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26/09/2021

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Some slippage in Donegal and need t o inject new blood

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Some slippage in Donegal and need t o inject new blood

We can talk about the weekend but the events that took place after the Donegal v Monaghan Ulster U-20 semi-final on Friday evening puts life in perspective. My sympathies go to the family of Brendan Óg Duffy, the Monaghan U-20 captain, who lost his life in a car accident after the game. It is a huge blow to his family, club and county.
I'm glad to see that the Ulster Council have put the final back a week.
From a Donegal footballing point of view it was a disappointing weekend, losing the U-20s, seniors and ladies.
I watched the U-20s game against Monaghan and we had a great first half, leading 0-9 to 1-1 at half-time and full value for it. But we didn't match Monaghan in the second half. It was a pity that we didn't make the final because as things turned out on Sunday, we will be looking for fresh blood to come into the senior squad.
Looking at Sunday, you cannot take it in isolation. Two years ago we went to Castlebar and were up against an average Mayo team with a lot of their players giving their last hurrah and they beat us in the quarter-final.
Then last year we lost out in the Ulster final to Cavan and now this year we haven't even made the final.
There has been a wee bit of slippage overall and the time has come to take a look at the overall squad and generally freshen things up.
What decision Declan Bonner will take will be up to himself. He will have to sit down and look at it. But if he is thinking of going back, then he will have to rebuild
We have seen over the last couple of weeks that we have players that are not cutting the mustard. It was shown the previous week against Derry. And reflecting back to the league, Monaghan came to Ballybofey and hit us for four goals. We got a draw in the Athletic Grounds against a Division Three team, Armagh.
On Sunday, in a way we were all happy that Michael Murphy was starting, but he was participating at a level that was not Michael Murphy. He did kick two fine frees.
Then the whole game turned on a sixpence. We got the penalty and it hit the outside of the post and went wide. Had it gone in, it could have been a whole different ball game.
Then we had the black and red card for Murphy. It was just a flick at the ball; there was never any malice in Michael Murphy on the football field. He made contact with the Tyrone man, who made a meal of it. He went on to be man of the match, which shows he was not badly hurt. But there were players who were looking for cards to be shown, and that is part of the game now, unfortunately.
To be fair to the Donegal men on the pitch, the gave it their all in that bowl that was Brewster Park.
Five or six minutes from the end, there was only two points in it and Michael Langan, who had a super game, screwed a free just wide. At that stage the boys had given their all; there was not much more they could do.
The goal they scored was as good a goal as you will see and was well finished by (Caolan) McGonagle, who has been improving with every game.
Hugh McFadden emptied the tank in the first half. He had to carry a lot of ball out of defence which was tough going.
In the second half, we saw the best of Eoghan Bán (Gallagher), which we hadn't seen for some time. He had some great runs into the heart of the Tyrone defence, who had the comfort of an extra man and sweeper.
Even after the goal, we had levelled the game again. But it was too big a mountain to climb.
The loss of Neil McGee was big, psychologically as much as everything else. And the Tyrone man got away lightly.
I wouldn't be pleased overall with the refereeing. I wouldn't quibble with the second card which Murphy got but the first card was for no more than a push. I sometimes think a card is given just because it is Michael Murphy. He is a player who plays the game with his heart on his sleeve, but he wasn't himself on Sunday. However, no blame can be attached to Murphy, who has given so much to Donegal. I would hold him in very high regard.
We have had 10 great years with the county and we have to be thankful for that. It is time now to take a look at the overall squad.
We have time now with the remaining matches in the All County League and the championship starting in September. There is an abundance of talent in the county. The minors were due to play last night and hopefully they will advance.
I remember when I was last involved in 2004/2005 I left 11 players out of the squad and took in 10. People like Neil Gallagher, Ryan Bradley and Neil McGee came in. I remember playing in Dr McKenna Cup witha whole new team. Michael Boyle came in at that time also.

LADIES
I was very disappointed with the Ladies result on Saturday against Galway. Conceding three goals in a short time is hard to deal with. I hope they can get back on track this Saturday when they take on Kerry in Tuam.
Good luck also to the Donegal hurlers who play Tyrone in the Nickey Rackard Cup semi-final on Saturday also.
I hope both teams can keep the green and gold flag flying in the short term

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Peter Campbell

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