DONEGAL BEGAN 2016 on a winning note on Sunday with a 1-11 to 0-11 win over Down in Ballybofey – Chris McNulty examines five talking points from the game.
- The new kids on the block
JANUARY is generally all about the ‘who’s he?’, the ‘what’s he like?’ and the ‘could he do a job in the Championship?’-type questions from the anxious public.
The Dr McKenna Cup is much more about getting a marker for the squad’s new faces.
In the recent past, the likes of Odhrán Mac Niallais and Darach O’Connor have made significant-enough performances in January to merit inclusion at the business end.
Rory Gallagher handed out six debuts on Sunday and could be heartened by the displays, particularly those of Man of the Match Ciaran Thompson – who scored three points from midfield – Jack O’Brien and Eoghan Ban Gallagher.
Stephen McBrearty had his moments and Micheál Carroll’s talents are already evident while Danny Rodgers, literally a last-minute call-up as goalkeeper after Mark Anthony McGinley pulled up in the warm-up, will be happy to have kept a clean sheet.
Picture caption: Eoghan Ban Gallagher goes on the attack for Donegal against Down on Sunday. Picture courtesy of Geraldine Diver.
- Frank McGlynn’s forward potential
FRANK McGlynn mightn’t have meant for that effort on 68 seconds to loop over Stephen Kane and into the River End net on Sunday, but the Glenfin man’s display at centre-forward was certainly one to take note of.
McGlynn’s chip floated over a stunned Kane and dropped into the far corner for his third Donegal goal. It was reminiscent of another McGlynn goal, against Meath in the 2014 National Football League.
McGlynn has always possessed a good scoring instinct and his goal against Down in the 2012 Ulster final was one of that fabled summer’s highlights.
In his teenage years, he played alongside Wayne Rooney for Everton in the Milk Cup and, although his Gaelic football career has been built in defence, Rory Gallagher has clearly identified the scope to deploy McGlynn in a more attacking role.
The stationing of Leo McLoone at full-forward and Martin O’Reilly at centre-back were the other experiments that could be worth remembering in a few months’ time.
- Morrison has lost time, but will be given plenty of it
CILLIAN Morrison was the man fouled for the penalty Michael Murphy crashed against the Breffni Park crossbar in the 2010 All-Ireland Under-21 final.
Since then, Morrison has been carving out a soccer career in the League of Ireland with UCD, Cork City and, in 2015, Derry City.
In that time, Morrison’s action on the Gaelic football fields have rested somewhere between minimal and non-existent with only a handful, at the most, of appearances for St Eunan’s.
He returned to St Eunan’s for their Ulster Club campaign in 2014, but subsequently signed a contract at Derry City.
A frustrating year at the Brandywell followed in 2015 and he recently joined up with the Donegal squad for training.
The highly rated Morrison will be given ample time by the Donegal management to get up to speed. If he can hit the notes he had threatened to when in the under-21s he’ll be a fine addition to Gallagher’s squad.
- Paddy McGrath’s first Donegal point
IT took until the 63rd appearance and quite a bit of ribbing in the Donegal dressing room, but finally Paddy McGrath kicked his first point for the county on Sunday.
In the 49th minute, the Ardara man got forward to tap over what was a well-taken score.
The corner-back has waited a long time to get on the mark having made his debut in 2010.
McGrath features on the scoreboard now and again for his club and does venture forward quite a bit for Donegal, although he doesn’t shoot all that often.
Lightening didn’t strike twice on Sunday as a subsequent effort tailed wide, but McGrath will be content to have broken the duck.
- The blank jerseys
WHEN Donegal, led by the captain for the day Frank McGlynn, trotted out onto Sean MacCumhaill Park for the first time in 2016, there was one notable absentee.
It was the lack of a sponsor from the front of the jerseys that had supporters wondering.
It is likely that Donegal will have a new main sponsor and also a secondary sponsor on the backs of their jerseys with the new look set to be launched prior to the start of the Allianz League at the end of this month.