Until Victory Always

Note – I copied this here from http://marklawrensonmustbestopped.blogspot.ie/ which I now dedicate to soccer.  All my GAA and Donegal posts now go on here.

(Thanks to @LeabharnaBeatha for the title by the way.)

So, the dust has long settled on the 2011 GAA season. The All-Ireland Championship is over, Glenswilly have won their first ever Donegal Senior Championship and Donegal have 3 All Stars and are back in Division 1. Tonight, we head to Newry to take on Down, and with 4 games at home, are odds of staying up are decent at this stage.

3 Donegal players received All Star awards – just reward for a defence that was surely the best in the Championship and anyone who tries to put this down to the system rather than the players clearly didn’t watch Donegal too closely last year. Sure, the system yielded dividends, but McGee, Lacey and Cassidy were simply outstanding, and not just in a a defensive capacity either (witness the runs made by McGee, the playmaking prowess of Lacey and Cassidy’s monster points at key moments against both Tyrone and Kildare)- and it is ignorant in the extreme (I’m looking at you Pat) to try and discount their contributions.

Of course, Kevin Cassidy is no longer on the panel – thrown off by Jim McGuinness for disclosures made in ‘This Is Our Year’. It seems harsh, but if the team had agreed on certain things, then players should have stayed true to those conditions. It seems clear that Cassidy didn’t and has paid the price. If it is the end, and until a ball is kicked in the Championship, I don’t ncessarily beleive that it is (despite all that has been said, heard and written), it’s sad way for the career of one of our best footballers over the past decade to end their career.

Can Donegal improve this year? Sure we can. Donegal didn’t lose to Dublin because they weren’t good enough – they lost because they didn’t play well enough. The main reason for this seemed to be that the fear of losing trumped the desire to win at a key moment and Dublin (to their credit) seized the iniative and won out.

Jim McGuinness is saying all the right things. It’s a 4 year plan, step 1 was making the team a more cohesive unit and hard to beat. Certainly looks like that was a success. But, the plan of attack needs to improve – we have enough talented forwards to win games, so let’s get them more involved at the right end of the pitch. With Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden out, tonight marks a good opportunity for the likes of Stephen Griffen and Dermot Molloy to make their mark. Indeed, with Murphy and McFadden out, there might be a worry as to where the scores will come from. But Griffen’s form has been good and Paddy McBrearty is a year older and able to win his own ball, so hopefully the manager will place enough trust in them to have the team play to give them the sort of opportunities they need to shine.

Donegal and their manager have received plenty of criticism in light of their style of play last season and were booed by Dublin supporters in the All Ireland semi-final (I’ve no problem with booing, but to boo the opposition for their ‘style’, that’s a new one to me). And lately there’s been ‘Moynagate’, for which Jim McGuinness has been further demonised. If anything, the criticism has made the supporters (and I suspect the players and management) more resolute – we don’t owe anybody anything. The players delivered to the supporters more than anyone expected at the start of last season and for the first time in a long time, we ended the season with renewed pride in the jersey and hope for the future.

Tir Chonaill Abu – Until Victory Always

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