By Michael McMullan
SATURDAY’S trip to Ahoghill is Dungloe’s maiden venture into the Ulster Club championship and captain Conor O’Donnell said his side are delighted to be leading the club into the provincial series.
After losing to Cloughaneely, after a replay, in last year’s Donegal final there were no hard luck stories as Dungloe turned the tables to bring the title back for the first time since 1986.
“We are happy with the season so far,” O’Donnell said. “We set out at the start of the year to win the county title.
“We managed that so we are delighted to be representing the club and county in Ulster.”
Leading 0-6 to 0-3 in their final with Naomh Columba, Darren Curran’s goal was the score that broke the challengers’ resolve in a comfortable 1-8 to 0-4 victory.
Dungloe now face a Dunloy team who back for the first time since their 2007 final defeat at the hands of Cavan’s Ballinagh. The Antrim side have a dozen dual players with their eye on an Ulster final against the winners of Portaferry and champions Sleacht Néill.
“We don’t know a whole pile about them,” O’Donnell admitted. “In UIster, you do your homework as best you can but it is different after playing teams within your own county for years.
“We watched their final and I am sure the boys (management team) will have done their homework.”
After last year, it was time to get to work and O’Donnell credits their greater desire as one of the differences that contributed to his side being on the right side of that winning feeling this season.
“I don’t think it was any one thing,” he calmly stared. “I think there was a bit more hunger there after last year.
“We learned a lot of lessons after the finals last year. This year it added a bit more hunger and I think that paid dividends in our championship campaign this year.”
Now, the focus turns to Ulster and plotting a championship run to help bring more pride to the club .
“There are no easy games,” he stated. “Everyone has won their county championship, so there are going to be big challenges in every game you play, we you have taken them one at a time. It’s not easy, but you just have to take what you are given.”
The break of six weeks is far from idea but after their week of celebration it was back to the grindstone with a few challenge games factored into their preparations.
“The senior ladies were in the junior final and we were in the intermediate final,” O’Donnell said about the excitement in the club.
“Last year it was the hurlers winning in their final too, there are good times in the club when the teams are winning it brings a whole vibe from underage up in the club.”