-21 All-Irelands in recent years and haven’t become a bad team overnight.
“Sunday’s game was just one of those unexplained bad days. We had ours against Tyrone.
“I wouldn’t just write them off yet and it is all down to how they recover from last Sunday’s defeat.
“If they do recover and come out and play as they can they will provide us with our stiffest test and it is one we will have to be ready for.”