Donegal ladies can’t afford to slip up says manager McNulty

By Niall Gartland

THERE’S very little margin for error as the Donegal ladies travel to Waterford on Sunday for their second and final group stage match.

If Donegal win or draw, they will advance to an All-Ireland quarter-final clash, but a loss will see them leapfrogged by the Déise and pitted in a relegation series, an outcome that they’d very much prefer to avoid.

John McNulty’s side clinched a draw on their first day out against Kerry, a decent outcome when you consider they went into the game as heavy underdogs against the Munster champions and back-to-back All-Ireland finalists.

They’ve stepped things up a gear since finishing third in Division Two in the league, taking Armagh to extra-time in the Ulster Championship final before their Kerry stalemate, and their manager is understandably pleased with their progress.

“I have to commend the players for what they’ve achieved. We had a lot of young players coming into their first Ulster final and they did well, it’s a new team in a lot of ways.

“Then, against Kerry we could have maybe sneaked a win, we missed a few chances when we had momentum, but overall we’re happy with the draw.

“I love winning, naturally enough, but it’s not all about that – it’s about the growth you see in the girls, they’ve coming on and becoming better players and that’s what you get the satisfaction from.”

One of the big plus points from their championship opener against Kerry was the return to competitive action of Bláthnáid McLaughlin, sister of team captain Niamh. She’s had a torrid time with injury but kept the faith and helped steadied the ship on her introduction.

McNulty said: “It was great to have her back, she was out for nearly two years. Bláthnáid got herself in great shape in the last couple of weeks and she made a wee difference when she came on, so we were all delighted for her and it’s a big addition to the squad as well.”

While Donegal were able to snare a draw against Kerry, Waterford fell by 16 points in their recent match against the Kingdom last weekend. It was their first day out whereas Kerry were determined to cement their place in the quarters, so McNulty isn’t reading too much into it.

“They were way off against Kerry but Kerry are a very good team and that would be my take on it. They have six forwards and two midfielders who are well able to score, they’ve a lot of ammunition and would be a big test for anybody. Kerry were looking to make doubly sure of their place in the quarters and I expect Waterford to have learnt from it.”

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