By Shaun Casey
AFTER 13 league games, David Lennon’s Donaghmoyne finished top of the senior table, booking their place in the last four against Latton this Saturday evening.
Donaghmoyne have exceeded expectation at their second year at this level, ahead of their semi-final showdown and Lennon’s side have already achieved their ultimate goal for 2023 by avoiding relegation back down to intermediate.
“Last year was probably about establishing ourselves and staying in senior. The club had been up and down a number of years this last six or seven years, so our priority was to stay in senior last year,” said the Donaghmoyne boss.
“We actually had a good league campaign and a good championship (last year) but ended up in the bottom four due to scoring difference. This year it’s the same thing, trying to have a good league campaign and fortunately things worked out for us.
“We scraped through and finished top of the league by a point. You can’t read too much into the league because the majority of teams are playing without their county players so it’s probably not a far reflection of where teams are really at. The priority in the league for us was to not be in that bottom four because you’re brought into a relegation playoff then. Fortunately for us we put in a good shift, and we’ve come out the right side of it.”
For the remainder of league games, whether they make the final or not, Donaghmoyne will be coming up against teams that have their full deck to choose from, with the county men back into the fold.
Unfortunately for Lennon’s team, they’re hand has weakened through injuries and holidays, which could impact their chances of finishing the league with some silverware.
“We’ve lost Cormac O’Connor for the season with a cruciate and we have David Garland and Stephen Finnegan abroad so they’re massive misses for us. They’ve gone out to America playing football for the summer, like any other club, but we’re hoping to have them back.”
All the preparation now is geared towards the championship now and like last season, Donaghmoyne have been drawn into the group of death alongside Scotstown, Clontibret, Inniskeen and Magheracloone.
“We had an extremely tough group last year,” added Lennon. “We were with Ballybay, Scotstown, Clontibret and Aughnamullen and this year we’ve actually got a tougher group in my eyes. The draw hasn’t favoured us in the last two seasons but that’s the hand you’re dealt, and you just have to prepare the best you can.
“We have Clontibret in the first game, who will be a much-improved side from last year.
“Then we’ve Inniskeen who finished second in the league and would be a lot of people’s outside shot for the championship, then you have Scotstown who have got stronger with Jack McCarron this year and a number of other players back.
“A lot of things are going to have to go well for us to compete in that group and come out of it so that’s what we’re faced with.”