By Ryan Ferry
MICHAEL Donoghue has taken to life up north well as Donegal gear up for round three of Division 2B in the National Hurling League.
The Galway man moved to Donegal in 2019 with his fiancée Alanah (McDonnell), a Glenties native.
In his earlier playing days, Donoghue won the Galway Intermediate Hurling Championship with his local club Kilnadeema/Leitrim in 2013.
They would then go on to win the Connacht Championship before losing the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny’s Rower-Inistioge.
He describes that year as the best of his hurling career, but he has enjoyed plenty of success at club and intercounty level since making the move to Donegal.
Donoghue soon joined Setanta, and it wasn’t long until he got the attention of county manager Mickey McCann.
He made his debut against Armagh in the Nickey Rackard Cup in 2020, which Donegal went on to win.
And he’s never felt out of place in representing his adopted county, one of a number of players in the Setanta and Donegal squads that have come from other counties.
“This is where I live now and the lads at both club and county have been really welcoming,” Donoghue said.
“There’s other lads in my position where this isn’t their native count so it hasn’t felt strange at all, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
“Winning the County Championship with my club at home was probably the most special moment of my career with my dad being the manager.
“But since I’ve come up here, that 2020 victory over Mayo in the Nickey Rackard final was amazing.
“Winning the Ulster Junior Championship with Setanta last year meant so much to everyone involved.
“For one reason or another it has been tough times for the club, losing the likes of Eamon Campbell during the year, so it meant a lot to people that we got over the line in Ulster Championship.
“We probably didn’t follow that up in the All-Ireland quarter-finals but overall the last couple of years have been a success.”
Donegal have started their Division 2B league campaign in fine form, with a home win over Sligo by 1-16 to 0-15 in O’Donnell Park, while they edged past London by 1-18 to 2-13 in Ruislip at the weekend.
Donoghue admits it hasn’t been easy for the side that have had to battle hard to obtain the two points in both games, but it puts them in a good position after two weeks.
“Getting two wins from two was our goal at the start of the league campaign,” Donoghue added of their initial target.
“It’s a really tight division and we knew we needed to get off to a good start, we didn’t want to be relying on other teams or results going our way going down to the last week or two but we’re delighted to get over the line in the games.
“We didn’t make it easy for ourselves, we’ve had two real battles but we’ve come out the right side of the result.”
A trip to Navan is up next for Mickey McCann’s men, a game that will probably be their toughest of the League campaign.
Meath were relegated from Division 2A and the Joe McDonagh Cup in 2022, but are still a force to be reckoned with after also starting the league campaign with two wins.
Meath defeated Wicklow by 10 points in their opening game in Navan, before beating Sligo by six at Markievicz Park at the weekend, finishing strong after coming from behind.
“Meath are a Christy Ring team and they’re just down from the Joe McDonagh so they’re used to playing at a much higher level than we’d be used to with the Nicky Rackard.
“They’re a really strong physical team, really good hurlers and we’ve even seen it from their club Championship with Trim beating the Kilkenny Intermediate Champions so it goes to show the standard of Hurling in Meath.
“It’s a big challenge but after winning our first two games we can go down there and play with a bit of freedom but it’s a challenge we have to embrace and take on.”
Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere