It’s Close

I write this after too many beers, but what the hell.  Today’s the day.  An All-Ireland title is within touching distance for the first time in 20 years.  All talk of tickets, levies and homecomings will cease.  Some of us will drink and have the craic, others will hit the road early and head straight to their seat.  Either way, come 3.30pm today, most of us who care about this team will be getting ready to roar on Neil Gallagher as he reaches for the throw-in.

It’s been a long journey. Last year gave us renewed hope for sure, but only a few saw us in this position one year on from that (in)famous Semi-Final last year.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I was in the majority – I thought we would be found out or exposed along the way.

But momentum has built. For a few different reasons, I feared Cavan, and what might happen if we had to go through the qualifiers. How wrong I was.  I never fear Derry, but the ease of our victory was a surprise.  I think that was the day I started to believe.

Facing Ulster Royalty is never easy, and so it proved against Tyrone.  How different our season might have turned out had Paul Durcan not saved Martin Penrose’s late shot on goal.  Whatever – we were by far the better team on the day.

And then Down.  Total football.  The belief grew.  Sure Down weren’t very good, but it was an impressive display. Since when are Ulster titles easy won?  This one was no different.  An awesome second half display, which was televised, had pundits beginning to fawn over us.  It was the beginning of the end.

The Quarter-Final was all about the result and not the performance.  Beating Kerry was about more than just winning a game.  A statement was made, and this time in Croke Park.

And on to the Semi-Final.  My proudest day as a Donegal supporter.  And many others beside me or so I’ve been told.  I said afterwards that when we play like that, no team will beat us. We’re not unbeatable in case you’re wondering – I am assuming no team makes a quantum leap in their fitness, intensity and execution than Donegal, so for this year, we are unbeatable.

Here we are today. Getting ready for our first All-Ireland Final in 20 years.  The feeling is unbelievable – I never want it to end.  I’m weary of talk of hype but uplifted by the sights and sounds from Donegal these past few weeks.  We don’t often get the chance, why wouldn’t we go overboard during the build-up?

I want to thank each and every one of you who read and retweeted my blog posts this year.  I’d write this stuff no matter if nobody read it, but I’m very grateful to those of you who do.

I hope we do it today.  It’s not the end of the world if we don’t, but the opportunity is there.  Take nothing for granted.  Hopefully our players leave nothing behind.  There’s no reason to believe they would, but Finals make mighty men meek.  Not that this group of players will suffer from such an affliction.

Until Victory, Always.

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