Donegal have benefited from Dr McKenna Cup run-out, says Neil McGee
IT might have felt a bit strange for Donegal’s Gaeltacht colossus and rock of ages Neil McGee to be looking on as his team-mates slugged it out with Monaghan in Sunday's Dr McKenna Cup tie in Clones.
McGee was ensconced in a corner of the press box along with Michael Murphy and Peadar Mogan, reportedly keeping an eye on the stats.
But there is no doubting his or Murphy’s hunger to be back in action in the NFL as they closely followed Donegal’s comprehensive victory over Monaghan.
“This was a good work out for the boys and boys like Ryan McHugh, Mark McHugh, Patrick McBrearty, Odhran MacNiallais and Leo McLoone all got valuable game time," said the Gweedore man.
“And it is also another game and another experience for the younger fellows and I suppose 4-17 is a good score to get”.
And the experience of the returned natives was certainly crucial to Tir Chonaill’s victory.
“Yes we had Odhran and Patrick up front and it is hard to beat a bit of quality and Ryan also popped up to score 1-1 and you need that kind of quality to progress”.
So was the defeat to Fermanagh a bit of a disappointment and also a bit of spur?
“It was and we learned a lot from he Fermanagh game where a lot of boys were maybe not at the same intensity as Fermanagh.
“There was not much in it and they got a sloppy goal and that was all that was in it but it is a thin line.
“This was a positive response and we gifted them seven to eight scores and frees and that is something that we will need to work on.
“The fouling inside the 45 is of concern and it was also apparent against Fermanagh’.
Ryan McHugh’s uncanny ability to get on the end of moves and get vital goals is “a knack he has and it is something that you just can’t coach”.
“He is hungry for goals and he is always there and a lot of boys could learn from that”.
So was it hard just having to sit and watch?
“You always want to be playing but you have to know where your body is at, at the minute.
“You just can’t be out horsing yourself all year around and you need to kind of mind yourself and we have a plan now and we have a plan with the physio, strength and conditioning and doctors and we will stick to it.
“I am hoping to be there for the third game against Dublin and hope to push it a bit to be ready for that game”.
And staying in Division One of the NFL is definitely a priority.
“Yes but you need a good start.
‘”It will not be easy as we have the two toughest away games in the start against Kerry and Dublin.
“So, we will be hoping to win our home games, and we have some big strong men which is encouraging”.
But few are quite as strong as the man with the soft deep tones of the man from the shadow of Errigal, the man who really comes alive in the heat of battle."