Rackard win as good as first – Cullen

Donegal won their third Nickey Rackard title last weekend, causing something of an upset when they beat Mayo who would have been fancied to win in some quarters.

Danny Cullen is one of Donegal’s more experienced players and he put into perspective what the win meant for the county.

“We are over the moon. The year that is in it to get back to Croke Park, to win the game was great. We are delighted. It was a tough game so to come out on the right side makes it all the more special.

“We hadn’t beat Mayo since 2004, so that added to it.”

Donegal had won their first Nickey Rackard title in 2013, but Cullen said this one was equally important.

“I know the first one is huge but Mayo are better opposition than Roscommon were back then. As you get older you appreciate these wins a lot more because you realise there are not many more days that you might get. So this one was equally good. It’s definitely up there.”

Cullen is turning 33 in the next few weeks and while he reckons he may not have too many more seasons left playing,  he sees great progress in the county.

“I think the whole structure and set up in the county  has improved, from club level all the way up. The dedication on our panel has been fantastic over the last couple of years. Boys have really bought into it. Even down to the simple things like attendance at training, and boys’ attitudes. We have diet and conditioning sorted out.

“We have had a full-time coach for the last couple of years which has  brought us on (Gabriel O’Kane). Ryan McLaughlin is doing our strength and conditioning. It is fantastic. Mickey (McCann) is a top coach as well.

“We have had some great players coming in in the last few years in Declan Coulter and Davin Flynn. They have been huge additions and have helped to bring the thing on a level further.”

Donegal have won three Rackard titles, and earlier this year they earned promotion back up to Division 2B. Things are going well.

Cullen said: “Donegal are an established team now at that level. We are at level where we can win Rackards. We think we are at a stage where we can catch the heels of the Kildares, Wicklows and Derrys.

“Progression is good but it is important that it maintains.”

The plan now is to build on this win. Cullen says that they can do that in Division 2B.

“We want to get a few more scalps. There are teams in there that we would like to get a go at.

“For me personnally I want to keep the attitude right  so that boys are committed to it and give respect to the jersey. The small goals are to maintain where we are, but we also want to catch up with the bigger teams like Down and Derry.

“On our day we fancy can give the bigger teams a rattle.”

Cullen said that there are plenty of young talented players coming through.

“There are good young players out there and there is a good attitude in Donegal.

“It is not about just getting a panel together, It is about being good enough to make it. A result like that one in the Nickey Rackard proves to the young players that they can achieve something with the county.”

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW