I attended both club semi-finals here in Ulster last weekend and I have to say that I really enjoyed both games.
In Ulster our football at times can take a bashing, sometimes it’s warranted but mostly it’s just those who want to have a pop.
I have always kept a close eye on club football over the years in all provinces but I have followed it even more so since our run to win the Ulster Club title last year.
I spoke a lot in this column during our run about the special atmosphere created at these games. As a player that’s where you want to be and having watched a lot of club football this year, I believe that no one does club football better than up here in Ulster.
Both games at the weekend were keenly contested with no quarter given, just the way it should be. At times the quality was questionable but it was made up for with drama and excitement.
On Saturday night Donegal Champions Glenties never looked like they would be in any trouble as they controlled the game from start to finish.
Clontibret tried their best but their lack of scoring forwards and continuously carrying the ball into the tackle crucified them. Glenties got big scores when needed and at the end they eased to victory.
On Sunday we had more of an evenly matched game with Kilcoo and Derrygonnelly slugging it out. I really enjoyed this game as it went right down to the wire.
Kilcoo will count themselves lucky that Derrygonnelly had an off day with the frees because going by my count they missed six that on another day would be converted. This will be a concern for Kilcoo because if they concede that amount of frees in the final it will be curtains.
If you look through the Glenties’ scoring pattern, around 40% to 50% of their scores come from frees so this will be crucial come final day. Kilcoo probably just deserved the win but, like I said, it could have easily gone the other way with Derrygonnelly rallying late on.
That was my first time seeing Kilcoo up close and personal and they turned in a decent display. They play a defensive style of football much like Glenties do so the final could turn into a game of cat and mouse and it will come down to who can be patient enough to find the gaps.
This year we will have a new winner as both teams have never won it before so that will add to the occasion. Kilcoo will probably see this as their best chance of provincial glory having been knocking on the door for the last number of years. Likewise Glenties will see this as their chance to follow in the footsteps of my own club.
Next week I’ll go into how both teams can get at one another but for the time being let’s just enjoy what we witnessed last weekend.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to mention how Donegal club teams are now competing at all levels across Ulster. Gone are the days when Donegal teams would be blown away in the early rounds of Ulster Club action.
Our championships are competitive and when one team makes the breakthrough like we did last year then all others stand up and think “wait a minute here, maybe we can do likewise.”
Buncrana contested the Junior final last weekend, next weekend Glenties will contest the Senior final and St Naul’s fell at the semi-final hurdle last weekend when Tyrone champions Galbally beat them. In the ladies football Termon and Naomh Mhuire both made it to the final so all in all things are looking pretty good.