It was good to see Donegal back in action at the weekend. After four and half months of a break the players were well rested.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the game. The 1 o’clock throw-in did not suit. But by all accounts and reports it was a good workout with Declan Bonner taking the opportunity to give a number of promising young players a run.
Ciaran Diver from Moville seemed to take his chance. He scored 1-1 and from what I hear had a good game. It was good to see Jason McGee back too, Jason is a big man and has loads of potential and it was also good to hear he played well.
We have a lot of quality young players coming up through the ranks in the county and it is important they are given their chance and nurtured along.
It was good to hear, too, that Niall O’Donnell and Ciaran Thompson came on in the second half and made an impact. They are going to be two big players for us in the coming years.
We have our first outing in the Dr McKenna Cup on Sunday week, which should be good preparation for the league which gets underway at the end of January.
Unfortunately we are playing Queen’s University, one of the College teams.
The McKenna Cup can be useful in the lead up to the league and it was good to hear Declan saying afterwards that he was going to continue to try out the younger lads in the competition.
Games are what bring players on and besides winning can become a habit.
Looking back on 2018, it was a good enough year for Donegal. The seniors won the Ulster championship and Gaoth Dobhair and Red Hugh’s enjoyed Ulster Club success.
And we can’t forget the hurlers either. They won the Nicky Rackard Cup and also retained their position in the Allianz Hurling League, which was a huge achievement.
We cannot forget the ladies. They won the Ulster championship and are right up there in the top four or five teams in the country.
The big disappointment was the county U-20s. There was a lot of expectation with the team at the start of the year. They were slightly unlucky after a good win over Cavan in the quarter-final, they came up against a very strong Derry side in the semi-final. Derry went on to win Ulster and reach the All-Ireland final before losing to Mayo.
I see Gary McDaid is currently holding trials for the U-20s and after last season knowing Gary he will be very anxious to make amends for 2018.
The U-20 age group seems to be a bit up in the air as to when it is going to be played and if there is going to be an U-20 league as well as championship.
The sooner all that is cleared up the better.
This week I would like to appeal to all Donegal supporters to get behind the county’s current fundraising efforts. As we learned at the County Convention, the county’s finances aren’t in great shape and we need to raise a lot of money to finance teams and the completion of the new training facility at Convoy.
I know it is not easy in the economic climate but we are all going to have to put the shoulder to the wheel.
Finally as this is my last column of the year a very happy and peaceful Christmas to all Donegal Gaels.
Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack