By Frank Craig
Conor Gibbons says St. Eunan’s aren’t getting too carried away with their 100% start to the new season.
The O’Donnell Park men made it four league victories from four last weekend with an away win in Dungloe. They are on the road once again this Sunday with Naomh Conaill, another one of the county’s real big hitters, the opposition.
To date, the early season pace-setters have accounted for Glenswilly, Milford, Cloughaneely and Dungloe.
“This time of year it’s really all about getting points on the board,” said Gibbons, a primary school teacher in Dublin. “In that sense yeah, we have to be really pleased. Truth be told, we scraped over the line in most of those games bar maybe the Glenswilly one. They were well short that day and that was a factor.
“Away to Glenties, that’s as tough a one as you can get. We’re away to Kilcar the week after that. So we’ll know a lot more about ourselves in the next two weeks. Things will be upped in those two clashes. But those are the games you want to get under the belt.”
With the domestic scene in the county uninterrupted by the intercounty game throughout April, Gibbons agrees that the momentum that comes from playing games is really enjoyable.
He added: “One hundred percent – it’s great getting the games. They’re coming thick and fast and as a club footballer that’s exactly what you want. We’ve a group of the minors from last year and a few around that 19/20 mark.
“They’ve really added a buzz to the panel. It’s been a really enjoyable opening to the season. I’m sure most clubs and players would be of the same opinion.”
Martin Regan’s Glenties charges have also been drawn in the same Donegal SFC group as Eunan’s. Gibbons though insists that it’s much too early in the campaign for either side to be worrying about laying any sort of marker.“Definitely not – there is so much football to be played between now and championship,” he said. “But it’s still a big game for us and it should be a really good test. Like a lot of sides really, there is transition there for us at this moment. It’s about introducing new lads into the set-up and trying new things out.”
Maxi Curran’s outfit last lifted the Dr Maguire back in 2014. It hardly classes as a drought – the three seasons in between coming up short. But it certainly appears Eunan’s are as well-equipped as ever to end that short barren spell.
It certainly won’t be easy. The usual suspects, along with reigning champions Kilcar, will mirror those same ambitions. That, Gibbons says, is what makes the Donegal club SFC so exciting.
He continued: “Working in Dublin, a lot of people ask me about the club scene in Donegal. They ask who would be the favourites. Honestly, I go through a whole list of contenders. That’s being deadly honest. In a lot of other counties they don’t have that. There are a number of sides in Donegal that will all fancy it, all believe in themselves and all have the talent. That’s the exciting thing.
“I think the way it’s being rolled out this year is good too. The way it was in other years; it was almost like two seasons. You built it up for the game in May or June then you had to taper things down and almost go into another pre-season.
“There were never any big complaints. Players just got on with it. Now that it has been changed you at least have a picture in your head. You have structure. I think it can only be a good thing.”
Gibbons – who posted five points last week in Dungloe – is one of a number of Letterkenny men stationed in the capital. With school almost out for summer, he’ll be spared the weekly commute from Dublin come the end of June.
“We’ve a lot of lads down in Dublin. For handiness, I live just down the road from Whitehall Colmcilles. They’ve been great to me. I be in with them during the week. It’s good to see another set up too. But it’ll definitely be a little easier when things wrap up for summer.”
By Frank Craig