CONOR MCCULLAGH hopes that this week’s successful trip to Scotland will aid his team’s SFAI inter-league cup bid.
After defeating Cavan-Monaghan 2-0 at An Screaban last Sunday in their inter-league group, the Donegal squad embarked on the journey to Glasgow.
The Donegal men played three games before returning home, two of those games in Scotland.
On Monday evening, they lost 4-0 to a Celtic Development squad at Lennoxtown, Celtic FC’s training ground, in a game played over three periods.
Donegal scored a 3-2 win over Hamilton Academical on Tuesday evening at New Douglas Park and they were beaten 4-2 by Cliftonville at Solitude on the route home on Wednesday.
“We’ve taken real benefit out of this week,” McCullagh told Donegal Sport Hub.
“We won the game on Sunday and the trip and being away for the few days meant we could do video work from the Cavan-Monaghan game almost immediately and it was fresh in the boys’ heads.
“Generally when we have a game on a Sunday it’s the following weekend before we can implement that kind of work.
“It was great, too, for the likes of hydration and nutrition work and just the general professionalism that comes with a trip like this.”
On Sunday, goals by Stephen McFadden and captain Daragh Ellison gave Donegal the 2-0 win over Cavan-Monaghan that leaves them well poised – following an opening day 4-1 win against Sligo-Leitrim – to advance ahead of their final group game next month against Inishowen.
After losing 4-0 to Celtic, whose ‘superior fitness and strength’ was the big difference according to McCullagh, Donegal claimed a great win on Tuesday.
McFadden’s early goal put Donegal ahead, but Hamilton led 2-1 at half-time.
Joel Bradley-Walsh equalised and then created the winner, scored by Ellison.
Republic of Ireland Under-15 Marc Walsh was among the stars of the win over Hamilton.
McFadden and Ellison were on the mark again on Wednesday in a 4-2 loss to Cliftonville.
McCullagh said: “The whole thing was a great experience and we got using 21 players over the few days.”
On Monday, prior to their game against Celtic, the Donegal squad were visited by Jim McGuinness, who is a Performance Consultant at Celtic.
The Donegal Schoolboys Under-15 squad with Jim McGuinness at Lennoxtown
“Celtic were doing some work at Lennoxtown with a wee game just after ours,” McCullagh said.
“Jim came into our dressing room, gave the lads some gifts and had a good casual chat with the boys.
“They were pretty nervous when he came in, but it was amazing to see. Usually they don’t shut up, but you could hear a pin drop when Jim was in.
“It was nice for them to see that here was a normal guy from the same place they come from who is now working at Celtic.”
Aidan McHugh was unavailable to travel with the squad.
The players who did travel were: Eoin McGing, Eoin McGonagle, Jack Parke, Conor Reilly, Dylan O’Brien, Conor Doherty, Marc Walsh, Odhran McGuinness, Liam McFadden, Junior Adukua, Stephen McFadden, Daragh Ellison, Ronan Gallagher, Joel Bradley-Walsh, Mikey McFadden, Rory O’Donnell, Jamsie Doherty, Oisin Cannon, Kealan Gallagher, Jack O’Donnell and Nicholas McLaughlin.
They were accompanied by manager McCullagh, assistant manager Paddy Walsh, team administrator Michael McFadden, coach Conor Meakin and goalkeeping coach James O’Brien.