Donegal supporters in Clones on Sunday. Picture Thomas Gallagher
Donegal very easy on the eye
Donegal’s third big win in Ulster against Down on Sunday was the most convincing so far and there should be huge kudos for Declan Bonner and his backroom team.
They have the side playing as a very formidable unit, improving with every game. While it seems a very easy passage to an Ulster final, I’m sure the players would have a different view. They have put in the effort and while it may look easy, it doesn’t just happen.
To have hit 6-58 in three games is phenomenal. They are on target to win the Ulster title from the preliminary round for the third time in this decade and that, in itself, is worthy of note. (Only two other counties have won Ulster from the preliminary round).
But it is the style in which they are playing that is attracting most attention. The offensive nature of their game is so easy on the eye and their record haul of points on Sunday (2-22) was shared all over the field.
There were hints that something was coming together during the league, but they were not able to close out games. Now that hasn’t been a problem in the three championship games to date.
It seems trivial to mention that Down looked a poor outfit, but Donegal, despite playing with 14 men for most of the contest, were never threatened. The loss of Neil McGee, though, will cause some problems in planning for the final. He was probably a little careless, especially after being booked, but on another day he would have got away with a second yellow. The offence was certainly no worse than the cheap shot of Conor Maginn on the head of Ryan McHugh minutes earlier, and he only got yellow.
Caolan Ward was pressed into duty at full-back, but I’m thinking he would be much happier where he was operating prior to the sending off, at wing half-back. He had already notched a point and was probably looking forward to a day on the front foot.
Whether Donegal will go with Ward at full-back for the Ulster final remains to be seen. Stephen McMenamin came into the game in the second half and long term, he seems to be the best choice for the No. 3 shirt.
Donegal will face a much sterner test in the final with Rory Gallagher and Ricey McMenamin likely to have the builders in to erect a wall around the 45m line in Clones. Donegal will have to deal with that and deal with it better than Monaghan did in the other semi-final.
The wide open spaces of St. Tiernach’s Park will help and Donegal have the running power and the scoring power to make that space count. If they can get out of the blocks like they did on Sunday against Down, then they will be in a strong position.
"We don't do media bans, drink bans and we're definitely going to enjoy tonight," Waterford manager, Tom McGlinchey, promised after his side's 3-14 to 1-18 victory at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday last in the first round of the Qualifiers.
It was refreshing because press bans are becoming more the norm at the moment. Last week the Cavan senior panel issued a statement saying they were not going to give interviews to the local Anglo Celt ahead of the Qualifier with Wicklow because a court case involving one of the panel appeared in the paper.
It seems the player in question was banned for three years for drink driving and the court case appeared in the Anglo Celt. As a result the Cavan panel took umbrage at the heading 'Cavan GAA Player Disqualified Over Drink Driving’.
Thankfully, it seems it was only a one match ban for the Celt and things are back to normal now.
Also this week, our border representative, Gerry McLaughlin, was due to attend the Fermanagh press day for the Ulster final, but was told that if he was representing any Donegal papers he would not be welcome.
Yet every word that was said at the press day will appear in one of the Fermanagh or national newspapers. And given that the Herald Group have an overlap in Donegal, it seems hard to fathom.
But then the GAA intercounty scene is changing! Everything has to be controlled.
And you wonder who is in control!