WHEN THE ATTACKS malfunction, then maybe you have to make a case for the defence.
Glenswilly’s 0-3 to 0-2 win over their neighbours and rivals St Eunan’s made local and national headlines for all the wrong reasons. Again, it was the defence we heard. Blankets, duvets and pillowcases.
Photo caption: Glenswilly and St Eunan’s players have a difference of opinion in the AllSportStore.com All-County Football League Division 1 clash at Pairc Naomh Columba on Sunday. Photo: Geraldine Diver
Rather bizarre Donegal All-County football league Division 1 fixture ends @GaaGlenswilly 0-3 @StEunansGAA 0-2 #gaa
— Alan Foley (@alanfoley79) July 24, 2016
For those who attended the Donegal All-County Football League Division 1 fixture, there was a sense of bemusement. After all, how often do you see a team move into an unassailable three-point lead by the 25th minute?
It was a freakish occasion.
The fare on show from an offensive perspective, was, pretty dreadful at times. Following two points from Cathal Gallagher and one from Gary McFadden, Glenswilly were 0-3 to 0-0 up five minutes before half-time.
Then, the visitors from just four miles in the road in Letterkenny saw Conor Parke score their first point of the afternoon in the 30th minute, while Conor Gibbons’ free was the only score of the entire second half from either team.
St Eunan’s and Glenswilly have won seven out of the last nine Donegal SFC titles with only the current holders of the Dr Maguire Cup – Naomh Conaill from Glenties – breaking that duopoly.
Sky sports breakin news..st eunans rovers- glenswilly utd..finishes 3-2..great game of soccer down there..??
— eoinbradley (@skinnerlad) July 24, 2016
In 2013, Glenswilly, from a modest base of Division 2 in Donegal won the Dr Maguire Cup and reached the final of the Ulster Club Championship, where they lost 1-13 to 2-6 against a fine Ballinderry Shamrocks side.
A year later, St Eunan’s, by then back as champions in Donegal, were denied extra-time against Omagh St Enda’s in the Ulster semi-final at Celtic Park in Derry when Cillian Morrison’s shot whizzed inches wide of the post in the closing stages.[adrotate group=”56″]
Sunday’s result came seven days after an over-ponderous Donegal left the door open for Tyrone to sneak in and show the initiative to win the Ulster championship with three late points.
Donegal were considered too conservative; a notion in equal and opposite effect to Cavan and Derry being to open when they lost to Tyrone.
Darren McGinley of Glenswilly gets his shot off as Mark Forde from St Eunan’s closes in during the AllSportStore.com All-County Football League Division 1 clash at Pairc Naomh Columba on Sunday. Photo: Geraldine Diver
Donegal people will always feel as though they’re an easy target.
The world and its mother called for Jim McGuinness’s head as he adopted the most defensive and conservative approach ever seen at Croke Park, when Dublin beat Donegal 0-8 to 0-6 in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final.
I never ever thought that a old league game out the glen would create such a stir but good to get the victory all the same #onwards&upwards
— Joe gibbons (@Joeg153) July 24, 2016
People forget that just three weeks before that, the Dublin team managed by Pat Gilroy had swept Tyrone – winner of three All-Ireland titles in the eight years beforehand – to one side in a swashbuckling 0-22 to 0-15 All-Ireland quarter-final. It was a match in which Dublin scored 20 points from play.
On Donegal’s previous visit to Croke Park prior to that summer, they’d shipped a record scoreline against Cork in the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final having been hammered 1-27 to 2-10.
By 2011, McGuinness had to pull a rabbit out of the hat. His tactics were unconventional and certainly uncomforted Dublin for long spells but, ultimately, fell short. Would Donegal have lasted as long had it been a shoot-out?[adrotate group=”38″]
McGuinness and Donegal, by means of solid defence and lightening counter-attacks, brought it on a leap in 2012 to win Sam Maguire for only the second time and by 2014, had showed their collective evolution with a 3-14 to 0-17 win over a Dublin team many claimed were ‘unbeatable’ in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Kerry and Eamonn Fitzmaurice dug their heels in and, unlike Dublin, refused to commit in a drab All-Ireland final where they and Donegal effectively cancelled one another out. In the end it was a contest settled by an error and not acumen.
Donegal’s reputation, from a wider sense, is still similar to what was in August 2011. Caveman football. Loads of men back. Hand-passing. Puke. The clubs are thought to be less talented groups of players who try to play the same type of football as the county team did in that fledgling season of traction in 2011.
Just hearing that the managers of st eunans and glenswilly are in their way to The Hague.
— Padraic mc laughlin (@mc_padraic) July 24, 2016
It’s perceived that every four-year-old in Donegal’s dream is to grow up and become a part of a 14-man blanket defence incessantly shouting “HOW LONG?” at a referee.
All this, with the assistance of six of his teammates beefed up on Creatine, whilst pasting seven shades of you know what into the other team’s only creative player till he turns blue in the face.
Last Sunday’s Ulster final with Donegal content to keep balls for long spells but not shoot enough didn’t help the perception. But again, it was two teams who mirrored one another and when push came to shove, Tyrone took their chances to win 0-13 to 0-11.
