GAA Football

Talk of Donegal All-Ireland is premature says Tir Chonaill legend Brian McEniff

Talk of Donegal All-Ireland is premature says Tir Chonaill legend Brian McEniff
Andy Watters

BRIAN McEniff says the talk of Donegal stopping Dublin’s ‘drive for five’ consecutive All-Ireland titles is premature.

After watching Declan Bonner – one of the stars of his 1992 All-Ireland-winning side – guide Donegal to back-to-back Ulster titles on Sunday, McEniff cautioned against the Tir Chonaill men getting carried away with the hype which is building behind them.

Donegal’s emphatic semi-final win over Tyrone (All-Ireland semi-finalists last year) and then Sunday’s provincial final victory – much more comprehensive than the five-point winning margin – has led to some pundits tipping them to break Dublin’s stranglehold on the Sam Maguire. Donegal were the last team to beat Dublin in a Championship match at Croke Park (2014 All-Ireland semi-final) but McEniff poured cold water on the talk of a repeat this year.

“It’s a wee bit premature,” he said.

“We’ll take the games as they come and the worst thing you can do is get ahead of yourself.

“Congratulations to Declan and the management and the players, it was a great day.”

Bundoran native McEniff was player-manager in 1972 when Donegal won their first ever Ulster final. He added four more as manager as well as the historic breakthrough win in 1992 when the ‘Men from the Hills’ beat Dublin 0-18 to 0-14 to win the Sam Maguire. He rates this Donegal class of 2019 but says the team has plenty to work before they begin the Super 8s.

“They are a very good side, there’s no doubt about that,” said McEniff after watching Donegal dismantle Cavan at Clones, a ground he first visited in 1956.

“We played well in patches but they mixed that with some terrible-sloppy football. I suppose the fact that the game got away from Cavan early on and there was always a lot between the teams from after 15 or 20 minutes meant the bottom fell out of the game somewhat and they couldn’t keep up that momentum that they had early on in the game.

“A win is a win, you’ll always take it and we’ve come to Clones a few times and lost and it’s not to nice to lose an Ulster final.

“They are a good squad of players and there’s more in them – there’ll have to be more.”

Donegal began last year’s Super 8s with a loss to Dublin, then recovered to beat whipping boys Roscommon and set up a winner-takes-all third round clash with Tyrone. A late rally saw the Red Hands get over the line in that game and Ballybofey, the venue for Donegal’s opener in just under three weeks’ time.

“Sometimes when you’re on top you can become complacent,” said McEniff.

“Some of the passing was poor. We turned over a lot of ball and it was needless but I’m sure the management will see that on their video analysis during the week. I’m happy we’ve won another Ulster Championship and we’re in the last eight which is important.

“We’ll have a home game in Ballybofey in three weeks’ time so there are some great games coming up.”

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