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Ray Durack: Donegal hurlers can ‘move up a level’

Ray Durack
BY CHRIS MCNULTY IN BALLYSHANNON

RAY Durack admits that his squad was ‘hurt’ by the disappointment of being beaten by Fingal in the Division 3A final last year – and the Donegal boss was delighted that his side have got 2014 off to a winning start.

When Fingal won in Letterkenny in the final group game last year it was jotted down as a blip because of the weakened team fielded, but the north Dublin outfit turned Donegal over in the Breffni Park final, too.

Now, Durack wants his men to win promotion – and the Portumna native believes his side is good enough.

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“We are still hurting over that last year,” he said after yesterday’s nine-point win over Fermanagh.

“We feel that we left that one behind us. This team is good enough to move up a level. If we keep putting the work in we should get to the promotion stage this year. Hopefully we will be there or thereabouts.”

At a heavy Fr Tierney Park yesterday, Donegal were comfortable winners, although Durack felt they could have been even more emphatic victors.

He said: “We fluffed a lot of chances and made some stupid decisions. We could have hit 4-25 if we’d taken all of our chances. That’s our first time playing together. We didn’t have any challenge games so we haven’t had much match practice.

“We’re very rusty. That’s our first competitive game since the Nicky Rackard final. It was very hard to get challenge games. A win is a win and we’ve got off to a good start. Longford will be another very tough game next week but we’ll just have to knuckle down and get ready for that one.

“Overall it was a good performance and I’m glad to get that game over because I knew that Fermanagh would be a tough, dogged side. Conditions suited them, heavy underfoot. We’re a fast team and we like fast ball. The pitch was very heavy and it just wasn’t coming up for us. There was just no give in the ground at all.”

With Danny Cullen excellent at midfield and Lee Henderson in good scoring form, hitting 1-7, Donegal were always in command. Henderson and Enda McDermott netted the first-half goals for the home side.

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Durack said: “We have six very good forwards. Some of them weren’t firing on all cylinders today. Lee was firing well with his frees. Ciaran Matthewson was unlucky with a couple of goal chances. Their ‘keeper had a good game.”

With away games to come against Longford, Louth and Roscommon, Durack knows that a stern road is ahead. But he was heartened with the knowledge that his side was in cruise control in a one-sided fixture.

He said: “It will be a tough League, but this was one of the games I feared most. Looking at Fermanagh coming through at underage level, we knew they’d be a good strong team. The grass was long and conditions weren’t great for us. To be honest, it could have been more.”

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