Donegal need to beware of Down as the county eyes up a Donegal-Fermanagh Ulster final

THE SPORTING DIARY with Sports Ed Peter Campbell

Peter Campbell


Peter Campbell

Donegal need to beware of Down as the county eyes up a Donegal-Fermanagh Ulster final

Donegal’s slippery step before Fermanagh showdown

It wasn’t pretty, but Fermanagh, under Rory Gallagher, got the result and in the end that’s all that mattered to them on Sunday. They rode their luck in the end, getting the late goal, but they dominated the first half and probably should have been further ahead at the break.

In his column in Tuesday’s Irish Times, Jim McGuinness was high in his praise of Rory Gallagher and gives them a great chance of winning that first ever Ulster title.

To say it wasn’t easy on the eye would be an understatement. I watched the first half from the back of the main stand and had planned to stay until ten minutes from the end. But due to work commitments (and the fare) I listened to the second half on the radio.

When Monaghan eventually got on terms and then went two up, it seemed that the game was up, but sport can throw up all eventualities, and whether it was planned or not, Eoin Donnelly’s flick sent the Fermanagh support into raptures.

Immediately, the thought of a Fermanagh-Donegal final was on the horizon - as Gerry McLaughlin said to Declan Bonner a couple of weeks ago - box office! A Declan Bonner-Rory Gallagher Ulster final would be an interesting affair!

But before we get to savour a unique Ulster final pairing, there is the small matter of disposing of Down.

Donegal have shown a refreshing attitude in both their games to date, with fast, attacking football to the fore.  We would hope to see a continuation of that, but at the same time we will be hoping that the defence becomes a little less porous and that we don’t give away as many frees as we did against Derry.

Down also have had a game, and they were comfortable winners against Antrim. They know that Donegal will be a tougher nut to crack, but they also possess a cockiness and will come to Clones on Sunday expecting to win. Their win over Monaghan last year was the highlight of the tenure of manager, Eamonn Burns, but if they put their best foot forward, they can  be difficult opponents.

Still if Donegal can improve from their opening two games, they should be good enough to make it to the Ulster final. But there can be no complacency.

They have been warned after Monaghan’s demise on Sunday last!

Disappointment for U-20s

A one point defeat in any game is hard to take, and given that Donegal should have had a free in the scoring zone in the final few minutes, the defeat to Derry on Sunday was even harder to stomach.

Donegal were in a good position at half-time, three points up. But they just didn’t show for much of the second half and the great teamwork and spirit shown in the opening half and against Cavan, wasn’t to be seen.

When Derry came back and went ahead, Donegal just didn’t have the composure to respond. Their game plan was defence orientated and it was working well when they were ahead. However, when Derry got their noses in front, the Donegal plan did not work as well.

Allied to this a number of players found it hard to make an impression. But remember, these are young players, some 19 years, some just 18. It will be a learning process for them.

As for the competition, just like the U-21, there is something just not right that you prepare for six months for just one or two games. Surely, there has to be a back door for this competition as well.

Na Dunaibh Abú!

How good did Downings look on our screens at the weekend for the Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta. And to crown a wonderful weekend (Hughie must have been on his knees since Christmas for the weather they got in May and June) the Na Dunaibh men and women won the All-Ireland Junior titles.

Congratulations also to Milford and Glenfin for completing an All-Ireland treble for the Ladies, while Naomh Columba and Naomh Conaill were within a whisker of making it an all-Donegal senior final. Commiserations also to Gaeil Fhánada, who lost out in the junior final to the hosts, but made a big contribution, having to play four games in four days.

Overall, it was a great weekend and the groundsman must take a bow for the condition of the pitches. The high camera behind the goals captured his work to perfection with the grass cut to precision. It was akin to watching a game on Croke Park.