Off the Air

Charlie Collins

The game’s in good shape

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IF the U21 final between Kilcar and St Eunan’s last weekend is anything to go by then Gaelic football in the county is in pretty good shape.
I couldn’t make the B final on Sunday but all accounts it too was a cracker with Milford producing what Ryan Ferry described in this newspaper as a strong finish to just pip a gallant Convoy team.

Isn’t it great to see two clubs like Milford and Convoy contesting an U21 final. It’s never easy to bring a squad through to that age group and be successful. At O’Donnell Park, the teams shared five goals and 19 points, while in another cracker in Convoy, St Eunan’s and Kilcar scored 4-27 between them.

While it’s a lottery playing football at this time of year great credit is due to both the St Mary’s club in Convoy and St Eunan’s, Letterkenny, for having their pitches in remarkable condition.
The match in Convoy was as good a club game as I’ve seen this year. It was a match that was played in the best possible way between two quality teams from whom their main men delivered on the day and who received great backing from their supporting casts.
The McBreartys, Patrick and Stephen, scored 11 points between them, while the McHughs, Eoin and Ryan, scored the remaining 1-4 for Kilcar.
Young Sean Hume, who has been excellent all year, bagged 2-6 for St Eunan’s. As well as taking his two goals as only the best forwards do, without any fuss, he also kicked some great pointed frees.
Darragh Mulgrew, who got their other goal, was strong and forceful throughout the game, while Lee McMonagle and Rory Carr – with two points apiece – were always a problem inside for the Kilcar defence.
The holders led by three points at the break after a half of exceptional play by both teams – but the second half was even better.
When Patrick McBrearty and Eoin McHugh each scored twice to put Kilcar seven up it looked highly unlikely that ‘Eunan’s would be able to muster a response but they hadn’t read the script – scoring four unanswered points before McMonagle capitalised on a defensive error to set up Hume for the first of his two goals.
Patrick McBrearty had the chance to kick Kilcar into the lead late on but his free kick was wide of its intended target before Hume got onto the end of a floated pass to palm home the match winning score to give the Letterkenny men a famous victory.
Commitment, endeavour and skill were all present in abundance on the day as both teams set about trying to win the game in the best possible manner, by outscoring the opposition with very little foul play on show.
On the evidence of what we saw last weekend in both finals, there’s plenty of young talent out there which augurs well for the future of Donegal football.
New faces for Rory
New Donegal manager Rory Gallagher released his first squad at the weekend and, as expected, it has provided much interest. It is a mixture of experience and youth with some familiar faces who have played for Donegal over the years with other new ones who will hope to make an impression in the McKenna Cup which gets underway on Sunday, January 4.
It’s good to see Mark McHugh return to the county scene. He was one of the stand-out players in this year’s club championship and his ability is already well known and, surely, he will be a key player for Donegal in 2015.
Among the more interesting selections are Glenswilly pair Eamon Ward and Joe Gibbons who have been stalwarts for the club over the past number of years.
As Gallagher suggests, the panel is open ended and these players will be looking to make their mark ahead of the National Football League campaign which starts at the end of January. Interesting times ahead.

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Please go Mr Blatter

There were conflicting stories this week regarding the future of Sepp Blatter as FIFA President.
The BBC were reporting that his position was under threat and many felt that he should not run for a fifth term when the elections come around next May.
However, Blatter himself has claimed that he has support across the footballing community with Sky Sports saying that he has every intention of running again.
Whatever happens with Blatter, FIFA as an organisation is now damaged almost beyond repair. That’s been very evident ever since they decided to award Russia and Qatar the World Cup. Michael Garcia’s full report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process will now be published, in part, in an attempt to quell another round of trenchant criticism of world football’s governing body.
It’s about time that FIFA stepped up to the plate and made a few tough decisions, starting with sending Mr Blatter off into his retirement.

Show me the money

You have to hand it to UFC star Conor McGregor as like him or not he’s box office, and not afraid to say so himself! Indeed, he did as much when asked why he wasn’t included in the RTE Sports Star Awards last weekend.
Stating that he was aware of the curiosity which surrounded his absence he said that he wasn’t driven by awards but instead stated that money was his motivation. While it’s no great surprise and some people aren’t too happy about his stance others have praised both him and his attitude. As they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Late Neil Cullen

In this paper’s Monday edition, a fitting tribute was paid to my former St Conal’s colleague Neil Cullen who was described as being ‘Mr Athletics’ in Donegal and rightly so. Neil gave so much time to the sport over the past twenty years but before that he was no mean soccer player while he also played a bit of GAA, winning an All Ireland with St Conal’s in the 1980s.
He was a gentleman of the highest order who loved sports of all types and will be badly missed by all who knew him. My sympathy is extended to Margaret, the girls and the Cullen family.

It’s a great achievement for the player and an honour for his club, county and family.

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