first_imgNO DEFENCE FOR R.T.E. ON HARPS SNUBRuairi Keating is bound to score more for Harps this season.You may, or may not, have seen the homages on the ‘Soccer Republic’ programme on Monday night to the League of Ireland team who have now gone eight games unbeaten and not conceded a goal in SEVEN of them.Indeed presenter Peter Collins (is he any relation to Roddy?) and his panel were – or were not – stumbling over themselves to get a word in about the reasonably remarkable feat that has seen Finn Harps maintain a five point lead at the top of the First Division table and earn the reputation of having a defence meaner than a Cavan miser. by Paddy Walsh, Donegal’s most popular sports columnistIf you did spot a reference to the achievement, well, that’s more than this viewer did – not, to be honest, that I was really expecting it on R.T.E.’s flagship soccer show.They did manage to squeeze in a couple of clips of the St. Patrick’s Athletic under-19 team winning some match or other and the Raheny United extra-time goal that secured them the Women’s National League Final but the First Division of the League of Ireland is a no-go area for our national broadcaster – and consequently Harps outstanding start to the season went duly unnoticed. Oh, apologies, they do scroll the First Division results across the bottom of the screen at some stage during the weekly programme, obviously believing that this is more than sufficient.I’m wondering if it was Shelbourne or U.C.D. leading the pack with a similar defensive record would there be a mention but, frankly, I think they’d probably ignore even the Dublin clubs. On the subject of the Dublin contingent, Cork City manager, John Caulfield has come under fire for launching an attack on those Dublin Premier Division title would-be title challengers who attract poor attendances. “I get disappointed when I watch a lot of games in Dublin because teams get 1,200, 1,300 or 1,400 people. Bar Shamrock Rovers, there’s no-one in Dublin who attracts crowds anymore which is very disappointing,” claimed Caulfield whose side drew an attendance of 7,000 for their top of the table clash with Dundalk last Friday night and this despite the fact that it was being televised live. He’s spot on – as I’ve said before in these parts, there are just too many clubs in the vicinity of the capital and all of them targeting the relatively small market that doesn’t board the boat for Liverpool, Manchester, London and Glasgow of a weekend.The afore-mentioned First Division is surviving on even more paltry attendances than most of their counterparts in the top rank but if the likes of Harps are doing well, they will pull in the support. And on this point, you’d have to question the ‘official’ gate of 964 for last weekend’s game with Shels – it looked much closer to some of those Dublin attendances mentioned earlier.Meanwhile, a Mr. R. Collins has apparently been throwing his lot into the mix by calling for the removal of some clubs from the League of Ireland, including the current First Division league leaders, to help improve the standard.Mr. Collins, who, once upon a time, was almost famous only to be outshone by his boxing brother, has, it seems managed at League of Ireland level and is keen to stick his oar in every so often to ensure the readies keep rolling in from his weekly column to enable him purchase a new coat.TICKET PROWL Well, were you one of the lucky ones who managed to work out the Ulster Council’s on-line system that secured you a ticket for the Donegal/Tyrone Ulster Championship opener on May 17th (1,500 sold out in the space of forty-five minutes apparently)?Good on you if you did but don’t panic if you didn’t. Not that you season ticket holders will have to panic but for the rest of you there’s still time to secure one through your clubs and County Board or by popping down to your local Centra or SuperValu outlets.Should you still miss out, don’t be overly concerned – there’ll still be a few Championship outings for you to enjoy once Tyrone have been disposed of in three weeks time.A WORTHY TRIBUTE TO NEIL Nice tribute to the late Neil Cullen on the opening day of the UK Sportshall Final in Manchester at the weekend.The organisers screened a fitting acknowledgement at the Sportcity Regional Arena to three people who had passed away since the last Final and one of them was the affable Letterkenny man, otherwise known as Donegal’s Mr. Sportshall.The big man led a few teams to England during his time and it’s obvious that it wasn’t just on this side of the water that he was revered.Tributes such as this would have prompted a shake of the head from the modest Neil and I can just imagine that head and beard shaking even more as he watched events from the stand seats above.NICE TRIP, SHAME ABOUT THE RESULTAmy Boye Carr (N Conaill) has her shirt pulled as she runs at the Cavan defence.Saturday and we’re on the road to Bawnboy along the banks of the expansive and engaging Erne and into Enniskillen and through the village of Swanlinbar which, even at two o’clock in the afternoon appears to have slept-in, and on to Templeport St. Aidan’s G.A.A. grounds.The Donegal under-14 girls team are on the pitch limbering up for their opening Championship fixture against their hosts, Cavan. The sun is being kind to both teams and spectators but the kindness stops there for the visitors. Twelve seconds in and they’re a goal down and despite a valiant attempt to recover they are a well beaten docket by the time the referee signals for full-time with Cavan in command on the pitch and on the scoreboard with a tally of 5-12 to 2-5.But the Cavan girls have been together for the guts of six years, have grown into a squad and a team in that time and it shows through their slick passing movements and positional awareness, and an occasionally over physical approach, not to mention their ability to take scores (but I’m afraid we have to mention it).Still and all, a useful experience for their Donegal counterparts who can only learn from it and will hopefully have learned in time for this