THE SPORTING DIARY: Donegal building momentum game by game

with Sports Ed Peter Campbell

THE SPORTING DIARY: Donegal building momentum game by game

Donegal building some momentum

There has to be some quiet satisfaction inside the head of Declan Bonner after the weekend with the efficient way they disposed of Derry in Celtic Park. It was a journey into the unknown with a number of players facing an away venue for senior championship for the first time.

Derry folk were not really confident. Talk from them in the press box was that “nine times out of ten they would expect Donegal to win”. But there was always that one chance.

In truth they felt that Derry had very little preparation done under their new manager and that Donegal were further down the road.

That’s the way it turned out. But it helps if you have your experienced players doing their bit, and that was the case on Sunday. Hugh McFadden is in that category now and along with Michael Murphy and Leo McLoone, they controlled much of the game around midfield.

Was talking to former star Colm McFadden just after the game and he marvelled at the length of Shaun Patton’s kick-outs. “I think they are longer than Papa’s,” said Colm, referring to his former comrade, Paul Durcan, who also had prodigious length with his kicks.

Any doubts that the Donegal supporters had about the Letterkenny custodian (and there were a few) are fading fast. Declan Bonner took a leap of faith and while it is early days, it seems to have been a good call. We are just blessed in Donegal as regards goalkeepers.

The No. 1 jersey gets more important by the day.

Memo to Jurgen Klopp: Take a holiday in Donegal and most of your problems will be solved!

One Donegal supporter suggested that there could be a free-taking role for Patton, especially with long-range kicks, which he felt would take the pressure off Michael Murphy.

Donegal are now within touching distance of an Ulster final but they are still a work in progress. Given the sweltering heat in Celtic Park, they were able to play a controlling game, especially when they built up a lead.

The front men are doing the business with Patrick McBrearty back to his best. There was a camera set up in the stand in Celtic Park on Sunday which followed Ryan McHugh in every step he took. Was the footage for some opposition down the line?

Donegal will meet Down in the semi-final after the Mourne men disposed of Antrim at the weekend. If news that Derry defeated them in a challenge a week previously is true, then Donegal must fancy their chances, but they will have to curtail the amount of chances they are giving to opposition teams. Against both Cavan and Derry, the final scoreline would have been very close if either side had availed of the 13 wides that they accumulated.

But for now you have to be happy with Donegal - 4-36 in two games make them easy on the eye.

Roll on Clones on June 10th.

Impressive U-20s

The U-20s under Gary McDaid really impressed everybody present in Celtic Park on Sunday. They were clinical in everything that they did and every player seemed to be completely aware of their role.

They have talent right throughout the field, and Niall O’Donnell looked a class apart in everything that he did. The development of O’Donnell and many others on this team is important for the future, and after witnessing Sunday’s display, expectation levels will rise.

But it is also important to remember that these are young men of just 18 and 19 years of age and they need nurturing. Many of them have tasted success already at minor level and it seems they are hungry for more.

They are back in action this Sunday when they meet Derry in Healy Park, Omagh (11.45 am) and that is likely to be a much tougher test than they got against Cavan.

But no doubt this impressive backroom team will have them ready for that test.

Get your turf cut

If you live anywhere near Downings then it’s important you get your turf cut before Friday because Naomh Columba are coming to town.

The Glen men have a reputation for helping out in the bog on the weekend of the All-Ireland Gaeltacht, and they have got a special invitation to the All-Ireland Gaeltacht this weekend.

With the good weather set to continue, it looks as if the club in Rosguill will have a bumper weekend of football.