The 2017 All-County Football League swung into action on Sunday with action in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 – and there were no shortage of talking points on the opening weekend.
- A memorable top-flight debut for Milford
Sunday was a day that felt like a long time coming for the men of Moyle View Park.
Milford are one of the youngest clubs in Donegal and have moved all the way up the Divisions. On Sunday, they played their first ever game in Division 1 – and what a day it was as they defeated Bundoran 4-11 to 1-11.
Gary Merritt netted twice and Kyle Black and Luke Barrett were also on the mark with goals as Milford made the most of their big day.
It was an albeit understrength Bundoran, but Milford – who have former Finn Harps midfielder Tony McNamee in their ranks for the 2017 season – were deserving winners.
Milford welcome St Eunan’s to Moyle View on Sunday. The big days will keep coming for them for a while.
Four Masters also made a winning start to life back in Division 1 as they defeated St Michael’s.
- Massive row avoided with postponement
That the Gaoth Dobhair club even mooted the prospect of withdrawing its players from Declan Bonner’s Donegal Under-21 panel in itself shows their feelings on a thorny issue.
The Magheragallon club has seven players involved in the county under-21s – and failed initially in its bid to have Sunday’s game at Naomh Conaill called off.
Kieran Gillespie, Cian Mulligan, Niall Friel, Daire Ó Baoill, Micheál Carroll, Gavin McBride and Naoise Ó Baoill are all involved and were, therefore, unavailable for club action.
Gaoth Dobhair sought advice from the GPA and had even threatened to go as far as pulling the players from county duty.
An extreme measure, indeed, but the fact that it was considered at all shows clubs are on the verge of taking drastic action.
- A stroll in the park for St Eunan’s
St Eunan’s have a tendancy for days like this in the League at times.
Now under the management of Barry Meehan and Eddie Brennan, Eunan’s had a fuss-free Sunday in defeating Dungloe 2-13 to 0-6.
When Lee McMonagle fired in an early penalty, the game already had an ominous feel to it.
The Eunan’s side was a mix of the club’s emerging talent and the guile and experience of the likes of John Haran – now in his 24th season of senior football – and they had no trouble on Sunday.
- Doherty’s winning start
Barry Doherty had little time to prepare for his first game as the Kilcar manager – but the reigning League winners enjoyed a nine-point win over Glenswilly.
It was a repeat of the county final of last year, but it was clear that the intensity and meaning wasn’t quite that of the SFC decider.
That being said, it was still a useful win for Kilcar, on a day when Ryan McHugh starred for the home side, although Aidy Glackin won’t have been too despondent and readying themselves for a Championship defence if foremost on his mind.
- Aodh Ruadh ready to rise again?
After a period in the doldrums, the signs at least are exciting for Aodh Ruadh again.
After winning Division 3 last year, the Ballyshannon club also contested the 2016 Under-21 final and lost narrowly to Gaoth Dobhair.
Aodh Ruadh have a promising batch of players coming through and they began their Division 2 campaign with a neat away win at Ardara – who are appearing in the second tier for the first time since the 70s.
Aodh Ruadh have lofty ambitions for this group – don’t be surprised if they continue their rise.
- All eyes on CCC action after abandonment
The Glenfin v Cloughaneely game in Division 2 was abandoned with just three minutes of the game remaining.
Sources at the fixture claimed that ‘a mass brawl’ broke out while one person described the scenes as ‘a full-on melee’. Others, though, have since played down the incident, but whatever the truth of what happened, the referee Mark Dorrian from Gaeil Fhánada saw fit to call a halt to the fixture.
The CCC are awaiting the report of the referee and can surely be expected to take a dim view of the incidents at Pairc Taobhoige.
- Away day joys in Division 3
It was a day for the away teams in Division 3 on Sunday as St Naul’s, Letterkenny Gaels and Gaeil Fhánada all won on the road.
Division 3 is a notoriously tough Division and the 2017 version promises to be no different.
Most of the teams in Division 3 harbour hopes of being in the promotion hunt – and it could be a while before this League takes shape.
Mind you, it wasn’t a complete away success at the weekend as Red Hughs saw their game away to Naomh Muire abandoned after floodlight failure at The Banks