Ryan McHugh tries to get away from Ryan O'Donoghue as Michael Murphy looks on. Photo Thomas Gallagher
On Sunday morning I met Donegal midfielder Hugh McFadden on his way to the Mayo game in Sligo. He was travelling with his teammates Oisin Gallen and Jamie Brennan, All three are on the injured list and were unavailable for selection.
After leaving Hugh I reflected on the loss that the boys were to their team. They are excellent footballers who would get a place on any team in the country.
Yet again Donegal captain Michael Murphy played with his customary skill and steel and his talent prevails no matter where he appears on the pitch. Murphy showed the havoc he causes to an opposing defence when he won his team's penalty by appearing close to the Mayo goal.
I sincerely hope that he is selected at full-forward this year where he will win penalties and score match winning goals if he gets even a reasonable supply of ball when playing inside.
Michael Langan and Murphy were two of the instigators of Donegal’s best moments - Langan had a wonderful game and he is now one of the outstanding midfielders in modern day football, while a number of others had reason to be pleased with their outing on Sunday.
Ryan Mc Hugh, despite conditions not suited to his physique played well, Peadar Mogan, who, like Ryan, is small in stature also did very well but I hope that the fact that he is switched around consistently does not affect his game he is very versatile and can do a job in most positions.
Already in his short career he is not unlike former Letterkenny footballer John Hannigan, who was Donegal’s trouble shooter and never got an Ulster jersey because the Donegal selectors sent for him every time a problem position cropped up.
Eoghan Ban Gallagher was most effective both in defence and going forward, while full-back Brendan McCole - even though opposed by Jason Doherty - gave another solid display.
McCole has settled well in this position even when at times his covering defenders have left him isolated in what can be a very lonely place on the park . He also played very well in the McKenna Cup and his confidence has improved significantly this season.
Beside him, Caolan Ward has brought his club form to the county scene and that is good news for Donegal. When it comes to penalties this is a specialist art which must be honed in practice to build the confidence to score consistently from the spot. I believe that manager Declan Bonner should not leave it to his players to make this call and it is an area which requires clarity before the season gets any older.
Kildare showed against Kerry that Division 1 is of a very high standard again this year and keeping the points at home against the Lilywhites this weekend will be of the utmost importance to Donegal.
Our championship opponents Armagh were the team of the weekend when they hammered Dublin in Croke Park on Saturday night. In a great display, Armagh’s tactics were hugely effective but on analysis, fairly simple.
Their backs played very defensively leaving plenty of space for their attack. They have a set of forwards who will trouble any defence.
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