Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Donegal chief has grounds for celebration

Donegal are delighted that their players will enjoy home advantage in Ballybofey this weekend
Donegal are delighted that their players will enjoy home advantage in Ballybofey this weekend

Donegal officials believe they have scored a victory already even before a ball has been kicked in the Ulster Championship against Tyrone.

The county board's plea that the game should go ahead at MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey elicited a positive response from the Ulster Council and now with just five days to go until the game the new-look match venue has been formally unveiled.

"We have spent a great deal of money on the ground since the Ulster Championship draw was made last October to ensure that we would enjoy home advantage against Tyrone," reveals county chairman Sean Dunnion.

"We are delighted that the improvements have now been completed and we know that when the fans come here in their thousands on Sunday they will be impressed."

Having held the whip hand over Tyrone in the Ulster Championship over the past two years, Donegal are anxious to extend their advantage and believe that playing on home soil will prove a big factor in achieving this.

"Every team wants to be playing at home. I know that managers and others may not make too much of this but we have to think of our followers many of whom contribute enormously to the GAA in this county.

"Don't forget Donegal supporters have logged up a lot of miles over this past couple of years so they are entitled to a day out at home," adds Dunnion.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has already indicated that he would have preferred had the game been fixed for St Tiernach's Park, Clones in order that many more people would have had the chance to see what is the biggest match of the year to date.

"I thought that Clones would have been the better venue but to be fair Donegal had the call on it. They were drawn out first so they had the right to look for it. Obviously the Ulster Council awarded it to them and I have no complaints about that," explains Harte.

"I'm just saying that all those who would like to see this match will not now be able to do so because it is in Ballybofey where there is more limited capacity. We won't change that now."

Tyrone PRO Eunan Lindsay confirms that many fans within the county will be "sorely disappointed" that they will not get to see the game simply because tickets are not available.

"Our initial allocation is not great but we are keeping our fingers crossed. You can't put a square peg into a round hole and that's what the situation is like in relation to tickets.

"It's a match that everyone wants to attend if possible rather than have to settle for television," points out Glenelly clubman Lindsay.

"There are people who are going to be sorely disappointed but we can't help that."

Ulster Council PRO John Connolly confirms that the Donegal county board has complied with all directives in relation to improving facilities at the ground.

"Donegal are entitled to host the game and there will be something like 18,000 fans there so it should be a marvellous atmosphere," says Connolly.

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