THE NATURE of David McGinley’s character is such that panic and over-reaction aren’t part of the psyche.
St Eunan’s form in the All-County Football League has been patchy this summer, but tomorrow evening the 14-times county champions go to the Eamonn Byrne Memorial Park in Killybegs for a game that’s must-win.
After a draw against Kilcar in their opening Championship fixture, St Eunan’s, one of the heavyweights and perennial challengers for Dr Maguire, have no lives left.
McGinley’s tone is relaxed, though.
“I feel that we need two wins and we don’t have one yet so it’s knockout football from here on,” he points out.
“Nothing can be simpler, really. Anything less than a win means that the best we can hope for is scoring difference and other results.
“The worst thing, obviously would be to be knocked out, but having that focus, that clarity, is helpful. It’s easier to know what’s at stake.”
St Eunan’s last year lost in the final to Naomh Conaill. It was their eighth county final in 11 years.
Of the last 19 county finals, St Eunan’s have been in 13 and they’ve lifted the title five times in nine years now.
Consider that they have in their ranks the vast experience of John Haran, who has played in 12 finals; Rory Kavanagh and Conall Dunne have featured in 10.[adrotate group=”38″]
“Serial winners,” McGinley calls them, “perhaps the most successful group of club players – from any era.”
And yet Eunan’s are being written off in some quarters.
McGinley has nowhere near a full hand to play in Fintra.
Kevin Rafferty, another of the veterans who has been central to the success of the black and amber over the last decade-and-a-half, is out of this weekend’s game because of a shoulder injury.[adrotate group=”70″]
Lee McMonagle and Daragh Mulgrew are in America, while Conor O’Donnell (cruciate) and Rory Carr (shoulder) are on the long-term injury list.
That said, Conor Morisson has returned from American and Oisin Carr is back on home soil, as is Michael Miller.
“With every week that passes, I feel that we are growing and becoming stronger,” McGinley says.
“We’re looking forward to the white heat of Championship football. We feel that we have learned a lot about the players and we’re learning all the time.[adrotate group=”37″]
“We won’t have everyone available, but we feel that we’ll be in a very good position to be competitive and to put in a performance. We aren’t looking past this weekend, but I do feel that we’re getting stronger.”
Recent team-sheets have contained some unrecognisable names, but McGinley has been glad to blood new faces in the form of Brendan Maguire – a native of Killybegs who transferred to St Eunan’s in the winter – as well as youngsters like Matthew Gallagher, Sean Halvey, Dylan Sweeney, Brian McIntyre and Kevin Kealy.
Niall O’Donnell, who played as a substitute in last year’s county final, has had a busy schedule and not yet donned the club’s colours at senior level this year, but is another emerging player for McGinley to blood in the coming weeks.
“We’re just trying to keep the wheel turning,” the St Eunan’s manager says.[adrotate group=”46″]
“From those experienced men, right down to the boys who are in their first seasons, they’re great to work with and great to be involved with.[adrotate group=”68″]
“They way we’ve looked at it all year, whoever wants to commit they’re welcome. It is our job to provide an opportunity and a structure – regardless of their experience or what medals they have.
“Whoever is available will get an opportunity to play. That has been really good for the training environment.
“The players will be better for the exposure and the various teams – whether it’s senior, reserve, junior, under-21 or minor – will be the better for it.”