MCENIFF VIEW: Donegal still have a good squad of players

DIVISION ONE STATUS HAS TO BE FIRST GOAL

MCENIFF VIEW: Donegal still have a good squad of players

It was disappointing that Donegal’s game against Monaghan did not go ahead on Sunday.

It was disappointing on a couple of fronts. First of all it was disappointing for Declan and the players because they could have done with the game.

This was especially the case after last Wednesday night’s game against Queen’s in Ballybofey. Queen’s were so poor that game didn’t even count as a workout.

A good hard game with Monaghan on Sunday was what the doctor ordered, though looking at the Monaghan line-up, it was light enough.

They had a few of the regulars alright but by and large it was an untried Monaghan, this was particularly so up front.

Conor McCarthy was the only recognisable name from the regulars in the attack.

Donegal were short a good few of the regulars too. But with Mark Anthony McGinley, Eamonn Doherty, Marty O’Reilly, Hugh McFadden, Odhran MacNiallais, Michael Carroll and Jamie Brennan, Donegal looked the stronger team on paper.

It is good to see Odhran MacNiallais back on board. Odhran is a class forward and we need all our best footballers playing for the county.

I was also disappointed for the supporters that made the long journey to Clones. I saw Noel and Rose Toye up from Creeslough and I was thinking coming down the road it was a fair old spin back down the road for Noel and Rose.

The decision not to play the match was the right one and I fully agree with the decision. Player safety is paramount. But I do feel the game could have been called off a little earlier.

It was alright for the Monaghan supporters, none of them had too big a journey to make.

The fact that we had no game on Sunday, it sets up Wednesday night’s game against Fermanagh.

I’m really looking forward to that game. It is just the challenge we need and as always with games between Donegal and Fermanagh, there is always an edge to them.

If we beat Fermanagh, it could be enough to see us qualify for the semi-finals. That would be good from the point of view it would be an extra game ahead of the opening game in the league away to Kerry.

The Kerry game, in Killarney, is only a little over two weeks away and as always I have to say as with all encounters with Kerry, I’m looking forward to it.

The Dubs may be setting the standard currently but for me Kerry are always the yardstick. They aren’t called the Kingdom just for the sake of it.

There is not getting away from it, Division One this season is going to be tough for us, especially as we have four away games - Kerry, Dublin, Tyrone and Monaghan - and three at home - Galway, Kildare and Mayo.

It is important to stay in Division One. And to do that we have to win our three homes games and after that anything we pick up on the road will be a bonus.

Division One is where the top teams are and you want to play against the top teams. It is the only way you will improve your game.

Mayo have played in 22 successive Division One League campaigns. It is some record and the only county to do so; even Kerry and Dublin have dropped out of the top flight a couple of times in that time.

Surely it is no coincidence then that they

have played in seven All-Ireland finals in that time, albeit they didn’t win one.

But as we have seen they have come mighty close in the and last two years with just a point separating them and Dublin two years in-a-row.

Mayo are proof, if proof is needed, if you want to be up competing in the championship, Division One is the place to be.

I know a lot of our big players have retired over the last couple of seasons. But despite that I still think we have a good squad of players.

We still have players like Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn, Michael Murphy, Mark McHugh, Patrick McBrearty, Martin McElhinney, Martin O’Reilly, all All-Ireland winners.

And we have a good crop of young players coming through that have won minor and U-21 Ulster titles.

Declan has some rebuilding to do, but there is a solid backbone there already.

And the place to do that rebuilding is in Division One though it wouldn’t be a complete disaster if we dropped to Division Two.

There are a number of good teams in Division Two and the season ahead it is going to be competitive.

But my preference is still for the top division.

We have a tough draw in the championship too and it is going to be a tough road to qualify for the Super 8.

But the Super 8 is the place to be, and not only for football reasons but also for financial reasons. The Super 8 is where the money is going to be and if you want a share of the cake, you ‘ve got to play in the Super 8.

As for the Super 8, I’m no great fan.

I think it is going to be detrimental to club football and that is my problem with the concept.

The plan is to play the Super 8 on consecutive Sundays in July and August. And given that it is through the provincial championship you qualify for the Super 8, the provincials are going have to be played off in May and June.

Donegal play Cavan in the preliminary round in Ulster on May 13th. If they win they advance in Ulster and if they, God forbid, were to lose to Cavan, they would go straight into Qualifiers.

Either way, if they make it to the Super 8 you are basically looking at club football from May to end of August without county footballers.

I don’t think it is neither good enough nor fair and is an issue that needs to be addressed or it will drive a deeper wedge between club and county and that is neither good or healthy.

Finally, it is with a heavy heart that I extend my sympathies to the Delaney and Sweeney families Dungloe, on the death of Christine Delaney (nee Sweeney) formerly of Sweeney’s Hotel in Dungloe.

Christine was a very dear friend and mine and my wife Cautie. She was also a big GAA woman from a great GAA family and while not in good health for a number of years she will be missed by family and a large circle of good friends.

Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.