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Ray Durack urges Donegal hurlers to make leap in National League final

Ray Durack

Ray Durack

BY CHRIS MCNULTY

RAY Durack has urged his Donegal hurlers to learn from where they missed out last year when they take on Roscommon in Sunday-week’s Division 3A final at Markievicz Park, Sligo (throw-in 2pm).

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Donegal sealed their place in the final thanks to a 2-15 to 1-15 win over Louth in Darver on Sunday.

Paddy Hannigan and Enda McDermott netted the Tir Chonaill goals as they scored a narrow win to get them back into the decider.

Last year, Durack’s troops were caught on the hop in the final when they lost to Fingal at Breffni Park.

Although they went on to win the Nicky Rackard Cup, the failure to win the League has gnawed at Durack since.

“If we’d won the League last year that would have been the icing on the cake,” he said this week.

“We had one of those bad days at the office in the final and we didn’t perform. It was disappointing because it was something that we targeted.”

Now, though, Donegal have a chance to make ammends when they face rivals Roscommon – the only side to defeat them in the League this year.

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“You need to be playing at the highest level possible,” he said.

“These boys are so dedicated. It would be fantastic for them to make the step up. We want them to make it a good push. They’ve drive on so much and there is no reason that they can’t keep going.

“It’s been a good League for us. We had one bad day at the office against Roscommon, but hopefully that’s our bad day over. We let in three really sloppy goals and got beaten, but I’d like to think that’s out of our system now.”

With Durack able to rest the likes of Lee Henderson, Danny Cullen and Ronan McDermott on Sunday, his team still managed to get through. The Donegal boss said: “We gave other players a chance to get game time, but the lads will all be back for Sunday week. We have a very strong panel thank God.

“At the start of the year ourselves and Roscommon would have been the two sides fancied to make the final and now we’re here. We’re looking forward to it.”

Durack also has one eye on the opening to their defence of the Nicky Rackard Cup – which also pits them against Roscommon.

He said: “It’s strange that the two teams from last year’s final are in the preliminary round this year. But the competiton is so tough anyway. It’s so tight, no matter who you play will be a big game.

“Roscommon away will be very tough, especially if they take us to play it in Athleague. The surface isn’t great there. Our lads need a big pitch with good grass to play their natural game. We won in Athleague last year alright, but we had it very tight.”

A win in that Nicky Rackard opener would seal a home game against Monaghan, while defeat would see them enter the qualifiers. Donegal are also back in the Ulster Senior Hurling Championship this year as they face Down.

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