BY CHRIS MCNULTY
KARL Lacey says the prying eyes of the outside world have no relevance within the confines of Donegal’s tightly-bunched group.
The four-time All-Star has put injury hell behind him and gave a Man of the Match display in Donegal’s 1-11 to 0-11 win over Derry last month.
The Four Masters ace had been steadily on the comeback trail during the McKenna Cup and National League, but it was against Derry that he really showed that he’s back.
Individual form and that of the collective was analysed in-depth during the early months of the year without much positive vibes being forthcoming.
“What goes on outside of our circle, away from those thirty or thirty-five men doesn’t matter,” Lacey said.
“We don’t care about it. We’re working on a system and it’s up to us to go out there and put on a performance – what is said or what is written is irrelevant. What is in our circle, but away from it people can say what they like.
“The main aim was developing the squad
“The aim for the League was to go and win all of the games. The game in Down let us down because we didn’t win it, but we were still in the hunt for promotion and we wanted to get back into Division 1. The training camp was coming before the League final.”
Although Donegal reached the Division 2 final, a six-point loss to Monaghan raised questions from those peering in from the outside. Lacey insists that Donegal always believed in themselves.
He said: “We headed away (to a training camp in the Algarve) then knowing we were up in Division 1. The League final wasn’t really in our minds when we were in Portugal.
“The work there was for the Derry game. The timing of it obviously wasn’t built for a League final. Don’t get me wrong, we went out against Monaghan and tried to put in the best performance that we could – and we were disappointed not to win it. There were positives we took from it, though.”
This week, Lacey was named as the winner of the Ulster GAA Writers Association’s monthly merit award for May, hot on the heels of scooping the Donegal News Sports Personality of the Month. He received his award in Bundoran’s Great Northern Hotel, which is the venue for the UGAAWA’s annual banquet on November 1.
Lacey said: “Getting this award is a big surprise for me and I am delighted. Getting past Derry was a big plus for Donegal and this award adds greatly to the victory.”
To get the honour he had to beat off stiff opposition from Antrim star hurler Paul Shiels plus Tyrone players Sean Cavanagh and Mattie Donnelly.
This is the third time that Lacey (29) has collected a monthly merit award. He was also the winner in July 2009 and July 2011 and he was the UGAAWA Player of the Year award for 2011.
The presentation of an inscribed Belleek Living vase, engraved cuff links from Omeath jeweler Garrett Mallon, training gear from O’Neill’s International Sports and a sports voucher from the UGAAWA was made to Karl at a reception in the Great Northern.
He will also get two tickets and overnight accommodation for the UGAAWA 27th annual banquet.