Too Fast, Too Furious

Yesterday was the greatest day I have ever had as a Donegal supporter.  I was a bit young to really appreciate our success in 1992 (I remember more about the Semi-Final in 1992, even though I was at the Final as well) and hadn’t yet endured the sort of lows and despair I have experienced following this team since.  Yesterday, all those memories were consigned to history as Donegal dominated a team widely regarded as the best on in the Country.  The scoreboard showed us winning by two points, but it felt as if it could have been 20.

I said last night that this was going to be one of the hardest pieces I have ever had to write.  Why?  Because I’m struggling to find words to convey what a colossal performance we saw at Croke Park yesterday.

Make no mistake about it – what we saw yesterday was the culmination of a training regimen the ferocity of which I can’t even begin to imagine.  But it also reinforced the belief these players have in their manager and what he asks of them.  How else do you account for what we saw in the second half yesterday?  Keep in mind; this was against the favourites for the All Ireland title, not some Division 4 team or a formerly great team regarded as past their best.    Cork were hanging in there up to half time, but once that explosion of effort came in the second half, they couldn’t live with what Donegal threw at them.  Not only that, Donegal dominated at midfield (who saw that coming?) and had nine different scorers.  It was Eoghan McMonagle who threw the phrase ‘Total Football’ at me after the Ulster Final, and if that wasn’t its embodiment yesterday, I don’t know what is.

I’m not going to analyse the performance too much, but here are some interesting points that actually tie quite well with my preview.  Donegal only conceded one free within scoring range and Cork did not score from the placed ball all day.  They did not fall into the trap I feared where Cork’s marksmen would do for us.  We didn’t concede a goal until it didn’t matter (and despite how it seemed from the TV coverage, it sure looked like Eamonn McGee was fouled in the lead up to Colm O’Neill’s late goal), but of course people are pointing to the shot that hit the bar, suggesting that the game might have taken a different course had it gone in.  Donegal still led by a point at that stage – who’s to say we wouldn’t have got the next score?  Does anyone reading really believe that this team would panic?  That they would veer of the course that their manager has plotted for them?  Or indeed, that their vastly superior fitness and work rate wouldn’t see them through.  Those are pretty much indisputable facts at this stage.  Donegal will outrun, outfight and outwork anyone.  The only issue that denied us a Final appearance last year is that we were outscored!  But more on that at a later date.

There were so many good performances yesterday.  Right now, regardless of what else happens, Frank McGlynn, Karl Lacey, Mark McHugh and Colm McFadden will be All Stars – yesterday only served to confirm that.  Who knows how many more will be rewarded if we take the final step?  Karly Lacey may well be Footballer of the Year, a title that he deserves for not only his displays this year, but over many years, where he was a great player in a very average team.

At the end of the game, Lacey was presented with a by County Chairman PJ McGowan after playing his 100th game for the County.  Out of those 100, I don’t know if he’s ever played a bad game.  Later on that night, we learned that Glenswilly man Neil Gallagher had been named man of the match. Neil was the first player from the ‘Wee Club’ to play for the County and captained Donegal to our Division 1 League title in 2007 – sometimes easy to forget, but important to remember.  His display was awesome yesterday and he’s been playing the best football of his career in the past few months.  Karl and Neil have been there through the merely good and the very bad days.  Fitting that both are now part of what could be the greatest period in Donegal’s football history.  To fully appreciate the present, you need some understanding of the past.

Whatever else happens this year, take the time to treasure what we saw yesterday.  Enjoy each and every victory.  There will be plenty of time for looking forward in the weeks ahead.

Until Victory, Always.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] well and summon a performance that left me shell shocked.    Most of us would say that the semi-final win over Cork in 2012 was our finest performance in the McGuinness era, but Sunday tops that.  We wrested control of the […]

    Reply

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