By Michael McMullan
CLOUGHANEELY manager Michael Lynch said the scars of losing the last two finals weighed on his side this season. Lynch’s team needed a replay to see off Dungloe and land a third Donegal intermediate title. But an inspired performance on Saturday from county star Jason McGee and a goal from Blake McGarvey catapulted them to a 1-11 to 0-5 win, setting them up for Saturday’s clash with Derry champions Steelstown in the
Ulster Club Intermediate Championship.
“We had a lot of improving to do and we talked about when you get a second chance, like the way we did, you have to grab it,” said Lynch, who as part of their 2006 and 2014 winning teams.
“In fairness, Dungloe were very good the first day and we knew we’d have to lift it. From the throw-in, we set the tone and it went our way.
“I’d say there was a wee bit of pressure on them coming into it after losing the two finals (2019 and 2020) and because they didn’t lose (the drawn game), the pressure was off a wee bit.”
Cloughaneely have made a habit of taking the scenic route in the championship. They needed two replays to see off Fanad in the 2006 final.
Their 2014 final was put back due to Donegal’s All-Ireland run. Just 24 hours after they won the title, they were in Ulster action against Castledawson, where they needed extra time to come through.
In 2019, Cloughaneely lost out to St Naul’s after playing four games in 10 days.
“We played the replay of the semi-final on the Wednesday night, so that didn’t give us a lot to go on and we felt a bit hard done by,” Lynch said.
Last year, they pushed Aodh Ruadh Ballyshannon to two points with time almost up before being hit by a late goal as they tried to get back into the game.
“We have Lee O’Brien back at centre back this year after a spell in Australia and that’s been a big help,” said Lynch, who admits that management is a much tougher ask than playing.
Former Donegal minor Blake McGarvey has been another addition, but they lost the services of Kevin Mulhern who sustained a cruciate ligament injury in the first game of the league.
“He would’ve been our leader, so it balances itself out,” Lynch adds.
Looking ahead to this weekend, there hasn’t been ‘much thought’ of their clash with Steelstown.
For Lynch, the side deserved their down time over Saturday and Sunday. He was expecting the squad back in training on Tuesday night.
“We’ll get them out during the week and see how they go after that,” he said.