Congested road to Donegal final
A log-jam of fixtures in Donegal has finally thrown up the protagonists who will meet in the county senior football championship final on Sunday week.
St Eunan’s and Naomh Conaill are set to cross swords in the decider but only after a frenetic spell of activity which saw beaten semi-finalists Four Masters play an incredible six matches in 21 days.
It’s an itinerary that will surely be frowned upon by the GAA authorities in an era when making exceptional impositions on players has all but been outlawed.
The staging of the Donegal final will also mean that some high-profile players will be absent from Jim McGuinness’s All-Ireland winning side when they take on Ulster in the ‘Match for Michaela’ at Casement Park on Saturday week, less than 24 hours before the domestic decider.
St Eunan’s midfield ace Rory Kavanagh will sit out the game alongside Naomh Conaill duo Anthony Thompson and Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy.
And Karl Lacey, outstanding in Donegal’s Ulster and All-Ireland triumphs, must be considered doubtful as he retired injured at half-time while assisting his club Four Masters against Naomh Conaill.
Nor will the staging of the county final mean a reprieve for every side in Donegal.
The winners are due to meet Crossmaglen Rangers in the Ulster Club quarter-finals on Sunday, November 11, the week following their county final.
In contrast, Rangers will go into the game following a four-week break in the wake of their Armagh title triumph over Pearse Og.
It had been thought that the fixtures itinerary might have been amended to allow the Donegal sides some breathing space but this has not proved to be the scenario.
The fact, of course, that Donegal championship matches up to the quarter-final stages are played on a two-legged basis resulted in considerable fixtures congestion this year after everything had been put on hold to facilitate the drive for All-Ireland glory.