MICHAEL NAUGHTON SAYS his Donegal ladies can ‘compete with anyone’ as they prepare to face Dublin in tomorrow’s All-Ireland quarter-final in Longford (5pm).
Yvonne McMonagle’s last gasp free on the August Bank Holiday Monday sealed a dramatic 3-15 to 4-11 win over Galway in a qualifier that has set-up tomorrow’s tussle with the Dubs.
The beaten All-Ireland finalists from last year, Dublin will be the raging favourites, but Naughton believes that the Tir Chonaill girls can upset the odds this weekend.
Already this year, Donegal won promotion to Division 1, but then relinquished their Ulster title when losing to Cavan.
The haemorraging of players from his squad, with the likes of Geraldine McLaughlin, Nicole McLaughlin, Laura Gallagher, Emer Gallagher, Gemma Glackin, Kate Keaney and Blathnaid McLaughlin all going to America for the summer months, didn’t help.[adrotate group=”70″]
But Amber Barrett and McMonagle led the line in the win over Galway, although Naughton is keeping his cards close to his chest as regards the likliehood of some of the others returning for the Dublin game.
“We’ve shown great heart and commitment since the winter months,” Naughton says.
“We dug really deep against Galway. They took a lot from that game. Galway hit us for 1-2 in two minutes, but Yvonne kept her cool with that last free. We’re going into the Dublin game with an awful lot of self-belief, work-rate and hunger.[adrotate group=”68″]
“These girls have shown that if you want something bad enough, you can achieve it.
“It’s a huge game for us and we know that we have to tighten up and eliminate the mistakes we made against Galway. That same performance won’t be good enough against Dublin.”
Donegal are used to being the underdogs. Galway were hotly tipped to win last week, but Donegal turned the tables of the Tribeswomen, led by the red-hot McMonagle.
“Yvonne is as good as anyone,” Naughton says of the Glenfin woman. “The scores the last day, too, just showed a lot about the calibre of player that she is.
“We have so many leaders in there, no more so than Yvonne and Amber.
“But we have a great base of experience, the likes of Grainne Houston, Katy Herron, Deirdre Foley and ‘Yankee’ (Roisin Friel).
“We know that if we had a full hand of players we could compete with anyone.
“We’ve got a small pool of players here, but they’re all at the top of their game and have shown what they’re capable of.”[adrotate group=”37″]
Naughton has no fresh injury worries as he readies himself for the trip to the Midlands.
Naughton was manager in 2010 when Donegal won the All-Ireland Intermediate title, defeating Waterford at Croke Park. He took charge again this year after Davy McLaughlin stepped down, having helped Donegal to win a first ever Ulster SFC last year.
Now, the ultimate prize is in view.[adrotate group=”38″]
“The reality here is that we’re two games from an All-Ireland final,” Naughton, matter-of-factly, says.“The challenge is bigger this weekend, but the prize is bigger. There are no easy games here.
“There is something to play for and something to give bit for. We have to up our game here. Coming through a tight game against Galway will stand to us and we know that every team is beatable on a given day.”Tags: