THE SPORTING DIARY: Will Rochford be good for Donegal?

THE SPORTING DIARY: Will Rochford be good for Donegal?

It has been a couple of weeks since the surprise announcement that former Mayo manager, Stephen Rochford, will be part of the Donegal backroom team for 2019. With the county final in the spotlight I didn’t have a chance to comment.

It came like a shot from the blue and caught everyone by surprise. My immediate reaction was that it was ‘fake news’ but once it was established I have to say it was a big call, not just for Donegal, but for Rochford himself. To put himself in a No 2 position after taking Mayo to the brink of All-Ireland glory was a surprise move.

For Donegal it is a win-win situation. The Mayo man will be a fresh voice and he will have respect from the start.

Speaking to Donegal supporters, though, the appointment has got mixed reaction, negative and positive.

But one feels that if Donegal get on a winning run next summer, then it will be all positive.

Big weekend for
Donegal clubs

Donegal will be well represented in Ulster this weekend starting on Saturday when the Glenfin Ladies take on Donaghmoyne from Monaghan in the Ulster club final. It is going to be a special weekend for the Glenfin club as their men are also in Ulster action on Sunday in the quarter-final of the Ulster Intermediate Club against Banagher of Derry.

The club is going through a rich period at the moment with the U-21s in a Donegal semi-final and the U-13s in a Co. final.

On Sunday also the Donegal senior champions, Gaoth Dobhair, travel to Corrigan Park to take on Cargin with high hopes, while Red Hugh’s meet Emyvale of Monaghan in the Ulster Junior semi-final.

Ref rumbles

I was going to ask the question a couple of weeks ago - why does Jimmy White not get to referee a county final nowadays?

At the time I wasn’t aware of the difficulties that currently are being experienced between the referees’ body and the Donegal Competitions Control Committee. Recruiting referees is a constant thorn in the side of the Association; retaining them is another.

I was made aware that the referees’ board had nominated three names for the Donegal senior final (as is the norm for some time) but they were told that the appointments had already been made.

Which takes me back to my original question about Jimmy White - in my opinion, still the best referee in the county, but he hasn’t refereed a senior county final now since 2011. Yet, when the tough fixtures in the group games are being sorted out every year, White is appointed to those games. Surely, he should have been rewarded with one of the top three county finals. Indeed, there are some who say that he should, where his own club are not involved, be in charge of county finals until someone better comes along.

That is probably taking it too far, because a number of young referees have been stepping up and they also need to be rewarded.

I’m not privy to the difficulties at present between the referees and the CCC, but it’s important that both are reading off the same hymn sheet, which doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment.

Harps need to be in tune

I was in Finn Park on Monday evening on the terraces for the first leg of the promotion play-off with Limerick and, truth be told, Finn Harps were fortunate to get a 1-0 win to take to the Market’s Field on Friday night for the second leg.

Defensively, I thought they were excellent with Keith Cowan and Sam Todd outstanding. It was a very cagey game with both sides taking few chances. Paddy McCourt again showed his class, although he almost got caught on a few occasions. If Harps do get promotion, McCourt’s boots will be big boots to fill.

They will probably have to nick another goal on Friday night to get through. Limerick had more about them as regards an attacking threat and the Harps defence can expect a busy night. But if they can get a goal then there is no reason why they can’t get through.