CAOLAN Ward is a perfect example of the modern-day GAA defender.
Comfortable on the ball and quick across the ground the St Eunan’s man has been tasked by Declan Bonner and the Donegal management team to get after everything and join in the play, be that in defence or attack.
Yesterday afternoon was one of his finest hours in the green and gold jersey and he capped a superb individual performance with the all important opening goal for Donegal.
It was his second three-pointer for Donegal this season after his McKenna Cup goal against Derry and he’s relishing his new role. Ward has been involved in all five League games to date and he’s looking forward to pitting his skills against Ulster neighbours Tyrone in MacCumhaill Park in two weeks time.
“We’ve done a lot of work, conditioning wise, this year and I’m well able to get up and down the pitch. That’s not an issue and when I get on the ball I’ve to learn to do the right thing with it. The league is going well but we’ve a big game coming up against Tyrone and I’ll now have to reset and get ready for that. I’m delighted with how the league is going and it’s now up to me to keep pushing and pushing,” he said.
Donegal led three points to one when the Letterkenny man blasted a right foot volley beyond Rory Beggan and high into the Monaghan net on 29 minutes.
“It was a big score at the time,” he remembers.
“Michael Langan had the ball and I thought the chance had gone initially when he got bottled up but, in fairness, he was able to get the ball out. I just put my head down and put my foot through it and thankfully it went into the net,” he smiled.
“I scored a goal in the McKenna Cup against Derry so I had a bit more confidence to take on the responsibility this time around” he added.
Having spent four years at college in Carlow, Caolan was one of those inter-county players who had to spend as much time on the weekly commute as he did the training ground during those college years.
For the past eighteen months he’s been working in a Strength and Conditioning gym in Milford and it shows.
“It’s great to be back in Donegal. It’s not only a lot easier to get to training but it also helps with the recovery too. Also, mum (Colette) is spoiling me. She’s washing my clothes while she’s also got my dinner on the table when I come home which is a massive help. She’s spoiling me rotten,” he laughs.
Looking at the league table, Caolan feels that with a little luck Donegal could be sitting well clear at the summit.
“On another day we could have five wins from five but that’s not how it works out at times. We had to look back at the games that had gone before to see what went wrong and learn from those mistakes. We were able to put a lot of that right today. We put up a big score and we won well,” he said.
“We’re delighted to win today. It’s good to get a performance and ultimately a win – that was the most important thing today,” he added.