BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Donegal mixed the good and the bad against Armagh


BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN:  Donegal mixed the good and the bad against Armagh

First of all it was good to keep our Division One status with the draw against Armagh in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday evening.
We mixed the good and the bad and the ugly at times. We had another slow start and that is something we need to take a look at in how we are preparing for games. We were not up to speed in the early stages.
Losing Neil McGee in the warm-up did not help us psychologically with the juggling that had to be done.
But the one thing we can be happy with over the past two weeks is the way they battled when up against it. We were nine points down at one stage against Monaghan and last Saturday we were twice five points down.
We are going well in the point-taking department, getting them from all angles. Patrick McBrearty took over the leadership role of Michael Murphy and filled it very well. He got us back in the game.
It was disappointing early on as we missed some close-in frees. That has an effect on morale. There was nobody to step into Murphy's shoes for the frees on the left hand side.
But we're there, we're in the semi-final of the league and that's the main thing. The team showed great character in coming back and that has been a feature of the last two games.
But we mixed the good with the bad but came back after some hammer blows. We tightened up a good bit at the back and were not as porous as we were against Monaghan.
We were able also to run the bench and young Conor O'Donnell took his chance. He is one for the future but we have known that for some time.
It was good to see big Hugh (McFadden) back to himself. We had to readjust without Murphy, and then McGee. But we must rectify the slow start, we could be crucified against better teams.
As for Michael Langan's goal, it was real 'Match of the Day' stuff. To take it that distance and to see him pulling away from his opponent.
It was pleasing to get through without over extending ourselves.
We have a very attractive fixture against Dublin in the semi-final on Saturday week in Cavan and it's one I'm looking forward. It will be a great game for those will be there. I'm assuming Donegal will get 100 tickets which works out about two per club with the sponsors also getting some.
Dublin will be a big test, even if they are not at full tilt. Galway put it up to them last week in Tuam and I feel the gap is closing.
The game will bring back memories of the quarter-final meeting in Breffni in 1992 and the two goals in the last minute and a half. When I reflect on that, I remember that some of the Donegal crowd had gone home thinking we had the game won.
We called for training the following night at the Rugby Club in Donegal Town and I remember Brian Murray, who was in Dublin, and Gary Walsh, in Burren, were not enamoured. It was a bad night and we made a promise that we would never again get caught with late goals. It had happened the previous year also against Cork.
Breffni Park is a good pitch and it suits us.
If we win against Dublin there will be no league final because we are out the following week against Down in the Ulster championship. This is not good for the GAA but it reflects the times that are in it.
Also I feel that fixtures that have been made where teams have got home advantage for semi-finals and relegation play-offs are not right. It is very unfair on the likes of Tyrone and Galway. Strange decisions.
It is also strange to see provincial winners Cavan and Tipperary fighting to stay in Division Three. Fair play to Derry who have won three on the trot.
Congratulations to our own Maxi Curran and the Donegal Ladies who recorded a second win defeating Mayo in Ballybofey and they are in a good place to make the league final when they travel to Galway this weekend.
It is also good to hear that the club fixtures have been released and we will have a bumper few days the week after next with Donegal v Dublin and the club games.
Good luck also to our hurlers who travel to Derry this weekend with their divisional status already secured.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Peter Campbell

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