Search our Archive

29/07/2021

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Derry unlucky but Donegal must learn from winning a very tense game

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Derry unlucky but Donegal must learn from winning a very tense game

I was sweating from the oxters just watching the game on television, it was so tense on Sunday.
We let Derry dictate the game from early on and we struggled thereafter to put our imprint on it. Their half-back line kept coming forward and they ran the game for long periods.
Four points down in the second half, it didn't look good, but then Michael Murphy's arrival on the pitch lifted Donegal. It was maybe more psychological than anything.
Also thereafter a few men really stepped up to the plate. Big Michael Langan and centre-forward Niall O'Donnell kicked some wonderful points. And our own Paul Brennan made a huge contribution when he came in. Apart from scoring a good point, he made a great interception and he had the energy to go at the Derry defence.
As a manager I would probably have been writing a slip with Patrick McBrearty's name on it, he was so quiet. But then he comes up with the big point. And to be fair to McBrearty, that was a very good footballer who was marking him, Chrissy McKaigue.
But McBrearty has such great self-belief. However, I did feel that he should have left that first free to Michael Langan, who is a wonderful striker of the ball.
Let's be fair, we wre lucky to get outwith the win. Rory Gallagher knew Donegal so well. He got the tactics right and closed down McBrearty and Ryan McHugh. And with Murphy not there, that was a lot of firepower closed down.
Jamie Brennan did well to get two points, but he was well marshalled too.
Laste week, I mentioned to go at them early on. We didn't do that. And there was a call for a Derry penalty early, thank God it wasn't given. And then the ball across the goal in the second half.
I would have to say that that performance would not be good enough for Tyrone next week.
I feel we have to start Murphy if he is fit. He is our real leader. Ciaran Thompson is finding it hard to get his best form. I gather Peadar Mogan picked up an injury on the Thursday night at training and he was a big loss.
It is tough playing a third match in a few weeks. Personally I would take the team down the beach for a day; something different to get away from it. They will not need much training this week.
We can't afford to let teams dominate like Derry did. And they continued to do it for long period. But we came back from four points down twice and there is great belief in the team when they do that. However, we can't go to the well too often.
We are in Enniskillen for the semi-final due to the fact that we can get more spectators in a northern venue. The game would normally be Clones or Breffni, but I don't have any difficulty with Brewster Park.
Donegal's record there would be reasonable. Younger lads would have had success there. It will be all down to attitude. We have to make up our minds not to sit back. Tyrone will have learned that we concede goal opportunities. Down had three our four as well in the first game. If we were playing a team like Kerry, we would be out the gate.
I said last week that Derry would be in the top half of Division Two and based on Sunday, they might be even better. It's a pit they have no back door.
But for us it was good to win. That's the main thing and to win coming from behind with the lead coming in added time.
U-20s and Hurlers
It was a good weekend all round with the U-20s and hurlers also successful. I was listening to the U-20 game against Tyrone and we almost let it slip giving away a bad goal, but it was a win at underage in Healy Park and they have been rare.
The hurlers were in a torrid game but came through in the end to reach the semi-final of the Nickey Rackard.
Best of luck to the men and Ladies this weekend. The Ladies are in Sligo to take on Galway in the championship and that will not be easy.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Peter Campbell

More News

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.