Donegal’s map is now well marked by their vulnerability in the absence of Michael Murphy



From a position on the pitch where 99% of footballers can do nothing more than make a side pass, Paddy McBrearty struck a breathtaking winner yesterday, breaking the hearts of Derry fans.

ot for the first time in recent years, Ulster hosted the unofficial launch of the championship, as Derry and Donegal had an exciting competition at Ballybofey.

That nail bite aside, the easy predictability of Tyrone, Kerry and Mayo’s victories over Cavan, Tipperary and Leitrim respectively, served no further than to strengthen the argument for a multi-player championship. levels.

Last year’s successes of the first two will now be marked with an asterisk forever, as Covid-related anomalies have been their indifferent form ever since.

As defending Ulster champions Cavan continued their plunge into the odds and ended 2021 winless, Oak Leaf fans, meanwhile, can rightly expect a return to the odds. better days, as their young team lived up to their pre-game billing with a performance. which belied their Division 3 status.

They just need to persevere and get used to performing at the highest level year after year.

Because, after 80 intriguing minutes yesterday, it was finally those very difficult years of freshman racing versus Derry’s point-to-point exploits that turned out to make the difference.

Donegal was second best for the majority of this game, but they were considerably better when it mattered most. Introduced 20 minutes from time, four points behind his squad, a half-fit Michael Murphy was enough to boost the energy levels of what had been a largely overpowered Donegal side up to this point. But with just seven days to recover before their semi-final showdown with Tyrone at Enniskillen next Sunday, Murphy is unlikely to see much more playing time next weekend than yesterday. This will worry Declan Bonner.

Donegal’s map is now well marked by their vulnerability in Murphy’s absence. Expect sniper Darren McCurry and again Cathal McShane to chase Donegal from the throw-in, when Glenswilly’s man has no other choice but to bide his time on the bench.

The fact that Derry was able to score three or four goals yesterday won’t go unnoticed by Tyrone’s management, so Neil McGee and Co will want to get plenty of R&R this week to be ready for another day of testing at the office.

Donegal – thanks to the magic of McBrearty (below) – crept in yesterday to have four Division 1 teams face off in the Ulster semi-finals next weekend.

They show up in the other provinces. Each of the four teams has justified ambitions to elevate the Anglo-Celtic this year. It will be a good man to predict the two finalists let alone the winner. A Monaghan-Tyrone final, since you ask!


“Where are you Dicko?” “

“I’m in Bobby Vans here Billo, I’m waiting for you, where are you?”

“Which Bobby Vans, Dicko?” There are six in New York.

The last time I saw Philip Traynor was a few years ago when he treated me to a night out at a classic New York steakhouse. Even after waiting for me for over an hour to find the right restaurant. Ten years ago Séamus McEnaney first introduced us to Philip, or ‘Billo’ as we affectionately knew him, during a training weekend at the Trim Castle Hotel.

He’s been around ever since, with many older players making lasting friendships with him over the years.

Philip’s sudden passing over the weekend at his home in Rockland, New York, marked a sad end for someone who has been one of Monaghan GAA’s biggest supporters for the past two decades.

It is no exaggeration to say that without the financial support of Philip and many of his Monaghan New York GAA peers such as the McKennas – Tony and Conor – the county’s continued success over the past two decades would not have been not been possible.

Philip recently returned home for Monaghan’s loss to Fermanagh and proudly saw his company name “All Boro Flooring” on the jersey of a Monaghan team that won a Championship match, following a successful campaign in Division 1.

Needless to say, I now regret that I didn’t come into the game when I should have caught up with Philip.

This success, now directly linked to him, would have made him shine with pride on the return flight to the other side of the Atlantic. Philip had most likely booked his tickets for a return flight to the semi-final against Armagh.

This seat will unfortunately no longer be occupied by “Billo”, and his presence in the Monaghan GAA landscape, both at home and in New York, will be sorely missed.

I’m sorry to be late for our meal that evening Billo, but I’m grateful for that and every time I’ve been able to enjoy your company since the first time we met at Trim Castle.

Like many others, I will be eternally grateful for your selfless contribution to Monaghan GAA over the years. Our success could not have been achieved without it.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.



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