No Bones About It

Declan Bonner

Better balance and greater depth was difference for Ballinderry against Glenswilly

Michael Murphy
JOURNEY’S end sometimes is a painful place to be.

Glenswilly will not quite know what to have done with themselves this week. For the first time since January they will not have been slinging the bags over the shoulder on Wednesday night for training.

It will have been a strange feeling.

It is on nights like that when defeat can really hit you. When you’re in a routine of heading out to training on the same night every week and, all of a sudden, you have nothing, it can leave you with a numbed sense.

Typical Glenswilly, they did not go down without a fight in last Sunday’s final against Ballinderry Shamrocks. After only twenty-three seconds they were celebrating Michael Murphy’s goal. What a start that was in an Ulster final.

Ballinderry had the much better balance about them, though. They took Aaron Devlin and Darren Conway off the bench and they both kicked excellent scores.

At midfield Kevin McGuckin and James Conway put in a mountain of work and they were given an all-round platform.

Ryan Bell mightn’t have scored but he was so effective and they oozed intelligence through Coilin Devlin and Conleith Gilligan.

For me the big difference was not just the spread of scorers, but the distance from which they were kicking while Glenswilly were relient on Michael Murphy to lead the way.

Just something on Murphy: Michael came in for a lot of rough treatment on Sunday and you really wonder about the role of the umpire when he stands 15-20 yards away and does nothing whe he can, plainly, see the events in front of him. Yet, the men in white coats simply ignored it. Are they there for the sake of it.

Sometimes it is easy to dismiss such happenings as sour grapes, but in all honesty there is a problem that needs addressed and the time has passed to hide behind the sour grapes line.

Players like Michael Murphy need protecting. Yes, he’s a big man and can look after himself, but this is very frustrating and difficult for players of that calibre. The GAA has done nothing to eradicate it. Never mind the introduction of the black card – we have linesmen and umpires now who are struggling with the laws that are already in place.

I just wonder if it had been, say, Kealan McFadden coming in for the same treatment, would it have gone unpunished?

Glenswilly were hit with a sucker punch in the form of Michael McIver’s goal but, fair play to them, they hit back and were within touching distance. Gary McFadden has been so reliable for them, but he missed two frees that would usually go over.

They came up just short, but you must say that Ballinderry will be serious challengers for the All-Ireland now. It will certainly be a serious outfit that defeats them.

I think Gary McDaid will stay on as Glenswilly manager. He’ll have seen how close they have come and it has been a good Ulster campaign for Donegal football. There are some serious teams within this county’s boundaries who will take great heart from Glenswilly’s run, too. And that can surely only be a good thing.

All-Stars looking for the stars

THE appointment of Kevin Cassidy as the Gaoth Dobhair manager did not cause near as much surprise as the confirmation that his number two would be none other than Paddy Bradley, the former Derry star.

It will be very, very interesting to see how the fare in Gaoth Dobhair because they really are a club that could go places with a bit of structure around their senior team.

I spent three great years managing Gaoth Dobhair and I’ll always reflect fondly on my time at Magheragallon.

They have a number of good young players coming through. I’ve worked with five or six of them in Donegal underage squads and they do have the nucleus of a very good team. These players could be just the injection it needs.

With Kevin and Paddy they will be getting two men who’ve been there, done that and who will command huge respect in the dressing room. Kevin has plenty to offer on the pitch, so Paddy is an interesting appointment as the next in command.

I genuinely mean it when I say that there is massive potential in that club. They have huge tradition down there and Gaelic football is what most folk there eat, sleep and drink. Even look at the Senior Reserve final this year. They had their fifteen players, but maybe another 18 or 19 togged, not to mention the 25 or 26 they’d have with the seniors.

If those young lads can blend into the senior team, the Cassidy-Bradley partnership could well flourish. It would not be the greatest shock if Gaoth Dobhair was there or thereabouts again.

Convention time – almost

SUNDAY-week is a massive day in Donegal GAA: The county convention.

Now that the playing season has done and dusted – although the next one is just around the corner – it is the off-field activities to which we’ll direct our focus.

There looks likely to be a couple of keen contests for positions at the convention. Danny McNamee is to contest the position of treasurer alongside Cieran Kelly. The PRO post is up for grabs and young Oisin Cannon has left his name in the ring there. He’ll face a challenge from Ed Byrne in a position that is one of the most important on the executive.

The vice chairman slot is something of a grey area in that we’re not certain who is definitely running, although Dan Hartnett and Denis Ellis have confirmed their candidacy.

Ulster Council is another one that could be a close-run thing with Brendan Kelly, Pat Connaghan, Grace Boyle and Pat Walsh to be in the mix.  Sometimes these elections can be glossed over, but their importance cannot be over-looked: They, after all, are the people who will administer our games next year.

Nightmare draw

GOOD luck to the Buncrana minors this weekend. They are in Ulster minor championship action against Watty Grahams on Sunday. It is a bit of a nightmare draw for them – Watty Graham’s are the kingpins of this grade, but we wish Buncrana all the best.

Have you a comment to make on any of the above, or would you like Declan to raise an issue in the column? If so, you can get in touch by emailing

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