Donegal’s Hugh McFadden says he strongly disagrees with assertions that relegation to Division Two might not necessarily be the worst thing for a side that many feel are in transition.
The Tir Conaill men are bottom of Division One going into their final games with leaders Mayo and Roscommon.
“I think we’re a Division One team. I don’t really buy that transition narrative at all,” said McFadden.
“We’ve good enough players to be very competitive at the highest level.”
Last time out, McFadden’s own half-time introduction helped stir Donegal to produce an improved second-half display at the Athletic Grounds after a poor opening 35 minutes but it didn’t prove good enough as Armagh hit the final two scores to edge a 0-13 to 0-10 win.
‘League table doesn’t really lie’ – McFadden
Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle’s Eric White, McFadden said that the “league table doesn’t really lie at times” and that Donegal must produce more complete performances after playing in fits and starts yielded only three points from their opening five games.
“In modern day football, there is no let-up and if you don’t play well for a period of a game, you’re going to be punished,” added Killybegs club-man McFadden.
“We are going to have to make sure that we have all guns blazing for 75-plus minutes this weekend.
“I think we have a squad that wants to win and wants to win a lot of things. If you can be in Division One, we’re going to (have to) prove that we want to be in Division One. Whether we get that done or not, that’s up to ourselves.
“We have a good strong cohort of players that have played together now for quite a long while.
“There are a lot of boys coming into their prime age, getting into their mid to late 20s and they are ravenous for football. We have high expectations of ourselves. We’ll see how far that brings us.”
However, McFadden knows full well that Donegal look set for a tough task in Sunday’s contest against Mayo, the only unbeaten team in Division One following Kevin McStay’s encouraging start to his managerial reign.
“Mayo have been very impressive from the little bits that I’ve been able to watch of them,” added McFadden.
“They seem to be building a very competitive squad and using a lot of players. They have Tommy Conroy back and Cillian O’Connor is playing a lot of football again.
“They have a lot of good forwards and formidable backs as always so we know that they are going to bring an aggressive and combative game and we’re going to have to up it to meet that challenge.”
Donegal’s protracted search for a replacement for Declan Bonner saw Paddy Carr only being appointed in late October and despite their opening win over Kerry, they now find themselves very much in a relegation dogfight.
Carr took on a Donegal squad minus the retired Michael Murphy and has also had to deal with a lengthy injury list which was added to by new skipper Patrick McBrearty having to undergo hamstring surgery after featuring in the county’s two opening Division One matches.
McBrearty ‘touch and go’ for Down game
The latest update on McBrearty is that his availability for the Ulster Championship opener against Down in Newry on 23 April is “touch and go”.
“He’s progressing as well as could be expected,” said Carr.
“Whether that’s going to leave him fit for Pairc Esler….that’s still a big question mark.”
McBrearty’s Kilcar club-mate Ryan McHugh has missed Donegal’s entire league campaign so far because of an unspecified injury but Carr expects him to be unavailable for the Ulster Championship tie.
Despite palpable pessimism in the county about the team’s immediate future, Carr insists that the spirit in the squad remains strong.
“I’m very happy with the mood and the atmosphere in the camp. There’s a great sense of togetherness and a great sense of purpose.
“These lads love their county, no question about it, and they will go out and give everything on Sunday and the following games.”
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