DONEGAL’S MARCH 2009 win over Westmeath was exhumed last week for the purpose of illustrating the poor away record of Donegal teams in the top flight of the Allianz League.
The 0-15 to 1-7 win at Cusack Park was Donegal’s last win on the road in Division 1 before Saturday’s impressive 3-15 to 0-7 triumph against Down in Newry.
Ryan Bradley posted three of the Donegal points that day and it was a team that included the lieks of Johnny Gallagher, Paddy McDaid, Charlie Byrne, Michael Maguire and Michael Doherty, while Ronan Mac Niallais came on as a late substitute.
The win for John Joe Doherty’s Donegal relegated Westmeath to Division 2.
Jack Cooney, the Westmeath man now a selector with Rory Gallagher, would have been an interested spectator that afternoon, which can be pulled from the archives again this weekend with Donegal searching for their first back-to-back Division 1 wins since.[adrotate group=”24″]
They’d beaten Tyrone, 0-11 to 0-8 in the previous outing in Ballybofey, before taking the win in Mullingar.
Since the turn of the Millennium, Donegal’s Division 1 record has been like a yo-yo, although Brian McIver’s team did find the consistency in 2007 to win a first Division 1 title for this county.
That aside, Donegal have won consecutive games in Division 1 only twice since 2000.
In 2008, they began the defence of their title with wins over Kerry and Mayo before the sequence slipped back into L-W-L mode.
Prior to that, you must go back to the three-on-the-spin against Westmeath, Tyrone and Cork in 2002.
“The away thing wasn’t something that played on our minds last weekend and it’s the same with winning games back-to-back – although I do think that it’s important to back the Down win up against Cork,” says Gallagher ahead of Sunday’s game in Ballyshannon.
“We were very good against Down, but we need to show that again now and find that same form.
“Winning back-to-back games is something that we have struggled to do in Division 1 over the last few years. We’d like to win two or three games in a row now.
“We want to show some consistency against top-quality opposition.”
Donegal gave League debuts to Ciaran Thompson, Michael Carroll, Stephen McBrearty and Caolan McGonagle last Saturday. Jack O’Brien and Kieran Gillespie are tipped to start this weekend and there are others, too, who are pushing hard.
Gallagher also has the experienced artillery of Rory Kavanagh, Neil Gallagher, Eamon McGee – all of whom played as subs last weekend – in reserve, while Karl Lacey, Christy Toye and Colm McFadden will return in time.
“The League is mostly about trying and testing things out, but Donegal have probably been one of the most consistent in terms of the teams we’ve put out,” Gallagher says.
“We were up and down, results-wise, in 2012 and 2013. Last year, the performances were steady enough in the League, but results were up and down.
“We had a poor display against Monaghan in there, but mostly last year’s performances were steady. We want consistent performances. Some areas we have identified as key parts of the game plan.
“We’d like to get the performances to a high level and Division 1 is the perfect place to do that – against the top teams.
“Teams who do well in the League generally do well in the Championship. It is a near-perfect barometer with the best teams, bar Tyrone and Derry, in Division 1. It is a true test and the best challenge you’ll get at this time of year.”Tags: