Shane O’Donnell delighted with achieving goal

By Michael McMullan

TWO years after making his championship debut in a win over Armagh, Shane O’Donnell will be hoping his second taste of Ulster final action is a winning one.

O’Donnell’s two points weren’t enough to stop Derry edging Donegal in an extra-time arm wrestle in Clones to land a first title in 24 years.

“I’m obviously just absolutely delighted now,” the St Eunan’s man told Gaelic Life after his extra-time point helped steer Donegal clear of Tyrone on Sunday at Celtic Park.

He also won the penalty Oisín Gallen tucked away to give Donegal the seven-point lead that pushed them clear of league champions Derry in the first round.

“Getting to an Ulster final was our goal from the start of the year,” he added. “Obviously, getting past Derry was a big task and Tyrone put up an even bigger task there today so we’re just absolutely delighted to get through.”

It was a fine day all round for the O’Donnell family with older brother Niall pulling the strings in a man of the match performance. Their other brother, Conor, has returned to the St Eunan’s colours this season after transferring back from Australian side Penrith Gaels.

Donegal were without another St Eunan’s man, Shaun Patton, for Sunday with a tight turnaround to prepare for Tyrone.

“It is tough on the body so we kind of tried to just take it easy during the week,” O’Donnell said.

“We met up and we just ran through a few different things that we’re going to use there today but there’s nothing mental there because of obviously the quick turnaround.

“Obviously Shaun’s a brilliant goalkeeper but it’s nice to have Gavin (Mulreaney) there as well as you can rely on him.

“We weren’t really panicking too much with him because he’s a great goalkeeper as well so we’re delighted there that he was able to do the job for us in the end.”

Sunday week will be Donegal’s 11th final in 14 seasons with a 50 per cent success rate. It’s a first final meeting with Armagh since the 2006 decider when Paul McGrane’s goal was the difference in a 1-9 to 0-9 Orchard County win at Croke Park.

Donegal have not lifted the Anglo Celt Cup since 2019 and there is a buzz back in the county again and O’Donnell – speaking in the middle of Donegal fans – feels it will be an exciting build-up in the county.

“There’s a good buzz there at the minute as you can see all the people around the pitch there,” he  said. “So it’ll be a great buzz now for the last two weeks to lead up to the Ulster final.”

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