It’s Time

Donegal go into tomorrow’s Ulster Final against Derry as favourites, and should go on to claim their first Ulster title since 1992. There have been a few McKenna Cup triumphs and a National League along the way, but this is something that many supporters, including me, have wanted for a long time.

Until the win over Tyrone, Donegal had beaten no-one of consequence. Antrim never looked like repeating their shock victory of 2009 and Cavan were plain awful. Against Tyrone, for long periods in the 1st half, Donegal looked pretty awful as well and were somewhat fortunate not to be facing a bigger deficit at half-time. In the 2nd half, goals at key moments as well as some wayward shooting from Ryan McMenamin and Peter Harte let Donegal off the hook and here we are.

The main criticism I would have is this – Donegal have a potentially outstanding full forward line, with the already excellent Michael Murphy, the sometimes excellent Colm McFadden and a confident and talented Patrick McBrearty, yet they were starved of decent possession against Tyrone, mainly due to Donegal’s tactics rather than any kind of defensive scheming on Tyrone’s part. The team is built upon a defensive foundation, and for most of the game against Tyrone, there didn’t seem to be any ideas or strategy when Donegal found themselves in the Tyrone half. Such limited tactics bring limited success.

I saw Donegal play a few times in the National League this year, and to be fair, there seemed to be more of a complete game plan, which, yielded some nice scores (the game against Meath in particular was impressive enough, even if Meath looked pretty awful). But, Division 2 wasn’t necessarily a good indicator of true potential, so it will be interesting to see if Donegal can offer more against Derry than they have shown to date in the Championship. I’d like to think so – winning is great and all, but there has to be incremental improvement as the season progresses otherwise I fear that a rude awakening (a la Cork in 2009) could be in store at some stage. I’d be happy to be wrong on this score and tomorrow might go some way towards disproving my theory, but Derry are no world beaters, especially without both Bradley brothers. What would be really interesting would be how Donegal would fare if they came up against Tyrone again.

My uncle told me last night that he has a pair of boots belonging to Colm McFadden (his son used to share a house with him). I told him that they could be worth something someday soon…


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