GAA "too nicey-nicey" in deciding winners: Eamon McGee

Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore) Eamonn McGee with Nathan Byrne of Naomh Conaill during the Donegal Senior Football Championship replay at Ballybofey on Sunday. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 27-10-2019
Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore) Eamonn McGee with Nathan Byrne of Naomh Conaill during the Donegal Senior Football Championship replay at Ballybofey on Sunday. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 27-10-2019

THE GAA can be “too nicey-nicey” in terms of separating teams in the event of a draw, believes Gaoth Dobhair’s Eamon McGee.

The reigning Ulster club champions are facing a third Donegal SFC final meeting with Naomh Conaill in the space of 10 days after the sides couldn’t be separated, even after extra-time, in Sunday’s replay.

Donegal county board said neither club had responded to a request last week to implement the new ‘finish on the day’ protocols, which includes two more five-minutes periods of extra-time followed by a penalty shootout.

Neither club agreed, although Gaoth Dobhair manager Mervyn O’Donnell said afterwards they were open to the idea.

It’s understood, however, that Naomh Conaill will again shun the idea ahead of tomorrow night’s replay. No-one from the club could be contacted for comment yesterday.

As the championship did not begin with the ‘finish on the day’ mechanism in place, Donegal CCC need the permission of both clubs to implement a change to their regulations.

It means that if the sides were to finish level after extra-time again tomorrow, another replay would have to take place on Saturday, with the winners more than likely to face an Ulster Club tie with Cavan champions Castlerahan the following day.

Ulster GAA have not received any request yet in terms of potentially moving that game, although Donegal has had recent history in terms of such requests.

Their 2014 and 2016 intermediate champions, namely Cloughaneely and Burt, were both forced to play in Ulster 24 hours after winning their county titles.

Speaking after the game on Sunday, for which he only arrived home from New York at 4am that morning after flying out the day after the original drawn game, McGee says he’d have been happy to have seen a winner decided by penalties if needed.

“At the end of the day, a winner has to come from somewhere. I wouldn’t have been fit for a penalty but I’m sure the rest of the boys were. That’s just part of it.

“Not at all [against the idea]. The negatives are that if we win, we’ve only a few days to prepare for the Cavan champions, and that’s not going to be easy.

“Maybe the best thing would have been to pick a winner today. I think we can be too nice. It’s alright being nicey nicey but you have to have a winner at the end of the day. That’s just part of it,” said the former Donegal defender, who said he wouldn’t have been fit for a penalty himself after a draining day.

Having failed in his attempts to get bumped up to business class for the flight home, he admitted he’d only slept “on and off” overnight before the game.

McGee did score one first half point as Gaoth Dobhair let leads go in normal time and extra-time, and ended up being the side that needed the late equaliser from Seaghan Ferry to force a third meeting.

“Economy doesn’t suit the big Gaoth Dobhair man,” he smiled.

“Listen, New York’s a crazy city. It’s not for the Gaoth Dobhair men. Well, maybe 10 years ago. I came back at 4am this morning, so I’m a bit crabit on it.

“The preparation wasn’t ideal for me but the lads put in a big shift there. I’ll be 100 per cent there come Wednesday night, just recovery the body and ready to give a shift.

“It’s just hard to put Glenties away, they’re a championship team. I said three years ago, that’s where we aspire to be, is that championship pedigree. We’re learning, and that’s where we want to get to.

“A good championship team will put the team away and we let them back into it. That’s just part of it. We’ll learn now. More bloody video. We’ll be sick looking at Glenties at this stage.”