Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Donegal will feel invincible after Ulster triumph

I DID say last week that I expected Donegal to be crowned Ulster champions but I didn’t quite predict that they would do so in such dramatic fashion.

I expected the game to be ultra-defensive. I know though both teams set up like this, but the quality of the scores taken was unbelievable by both sides and that made it a fantastic encounter.

I do want to begin by saying that even though it was a great win for Donegal, and the Donegal supporters won’t care how it came about, it was very cruel on Armagh considering their history when it comes to penalty kicks.

It’s a cruel way to lose any game, but given the nature of the championship nowadays with games week on week, there is very little room for manoeuvre.

Armagh will have to regroup and go again. They’ll try and build again and they’ll have to do it one game at a time but I’m sure this loss will hurt for quite some time.

Donegal, on the other hand, will be flying on cloud nine given how they went about winning this Ulster Championship and the teams that they have beaten along the way.

The game looked dead and buried when Armagh raced into a four-point lead but credit to Donegal, they dug the game out with some inspirational scores from Niall O’Donnell which brought them right back into the contest.

The Ulster journey is over and all the attention now turns towards the All-Ireland series with the group games beginning this weekend, so it’s a fresh start for all teams as they turn their attention towards the big prize.

I spoke about the format a couple of weeks ago and I think that it needs tweaking. With three teams coming out of each group, that real championship knockout feel won’t happen until the group stages are over so perhaps that’s something that the powers that be could look at going forward.

The Donegal and Armagh players would have enjoyed one or two days of relaxation and downtime after the final before knuckling down to what could be some very interesting games over the coming weeks.

From an Armagh point of view, it’s all about the next game and and if they can manage to get a win, then their season is right back on track.

On the other side of the coin, from a Donegal point of view, the momentum will carry them through the group stages, and that feeling of invincibility is hard to beat.

This week, naturally all the talk is about the two teams who played in the Ulster final but we mustn’t forget that there are number of teams sitting waiting in the group stages who were badly stung already this season.

It will be interesting to see how those teams have re-grouped and re-energised themselves for the tilt at following Dublin and lifting Sam Maguire (pictured).

There was a lot of talk earlier on in the year about the lack of championship atmosphere but I think that over the next few weeks that will gradually start to build and we should see some very interesting clashes during the rest of the summer. At the moment, this is how I see things standing.

1 Dublin

2 Kerry

3 Derry

4 Galway/Donegal

This is based on performances to date but also what I believe to be within each squad when things really get going. But, remember way back I said Tyrone would have a big say in this year’s championship, well I still stick by that.

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