Division one semi-final
Donegal v Galway
MAXI Curran hopes that his youthful Donegal team will be able to match Galway in the ‘cuteness’ stakes in Saturday’s Division One semi-final.
This is a repeat of their final group stage clash a fortnight ago, which Galway won on a scoreline of 2-13 to 0-10.
It was practically set in stone that both sides would meet again in the last-four, and Donegal boss Maxi Curran says they were somewhat taken aback by some of the tactics utilised by their opponents in their dress rehearsal for Saturday’s match.
“We know Galway pose a massive challenge for us, not alone from a footballing perspective but also from a football cuteness point of view.
“While they have some really talented footballers, last week some of our players got a lesson in how to manage a game. Galway won free after free by going to ground with minimal contact, and won a penalty this way too.
“We had a corner-back felled in our own box by the age-old step-across body check to allow the forward she was in pursuit of get a clean run for the ball.
“These things are all part and parcel of the men’s game, and fair play to Galway for making such good use of them last week, and I just hope our girls will have learned and are a little less naive this time around and deal with these situations better.
“That’s a the beauty of such an inexperienced team like ours being involved in games like these – the learning is second to none.”
Donegal have already displayed their aptitude for learning in their thus-far successful league campaign. They have a very young team but notched victories in the group stages over the likes of Dublin and Mayo, as well as navigating a potential banana skin against a dogged Westmeath team.
While they came unstuck against Galway, who ended up finishing top of Division One, Curran says they are excited by the prospect of having another go against the Connacht team.
“We knew going into the Galway game there was a 75% likelihood we’d be meeting them again in the semi-final. I think the Galway manager is quoted as saying the last game was just shadow-boxing.
“We were short a few bodies and we’ve been working off a small panel this year. We weren’t holding back but we had a few players we had to replace.
“They are in good form and they won the game convincingly, it will be a very difficult one for us to reverse the result. It’s a challenge we aren’t afraid of. We’re a match for anybody on our day. It’s a great challenge for us, we’re in bonus territory and getting the extra competitive game is brilliant preparation for the Ulster Championship.”
It’s especially gratifying that they’ve reached the Division One semi-finals as last year they missed out on an absurd rule despite having the best scoring difference in the top flight.
The finished level on points with Galway but lost out as although the head-to-head game was a draw, their opponents scored more points (0-16 to 1-13).
“There was a bizarre rule where points over the bar were more important as actually goal. We were the highest scorers, so it was odd the way we lost out. We weren’t overly bothered and we feel this year that makign the league semi-final is of more benefit to us as we have more inexperienced players.”