THE county final takes place in Donegal this coming Sunday, and with my own club Gaoth Dobhair in the decider I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach to this week’s column.
Obviously, I’m dying for my own club to win the title, so, therefore, I want to look at this week’s county final as an outsider as opposed to someone with a vested interest.
Whether you are an outsider or someone closely connected to the final, there is simply no getting away from the fact that Glenties are raging hot favourites
They have already beaten two of the so-called ‘big four’ here in Donegal on the way to the final and if they beat Gaoth Dobhair on Sunday, then it becomes a clean sweep.
Gaoth Dobhair, on the other hand, never expected to be at this stage, because in reality, they are in year one of a rebuild that is taking place under the guidance of manager, Rónán Mac Niallais and coach Francie Friel.
Since winning the Ulster Club in 2018, we have lost a raft of players to emigration. I count six players that are unavailable this weekend and if they were here then I would have a different team going in as favourites.
Unfortunately for us, life has to be lived and a lot of those lads are away to broaden their horizons and you cannot blame them for that.
Speaking as a neutral, I’d like to see a good footballing spectacle this weekend. From a Gaoth Dobhair point of view, you know what you are going to get from us because it’s installed in our DNA to go out and express yourself on the football pitch.
On Sunday our lads will back themselves 100 per cent and they will go for the jugular so I’m hoping we get likewise from this Glenties team.
I watched their semi-final win over and St Eunan’s and although a lot of people may have come away saying that the defensive nature of the contest was intriguing, for me, it was absolutely horrible to watch.
I get the whole point of going defensive to keep yourself in the game etc, but we are talking about a Glenties team who are in their seventh consecutive county final.
So, for me, they should now be in a place where they are expressing themselves and developing their players on this big stage.
Glenties, under Martin Regan, have a fantastic record of reaching county finals over the last number of years.
What Martin does, and it works very well, is that he continues to change his backroom team meaning that there is always a fresh voice in the changing room each year.
This year they have a young coach Gary Boyle who did some coaching at county level – I think it was under Declan Bonner – so from an outsider’s point of you I’d like to see him bring this Glenties team on.
Against St Eunan’s their game plan was simply to drop back and shut up shop from the first whistle.
They conceded the St Eunan’s kick-outs and, in fact, by the time Shaun Patron took his kick-outs, all 15 Glenties players were back inside their own 45.
Now I have already said that I get that kind of tactic if you are a team that is trying to establish themselves and trying to keep themselves in the game.
For a team who are in their seventh consecutive county final, what you’re actually saying to your players is that I don’t trust you and you’re not good enough to go man-to-man.
From a Donegal point of view, that is disappointing to see from a young coach because we want our players to develop as footballers.
Although this sort of approach might win you a few championships, it won’t last the test of time and before long you will be well back down the pecking order because this template is simply not sustainable.
I’m sure if Glenties win on Sunday, which they should, their supporters won’t care because they have another title in the bag which brings them to seven county titles but at some stage someone has to look at the bigger picture and what will happen further down the line.
From an outsider looking in, what I would like to see from Glenties is tht they express themselves fully and go into Ulster and give it a proper rattle.
If you lose then you lose, but at least your players know that they expressed themselves and that they couldn’t have done anymore.
If we look at the likes of Kilmacud or Glen in Derry they have a defensive structure but that’s not all they have.
Their players are encouraged to express themselves and back their skills that they have developed from an early age.
I’d love Donegal players to do that whether it’s Gaoth Dobhair players, Glenties players or Carndonagh players.
It’s prediction time and I’m not going to beat about the bush. I think Glenties should win by five or six, but one thing I do know about Gaoth Dobhair is that they turn into a different animal come county final day.
I know our boys will go for the jugular so you just never know, we might be in the Monday Club in Teach Mhici yet.