By Shaun Casey
ST MICHAEL’S are currently going through a period of transition, having lost star players in the shape of Colm McFadden and Christy Toye over the last few years.
That means the youth are getting their chance to shine, led by Donegal star Michael Langan.
“We’ve gone through a bit of a period of transition,” said joint-manager Cathal Sweeney, who leads the team along with Raymond McLaughlin.
“Colm McFadden’s gone, Christy Toye’s gone, Ciaran Gallagher’s gone so there’s a lot of the older boys that have departed. We have a lot of younger boys coming through.
“We still have a few of the older boys there to help us through the period of transition. Michael Langan, the whole country knows the talent he is at this stage, and we’re delighted to have him.”
St Michael’s are currently unbeaten in the championship following the opening two rounds. They began the campaign with a draw against Sean MacCumhaill’s before seeing off Milford in the second round.
The young players breaking through will be given their toughest examination to date this weekend when St Michael’s host Naomh Conaill, “the top team in the county”, according to Sweeney.
“The first game down at home against Sean MacCumhaill’s, we knew it was going to be a tough battle. MacCumhaill’s are a good team with a lot of good young players coming through and then they have a lot of the older heads still about as well.
“We were probably a wee bit disappointed we didn’t come out with the two points but in saying that we were happy enough to get a share of the spoils too. We knew going to Milford we had to be on top of our game to get the result we wanted. Thankfully the boys put in the performance we asked for and we did come out on the right side of the result.
“This weekend’s going to be a massive test, there’s no doubt about that.
“I think it’s fair to say that Naomh Conaill have set the standard in Donegal football this last seven or eight years.
“They’ve been in finals and semi-finals every year and they’re without doubt the top team in the county in my opinion. They have a great strength in depth in the squad and it’ll be a good battle.”
St Michael’s will hope home advantage counts for something but as Sweeney describes, that brings its own pressure as well.
“We’re at home at the Bridge and hopefully we get a good crowd, a good turnout. Because we’re in a period of transition and we’ve these young boys coming through, it’s good that they can pit themselves against the best players in the county.
“The way the championship’s gone this year, there’s a lot of the away teams that are coming in and taking points off the home teams so it’s probably not much of an advantage.
“But it’s nice to be in your own surroundings, you have a feel for it, and you have the home crowd too.
“That brings an added bit of pressure too that you have to deliver in front of your home crowd. As players and as managers, you want to be playing at home all the time, so we have that wee bit of an advantage.”