Saturday’s home game with Tyrone to be played in Carndonagh. While Greg Harkin’s squad did have a handful of challenge games in the build-up to this Championship opener in Cavan, they were unfortunate in that Fermanagh under-14’s had pulled out of the competition leaving them with a blank space where a competitive match should have been.They weren’t short of support, parental and otherwise, at the well-appointed Templeport venue and despite the heavy defeat, the spirit was still strong as they made their way home on Saturday evening, noiselessly passing through Swanlinbar for fear of waking it up, before making up for it on the beach at Rossnowlagh.That support and spirit will hopefully accompany them to Carndonagh this weekend as they bid to topple Tyrone and put the show back on the road. See some of you there.PITCHING AHEADAnd still on the subject of spirit, it’s obviously very much alive in Drumkeen where the local United are nearing completion of their new astroturf pitch.Much of that zeal stemmed from the late club stalwart, Tom Bonner, who was overseeing operations before his untimely passing in January and was the driving force behind this development.When completed, and it looks close to that now, the all-weather surface will add another dimension to Drumkeen United and credit to everyone involved for providing these facilities at a time when our youth require every distraction they can get from the counter, and not necessarily healthy, attractions of the day.BLEAKLEY BY NAME BUT NOT BY NATURE Christine with FrankDon’t tell Mr Lampard but I spotted his fiancée this week with some fellow on Rossnowlagh beach. And looking mighty pleased with herself at that. Wild Ireland indeed.And Wild Ireland it was – the new travel programme on U.T.V. featuring the bubbly Christine Bleakley who was being shown how to ride a surf board by one of the local instructors.Rumours still persisting that herself and Frank – currently plying his trade in Manchester City’s midfield but U.S. bound at the end of the season – will be having their wedding reception at a plush Donegal venue (though McDonald’s wouldn’t confirm this one way or the other).Good programme, that, Wild Ireland. And the future Mrs. Lampard – a genuinely likeable presenter unlike so many these days who try to pass themselves off as celebrities on our T.V. screens and social media platforms – is doing a hell of a job to persuade would-be holidaymakers that Donegal and the west coast is the place to come to either for your activity breaks or for just some jaw dropping scenery. Or even for your wedding.But you’ll still not get me up on a surf board in Rossnowlagh…ANOTHER FINE FINISHKevin McHugh – a Harps legend.Was waiting for the tannoy announcer at Finn Park to burst into dart speak whenever Kevin McHugh converted his spot-kick on Friday night. “ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTTTTY…”For the Harps striker has now reached a target twenty short off the 200 mark and the way he’s putting them away this season to date – remember, only four to his name last campaign – he can eat into some of that before the campaign (and his career?) draws to a close.HYPE AND OVERHYPEA couple of well over the top reactions to two results and performances at the weekend. The first on Friday night when Ulster Rugby ran out comfortable winners against Leinster in the PRO12 competition and the sports broadcasters were positively drooling about the Northern Province’s display in turning around an early ten point deficit to run in 26 unanswered points before the finish.Ulster have been flying recently but a five day turnaround from a gruelling Champions Cup semi-final in Toulon was hardly the rory best preparation for an energy sapped Leinster coming into the game.Then we had the national media singing loudly about Dublin’s thumping of Cork in the Allianz National League Final. A polished performance indeed, helped by Dean Rock’s scoring prowess, but they were up against a Rebels outfit that didn’t appear too interested from the start if truth be told.Sure, the Dubs will again be one of the favourites for the big one but they certainly shouldn’t be built up as All-Ireland winners-in-waiting on the strength of that one-sided showdown at Croke Park on Sunday.Much of the blue-shirted attendance will be confident of success in September but you wouldn’t have put it past those Cork boyos to lull them into a false sense of security by turning in a truly abject performance. And truly abject it was.Meanwhile, the sight of largely empty stands for the Division Two Final which paired Roscommon and Down must surely prompt a rethink of staging such a decider at H.G. when so many didn’t appear that bothered to travel. There’s little worse than a massive stadium hosting a game where the numbers on the field are rivalling those off it.MINI MINORDonegal Minors celebrate their Ulster Minor League title.Healy Park in Omagh can hardly be mentioned in the same breath as Croker but there must have been a real atmosphere choker there on Saturday when the Donegal Minors were retaining their Ulster League crown with a richly convincing victory over Derry.Just 150 souls turned up to cheer both teams – yes, read it and weep particularly if you regard yourself as a fully-blown Donegal follower who would go to the far corners to watch the seniors but wouldn’t venture into the back garden to spur on any other age level.UP WHERE THEY BELONGWell done to Raphoe Hockey’s senior men for bouncing straight back into the Premier Division at the first time of asking.Their 6-2 trouncing of North Down at the weekend ensured an immediate return to the top flight for Rodney Bates’ outfit following their relegation last year, showing true strength of character in the process.Expect them to stay there too.RTE’S POOR ‘RECEPTION’ FOR HARPS’ GOOD RUN – WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY was last modified: April 28th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalsports columnWalshy on Wednesdaylast_img

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