BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Great weekend for Donegal teams with Ladies and men in league semi-finals

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN:  Great weekend for Donegal teams with Ladies and men in league semi-finals

In normal circumstances the National League semi-final game against Dublin on Saturday next in Breffni Park would be one that you would be going all out to win.
But as we will be just two weeks out from the game against Down, we will also have an eye on the Ulster championship.
But in saying that, it will be nice for the young lads to get the opportunity to play against Dublin.
Looking forward to what sort of team we might pick for the game, we will have to take a look at the defensive frailties that were shown up in the league games, especially against Monaghan.
If you were to put me on the spot I would probably play a sweeper in front of the back three. We have been leaking too much in that area and we will need some extra manpower there.
But I would also be looking at our half-forwards and I feel they will have to work a lot harder. There are some very good footballers in there, but there is more to the game than that. Just take a look at what the Dublin players are doing in that regard.
Remember we are going to Newry a couple of weeks later and despite what many people are speculating, there will be nothing easy there.
But isn't it nice to have so much good things to look forward to at the moment.
I would not be playing Michael Murphy unless he is up to speed. if he is right, bring him on to give him some game time. If he isn't, then we give him time to be ready for Down.
I would like to see the young lad from Carndonagh, Conor O'Donnell, in from the start. I would also like to see Oisin Gallen in the starting line-up. From what I hear Jamie Brennan is still not ready and shouldn't be risked.
There are others that need to be given plenty of game time, among them Odhrán McFadden Ferry, Odhrán Mac Niallais and Jason McGee. This trio deserve to be given their chance.
McFadden Ferry is a good defender and every team needs a dog. When I was a young manager I thought you could win an All-Ireland with 15 pure footballers but I discovered otherwise when I came up against the likes of Offaly. Even the great Meath team and the current Dubs have those type of players. They are no angels; they take no prisoners at the back.
It's sad that so few will be allowed to see the game and the few tickets that are available will be scarce.
The weather forecast is good for the weekend and the pitch at Breffni Park should suit us. It is good to bring Dublin out of their comfort zone and into Ulster. I don't think the Dubs are the power they used to be. They might have lost a bit of their edge. Roscommon got stuck into them. We'll have to do the same, be in their face from early on.
While the whole focus for us is on Down at this stage, I won't call Saturday's game a training session, but it is part of the build-up for the game in Newry two weeks later and it offers a great opportunity for players to put down a marker for a starting place.
It is something to look forward to and Saturday could be a great day for TV viewing with the Dublin game on TG4 in the evening while the Donegal Ladies have their semi-final live at 3 p.m.
Fair play to Maxi Curran's charges on their big win over Galway in Tuam Stadium on Sunday last. They won by almost double scores. They are back in Tuam for their League semi-final against Cork and the venue holds some great memories for Donegal teams.
I was there when the Termon Ladies won their All-Ireland title and I was part of the St Joseph's team that won the All-Ireland Club title in 1968, defeating Dunmore McHales over two legs. I can also remember PJ McGowan's U-21s drawing their All-Ireland final there in 1987.
I must mention also the Donegal hurlers and the robbery which took place in their game against Derry on Sunday last when they were denied a match-winning penalty in the closing stages. It just shows the progress that has been made by the hurlers under Mickey McCann; there was a time when they were not able to play on the same pitch as Derry, but now they can go to Ballinascreen and compete with them.
It has been a big week for the clubs in Donegal also with underage and senior games back. We had an U-13 match in Bundoran on Monday night and we have the U-17s on Friday. I think I will have to put a tent up in the field!
It is great to see young people out playing. There are all colours of boots, including pink. But it is great to see so much activity.
The first round games of the league take place on Sunday and we are hosting St Michael's. I'm hearing that the reserve matches are being played after the senior and I'm not sure this is a good idea. As someone who was involved with reserve teams in recent years, I feel it will be hard to get the sub players on the senior team to stay on. I used to enjoy the reserve football, with the seniors and crowd arriving. Now the crowd will probably move on after the senior game.
Maybe it is something that could be looked at again.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Peter Campbell

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