FOLLOWING last weekend’s win over Bundoran, Ardara manager Damian Devaney has admitted that the club are determined to avoid the relegation play offs this season.
Ardara have been in the relegation zone for the last couple of years and that was an issue that Devaney wanted to address.
“For the last couple of years they have been very unlucky with injuries leading up to the championship and not having the best team available. We put a good focus on just getting everyone fit this year and having a big squad. We have a good squad of reserves and seniors working together and that has been the base.
“Getting into a championship quarter-finals would be a goal for us after having been in the relegation play offs for the past few years. That is the first target and we will take it from there.”
In terms of injuries an absentees they have not had any trouble so far. Paddy McGrath and Caolan Melly were injured a few weeks ago and Thomas Boyle had a bereavement in the family and he didn’t play. However, all three were able to play some part against Bundoran last weekend. Devaney says that he expects to have a clean bill of health for their next game in just over a week’s time against Milford.
Ardara’s Senior Championship began with a win against Bundora, a close affair they needed to rally to pull off a 1-10 to 2-6 result.
Devaney said: “We started well. We had a strong first half and we probably should have had a few more scores on the board. Towards the end of the first quarter we missed two or three chances. At half time we were happy with where we were. They were down to the 14 men and we had a five point lead. We were disappointed to give away the goal but we responded well to that, gettting a point point.”
Things got messy when Ardara lost a man to a sending off. Devaney said that he was disappointed that that happened. However, they still managed to show enough grit and guile to get the result.
“You have to be happy how we responded in the last ten minutes to come back from four points down and have the composure to tag on 1-3. It was a good effort from the bench.
“We have been happy. We have put a focus on having a large squad. We introduced five men at the weekend and they all played their part.”
With no action this weekend, Ardara are going to train as normal. The size of the squad means that they can play in house games. Devaney said that the progress of bringing in new players has been very good as well.
They have the experienced players of Conor Classon, CJ Molloy and Paddy McGrath. Devaney gave four debuts to newer players in the championship last weekend.
“We have a nice mix of the older and the younger and it is working well so far. It adds bite to training.”
And that competition is important for what is going to be a testing championship.
“The championship will be tough. There is serious quality in Donegal and that has been shown over the last couple of years. The likes of Glenties, Gaoth Dobhair, Kilcar, St Eunan’s, St Michael’s, Bundoran would have been close to that mix as well. It is serious competitive. The top eight going to quarter-finals and the bottom eight going to relegation play off means that you could be a score difference between the two. That makes it even more competitive. It is going to be very exciting.”
The big games this weekend see Naomh Conaill play Glenfin on Saturday (2pm), St Naul’s play Termon on Sunday (2pm), Four Masters meet Ballyshannon (3.30pm), and MacCumhaills play St Michael’s (4.30pm).