This was a really ruthless display by a powerful Donegal side who won their first Ulster MFC tie since 2016 against a pallid Antrim side on a 4-22 to 0-8 scoreline.
It was significant that despite their huge lead, their manager Luke Barrett was still urging on his men to “win the last ball”. And that was the reason this team kept on the pressure on their outgunned opponents to the bitter end having gone in at the break 1-7 to 0-3 up.
“If you look at last week with the Donegal U-20s we learned a lesson about losing momentum," he said. “We said at half time that we did not want that to happen. We had a talk at half time that we were not going to be easing off and we said we would put this one to bed and we were not going to let up. And we wanted to kill the game off early in that second half”.
He added: “For the first 10 minutes I thought we were a bit nervous and sloppy and we were doing things we would not do in training but that was to be expected as this was our first game. But once that first goal went in, I thought we took over and did quite well”.
Donegal also seemed to have quite a physical advantage over their much lighter looking opponents.
“These boys have been training ferociously hard and at training they drive their own standards, but we have a massive test next week against Monaghan in Clones," Barrett added. “And in the week that has gone by we want to offer our condolences to the Duffy family on the death of Brendan Óg and it was such a tragedy.
“It is incomprehensible, but the GAA family is rallying around the Duffys. And now we face a Monaghan team that has ten of their 2020 minor team still eligible, so it is going to be a very big tussle”.
Donegal had their homework done on Antrim and put fierce pressure on the Saffrons' kickouts which was very beneficial to Donegal.
“And I thought we really turned it on in the second half. But the big thing for us is that was the first time that we won a minor championship game since 2016 so that was a bit of a hurdle to overcome”.
And Barrett’s bench also contributed handsomely and none more so than Michael Callaghan from Naomh Columba who hit 1-3.
“Yes, you see how that worked for Monaghan in the U-20s and yes we do have a pretty strong squad and it is a good complaint to have, but they will all be needed against a very strong Monaghan minor side. There are huge battles for places to even get into the match day squad and that can only be good for Donegal.
“Aaron Cullen made a great save just before half time, and a goal would have brought them back into it and I was not too happy with the way we defended that one. They were fairly good going forward in that period with some slick hand passes, but it is a massive relief to have a great keeper behind you”.
When asked if he was nervous before the match, Barrett quipped: Well, I haven’t slept in a few nights but maybe that was the heat. For me it is all about improving and we have leaders all over the field and we have massive belief in them”.
“This is a completely new team and there were only three or four from the Buncrana Cup and the big thing now is to push on”.
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