A long way from Killarney for Donegal U-20 captain Jason McGee

A long way from Killarney for Donegal U-20 captain Jason McGee
Gerry McLaughlin sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

Here comes the sun!

It is a world away from a grey day in January, and young Donegal senior player Jason McGee falls and hits his back hard in the opening NFL match between Donegal and Kerry in Killarney.

It was a cruel blow to the young Cloughaneely man who was not able to help his club or county, and had a pretty trying time in his battle back to fitness.

Like Niall O’Donnell, he decided to leave the senior panel to concentrate on the U-20 side, and those decisions were certainly vindicated on Sunday.

McGee lined out for his first major match since April and the joint captain, with Niall O’Donnell, reports no ill effects.

“Yes we had a great team performance against Cavan and Niall certainly made his presence felt with 1-12, not bad”, he quipped.

“I am enjoying it now and back training full tilt and feeling fit and fresh and this was the longest I got since those five minutes against Kerry.

“My back and hips had been giving me a bit of bother and whatever way I landed it just triggered it all off and I could not get rid of it for long enough.

“But thankfully I have good physiotherapists who have helped me enormously”.

Jason was delighted to come through unscathed against Cavan and Gary McDaid took him off with ten minutes to go as a “precaution”.

Jason played against Derry in the MFL and Ulster final of two years ago and is well aware of the real threat they pose.

“They are always tough opponents and are a savage championship team and you just look at the success of all their school teams at underage level and that is a measure of their true quality.

“They are always competitive and have been very successful and it is going to be a very big test for us on Sunday”

So where will the main threat come from Derry?

“Callum Brown and the McWilliams are very good players for them.

“That Ulster minor final of two years ago was played on a very hot day and they came back at us very well in the second half.

“We managed to hold out in the end and it was a great victory but that is the past and we need to win this match on Sunday”.

It is a measure of Donegal’s great strength in depth that they are doing so well in the absence of the injured Eoghan McGettigan and Kieran Gallagher (who was Jason’s minor midfield partner in 2016) and goalscorer J D Boyle, all from Naomh Conaill.

“Kieran Gallagher was a great partner in midfield”.

As for Sunday Jason believes that Derry, like Cavan, might test the Donegal defence with a few high balls into the square.

“Callum Brown is very good in those situations for Derry but we have no doubt that Gary and the backroom team will have a plan for all eventualities.

“It is a very well organised and there is very strong competition for places and you are not going to win anything now with 15 players.

“It takes 21 to come in and those lads need to make a difference”.

So can Donegal beat Derry?

“Oh yes we can, it is going to be tight and it won’t be easy, but we can do it”.