first_imgVIRUS HITS COLM McFADDEN AND ARMAGHSo Kieran McGeeney was right in his pre-match assessment. His boys were just that – boys – up against the men from Donegal who arrived at the Athletic Grounds expecting to have to drain sweat and left with hardly a mop of the brow. Armagh did look lively for a spell early on but once the warm-up was complete they were out of their depth – and Patrick McBrearty’s well-taken opening goal was the sounding board for what was to come. Rory Gallagher had his team in fine shape in every sense of the term – McGeeney’s, meanwhile, was the poorest of reflections of Armagh teams of old, particularly those that once took the field with the words and tactical know-how of Joe Kernan ringing in their ears.While Michael Murphy was named man of the match and had a number of rivals on the Donegal team for that title they were truly up against little in the way of hardy opposition. The green and gold could even afford to field without Colm McFadden who was laid low with a virus.The visitors entered the lamb’s den having not tasted a Championship victory there for close to half a century – it was a hugely disappointing way for Armagh to surrender that long-standing record.There wasn’t a hint of the rough and rumble of Ulster Championship football and for those in the neutral seats and indeed all those sporting orange that made viewing it something of a chore. But let’s give due credit to this inspirational Donegal team who could have sunk to the level of their opponents on the day but instead put in a disciplined and decisive display that earned the plaudits of the sizeable contingent of fans who made the trip.Hell, even Pat Spillane was handing out the tributes in his post match comments.Derry will surely provide a much stiffer test for Gallagher’s squad in the semi-final but surely the only team that can threaten another Ulster crown for Donegal is Monaghan and they still have to overcome (a) Fermanagh and (b) the loss of key defender Drew Wylie – victim of a cruciate ligament injury which looks likely to force him out of contention until the end of the year.A RIGHT ROYAL GALLOP FOR MARTYIf you happened to be around the Trentagh/Rathdonnell area outside Letterkenny at around quarter to four yesterday afternoon, you may have heard the champagne corks popping. For family and friends of Marty Harley it was celebration time as the popular local jockey rode Goldream to victory in The King’s Stand Stakes race at Royal Ascot. It wouldn’t be true to say he romped home but winning even by a short head is still a win as he fought off some serious competition to take first place.That represents his second success at the coveted racecourse – having ridden Elidor past the post in the King George V Stakes two years ago.A nice bonus, too, for race followers after this week’s win – Goldream was priced at 20-1 but sadly I didn’t manage to darken the door of any bookies prior to it.And is there a future in television broadcasting for the young Letterkenny man? It looks very likely following his appearance as a panellist on ‘Royal Ascot – The Morning Line’ on Channel 4. Marty equipped himself brilliantly in the company of fellow Irish jockey, Mick Fitzgerald, on the programme and proved he can saddle up just as well under the camera lights.Not sure what the average viewing figures are for the show but you can be guaranteed that that Letterkenny accent was heard in millions of homes this morning across Britain and Ireland.EUROPEAN HOPES HEAD FOR AN EARLY SHOWERThe very bottom line is we should have beaten them. They’re no world shakers are Scotland – they’re not even Europe shakers – but we still, over two games, managed to avoid victory against them. Sure, Gordon Strachan is a decent manager but Euro for Sterling we possess the better players and should, certainly on our home patch, have been able to take care of them. We certainly proved it in the opening half with an impressive performance and a deserved lead, albeit with a goal that was blatantly offside.Had we survived longer than just two minutes at the start of the second we would surely have gone on to take the points but that wicked ricochet (or, to give it its technical name, John O’Shea) brought the Scots right back into it even if we still looked the team more likely to score again as the half progressed.We might have done had Shane Long been introduced well before he was and had Wes Hoolahan been kept on instead of being substituted with some seventeen minutes still to play.Martin O’Neill did his best to convince us that his team can still make it to the European Championships and the likes of Eamon Dunphy and Brian Kerr haven’t given up hope either. Six points are close to guaranteed in our next two outings against Gibraltar and Georgia and Dunphy believes we can claim the scalp of Germany at the Aviva.It is true that we are still in the running but if you don’t win your home games then the running becomes the hardest of slogs and O’Neill’s men have left themselves with too much to do while continuing to rely on other teams biting dust.On the way out of qualification we may be but I still hope that O’Neill remains in the hot seat even if his conservative approach to games has, occasionally, echoes of his predecessor.BALLYBOFEY RAIDGardai are continuing their search for a group of young men who made off with a haul of points in the Ballybofey area on Friday night. The Youths, who were all dressed in pink, got away with their valuable cargo following a raid at Finn Park.“The points should have been in the bag but somehow the bag became loose and they were quick to pounce. And before you could say where did they go, they had gone.”The culprits are believed to have made their getaway in the direction of Wexford.A second consecutive league defeat for Harps can only make for a sense of unease but while the result last weekend was disappointing, the performance was again positive as the home side fought from first whistle to last.A deflected free-kick and two breakaway goals gave the visitors those points but for much of the game, Harps were the dominant force and can count themselves unlucky to emerge with nothing but a warm show of appreciation for their efforts from the home crowd (a sure sign that they did most things right except – apart from Kevin McHugh’s cracker – finding the net).A trip to Tolka Park will follow the mid-season break – the tightest of venues, and opposition, from which to return to winning ways.  