Love how so many ppl r predicting d end of Gaelic football based on a league game in Donegal they havent seen or read report on! #donegalgaa
— Rónán Mac Niallais (@macniallais) July 24, 2016
Because of that loss, Rory Gallagher’s team must face into an All-Ireland qualifier against Cork at Croke Park this Saturday at 4pm.
And a spin-off from that meant the Donegal Competitions’ Controls Committee had to devise fair fixtures locally, by means of starred games where there’s a similar amount of absent county players on either team.
Glenswilly and St Eunan’s weren’t actually even supposed to meet in the first place. The former were initially down to play Kilcar with the latter facing Termon.
St Eunan’s train with a collective panel of seniors and reserves and on Sunday were missing 34 players in all, 21 who had played senior this year.
As well as being forced to line out without the county contingent of Rory Kavanagh, Eamonn Doherty and Caolan Ward, plus Ulster minor-winning joint-captain Niall O’Donnell, the Letterkenny club have nine players in America, plus an extremely lengthy injury-list.
Clubs have claimed they’re unaware of when and if fixtures are on week after week and therefore, holidays are a factor at this time of year.
“We’re looking to be positive this year,” said St Eunan’s manager David McGinley after his first day in charge, which was a 3-14 to 3-14 draw against Gaoth Dobhair in Magheragallon in March. “We don”t want to be a one-trick pony. Too many of our players, that’s their default now. I’m looking to develop them. It’s important to play different ways.”
Before Sunday, St Eunan’s had been averaging 17.75 points a match and were conceding 15.58. In May, for example, they won 4-14 to 6-7 at Bundoran.
Glenswilly – averaging 10.08 for and 13.5 against – were slightly stronger on paper but had only picked up five points this season and were in the automatic relegation spots. They still are.
St Eunan’s goalkeeper Sean Daffan out-jumps teammate Darragh McWalters and Glenswilly’s Ryan Diver and Ethan Sweeney in the AllSportStore.com All-County Football League Division 1 clash at Pairc Naomh Columba on Sunday. Photo: Geraldine Diver
Two-time All-Star Neil Gallagher has not played for them once all year through injury and Michael Murphy, another winner of two All-Stars, has been forced to watch more games than he’s played. Ciaran Bonner – a 2007 National Football League Division 1 winner with Donegal under Brian McIver – was also absent.
Anyhow, both clubs learned of the starred fixture and, after that, that it would be changed from 3pm Sunday back to noon to accommodate a local Tractor Run with the monies raised going to the Glenswilly Chapel Restoration Fund.
A lot of folk weren’t aware of that, which made for an even more diluted fixture and atmosphere; as well as the watered-down teams.[adrotate group=”68″]
Once the tweet was tweeted of the final score, from all corners there was a flurry of responses – not too many positive it must be said – all possessing a similar theme with varying levels of expletives, that, football, pretty much, is finished. Doomed. Finito. And it was all Donegal’s fault. Laugh or cry? The Apocalypse. That tribe in Iraq.
First things first: Five points is a woeful return in any man’s language and the game was much poorer on quality that had been anticipated.
Martin Coll from Gaoth Dobhair, a former inter-county player, was the referee and isn’t one for soft frees. Given the occasion and the derby element, it was an appreciated approach.
Many of those who gave their tuppence worth online, though, put two and two together and, a bit like Glenswilly and St Eunan’s, got five.
It wasn’t defensive and there weren’t respective green and white and black and amber walls constructed on the 45-metre lines with barbed wire on top.
Glenswilly had 15 wides and dropped three balls short into the arms of Sean Daffan, the St Eunan’s goalkeeper. At the other end, St Eunan’s kicked 12 wides, four short and cannoned the upright twice in the first half.
Although the number of created opportunities aren’t great, they do confirm the inaccuracy. St Eunan’s had 20 efforts; Glenswilly hit 21 shots.
@Glenswilly leading Eunans 3 points to 1 at halftime. Good physical game for a league match. Some terrible wides.
— Peter Doherty (@PeterDoherty10) July 24, 2016
In what was arguably one of the most rampant attacking performances of the summer, Tyrone, in their 5-18 to 2-17 Ulster semi-final win over Cavan, only had 12 more.
As was said at the time on Sunday, the real issue in Glenswilly on Sunday was the woeful shooting from both sides – nothing more. When it was suggested that there was no adverse weather conditions, that merely consolidates the notion.
Supporters of Glenswilly and St Eunan’s mightn’t have agreed on a whole lot down the years, but those who were at Pairc Naomh Columba did share a common opinion: It was a poor game with worse shooting.
I’ve seen a few people defending the low scoreline between Glenswilly & St Eunan’s, saying it was simply down to bad shooting……
— Barry Whyte (@BarryWhyte85) July 24, 2016
So, there’s more than the misfiring players of Glenswilly and St Eunan’s who should be looking for a fool’s pardon. In the world of social media, everyone, it seems, is an expert.
But just as it’s said that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover then so too a football match shouldn’t be judged by its score.
There’s no reason to take a pen-knife to all the O’Neill’s balls up and down the country just yet.
Division One game in Donegal today – 0-3 0-2.
Division One game in Donegal today – 1-16 1-13.
As daft to read much into one as the other.
— Kieran Cunningham (@KCsixtyseven) July 24, 2016