AFTER the tragic events here in Donegal last weekend, the county final was rightly postponed and now it will take place this Saturday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives and we pray that they will gather strength from those around them.
This year’s county final sees a repeat of last year’s decider with Glenties and St Eunan’s ready to face off on Saturday at 2.15pm, live on TG4.
St Eunan’s will go into the game as hot favourites, based on their form and their route to the final.
There has been a lot of talk in Donegal over the last number of years about the top four, Glenties, St Eunan’s, Gaoth Dobhair and Kilcar. In reality these two teams have started to dominate proceedings.
St Eunan’s dispatched Kilcar with relative ease in the semi-final to book their place in this year’s decider. We met Glenties at the semi-final stage and although we would have been disappointed with own performance and some of our play, Glenties turned in a superb display that day. They were seriously organised and clinical in their attack, running out convincing winners.
When we look at Glenties, their game-plan is simple but very effective and they do not deviate from the plan, sticking to it at all costs. When you look at their games and the way they play, all of the scores either come from their own kick-outs or from turnovers.
They have no real kick-out plan as such with everything just bombed out the middle, but they are so effective under the break. They all know that the ball is going to the centre of the pitch most of the time allowing four or five of their players to rush in for the breaks.
Turnovers is another massive area where a lot of their scores come from, so I’m sure much like last year, St Eunan’s will have drilled it into their players all week to keep the ball moving and keep the ball out of contact at all costs.
When we look at the last ten years of club football here in Donegal, then Glenties have been to the fore. But the big worry for them is that is more or less the same group of players that have been on that journey. For me there is no doubt that they are an aging team, so I’m sure that it’s a big motivational factor for them to grab as much silverware as they can before this group reaches the end of the road.
St Eunan’s have been building nicely over the last number of years and they have a good crop of young players coming through and their win against Glenties in last year’s final means that they are now the top team in Donegal.
There is no doubt that based on how they have approached this season, St Eunan’s have their eyes fixed on making a major breakthrough in Ulster this year but first they must win their our county title.
Glenties’ weakness is in their full-back line and St Eunan’s are the one team who may be able to exploit that.
St Eunan’s have the likes of Niall O’Donnell in their forward line, so they possess that threat inside.
In years gone by, Niall would have carried the main scoring threat for St Eunan’s but this year they are getting a massive spread of scores from all over the pitch.
They are very well organised and play a defensive brand of football also so the game could be quite cagey for some time and it may all depend on how clinical both sets of forwards are and who can make the most of the opportunities when they have the ball.
Another major threat St Eunan’s have is the kick-outs. In the semi-final, Shaun Patton was outstanding and set up a number of the attacks.
Glenties face a dilemma this weekend and perhaps when they sit down to come up with a game-plan. This will be the area that gets most focus because if they press the kick-outs, Shaun Patton will simply bypass their press and launch an attack. Alternatively, if they drop off he will clip the ball out to his defenders and then the St Eunan’s players are so hard to dispossess because all of their players are comfortable on the ball. For me, looking in as outsider, Glenties have to turn this game into a war and lean heavily on the years of experience built up over time and hope that they upset St Eunan’s flow and rhythm.
I believe that St Eunan’s have a bigger target in mind this season so for me I think they will be very hard to beat and I go for a comfortable victory by four or five points.