A draw or defeat will certainly see them unseated from the top spot they have occupied for some weeks now.Ollie Horgan has captured Oisin McMenamin but knows that another striker is essential given that Ruairi Keating and Regan Donelon are both returning to Sligo Rovers next month (that’s the problem with loan spells, you’re inevitably under the control of the parent club, something Harps should remember before entering into any such arrangement again next season).SO THAT’S WHERE YOU GOT TO BIG NORM…“And there’s a man I know….,” television commentator, Marty Morrissey, declared as the R.T.E. camera spanned on the balcony of a house overlooking Pearse Stadium from where a group of people were watching the Connacht Championship clash between Mayo and Galway on Sunday. A man some of the rest of us knew as well, as it happened. The unmistakable figure of Norman Costello, one-time goalkeeper with Finn Harps and currently operating as juvenile director with the Salthill/Knocknagarra G.A.A. club in Galway.Big Norm spent the guts of a season with Harps during the 1993/1994 campaign and my lasting memory of him has nothing to do with any spectacular saves or other incidents on the pitch (though there undoubtedly were some) but of the chartered plane journey home from far-off Cobh where Patsy McGowan’s team had just come a cropper in the second leg of a play-off at the expense of the local Ramblers (3-0 defeat for those of you who can’t, or don’t want to, remember).Anyway, the journey back to the City of Derry Airport, was, as you might expect, largely conducted in sombre mood with players, officials and the handful of fans on board experiencing turbulence without the turbulence, thoughts of another season to be spent in the low-flying First Division occupying all minds.All minds, that is, except our Norman’s who spent a good deal of the journey ambling from seat to seat to engage in banter in an attempt to raise spirits which were not for raising.“SIT DOWN, NORMAN,” we silently screamed at him. But I can’t recall him doing so and there he was still bantering on the balcony overlooking Pearse Stadium and his native Galway heading for yet another defeat at the hands of MayoSHOWING THE MEN HOW IT’S DONETwo Donegal teams; two All-Ireland semi-finals; and Roscommon the opposition in both cases. And the most significant common denominator, both the Donegal Ladies under-21 side and the girls under-14’s winning through to respective finals over the weekend. Not a bad couple of days work – starting with the under-age team trotting out to the St. Aidan’s G.A.A. pitch in Bawnboy in the County of Cavan, for their semi-final on Saturday. A strong start from the Roscommon girls put them 3-1 ahead on the points board early but by half-time Donegal had opened up a slight gap of their own and two goals from Moville’s Kate McClenaghan helped them overcome the pre-match favourites.A purple patch midway through the second half looked to have Greg Harkin’s side in a comfort zone but Roscommon fought back and not for the first time during the game, some stirring defensive work and outstanding goalkeeping from Bronagh Gallagher of Naomh Conaill with a handful of wonder stops kept Donegal ahead.At the time of writing the venue for the Final hadn’t been decided but the date, July 4th, and opposition, Tipperary, are now known.Longford, meanwhile, will be up against the Donegal under-21’s who edged out their Roscommon counterparts by a single point in their ‘B’ semi-final at Markievitz Park in Sligo. It was close right throughout with Donegal leading by 1-5 to 0-6 at the interval helped by Amber Barrett’s well-taken penalty which left the Roscommon ‘keeper stranded on her line.It ended as tight as it started – 1-10 to 1-9 squeezing Donegal through by the skin of their teeth for a crack at Longford in the Final.KENNY LIVEDespite the serious rival attraction of the Donegal game in Armagh, the county’s Community Games Finals drew an impressive attendance to Milford on Sunday and, once again, credit to the organisers for the smooth running of the event. One familiar face there was that of manager of Dundalk F.C., Stephen Kenny, who had family interest in this year’s Games. I got chatting to him and a true gentleman he is even if such a term rarely occupies the same sentence as football manager.The Dubliner resides in Fahan and has done so since his days managing Derry City (that still didn’t prevent me talking to him).He’s done some job with the County Louth team who look likely to follow up last year’s title win in the Premier League with another one in 2015.He’s also anticipating a kind draw in the Champions League qualifiers and I won’t be surprised if Dundalk advance beyond a couple of rounds such is the quality of their performances aided and abetted by the likes of Richie Towell and Daryl Horgan (a lookalike for Damian Duff if ever there was one both physically and in terms of his playing ability).Now where was I? Oh, yes, in Milford at the Community Games Finals. And good luck to all those young athletes who have qualified for the national finals in Athlone later in the summer.STAGE FRIGHTEvery year at this time in June, I promise myself I’m going to get along to a stage of the Donegal International (no need to add Car Rally to this for the truly avid follower out there though I just have) and every year I don’t manage it. I did make it to the starting ramp last year and the year before to the finishing line but it’s the action in between that I keep missing. Excuses I have none except that once you get out of the habit, it’s hard to rally to the cause again.And many years ago it was a habit. I can recall watching stages in Ramelton, Portsalon and the Glen and was there when the event roared through the streets of my home town of Letterkenny and we were left picking up the straw from the safety bales for days afterwards. I even did marshaling on one occasion but that was probably (well, no probably about it) because they couldn’t get anyone else for the job.And this year? No invitations to marshal but still a quiet determination to get out to at least one of those stages again and relive old times and fresh fumes.[EDITOR’S NOTE: Will I keep this item for next year as well?].VIRUS HITS COLM MCFADDEN AND ARMAGH, WHILE GARDAI HUNT ‘YOUTHS’ WHO STOLE THREE POINTS FROM FINN PARK – IT’S WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY was last modified: June 19th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:columndonegalfinn harpsHome-page SportnewsPaddy Walshlast_img

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